The Pop Culture of Sex: An Evolutionary Window on the Worlds of Pornography and Romance

Publication year
Review of General Psychology

in a sense, yes, the romance novel is pornography consumed by women. (152)


Although the romance novel has been referred to as pornography for women, it is really in many ways the opposite of male-oriented pornography. The goal of the romance is never sex for its own sake, much less impersonal sex with strangers. At the heart of the romance novel plot is a love story in which the heroine overcomes obstacles to identify, win the heart of, and ultimately have a long-term relationship (or marriage) with the one man who is the right one for her. (154)


Rather than focusing on issues of politics and morality, an evolutionary perspective allows us to examine how pornography and romance embody essential aspects of male and female mating psychology. Romance novels and pornographic DVDs were not part of our ancestral environment, but they trigger our ancestral mating adaptations all the same. (158)