An Insty link to a Psych Today article about women who are attracted to serial killers commits an interesting use of the word “romance” – notice, that in both cases where it’s used, it’s set off in quotes; but that the contextual meaning of the word is diametrically opposed in the two places it’s used. The first time (“romantically”), it means: sex. The second time (“romance”), it means non-physical emotional connection. And this is written by a single author. Who is apparently male; go figure, as soon as I noticed the disconnect, I figured it was a woman. Well, shame on him: a guy who writes about romance and sex ought to know better than to use the same word to describe the two. Who does he think he is, abrogating a woman’s right to be damnably confusing on the topic?? /sarc
The reason this abusive lingual choice – and any words set off in quote marks are definitely chosen specifically, not just the typing equivalent of a slip of the tongue – caught my attention was that there’s been a similar misuse of the word “romance” to mean “sexual activity” in my blog-feed lately. RSM has been documenting the Free Kate scam, wherein the family of an eighteen-year-old girl who engaged in activities that constitute statutory rape of a fourteen-year-old are defending their hellion daughter by claiming it was a “romantic relationship.”
Why this conflation of sexual activity and romance? Well, notice that it’s only going in one direction: “romance” is being used as a euphemism for sexual activities only when the speaker wishes to grant moral legitimacy to the sex acts. When Leon, the author of the article on women who are “in love” with killers, wants to deride male-targeted pornography (notice how he’s carefully nonjudgmental in his language towards Woman’s Porn aka romance fiction like Fifty Shades of Grey), he carefully removes physicality from the umbrella of “romance.” So that kind of fantasy sexuality doesn’t get any legitimacy.
Dalrock has an excellent blog post examining this cultural shift. “In our new view, romantic love makes sex moral.” This is the paradigm under which serial monogamy, gay marriage, incest, and statutory rape are all equally valid modes of sexual expression; as long as the participants can claim “we are in love,” there is no grounds for telling the eighteen-year-old not to have sex with the fourteen-year-old in the school toilet stall. This is the morality under which NAMBLA petitions for pedophilia to be removed from the category of “deviant sexual desire” treatable by psychiatrists. And it is because this moral framework is accepted as a given even in nominally Christian mainstream churches that I fully expect to see “age of consent” laws repealed or struck down by the courts, so that any child experiencing puberty will be fair game for sexual exploitation by predatory adults. (By the way? Average age for onset of puberty is ten to eleven years.)