This weekend will see the publication of my fourteenth erotic romance novel, ‘Patients is a Virtue’. I have been publishing erotic romance for a few years now. When I first started out, I had it in mind that only women would be interested in my stories. This is possibly a very naive statement, but it is the truth. But then, thanks to feedback like this, I was surprised and delighted to discover that a good proportion of my readers are men:
“It’s so good to hear a female voice telling us what it’s like. Hundreds of guys are suddenly better lovers!”
Traditional opinion might suggest that “Women read erotica, men watch it”, but I haven’t found this to be the case. And apparently, neither do the stats. Some of the big publishing companies are reporting that men make up at least one third of the market for erotica, particularly in the audiobook space.
As you might imagine, many psychological studies have been done in this field. They conclude that, when it comes to sexual excitement, men and women respond to different sets of triggers, as well as some shared characteristics.
In general, men’s arousal patterns and sexual excitement are instinctively triggered by their brain registering “lust-inspiring images”. The erotic stimulus activates the part of the brain responsible for getting an erection and their physiological response is largely uncontrollable. A second common trigger for men is observing women experiencing sexual enjoyment. For these reasons, men often enjoy pornographic films, particularly where there is specific focus upon the expressions and sounds made by orgasmic women.
Conversely, a good proportion of women (not all, of course!), report finding pornographic films shallow and demeaning. This can be explained by the different triggers taking place in the female brain and genitals. Female sexual excitement is complex and much more focussed on the concept of an ideal man, rather than visual triggers. As a result, many women may lean towards the written word in the form of erotic romance, as opposed to pornographic films.
Of course, the different responses between men and women are entirely instinctive, linked to biological survival and the preservation of the human species. Women are pre-programmed to think ahead before acting. Careful consideration of their choice of mate is vital, for the welfare of both themselves and their children. Men are pre-programmed to….do their thing!
So, back to my original question. Why do men read my books?
I’m happy to be in contact with a number of my readers, so I asked that very question. Here are a couple of responses:
“In my experience women just seem to be better writers of erotica than men. With men, all the women have gigantic tits and all the guys have ten inch cocks and never lose an erection after they come.”
“Women tend to write more sensually and with more emotion and yours goes into details of feelings of arousal and a building orgasm in much better detail and far more believably than men. You also have just the right amount of kink with some bondage thrown in.”
So it sounds as though my stories (quite unintentionally as it happens!) might be hitting some of the triggers for both men and women; a slow-burn, romantic story containing an alpha male, providing enjoyment for my female readers. And yet, for the male readers, I provide a realistic experience of sex from a woman’s standpoint, with enough detail to get those “lust-inspiring images” triggering the brain.
In all honesty, it is probably best not to dissect it too much! As with all things in life, it is about perspective and personal choice. For me, I’m happy so long as I am providing enjoyment for my readers, whoever they might be!
Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction. All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access. Her bestselling novels are ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’ and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica ‘Erotic Couplings’ Hall of Fame (Top Rated).
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2 thoughts on “I thought I wrote erotic romance for women – so why are so many of my readers men?”
I write erotica on sites where comment is encouraged. Most of my stories use relationships as the source of tension and conflict and try to explore the impact on characters. I find that the majority of comments are from men, though comments from both sexes are equally supportive and positive. It used to worry me but I am beginning to think that there are two aspects that I cannot analyse from the data available. The first is that I may have more male readers and the second is that men may be more likely to comment. Either of those might create the gender disparity in comments and have nothing to do with the appeal of the stories to either sex. If interested I write as Whitebeard, mostly on Lushstories.com
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Hi Rod – thanks for the comment! Yes, it is really difficult to know what’s going on, isn’t it? 🙂 The only site I submit writing to, which seems to nail this, is WattPad. It provides the demographics of readers who have read your work.