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Warrior Lovers: Erotic Fiction, Evolution and Female Sexuality

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The stark contrasts between romance novels and pornography - both multi-billion-dollar global industries - underscore how different female and male erotic fantasies are. These differences reflect human evolutionary history and the disparate selection pressures women and men experienced, say the authors of this thought-provoking book. Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons prov The stark contrasts between romance novels and pornography - both multi-billion-dollar global industries - underscore how different female and male erotic fantasies are. These differences reflect human evolutionary history and the disparate selection pressures women and men experienced, say the authors of this thought-provoking book. Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons provide a concise review of the fundamental importance of evolutionary history to human psychology, discuss how male and female sexual psychologies differ, and then demonstrate how sex differences in erotica illustrate this.The authors focus particular attention on a new erotic subgenre - slash fiction - written mostly by and for women. Slash depicts romantic and sexual relationships between heterosexual male characters in television and film, such as Starsky and Hutch (S/H) and Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock (K/S), and is so named for the punctuation mark indicating the pair. Salmon and Symons argue that slash fiction has much in common with the romance genre and that the heroes of both genres are "warrior lovers" who embody the qualities our female ancestors valued in a mate. But while romance novel readers fantasize about being "Mrs. Warrior," slash fans prefer the fantasy of being "co-warrior." The authors consider why this might be so and examine the essential ingredients of female sexual fantasy. Their conclusions are both fascinating and original.


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The stark contrasts between romance novels and pornography - both multi-billion-dollar global industries - underscore how different female and male erotic fantasies are. These differences reflect human evolutionary history and the disparate selection pressures women and men experienced, say the authors of this thought-provoking book. Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons prov The stark contrasts between romance novels and pornography - both multi-billion-dollar global industries - underscore how different female and male erotic fantasies are. These differences reflect human evolutionary history and the disparate selection pressures women and men experienced, say the authors of this thought-provoking book. Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons provide a concise review of the fundamental importance of evolutionary history to human psychology, discuss how male and female sexual psychologies differ, and then demonstrate how sex differences in erotica illustrate this.The authors focus particular attention on a new erotic subgenre - slash fiction - written mostly by and for women. Slash depicts romantic and sexual relationships between heterosexual male characters in television and film, such as Starsky and Hutch (S/H) and Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock (K/S), and is so named for the punctuation mark indicating the pair. Salmon and Symons argue that slash fiction has much in common with the romance genre and that the heroes of both genres are "warrior lovers" who embody the qualities our female ancestors valued in a mate. But while romance novel readers fantasize about being "Mrs. Warrior," slash fans prefer the fantasy of being "co-warrior." The authors consider why this might be so and examine the essential ingredients of female sexual fantasy. Their conclusions are both fascinating and original.

30 review for Warrior Lovers: Erotic Fiction, Evolution and Female Sexuality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stella Omega

    A wonderful new coinage appeared a few years ago, and it is so appropriate to this book that I have added it as a tag; "mansplain." I invite the reader to google for its meaning. This small book, ostensibly about a form of erotic romance known as "slash" spends 85 of its 100 pages of content explaining the writer's theories about "female mating strategies." The field that commonly uses this term when referring to humans is the pseudo-science of "evolutionary psychology." and that's what the book A wonderful new coinage appeared a few years ago, and it is so appropriate to this book that I have added it as a tag; "mansplain." I invite the reader to google for its meaning. This small book, ostensibly about a form of erotic romance known as "slash" spends 85 of its 100 pages of content explaining the writer's theories about "female mating strategies." The field that commonly uses this term when referring to humans is the pseudo-science of "evolutionary psychology." and that's what the book is about. The author(s) spends barely 15 pages talking about its ostensible subject. After a very cursory and confused description of the earliest forms of slash, which the authors dismiss as identical to standard hetero romance, they offer this insightful notion; "Some women don't want to become Mrs. Hero, they want to be a hero too," and then note that "these women were tomboys when they were younger." This does not tell us anything illuminating. I would expect an evolutionary psychologist to be intrigued by this seeming contradiction in strategies. But that's where the book ends-- just where it should begin. I will say that Symons is an unusually flexible evolutionary psychologist. He does say that biological heredity is only one of the forces that influence human choices, and, in fact, he speaks scornfully about populist theories such as "selfish genes" that "constantly whisper in the ear" about "maximizing reproduction" and suchlike. This is the reason I give the book any stars at all. But when the authors begin explaining slash they do so in a voice that many women will recognise, I am sorry to say, that of the dismissive bemused male. I am inclined to write a scenario in my head, about the way this book got written. How much of it is actually Ms Salmon's contribution, I wonder? And what would she change now? Given that the book is nine years old, and so very much has changed in the genre as more women add their influences and more women become more self-aware as a result of the never-ending conversations within the genre's followers, this book is absolutely, one hundred percent, a waste of time for anyone looking for actual insight into the slash phenomenon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily Rose

    I opted to read this book because the content was referenced in one of my favorite book, "A Billion Wicked Thoughts." "Warrior Lovers" is short, sweet, and insightful, offering info on Darwinian evolutionary psychology of the sexuality of men and women.

  3. 4 out of 5

    mlady_rebecca

    It's a tiny book - 95 pages, but very packed. Basically it talks about male and female mating psychology from a evolutionary standpoint. It lays a solid foundation with respect to evolution in a way I haven't seen presented before. At least to me, it makes anyone looking toward *any* theory besides evolution pretty foolish. Much of Darwin isn't understood by the general public. But boiled down to it's simplest terms it's irrefutable. It also talks about how heterosexual vs homosexual male and fema It's a tiny book - 95 pages, but very packed. Basically it talks about male and female mating psychology from a evolutionary standpoint. It lays a solid foundation with respect to evolution in a way I haven't seen presented before. At least to me, it makes anyone looking toward *any* theory besides evolution pretty foolish. Much of Darwin isn't understood by the general public. But boiled down to it's simplest terms it's irrefutable. It also talks about how heterosexual vs homosexual male and female viewpoints differ. It seems that gender is a much more telling predictor than sexual preference. I found it amusing that homosexual males are actually able to indulge the male tendencies so much more purely, because they aren't compromising with what females want/need. Then it talks about male pornotopia versus female romantopia. Slash, it turns out, is more similar to traditional romance than you would think. The main attractions of slash over het romance being: First, some women prefer the slash fantasy of being a co-warrior to the romance novel fantasy of being a Mrs. Warrior. Second, slash solves some of the dramatic problems inherent in the romance formula more successfully than mainstream romance literature can. By doing so, slash readers more plausible the obligatory happily-ever-after ending. (page 89) The dramatic problem being that you need to create a big enough obstacle that makes the couple work towards finding that happily ever after, without that obstacle being still around (in some form) at the end of the story. With slash, the couple are both coming to terms with the fact that they aren't heterosexual. So there is a built in dramatic component that can be completely solved without being overly trivial. It also points out that since slash couplings are based more on emotions than physical attractiveness, there is no lingering doubt that the HEA will stick, because of the male's wandering eye. I also found it interesting what they had to say about homosexual men and slash. We do seem to have a few homosexual men in the fandoms. But men of either sexual preference are still looking for pornotopia. They want little plot development, just sex with attractive strangers - only the genders differ. Women want the romance of finding the perfect person for them. Great little book. Highly recommended. I didn't find it overly academic, but I did have to read it a bit slower than I'd read a typical fiction book. I'd give it 5 stars. Review from November 20, 2005. Originally posted on LJ. Note as of 07/06/2010: My previous statement men of either sexual preference are still looking for pornotopia may be inaccurate. I've gotten to know more gay men since this original review, and I know some of them do want the romance, just as much as the next girl. *g*

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leila

    Sure, this book may be skewed by a male perspective. And yes, at this point (11 years on) the landscape is drastically different and slash is a greatly diversified form from the one represented here (whether that is a development really kickstarted by the internet or not, I don't know...). Still, I want to give this book props for even covering this topic with such a degree of scientific professionalism. It is a nearly impossible task to explain why people like the things they do, especially in Sure, this book may be skewed by a male perspective. And yes, at this point (11 years on) the landscape is drastically different and slash is a greatly diversified form from the one represented here (whether that is a development really kickstarted by the internet or not, I don't know...). Still, I want to give this book props for even covering this topic with such a degree of scientific professionalism. It is a nearly impossible task to explain why people like the things they do, especially in any quantifiable way. This means that we end up with a lot of theories, some of them more credible than others. I think using Darwinism to gain some understanding of the motivation behind reading fanfiction leads to an interesting discussion, and one well-written here. I may not agree with all the arguments being made, but it was a worthwhile (and let's face it, at 95 pages that while isn't a long one) read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Satoita

    I appreciate the work they put in to work this essay, it was a good short read. Mostly, I am satisfied that Slash Fanfiction was taken seriously. There are a few issues I had with their conclusions, but everyone should question everything they read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    khordofon

    Ainda estou :thinking: porque o livro é muito curto e passa tempo demais explicando o que é psicologia, psicologia evolutiva, darwinismo, evolução... é claramente um resumo de um projeto universitário em formato de livro. Mas quando chega na parte chave - a sexualidade humana - ele logo fica interessante, mesmo que curto demais. A ideia que fica é que slash - fanfics M/M - são muito semelhantes ao romance hétero escrito por mulheres, com tropes muito parecidas nos personagens (até mesmo na lógica Ainda estou :thinking: porque o livro é muito curto e passa tempo demais explicando o que é psicologia, psicologia evolutiva, darwinismo, evolução... é claramente um resumo de um projeto universitário em formato de livro. Mas quando chega na parte chave - a sexualidade humana - ele logo fica interessante, mesmo que curto demais. A ideia que fica é que slash - fanfics M/M - são muito semelhantes ao romance hétero escrito por mulheres, com tropes muito parecidas nos personagens (até mesmo na lógica sexual deles - um mais feminino e outro mais masculino, bem heteronormativo), mas a diferença está nos conflitos mais internos e na ideia de amizade prévia. Romances hétero inevitavelmente têm a tensão sexual rolando desde o começo, mas romances slash costumam ter um crescendo de amizade e camaradagem que culmina no "BEU TEUS, eu sou hétero mas me apaixonei pelo meu broder!", implicando que este amor não irá embora com a idade e que tem mais garantias de durar e de um "feliz para sempre". O ideal da amizade masculina tão falada em décadas passadas é essencial para o slash (mais aqui e aqui), e me pergunto por que não pode acontecer algo semelhante com um homem e com uma mulher num romance hétero - uma longa amizade que não pode virar amor até resolverem alguma pressão psicológica, social ou a própria aventura do enredo ou whatever. Isso me faz pensar também na onda contemporânea de romances gays que são ainda mais parecidos com os romances héteros - o protagonista acha algum homem que mal conhece muito gato e essa tensão sexual (ou "de interesse", julgando que tantos são com protagonistas bem novos) guia a história e o romance. makes u think mas não sei que nota daria por causa dos problemas anteriores. Acho que vou dar 3 estrelas.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maki2011

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 翻訳版「女だけが楽しむポルノの秘密」 笑った。 プロローグから大爆笑。 そしてスラッシュにはまる女の典型例が示されて、がっつり当てはまった。 おてんばな少女時代を送り、男の子っぽいものを好んで冒険活劇が好き。 守られるよりも、パートナー的な絆重視の物語が好き。 笑っちゃうわー。 スラッシュがロマンス小説の一角という解釈にも納得。 まあ、そうよね。 ストレートの男たちが互いを求め合うのが最大の障壁で、それを乗り越えることが互いの気持ちの大きさを示す、ってところはどっかの同人でも読んだわー。 ワンピースのゾロサンでナミさんが言ってた。 互いを求めることが最大の愛情表現になるのよねって。 しかし、昨今の商業スラはほとんどがゲイのものが多いからそこはどう解釈するのかな? ゲイとはいえ、依然、周囲、家族問題はまとわりついてくるから、そこが障壁? ゲイの男性の経験人数の多さにはびっくりした。 100人ざら。多いと1000人って。 邦訳が絶版になったのは残念。 タイトル、もうちょっとソフトにして、スラッシュの文字を入れたら数出たんじゃないのかなー。 少々、奇をてらいすぎの感あり。 ま、もともと竹内さん、タイトル変わってるけど。

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ogi Ogas

    My ratings of books on Goodreads are solely a crude ranking of their utility to me, and not an evaluation of literary merit, entertainment value, social importance, humor, insightfulness, scientific accuracy, creative vigor, suspensefulness of plot, depth of characters, vitality of theme, excitement of climax, satisfaction of ending, or any other combination of dimensions of value which we are expected to boil down through some fabulous alchemy into a single digit.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marielle

    This book, about the evolutionary psychology of women's love of slash fan fiction, is definitely a good read. I'm a little skeptical of a few of the hypotheses he makes regarding slash, but most of the book is about the evolutionary psychology of sex differences in general.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fangirl

    I liked this book very much. Explaining the phenomenon of slash fiction as written by women. After I finished this book, I sent it to my daughter, so she could read it as well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Austin Simpson

    Interesting insights in this one.... Fascinating parallels between male-oriented pornography and romance novels (a.k.a. the female erotica).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cassiel

  13. 5 out of 5

    Salome

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shiori

  15. 4 out of 5

    Geronimo Valin

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meggie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bruno Alves

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leandra Vane

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Sager

  20. 5 out of 5

    Skuld

  21. 5 out of 5

    Derek

  22. 4 out of 5

    K.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

  24. 5 out of 5

    E.M. Taggart

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sàra Manìni

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  27. 5 out of 5

    VEL – The Contemporary Heretic

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dobrosława

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

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