When I was a kid, I used to dream about my man, my Prince Charming—unknown at the time—who would sweep me off my feet and take care of me and pamper and spoil me and be understanding and sympathetic to my every mood and whim. Every day would be a combination of romance and suspense, full of (melo)drama that would test our resolve and strengthen our love.
Plus, this was all around the same time Charles and Diana were getting married, so dreams about fairy tale princes and princesses was easy.
Then I got my first period.
I became more skeptical and cynical with the help of my fluctuating hormones. As I matured, I wondered why the women I read about in romance novels kept acting in silly ways. How did they find themselves in such predicaments? How could they let it happen? These chicks are older than me and even I know better.
We’ve heard it all our lives how women are this and men are that, yadda yadda. But I’ve often wondered how much of it is self fulfilling. How much of this comes from soap operas and “reality” TV shows where these types of women attain diva status?
Well, most of it is for the sake of the story, and life isn’t always predictable. Prince Charming turns into King Asshole and suddenly the fairy tale princess needs a way out. As a result, I stopped reading romances for many years until erotica started coming out of the shadows and erotic romance (or “steamy romance” as it seems to be called now) pushed erotica aside and began to strut her stuff across the stage.
We tend to read for one or more of the following reasons: information, education, entertainment, escapism. Literature ranges from the wildest fantasy to the darkest, grimmest reality. Love and life can be messy and only the strong survive. Even vulnerable people can be strong and overcome adversity—as many romance novels can attest. Readers of romance and erotic romance tend to give grim reality wide berth.
Lately I’ve been reading lots of erotic romances where the women are just downright silly. What do I mean by silly? They say one thing but act the total opposite in a stereotypical fashion that makes me want to vomit. Usually the blame lies with the author who hasn’t grasped the skill it takes to make three-dimensional, believable characters.
I’ve lost count of how many of these female characters tell their audience (rather than show with their actions) that they are strong, sensuous, sexual beings…and then fail to deliver.
Plus the fact that this stuff sells and generates billions of dollars every year says a lot too. There’s a market for it, plain and simple.
Yet, at the same time, a “strong” woman is presented as being hysterical and acting out of pure rage and emotion. That’s not a good look either if it’s the only one you got.
But I do like stories of women exacting revenge and doing it with both eyes open. I recently read Money Shot by Christa Faust where the protagonist, Angel Dare, is a former porn star turned model/casting agent. Angel is a tough, experienced woman, but when she gets caught up in a situation and left for dead—she is pissed. The resulting story follows Angel going down the road to retribution. She has her moments of doubt and vulnerability, but in the end she does what she sets out to do.
In the end, I don’t mind reading fluff and puff—if that’s what I’m told to expect by way of the genre, book cover, blurb, author, publisher, or whatever. What I do mind is a story where the woman is presented to be in charge or regaining charge of her life after some setback, but as soon as she comes under threat, her spine disappears like a fart in a Jacuzzi and she runs to hide behind her man.
Originally published on my former blog. © 2015 by Jayne Marlowe. All Rights Reserved.