Does the romance genre expect too much from the modern man?

So, I’m a girl. I’ve been a girl for a long, long time. It’s really a career choice at this point, and I’m reader and writer of romances. Yes, I’ve even written stuff like this:

He nodded. “Mrs. Markey, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, and you have a lovely home.” Boyd Ramsey grabbed up his flat-rimmed uniform hat and followed her out to the porch.
He paused at the steps. “Adra, I don’t want you to feel obliged….”
Adra interrupted him with a hand on his wrist. “I don’t.”
When she looked up at his face, her breath caught, honest to god, caught in her chest. He was a beautiful man, easily masculine without being threatening, with neat even features in his face, and a body that didn’t quit. Adra knew when she was outgunned, and this man had extra ammunition in the form of dark, bedroom eyes.
“You’re gonna be my next mistake, aren’t you?” She whispered.
A slow, pleased grin spread out across his face. “Only one way to find out. What time do you want me on Saturday?”
“Oh, hell, make it six. We can go eat.”

Boyd Ramsey is the typical “Aw, shucks, Ma’am” hero, and he’s like every other Romanceland native; handsome, honorable, sweet, heroic. They have to be heroic. Romance readers want their men to be fleshed out, fine examples of manhood, and, if we’re honest, that’s what women everywhere want in their men.

I’ve been told… usually by men, that this is overwhelming to them. We expect too much. There’s too much pressure on men to be perfect if you go by the Romance standard. Is there? Is there really?

Is it really this hard?

There is a certain… https_mashable.comwp-contentgalleryfoursquare-ryan-gosling-memegosling-meme-7Je ne sais quoi about a man who knows his way around a woman’s mind. Just like every man in existence, women want to be heard. It’s something we all want, and you find that in almost any random man in Romanceland. To be heard is to be known.

A man wants to be known, as does any woman. Yet, let me give you guys a taste of RL for the women folk. We very often do not get heard.

In fact, we are often dismissed without a hearing simply because we’re women. That’s a thing that happens. Every little girl learns early that there will be these moments when we KNOW something or have something to contribute to a subject, and it will be completely ignored. I’m not saying ALL men now. I’m just saying this is an inevitable part of the female experience, and we come to expect it. It’s part of being a girl.

Therefore, there is the wish of every woman to be valued in this way. Male citizens of Romanceland know how to talk it out. They usually have a burning curiosity about a woman. That’s like moth to flame right there, Boys.

Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven?

Aw, come on. You know that’s part of the charm of romance novels. They are about men and women who are completely into each other, and that’s why it’s romantic. This is a rarity in real life.

For my example, see the tornado… Wha? you say. Just roll with this, kay?heygirlbelieve.jpg

What kind of conditions make tornadoes? It’s gotta be warm and stormy. There must be instability in the air that usually only accompanies a cold front ahead of a low pressure system. All these conditions have to be right to get tornadoes, and that’s true of romance, too. There are conditions that have to be met.

Romance occurs when attraction appears between two or more individuals who have a mutual respect  and intense interest in each other. The pressure system doesn’t really matter in a romance, but I’ve heard that it’s extremely likely if one is on the run from bad guys and the other is a bodyguard. We’ll call that a high pressure system because it amuses me.

It’s just not that common, and so, there is this huge market for it among men and women who have a strong desire to experience this kind of feeling.

Feeling the pressure, boys?

You shouldn’t be. Here’s my point; Why is any of what I just wrote hard?

That’s my point. Why is it hard to listen to women, give their ideas respect, and value their contribution to your life? Why is romance so rare in life?

Because it’s not that simple, maybe? Or maybe it is. When I read romance, I’m looking for something. I am looking for that elusive experience that comes with love. It’s something I see as beautiful and worthy and noble, and I love to watch the story progress to that moment.  And, maybe, I wanna be her for a second. heygrilwriting.jpg

If book boyfriends are your competition, (and they aren’t because they aren’t real) you are being outplayed by and large. Our culture mocks romance, and it’s readers so often. Movies that are romantic are “chick flicks”, and should, therefore be something guys only go to when forced by said chick, right?  Sexy books are labeled as distinctly nonintellectual time wasters, and there seems to be this extra bias that women who read sex are perverse. Yet, men who visit porn hub on a semi-regular basis are just being “guys”.  These are the biases we have out there in the world, right or wrong.

Yet, what’s emerging on page after page of Romancelandia is the strong, sexually aware and comfortable heroine who doesn’t need to be saved, but does want very much to be loved, to be seen and to be valued for what is found in her. She’s not flawless, and she’s not looking for the perfect guy.  Usually, she’s looking for a solution to a problem, and Boom! She’s swept up in a romance. We all read the forecast. It’s not a surprise, but it is a great story.

I guess my point is this: I’m tired of the narrative that romance is for the weak, mushy brained female. I’m tired of the idea that men in romance novels are over idealized. Decent guys shouldn’t be the ideal. They should be as common as sea shells.

And, honestly, if book boyfriends are that ideal, why are guys not reading our books like they are the most sought after how to ever written? You wanna know how to fix a car you check the manual. I’m just sayin’

 

4 thoughts on “Does the romance genre expect too much from the modern man?

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  1. I’m a guy who’s written romance novels as well as science fiction and science fiction romances. I even inspired a Rita-finalist novel that was dedicated to me — just call me Mr Valentine. While I agree with much of what you say, the idea that “decent guys shouldn’t be the ideal, they should be as common as sea shells,” implies that decent guys are what women want in a romance hero. In general, they don’t. Oh sure, if the decent guy is a billionaire or a prince, that will work — but fictional heroes need to be bigger than life rather than some guy who’d make a great husband/bf in the real world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true that there is a market for the so called Alpha hole heroes, but I think that’s part of the problem. We’ve glorified those guys far too long. Romanticizing abuse is a big problem for the writing industry, imho. As a reader, I find myself unsatisfied by airbrushed heroes, and I wonder ( I have no data on this) if I’m the only one. A lot of times I buy a book based on concept or cover, and I finish. It’s okay, but it doesn’t blow my mind with the relationship therein, and so much of that is based in the current trend for Alpha male toxic masculinity. Maybe that trend is there because we’ve put it there? That’s what I’m questioning lately. Which came first the stories or the alphaholes?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well said! It’s a challenge for me to write ‘mainstream’ romance for this reason… I’m just not into the alpha thing. Been there, done that, in real life, and as we all know, it doesn’t end well. What’s sexier than a man who listens, helps out, and offers to do the dishes? (Especially if all he wears is the apron! 😉

    On the other hand, I don’t want to be held up to the supposedly idealized male standard for female sexiness, either. My days as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model are done… well, to be honest, never were. So where does that leave us? Are we able to have a rich fantasy life, and also enjoy reality? Or does fiction only serve to underline all the things we can’t really have in our actual lives? Food for thought, I guess.

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    1. LOL> Right there with ya. I think we can be real with our readers. I was reading an AR Declerck today, and these characters are so real, even down to being so scared the MC wets herself. I loved that little piece of human weakness in there. It’s not romantic or heroic. It’s real. I think the same could be done with heroes in our books. I try to anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

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