“Thoughtful Ramblings” is a feature where we discuss bookish subjects. These posts are just our own thoughts about certain topics that may get us hot under the collar and we need a good rant or just things we want to share with fellow bloggers and readers.
Are Romances Sexist Towards Men?
A few months ago now, I read an interesting blog post on romances. The crux of the article was that romance books gave women unrealistic expectations of men both in terms of looks and the way they behave.
The main points raised were:
- The book covers ‘objectify men as sex objects’
- The novels promote dissatisfaction in real relationships
I would like to clearly state that I’m not here to disparage this blog post in the slightest, in fact I found it really interesting. It made me think. How do I think of the heroes I read about in romance novels? You can read it for yourself here: ‘Sexism & Paranormal Romance’
Firstly, you all know as I’ve ranted, *ahem* discussed, my views on the half naked men covers. As far as I’m concerned they can die a silent death and never return. I’m just not a fan, most of the time they make me cringe. But I know plenty of women who do. Who sizzle at the site of all those six packs. But are they any worse than say the latest men’s aftershave billboard or a women’s lingerie advert? I really don’t think so.
Then, what about how the men behave in the books? Quite frankly some of the real ‘alpha’ heroes, while they might be sexy in a book, when they’re rescuing the heroine from certain death, fighting evil villains and hell bent on protecting the heroine at all costs. But, I think if I were to live them in I might want to gag them and lock them in the cupboard under the stairs.
It’s always romantic to think of the love of your life willing to put their life before yours and I would like to think if it ever came to it my hubby would, but day to day I’d just be happy if he’d put up the towel rail in the bathroom I’ve been asking him to do for months. I know my love of romances doesn’t give me any unrealistic expectations.
Do they objectify men? It’s very rare to come across an ugly hero in a romance, or for the fact an urban fantasy novel. With perhaps the exception of Kane’s Downside Ghost series. They are all gloriously handsome. I know all of us BCC ladies have our favourites Eric Northman, Barrons and Bones spring to mind *quick moment to fan myself*, so is there some objectification going on there? Probably, if I’m honest I guess there is a bit. I like my hunky heroes. Do I think all men look like Greek Gods? Of course not. But it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy picturing them like that in my mind’s eye.
Aren’t books after all about escapism? I like to read paranormal books because I want my imagination taken to new worlds, where the impossible is possible, or where the movie star really does fall in love with the dowdy girl next door. Am I really hurting anyone by reading them? They are no different in mind my to that two week holiday in the sun, fabulous while you’re there, but you know it’s not real life. The bump back to reality will undoubtedly follow. Books are about entertainment. Simply put, the heroes in my romance books are fiction, I know they’re fiction and I’m happy for them to stay that way.
The most important point is are we demeaning men in some way by portraying them this way? I genuinely don’t think so. The heroes in the books are exactly that… Heroes. They are intelligent, brave, determined, loved and respected. They are not shown as airheads draped across a shiny new car. And that in my mind is the real distinction.
We all know the slogan ‘sex sells’ and romance fans know this more than most. In terms of the covers, ok there is a small amount of male objectification going on. But not in a way I believe that demeans men. I certainly don’t think it gives me any unrealistic expectations in my life, I know it’s fiction and that’s why I read it. I’m not into gritty, realistic dramas, I want werewolves, vampires and delicious heroes. Just for a few hours a week.