Sunday, July 25, 2010

What Every Woman Needs.

Rated R for ranting.

The modern woman is capable of everything all at the same time. She is educated, socially powerful, physically fit, elegant, beautiful, passionate, etc... Oh yeah, she is also a wonderful mother. With this wonder-woman ideal in mind, it must be hard to read historical romances where the woman is uneducated and raised solely to obey her father and then her husband. Where the woman is flawed if she fails to produce children sons.

Then again, I can't remember the last historical romance I've read that had a heroine that fit the norms of the social history of her era. More and more, she seems to fit modern norms. Occasionally there is a meek young miss who is submissive and reproductive, but then she grows out of it and develops a modern day backbone.

This does not really bother me. Why? The reader needs to relate to the heroine. She needs to want to be part of the fantasy. She's not looking for realism or else we'd have the heroine have an awkward menstrual moment or pee when she sneezed. We read romance to escape reality. So a historically unrealistic heroine is fine(ish).

What is not fine is the increasing amount of alpha females I read about. Not only is she perfect, both in our era and her's, but she is dominant and everyone accepts that. The poor men that try to challenge her supremacy end up emasculated husks, shivering in a dark corner of their room. Except for the alpha male they end up with.

Alpha + Alpha = bloodbath

An Alpha male wants to dominate. An Alpha female wants to dominate. He thinks he'll cure her dominant spirit with his magical penis. She thinks he's too stupid to realize she's manipulating him, which she's not. This is not a good situation. But, what ends up happening? There is some hot domination, she gives in, and the magical penis prevails.

Eventually, he respects that she's intelligent, but it doesn't really matter because she's learned to trust him implicitly. And the penis.

So that leads me to a question -- is that the fantasy women want to escape into? That the alpha super woman needs a good man to tame her? Hey, I understand the dream of having no responsibilities and being taken care of (being a cat), but that aside, women have fought hard for the right to have unattainable standards of excellence. And even though the heroine archetype may have changed a bit to meet our standards, her fall into love is also a fall into cavewoman-like subservience.

I'm not saying this is wrong, but it seems counter intuitive.



Raquel Byrnes said...

I remember talking about this and didn't come to any great conclusion. I don't quite know what the reason is...maybe genre, maybe customer driven.

On the other hand, its not a sign of weakness to trust someone else or to realize that you don't know everything and may need a hand. Even the President, who holds the most powerful position in the free world, has advisors and needs to trust them.

I don't think the heroine is giving in to anything other than the logical conclusion that she is not smarter than everyone...and can't do everything on her own.

On the other hand, she shouldn't completely abdicate her hand in the decision-making process...whatever the dilema she is facing...just because she falls in love.

A true alpha male would not be threatened by her personal power and need to squash her to feel in charge. He'd recognize her as an ally and respect her for it. Plus...maybe he'd flex a little. =)

Jiren said...

Chalk it up to the conflict between our higher reasoning and our lizard brains.

Yes, humans have created things like the brandenburg concertos, robots that have left the solar system, and works like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

We also like super nachos, and monster trucks, and MMA ultimate fighting championships.

For guys and gals both, there seem to be physical traits, and ratios for those traits (chest:waist:hips) that seem the most appealing. No rational explanation, except it's built-in.

What you're describing could be a result of a conflict between our desire to want things for good, rational, respectable reasons, and the lizard section of our brain that likes 'stuff cuz it's hawt'.

As always, guys are doomed whichever side of the equation they land on.

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