There is a trend in the Paranormal Romance Genre that had become extremely popular, unfortunately. It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly it started in Paranormal Romance but we can see where it clearly became incredibly popular.
|So we meet again…
The trend is in the serialized romance novel that the series focuses on a group of men. TV Tropes calls them a Badass Crew. For PNRs I call them a Badass Boy Band, sometimes with a token Action Girl. They are immortal badasses who fight evil. Each novel will involve one of these men finding a special lady friend to love for all eternity whilst progressing the overall series plot enough for the next Boy Band Badass to find his own groupie in the next book and so on and so forth.
Each book in the series generally contains most, if not all of the boy band immortals fighting evil together. What happens to the women we meet in each book? For the most part, they disappear, only to be occasionally spoken about, arrive for weddings or show up occasionally to use their special talents.
What happens when Action Girl meets her own stud in her book? Generally he somehow joins her in immortality and fights alongside the group, becoming another Boy Band Badass. Look, I know these novels are just for fun, but it is also an aggravating and incredibly unfeminist foundation to have. It reinforces the concept that Men are strong, Women are pretty. Sure you have Token Action Girl there but that just reinforces that she’s different or a freak.
In fact, sometimes Token Action Girl is only Action Girl because circumstance made her that way but if she had her choice, she’d be at home raising babies.
Another take home message of these series is that men can have a story and a life outside of romance, but for women that is the greatest apex there is and once reached, they no longer matter in the grand scheme of things. It also displays the reader’s lack of interest in female characters outside the protagonist which is disturbing. It reinforces the unconscious belief that Men Act, Women Are.
But then, still in the media is a long standing lack of female characters since most writers have been male for such a long time. Who can even guess what effect that has on our gender psyche anymore?
Allow me to give you a situation and you tell me if you think it would make a best selling romance novel.
Action Girl is having it out with her Badass Crew of other Action Girls. In the face of Unspeakable Evil, she must battle and rage. She finds that Unspeakable Evil has a man. This man is terrified. Crying, whimpering and weak. She rescues him but not without difficulty. He slows her down, trips her up and even though she has an unspeakably sexual appeal to him, because he is after all very pretty, she finds it frustrating that he is stupid, stubborn and sometimes lacks serious logical skills. But that’s okay, it’s just how men are. Stupid, weak and pathetic. She must care for his every need. Especially when he passes out, which he does often. This sometimes includes bathing his unconscious body and putting him to bed tenderly.
He often rebuffs her advances out of some misbegotten prudity but eventually gives into his own lusts. Action Girl has the opportunity to teach him about his sexuality and they go up together against Unspeakable Evil. He gets kidnapped again and through great pain and strife, Action Girl must save him. It’s true love. They run off into the sunset together.
Something tells me test audiences would struggle with this gender reversal and writing it this way makes it seem that much more unbelievable. Action Girls don’t want pansy, useless, whimpering men. They want men that can compare to their badassery! Yet Badass Men will be totally happy and in love with the Damsel in Distress.
It’s the idea that women would naturally want a partner at least equal to them but that men would be happy with a woman as long as she has a functioning, albeit shy, vagina. It does men just as much a disservice as it does women. That men must know everything, be able to do everything etc because their partner will inevitably useless is just as sad a story to pass onto the male gender.
|We could probably give this a trope name by itself. Call it the Riley Whines Trope.
Isn’t it time we became just as invested in the life and trials of female protagonists as we do our male protagonists? This is a genre written by women, for women. Why is it just as sexist as every other form of media out there?
Here’s a test. Go through your PNR shelves and name the male characters in each book. Then try and name the female characters alongside them. I certainly hope you do better than I do because my results were something along the lines of: Troy and massive tits, Harold and long, silky legs, Scott and the bootylicious ass, etc.
Why aren’t these female characters more memorable like Mac and Barrons? Why don’t they stand out as real characters that are just as tangible?
Why don’t PNR Authors call a spade a spade and write the adventures of Sparky and his group of Boy Band Badasses who have to save Sparky’s fleshlight from the bad guy? It would kind of be more realistic. Sadly, I can only name two PNR series that revolve around a sisterhood type set up and only one of them is in any way popular.
Isn’t it time that we feature more in our own novels? Isn’t it time for a Black Dagger Sisterhood to showcase real female characters, varied feminine personal struggles and female centered romances? Isn’t it time that novels reflect the real world in which women are 51% of the population, instead of the fringe? Isn’t it time our stories are just as valid and readable as a man’s struggles?
Come on, Authors! Where is the sisterhood?