Monday, December 07, 2015

Why we shoud stop acting as if romance heros are real

Becca Fizpatrick said: "As a teen, I was completely in love with Heathcliff. As an adult, he terrifies me." Which makes perfect sense because Heathcliff is the very spirit of resentment and rebellion. But those qualities are less appealing when you are looking for a life partner who can both sweep you off your feet and remember to pay the cable bill.

There is a lot of talk about how Christian Grey encourages women to enter abusive relationships. Wanting a billionaire makes people shallow and wanting a large penis even more so. Commentators carry on like the Byronic hero is still considered some modern invention of which Grandmother Literature very much does not approve. Society purses its lips and says: you are meant to swoon over Thor, not Loki.

Romance books are trotted out every so often as the reason why woman make bad romantic decisions.  And that kind of patronizing bullshit is only to be expected from the more stolid type of old boy journalist or Ivy league scholar.  But can we please skip the hegemony of tarring ourselves with that brush as the actual creators and consumers of the genre,

Women want what they want. At different times in our lives we may take outings with different fantasy men (and/or women etc).  Perhaps we dabble similarly with real people, perhaps not. But we are not--as a rule--the kind of weak-minded idiots who turn stupid just because we read a book. No more than we as authors have some evil conspiracy to drive the female nation into the arms of slavering beasts.

We can trust women to have fantasies because even when it goes wrong, it is a whole lot better than the alternative.  If anything, being able to take a fictional Heathcliff for a test drive might be just the tonic for realizing you would not want to bring him home to meet Mother.

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