Everyone has been talking about Trope Anatomy 101: Reader, I Didn’t Marry Him – I Kicked His Jerk Ass to the Curb at The Book Smugglers and Brief Analysis of Alphahole Trope in Romantic Fiction by Ilona Andrews.
My thoughts? I think it’s valid and important to analyse and discuss what shows up in romance fiction and what romance tropes show up in other genres of fiction, because romance is a mature genre that deserves the kind of criticism that means it’s taken seriously. Does that mean that most skewering of romance tropes do take the romance genre seriously? Not so much.
But also, I really really hate alpha male posturing in romance. And I hate most important gothic novels I’ve had to read and the ways a lot of people misconstrue them as beautiful love stories (I hate to read Wuthering Heights in high school and hated it, too). So I can see why many people would think those and the terrible Mills and Boon I read as a teen where the romantic hero throws his weight around and forces kisses on the heroine are two sides of the same coin. There are also plenty of stories (and not just in the romance genre) where in a heterosexual plot the female love interest is terrible to the male, or both are contemptuous of each other and this is passed off as romantic tension. So even though I absolutely 100% understand the criticisms of the first post… I sympathise.
And even as an avowed lover of the romance genre, there have been plenty of times when someone has assured me there’s no Alpha nonsense in a story and then I read the book and see the man holds his partner down to stop her from leaving or pressures her into rushing into things or makes all her decisions for her. Which makes me feel hella claustrophobic, let me tell you. None of this rant is necessarily addressing either of those earlier posts, but they do remind me of what bothers me about a lot of romance in fiction – and honestly most of the time I’m fine with stuff I’m not into existing, but I wish it was easier for me to read it out so I didn’t have to read it.
Earlier in the month Sonya Heaney posted the throught-provoking post The Girl Whose Daughter’s Husband’s Wife, about a trend in titling books that effectively reduces female characters to their relationship with a man. But also, I have to say it makes me want someone to write a story called ‘The twenty-four-year-old Boy with the Daffodil Tattoo‘.