I read a lot of paranormal romance. And I mean, a lot. In fact, I made a conscious decision a week or so ago to branch out into different genres, to read a good horror or thriller once or twice a month. So yeah, I read this genre a lot and as a result, I’ve picked up on certain behaviors or characteristics that some authors deem ‘masculine’ or ‘sexy’. But let’s dig beneath the surface a bit, let’s read between the lines and see the disturbing truth hidden behind a facade of ink and paper. Are these characters exhibiting qualities desirable in a partner or lover? Or are they, in fact, exhibiting qualities typically found in power-hungry, dominant and obsessive individuals?
1. Female characters being lied to in a bid to ‘protect’ them
Not something that appears in each and every book that I’ve read but something that’s appeared enough. At first glance, it might seem a sweet notion. We might think “Oh, he/she/they doesn’t want <insert character’s name> to feel scared.” and we might read into this behavior as a need to protect said female character. But isn’t it actually a little bit patronizing? If these characters respect the female character half as much as they usually claim, surely they’d just honor her by giving her the truth? This situation is dangerous. This person isn’t who you thought they were. That kinda thing. Sure, the truth can sometimes hurt but I think relationships needs to be built upon a foundation of truth and trust, not omissions disguised as fierce protectiveness.
2. Characters being reminded of their weaknesses.
So often I’ve read a book where a character (usually male) has taken it upon themselves to vocally acknowledge the vast chasm existing between them and another character in terms of power, strength, ability and knowledge. Usually, it’s explained away as a desire to see the character their verbal tirade is aimed at safely out of harms way. In one book, pre-epic fight, a vampire told a mortal woman that her age and experience in comparison to his was ‘laughable’ and as much as I adored the book, I thought it was such a callous thing to say. There are other ways to persuade a person to sit out a fight other than tearing their self-esteem to shreds. This behavior is unacceptable. It’s not sexy. It’s not powerful. It’s just unnecessary verbal abuse designed to knock a character’s confidence so they’ll stay out a fight.
3. Guys getting a raging hard on mid-argument
Oh my lord. This happens in 90% of paranormal romance novels! Actually, don’t take that statistic too seriously. I haven’t properly researched it or anything, but damn, it sure as hell feels like 90%! It’s just so belittling and fictional women usually see it as this and rightfully vent their fury (even if they do eventually succumb to the power of the penis moments afterwards). Fictional guys, regardless of how sexy or beautiful a woman might look when angered, it’s so not the time to be getting aroused! It’s the time to listen and understand what exactly it is that has caused the argument and figuring out a way to resolve it. Nothing pisses me off more than a guy exerting his dominance and silencing a woman mid-argument with sex. Dude, there’s time for that later.
4. Guys being absolute dicks to their love interest
Everybody loves a bad boy, right? A guy who doesn’t wash the dishes until *horrified gasp* the morning after. A guy who wears odd socks…oh wait, that’s not a bad boy? You mean, being condescending, controlling and over bearing is what makes a bad boy? Hmm. Maybe I’m not so eager to find one after all…
5. Taking possessiveness to the extreme
This is the 21st century, people. Women are not property. Women have their own lives and they’re 100% entitled to carry on living these lives regardless of who they fall for. Some fictional guys respect this. For example, Prince Loren from Felicity Heaton’s Eternal Mates series is fine with Olivia carrying on with her research at Archangel. In fact, this series is full of guys who respect their significant others enough to allow them to carry on with their careers. However, there are some series or books where women simply accept the fact that seeing their friends or carrying on with their jobs is going to be impossible now that they’re shacked up with a guy who wants to wrap them in cotton wool and protect them from the harsh realities of their supernatural world. Sorry, but this isn’t sexy. This isn’t a typically masculine behavior. It’s just disturbing. A relationship shouldn’t entail having to give up essential parts of your life.
What are your thoughts? Have you got anything to add to the list?