Unmasked as a sexist.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Yesterday in the ‘Tinkerbelle’ discussion below, one of my comments/replies stuck in my mind, because it seemed such backwards sexist thinking. I wrote that I didn’t want my Hero to be ‘powerless’. Vulnerabilities, hints of darkness, faults and weakness? Fine. But not ‘powerless.’

Later that evening, I came across a discussion on a listserve where one person noted that the allure of the Vampire hero was that he was Dark and Masterful, but because of the ‘fantasy’ aspect, his Uber-Alpha arrogance was rendered much more palatable. (I’m putting my own interpretation on the poster’s comments, here.) Yet, the thing bugging me, was that I realized I didn’t have the same reservations for the heroine; I didn’t mind at all if she was position of powerlessness in the story. No, wait! Before you tear up my membership card to the sisterhood, hear me out.

I don’t want my hero in a position of powerlessness because I want him to be ‘brought to his knees’ during the course of the story. Not literally, but whatever distant plane he existed on, where love did not touch him, he didn’t believe in it, I want him knocked off of it. I want love to come down on him like a sledge hammer. I want him to understand and experience the sacrifice, pain, joy, contentment, passion, support, etc of love. And I wanted him to do all this while still being the ‘Alpha’ that I adore.

Conversely, I want(ed) the heroine to show her intelligence, strength, resourcefulness, confidence as part of her growth arc. So if she was powerless in some way at the beginning of the story, by the end she should have achieved some sort of power, gained insight, moved forward. Ironic—and stupid—that I should think that for him to be better, he needs to be brought down, and for her to be better, elevated. But there it is.

I know the above statements won’t bear too close inspection, it’s twisted logic, yet it’s the best I can do to explain what I’m thinking. Does anyone else think this way? I know some readers are very fond of the *Big Grovelling* scene, where the arrogant hero confesses his love and begs the heroine's forgiveness for being such an asshole. This is the literal manifestation of what I'm talking about, (some people even want to see him "on his knees") but I don't really mean (or need) that.
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Trace said...

I'm not big on the grovelling scene because I've seen it in real life too many times, and the guy usually continues being and asshole. Hehehehe!

Jaye said...

You're right Trace, the DRAMATIC 11th hour mea culpa dosen't wash with me in real-life either. It's takes months (even years) of change for jerk to stop being an ass. I've been fortune not to have read those books where the H was such an idiot that the *big grovel* was needed.

Sasha White said...

Geez, Takin Orlando "down to Chinatown", bringing All Alpha's "To their Knees"...LOL

Jaye, do you have amean streak? *hehehe*


ma said...

This isn't how I work at all wrt my heroes so I find this post fascinating.

What are you targetting, if you're targetting a line or imprint or publisher?

Jaye said...

::hiding whip, handcuffs and "BDSM for Dummies" book behind her back:: Why whatever do you mean, Sash? ;)

Jorie, I'm not sure I work this way in writing my H's either. gg. But I was trying to dig a little deeper to find out what my resistance was to the 'enslaved' Hero, and that's what I came up with. And, yet, I see some much great possibilities with this--an historical where the H has been impressed/indentured, or was a POW. So maybe it's specifically the geni/loveslave thing that doesn't entice? I love Alphas/Gammas, though, and all my Hs fall within that range.

Now that you brought it up, what is your approach to writing and creating your Hs/characters?

ma said...

I don't know that I have an approach, in that it's easier to say what I don't do. I do know that when I write, I tend to have either the hero or heroine with more issues.

If the hero has more issues I have to watch that he isn't too angsty, to the point of being unheroic or incompetent. Because I do think there are different standards in romanceland for heroes and heroines. (That's not necessarily bad, btw. And one doesn't really want a totally incompetent heroine either. But the standards are there in part because the reader tends to identify with the heroine and fall in love with the hero, thus slightly different requirements.)

If the heroine has more issues than the hero, I find the hero easier to write, although then I have to deal with the why does he like her issue that crops up in some books.

Hmmm, this is more an exploration than an answer.

Jaye said...

lol. No worries. I enjoyed your 'exploration'. I like how you think about 'balances' in crafting your stories. :-) Very interesting that you find the H easier to write if the h has more issues to deal with. Could it be because he's responding to her?

I didn't answer your question did I? I'm targetting Single Title and/or Mainstream.

Anonymous said...

Good analyzing job, Vanessa.

I don't have much problem with the hero doing a knee scene. I've written 2 such stories (although one was an invitation to tango). They aren't really doing the 'big grovel'in an "oh, baby, I'll never do it again" sort of thing, but sincerely expressing feeling.

That sounded good, didn't it? :-D
But I think it is a fact that some women enjoy seeing the alpha male brought to his knees by love. Maybe because it ISN'T believable in real life.
(Must also admit that when Marvin Gaye dropped to his knees & screamed "Please!", I was done for...).


ma said...

Very interesting that you find the H easier to write if the h has more issues to deal with. Could it be because he's responding to her?Yes, it could be one of the reasons I like writing the laidback hero vs the tortured hero. Also laidback heroes, at least mine, tend to have a better sense of humor. All that said, though I struggled more with my tortured hero, I did love him lots :)

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