Can I watch two people fall in love without a bunch of sexist problematic tropes? And to be clear, I do think the romance genre is sexist towards both men and women.
I’m covering the ways we women objectify men in this article, but stay tuned! I’m not forgetting about all the terrible internalized misogyny. That will be coming in a future post.
5) Financial Objectification
Men aren’t financial objects. Get out of here with all of that Billionaire/CEO romance. Like, dudes can’t even be regular rich in romance. It’s never “Taken by the Guy Who Invested in Bit Coins and Made a Decent Chunk of Change.” It’s always Billionaires.
Speaking as a feminist here, if we can talk about the ways that porn objectifies women, we can hold our own gender accountable for this BS.
And this trope really contributes to a culture that’s talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to men as providers. Women are unapologetically lusting after very rich dudes, while at the same time saying “Women should earn just as much as men. We should be independent and not need a man to provide.”
Hey, I’m so on board with that. Both people should contibute financially in a relationship. Neither should feel pressured to make more because of outdated gender norms. But can we say all of that while reading Billionaire books? I feel like no.
I want more romance with broke, hardworking dudes. I want more romance with retail workers, Uber drivers, accountants, IT help desk workers.
Men are not financial objects, and in a world that’s striving to be post-patriarchy, we have to give men a break. It’s just not fair to want to be treated as equals when it suits us, but also want to put the burden on men to provide.
4) The Player
The dude is always a player, or if it’s historical romance, a rake. He’s always banged a bunch of chicks. He’s super experienced.
Can I take this moment to give some props to season 23 of The Bachelor? I’m not embarrassed. I watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I know that’s not exactly the intellectual opinion to have, but I don’t give very many shits. I’m not fancy.
Anyhow, Colton is a virgin. That’s cool. Now, I do think it would have been better to lay off the virgin talk a teensy little bit. Just act like a dude being a virgin is a normal thing. But hey, they brought attention to the double-standard that is male versus female virginity. Pretty cool for such a mainstream show to do.
Females are almost always virgins in romance. So much so that when they aren’t, I’m pleasantly surprised and make a note of it. If that isn’t evidence of internalized misogyny, I don’t know what is.
In romance, the guy being experienced is painted as sexy, while the virginity of the female is held up as evidence of how desirable she is. Freaking gross.
There isn’t something wrong with a man if he’s a virgin. Men aren’t sex-crazed beasts, and they can choose to wait for all kinds of reasons, just like women can.
3) Creepy/Stalkery behavior
What’s up with the romance genre presenting creepy shit as sexy?
We’ve got Christian Grey following Ana on vacation, like a fucking creep. Like, dude, you weren’t invited. Get out of here. She wants to see her mom. If he wasn’t a hot, rich dude, I feel like the story would be less erotic/romance, more thriller, with Ana fighting to protect herself from this possessive, boundary-crossing creep.
I just read one Romantic Suspense that incensed me so much, I wrote a Goodreads review, Amazon review, and sent the author a message, demanding to know why her book is so rapey. I will let you all know if Cherry Adair ever gets back to me.
2) Lack of Diverse Body Types
We’re supposed to be such a body-positive world, but there is only one body type to be found in romance; full of muscles and TALL.
Poor short guys. They have to deal with the psychological damage that comes from being told they are failing at masculinity. To be a man is to be TALL. Also, ripped.
Here’s some r/nicegirls for y’all
This is our dirty laundry fellow women. Most of aren’t so brazen about it, but the attitudes the Nice Girls TM are displaying towards short guys aren’t all that unusual.
Let’s write men with all kinds of bodies in romance. Tall and short and ripped and skinny and fat and able-bodied and disabled and dark and light and….you get my point. It’s too damn homogeneous in the romance genre.
1 ) Broken Boy/Wounded Puppy
This one disgusts me more than any other. I’m so sick of male leads with emotional baggage. Just give me an emotionally healthy, well-adjusted male lead!
Christian Grey-Mommy issues and neglect
Hardin from Anna Todd’s ‘After’ series-severe trauma do to abuse and neglect
Caleb from ‘Chasing Red’-Daddy issues.
Looking at the sheer number of ‘cold and distant bad boys’ in the romance genre, you’d think we women can’t get off to a normal, chill dude. We can! But why aren’t those men more prevalent in the genre?
The romance genre is a problem ladies. We need to get our shit together. Men are not objects. They’re people like us.
Let’s start working together to get the romance genre to reflect that.
I’ll end by shouting out an erotic romance writer who really has her shit together. I know that I struggle to find non-asshole dudes in books with BDSM elements. Check out this fantastic lady and her refreshing twist on the BDSM sub-genre. Emotionally-intelligent empathetic men and badass women who can take care of themselves. A dom who is a sweetheart. My heart might just leak all the way out of my chest ❤
Check her out on wattpad. That site gets such a bad rap, but I think some of the most original content can be found there if you know where to look. PixieStormCrow. Super hot, without all the emotional abuse, financial objectification, or other problematic tropes.
More of this guys…please romance writers…more sweet men who communicate and engage with their partners in a healthy way.