I love romance. Really, I do. But dammit if that genre isn’t on a level of internalized misogyny cringe that r/redpillwomen wishes it could reach (keep trying, ladies. That post about how women are water waiting to be molded by men-the supposed ‘containers for women’-came pretty darn close.)
Let’s dig into it. Internalized misogyny. Go!
1 The Virgin Protagonist
But let’s be real, it isn’t so much the fact that the protagonist is a virgin. It’s the way the narrative frames her virginity. In the romance genre, virginity is often used as a symbol of purity and moral superiority. The protagonist’s “innocence” is harped on.
Often she is juxtaposed against a sexually-active female antagonist. This antagonist is usually minor, a “slutty” blonde in class who has the gall to flirt with the male love interest (often before he even knows the protagonist exists and she has no claim to him, but still, what a bitch, right?) The adjectives used to describe this brazen hussy with the absolute uncouth to actually signal interest in a man (the horror!) almost unilaterally have a negative connotation. This girl wears “too-tight” skirts, “flaming” red lipstick, and “dagger-like” nails. Every interaction she has with the male-love interest is made to look desperate and unseemly. She bats her eyelashes, giggles uncontrollably, latches onto his arm possessively; you get the idea.
Innocent virgins who wait around for men to choose them=good.
Women who own their sexuality and aren’t afraid to go after the men they like=bad.
Has anyone told the romance genre we’re actually in the third (fourth?) wave of feminism? They seem to be stuck somewhere between the first and second. Like, women can vote and hold jobs (usually in publishing houses or bookstores), but no self-respecting woman would sully her good name by admitting she enjoys (gasp!) intercourse.
2. She’s Not Like The Other Girls
If you don’t know what the NLOG phenomena is I highly recommend watching this video by one of my favorite content creators. She also explains why the reaction to the NLOGs, the ‘Pick Me’ language is equally sexist. Which is exactly what I told the femcels. I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again, I detest femcels; they are my sworn internet enemies until the end of time. They’re way too nasty without a legitimate enough reason to be so. At least most of the incels are probably clinically depressed. But half the femcels admit to having boyfriends, all while shitting on fat/ugly men and the women who dare to date them (you awful ‘pick me’ desperate bitch! We ALL want to fuck Chad and you’re lying for male validation!) Anyway…I digress. Here you go:
The best example of the NLOG narrative I’ve read lately is Johanna Lindsay’s “Joining.” The MC loves to hang out in nature, raise birds of prey, and dress like a man. She describes women who are conventionally feminine as vapid and shallow. Lindsay didn’t invent this.
The protagonist proving how deserving she is of love by being quirky and interesting (as if these qualities are incompatible with femininity) is a classic hallmark of romance. I’d say it goes back at least as far as Austin’s work, but probably even further than that.
The protagonist is never actually interested in romance. She’s independent! She’s strong!
So, strong women can’t be interested in romance…no, of course not, that’s just silly vapid female thinking. Sorry, my brain don’t always work so good with all my lady hormones.
I don’t know about other romance readers, but I am SOOO freaking ready for a romance heroine who actually wants to be in love. Not one who falls in love despite herself.
I mean, as romance readers, we have an interest in romance. Do we view ourselves as silly vapid females?
This is a lot to unpack. The internalized misogyny is actually pretty painful once you get started. It gets worse though…
3. Dubious Consent
I’ll be plain and clear here. I’m sick of female protagonists getting raped.
And I’m not just talking about the clear-cut that-was-definitely-rape-holy-shit! scenes, like the one I’m still traumatized by from Judith McNaught’s, “Whitney, My Love.”
I’m also talking about the more insidious, sneaky stuff. Like Colleen Hoover’s sexual assault scene in “November 9.” Fallon says, “Stop.” And Ben responds by saying, “I’m trying. Ask me again.” In between these two lines of dialogue, there’s a lot of steamy narrative meant to make the scene erotic and appealing.
Dear Romance Writers: Stop Trying To Make Rape Sexy. Full Freaking Stop.
And Hoover has since come out and said that this scene was an editing error. Apparently, the dialogue between the two main characters was supposed to be referencing some in-joke, but the in-joke was cut from the final draft, making the scene seem worse than it is.
That’s a flimsy excuse that I’m not quite sure I buy, and even if I did, there shouldn’t be any in-jokes that could be construed as sexual assault. Even with all the in-jokes in the world, if a woman says “stop” and it isn’t some carefully-negotiated scene of consensual nonconsent complete with safe words, then the dude should stop and check in. Also, women shouldn’t jokingly say, “stop.” Women can muddy the waters of consent too and I don’t like it from either side.
Cherry Adair’s “In Too Deep” is another example (although to be fair to the specific works I’m calling out, there are a LOT of other books I could have gone with. Dubious consent is a major problem in the romance genre). In this cringe-tastic example of propagating rape culture, the main character is saved from a shipwreck by a super hunky dude. She’s afraid of the storm, so she sleeps in a bed with him. As she is sleeping, he starts kissing and groping her. She wakes up and he is already all over her. And she is into it! Adair really strove to make a man pawing an unconscious woman he met only hours earlier look sexy. It ain’t sexy! STAHP.
The vast majority of romance novels have a female protagonist between the ages of 18 and 23. This is despite the fact that the male love interests tend to be a wide variety of ages. Sheila Roberts’ contemporary Christmas romance ‘Christmas in Icicle Falls’ (which I had issues with for other reasons) and ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ (which I also wasn’t crazy about) are the only two romance novels I’ve ever seen with elderly women falling in love.
Forget elderly, what about middle-aged? Where are the romance novels with women in their 30’s?
I guess there aren’t any since women over 25 shrivel up and die, right? For real, can a woman past the prime age of 24 even HAVE sex?! That would just be crazy.
5) The Dread
The Dread is an idea I’m pulling straight from the pick-up artists over on r/asktheredpill. These men believe that women only like men who have other women after them. Here, look:
I didn’t always have a name for this phenomena in the romance genre. This element of female FANTASY, just soak that in-romance is female fantasy, where the female protagonist competes with other females and wins. Is this something any women in the world are actually getting off to?
One scene that comes to mind is the weird-ass part of the 50 Shades trilogy, where Christian’s crazy-ex shows up (and we could really dig into the misogyny behind the crazy ex character trope, but I’ve digressed enough). The part that made me cringe so hard I think I got whiplash was when Christian tells Ana that he gave his ex a bath. A BATH. Because she was so filthy from being so severely depressed for so long.
Ew. Okay, maybe I’m being a little bit of an NLOG myself now. I guess I’m hoping there actually aren’t any ‘other girls’ getting wet to the idea of their man bathing a woman on the brink of a psychotic break.
There’s also the sub-genre of historical romance known as the Shiek Romance. Maybe these aren’t published anymore now that we’re living in such progressive times (but for real, can the romance genre catch some of that SJW energy?) All I know is I keep finding them in used bookstores and I’ve bought a few and that’s a me-problem that I will cop to. These books usually involve a harem. This is a man who has been banging loads of women on the regular, but then the protagonist shows up and she is so special and wonderful, that he gives up all other females FOR HER. SHE IS THE SUPERIOR FEMALE!
I might enjoy the historical setting and some of the power imbalance (sorry-tis true) but the dread? I’m not feeling it.
Throw it away. Throw the whole trope away.
Stop proving all these red pill jokers right. (Isn’t Joker blackpill?-shhh….none of my readers are weird enough to get that joke…..or ARE they? Leave the weirdness in the comments below!)
Okay, that’s all I got for you. The Romance Genre is horribly misogynistic and in an SJW-world, I don’t understand why a purple-pilled MRA like me is the one complaining about it.