If you have a “Book Boyfriend” just admit you’re reading porn.

This might be an unpopular message, but I hate the words “Book Boyfriend.”  I’ve been seeing it a lot on Faceboook recently. I don’t mind that people revel in the characters they love, what drives me crazy is my Facebook feed lately has just been loaded with crap like this along with half-naked men.

1044082_592853724070180_1985116847_nThe fact that I am seeing a bunch of idealized cheesecake shots of men is proof of porn. (No I am not going to put images on my blog.)

Now I admit, I tend to find romance books disappointing. I have read more than a few. Contemporary romance authors are very good at pacing and keeping the tension in the narrative so I have learned from them. I have lots of author friends on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t want to name names, because I’d never want to hurt another author–especially an independent author– but I’ve been reading a lot of teasers for summer and fall releases and many of the teasers have red flags for me.

I keep seeing “alpha men” intimidate women or make decisions for them. They steal kisses or “play” threaten. They push for commitment early. They tell a woman she is beautiful and they are going to seduce her. They get what they want. Why can they do this? First of all they are all so handsome–and in a spicy books, they are also well-endowed. Secondly, many of them are rich or famous or leaders of industry. Basically, they have a special snowflake status that allows them to go around acting like jerks.

They can do it because the woman is head over heels in love/lust for them. The female protagonist acting spunky doesn’t change the fact, I want to tell the guy to step the f*** off.  I don’t even give them a second glance after they showed me their “alpha” side.  I don’t care if they can give the female money, fame, security or whatever else it is they want.

Basically it annoys me when a character is broken down to what they can give the protagonist. (Money and hot sex are the most common desirable traits for men.) That’s just sad.

The man I love and the ones I find sexy are men who respect women. They are strong in their own right, they have no need to rule over anyone. I married a sweet, caring, sensitive boy who now is a sweet, caring, sensitive, and extremely intelligent man. He appreciates my independent nature. He doesn’t try to change me or expects that I change for him. Nor do I expect him to change for me. Maybe that’s why our life is boring. We simply treat each other well. I realize that doesn’t make for a good story.

However even as an author, I write about men who are people. I want them to be more than flights of female fantasy.

At least from the reviews, I have seen, Harden has been nearly everyone’s favorite character in Other Systems. He was raised to believe there is no difference between men and women so he treats everyone with respect as human beings. Reproductive organs are irrelevant to the work they do. He doesn’t sexualize women. In his romantic relationships, he expects equals.He is neither submissive or dominant.  He is simply a person. Obviously he makes mistakes, he is a bit gruff especially with younger people, but I tried to make it clear in the narrative, Harden treats Abby EXACTLY the same way as he treated his little brother Mark when Mark was in his late teens.

Now I’m finishing up The Light Side of the Moon. I wrote about a sweet, intelligent boy who grows into an idealistic man trying to build a utopia. Now unlike Harden who is used to living in close quarters with women, Ian Whitlatch did not grow up with women (except good old Mum) so he tends to idealize them. However he was raised to respect all people.

He is the only child of a small-town doctor and the manager of a charity soup kitchen. Don’t expect him to have lots of money. Dad works in a factory town and will help everyone whether they can pay or not. Mum doesn’t take a salary for her work instead donates her time to feed the impoverished. For the Other System’s Universe they are wealthy, but for the average family in the United States, they would definitly be lower middle class.

Oh and Ian will have to grow into his looks:

At age nineteen, this is how he describes himself:

Ian looked in the mirror, another pimple formed between his nostril and cheek during his excursion in the city. Mum always said he had Dad’s looks. That was unfortunate for both of them, because even when his skin was clear, Ian’s forehead was too high and his nose too big. 

Two years later: Ellie (age 13) describes him thus:

…She hit the decking. Her legs burned as she skidded down the last four meters of the ramp, but the luggage stopped moving. She  pressed her lips together tightly and tried to blink back her tears. 

“Êtes-vous bien, mademoiselle?

She looked up. The light created a halo from his straight sandy-brown hair, but when her eyes cleared, she saw his prominent nose. Then she looked past his nose and into his deep green eyes that were filled with concern.

Not thinking she answered back in English. “Yes thank you, sir.”

He wore an officer’s uniform, but she almost cringed away from his soft delicate hand that reached down for her.  “You’re an Englishwoman?” he asked helping her to her feet. 

So I doubt Ian (or any character I write) will be anyone’s “book boyfriend”, but I’m okay with that.

I know there are plenty of authors and readers who follow my blog, what kinds of characters drive you crazy?

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9 responses to this post.

  1. My thoughts exactly. It’s especially disturbing that many female authors write their male characters in this manner and even more so that works featuring such characters, such as the Twilight saga and 50 Shades of Gray, are so popular with teenage girls. (Unfortunately, I speak from personal experience; once upon a time, I was a Twihard that didn’t know any better.) I am so glad that we’re beginning to see stronger female roles in media.

    Reply

    • A fiction diet steady on male-dominated “romantic” relationships is terrible for anyone, but especially young people. Girls are told love/lust is the most important thing ever. It hurts boys by promoting the sexually aggressive stereotypes or flat out stalker activities.

      However, I have admitted before if Twilight came out when I was 13, I would have loved it too. I haven’t read 50 shades, I have read some other romances and honestly I say “meh.” I’m also just not that interested in what other people do unless it’s mirroring society or about character development or there is a purpose.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

  2. Not always true. My fictional boyfriend is in a story with little romance. I just find him incredibly attractive. I would never date most of the typical “book boyfriends” though. But then, he’s a character my husband created for a story I’m writing – so obviously I’m biased.

    I do find most romance relationships to be borderline abusive, and I am unable to enjoy the book because of it. It’s the biggest reason why I refuse to read books in the erotica genre.

    It seems it is mostly the sci-fi and fantasy genres who find it necessary to make their males into decent human beings.

    Reply

    • I hope I don’t sound like I hate all romance books, Nix, I hate the borderline abusive, sometimes flat out abusive, relationships portrayed as normal or worse perfection.
      (A romance with a male character that I loved was Change of Pace by Sofia Essen. Yeah Alex isn’t perfect, he has some growing up to do, but he wasn’t trying to dominate.)

      If you have a fictional boyfriend and it works for you, I’m not really judging that–as long as I don’t have to see half naked pictures of him on my Facebook/Twitter feed. Also as a writer I think we do “fall in love” with our characters a bit, especially if we need to portray love and its related emotions in the novel. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

  3. This is what I have been trying to express to my author friend lately who writes romance. I’ve been trying to express that erotica lately just seems to be misogynistic because it’s all about men conquering the female protagonist.

    Reply

    • Hi Amber, it’s nice to see you again.

      Yes, I see this story over and over again too.

      And as for erotica, I am beginning to cringe whenever I read the words “beautiful but willful (sassy, spunky, wild, etc” in a blurb referring to a female since it only means that the goal of the story is to tame her. Personally, the fact she is “willful” makes her a hell of a lot more interesting than the fact she is “beautiful”

      I’m also hesitant to read any more shifter fiction, because for some reason authors keep thinking alpha werewolves are going to be borderline abusive, because they misread wolf pack relationships.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

      • I frankly don’t even read erotica, but it is these blurbs that keep me away from it. It all sounds the same. I mean, I have no problem with sub/dom relationships, but it’s always the woman who is the submissive one.

      • I don’t read erotica either. I do know of fem dominate writings, you are correct in most mainstream erotica is male dominate. At least what I see from my FB feed, it sounds all the same. As does the romance books with varying levels of spice.

      • I should just go through and unlike those pages. They’re just poorly representing the romance genre overall, and I don’t want to develop a bias toward it because of those books.

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