Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Researchers Need to Find Something Better to Do

Please help us welcome Katriena Knights.

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I'm probably jumping on the bandwagon a little late on this issue, but the truth is, it's been bugging me since I first saw it hit the blogosphere a few weeks ago.

You've heard the story, I'm sure. Apparently some “researchers” have determined that reading romances destroys marriages. Why? Because the unrealistic nature of the characters and the relationships depicted in these books supposedly causes women to expect more from their romantic partners than they can possibly deliver. So these women, disappointed in their life partners, try to move on to greener pastures, abandoning their marriages and families presumably in pursuit of a hunky partner with the cowboy hat and six-pack abs.

Let's take a closer look at that, shall we?

I have been a reader and writer of romantic fiction for about 20 years now. What initially drew me to the genre was not the hunky dudes on the covers. I'm a relatively intelligent grown-up—I can tell when those six-pack abs have been airbrushed to within an inch of their lives. Rather, what drew me was the way the hero treated the heroine as if she was the most important thing in the world to him. He respects her, considers her opinions, makes compromises to be sure their life together works out.

Explain to me again how this is an unrealistic expectation for a relationship. Rather than setting up unrealistic expectations, it seems to me that romance heroines simply demand a man to treat her like a partner. Like a human being.

After all, certain things are anathema for a hero in a romance novel, especially in modern books were many of the misogynistic elements of male/female relationships have been left behind. Among the few things the hero in a romance novel cannot do are:

  • Beat the heroine
  • Rape the heroine (or anybody else)
  • Cheat on the heroine

Are these really such unrealistic expectations for someone you've pledged to spend your life with? Is it really so difficult for the average male to not act like a douchebag than a respectful, devoted man who treats his woman like an equal is considered beyond the realm of possibility?

If, indeed, romance novels encourage women to insist that their romantic partners not act like assholes or treat them like crap, then I can't see that this is a bad thing. And if rising to the challenge presented by the average romance hero is too much for the average 21st-century man, then I fear for the entire human race.

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Katriena Knights writes paranormal and contemporary romance in which the heroes try very hard not to act like douchebags. Unfortunately, they are men, and sometimes fail. Her most recent release, Ring of Darkness, is a fantasy romance from Noble Romance. In this book, the hero and heroine must come to compromises over complex issues of faith, religion, sex and power.

Katriena also writes science fiction, fantasy and urban fantasy as KC Myers.

Buy Katriena's book.

Visit her Web site.

4 comments:

Anthology Authors said...

So, the researchers are saying that women should expect to be treated like chattel, ignored, or beaten? Who did the research?

(sigh)

The things I see in TV shows and the treatment of women is awful. And yet the young woman/woman still wants the man who's an absolute dick. What message does that send our daughters? These same people wonder why young women, women and girls suffer from self-esteem issues. Well, duh, look at what they are being told.

(smoke coming out of ears)

I must step back and take a deep breath.

BTW, I love reading romance. There are some unrealistic aspects of romance novels, but they are fiction after all. LOL However, expecting a man to treat you with respect is not unrealistic.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Marci

Bri Clark said...

I completely understand your frustration and share the impatience. I recently read an article on line that said that certain religions were told romance was porn. For the same reasons...it's unrealistic expectations.

But then the studies showed that women of had better marriages, more intimate, loving and respectful that read romance. Because they held up the values of modern day church's standards. Marriage, family, fidelity, and strong intelligent women.

Like anything it really comes down to the discernment of the reader. As a parent I have a little girl who is very hopelessly romantic as I once was. However, I watch and guide her as needed for the balance of love and romance to the reality of nonfiction life. Because that's my job, my stewardship.

Great post.

Katriena Knights said...

One of the articles seems to have come out of a Mormon community. The other I believe came out of the UK, but I was so steamed by the first one that I never got around to looking at the second set to see if it was the same group...

It irks the hell out of me because I write romance in order to show what relationships SHOULD look like, and how a good relationship can heal even if a bad relationship has hurt. To say that this presents "unrealistic expectations" just makes me want to sit people down and give them a stern talking-to... (Scary, I know.)

Anthology Authors said...

I don't think this is just limited to the Mormon community, though. There are still women who, in their marriage vows, agree to obey their husbands. (snort) There are also many marriage ceremonies that talk about the man being the head of the household and it is the woman's duty to follow his lead.

Hm... I'm not buying it.

And, I agree with you, Katriena. Good relationships require both parties to respect each other and treat each other accordingly. It just doesn't happen that often. :(

Marci