Archive for August, 2009


Doubling the Standards

amantes-1Today I was pondering, as I often do, about what I read in romance/ erotica and how different gay fiction is from heterosexual. Regardless of intention, I see a heavy prevalence of  a standard that is acceptable for men and yet never really tapped into with women.In some instances I wonder why its okay for these things to take place, and why we so readily accept them without  a second thought.

For instance, one of my favorite stories feature two men who are really set on an emotional roller coaster throughout the entire story. During one incident the MC gets so upset that he starts punching the other man out of sheer frustration. Now, as I was reading this my eyebrow went up. I was like hold up. That isn’t the way to solve a problem, and it really wasn’t the other guys fault that this guy was frustrated. And later after I finished the book I thought about all the letters of outrage that would flood the author’s inbox if the male that had been punched was a woman. I’ve never asked that particular author if any upset fans had sent her mail, and if I had to guess I’d say probably no one sent in that kind of email. I myself sent her an email expressing how much I enjoyed the book. Though later, I thought again on the subject of violence. The MC wasn’t a violent character and this was the one and only time he hit the other man, but why was it ‘okay’. The man never even apologized to the other guy for his behavior. It was like some sort of ‘masculine right’, as if saying ‘well, this is what men do sometimes.’toughguys

Another double standard I see often in romance/erotica is prostitution. Honestly, you don’t see it in heterosexual romances, but I find it increasingly more popular in gay fiction. I won’t read it in either(knowing it before I go into the story), but to each his own. I’m sure a lot of people could say the same for my twincest novels.  I wonder is it the novelty of the idea that makes this theme attractive. Or is it the sympathy this character engenders from the reading audience after he ‘overcomes’ the hardships in his life. If so, why aren’t the same techniques used so readily in het fiction. It seems as if a lot of writers are playing topsy turvy with the genders, writing what would have never been acceptable thirty years ago. Women in early romance, especially historical, were often written to be weak, the victims of bodice rippers, arranged marriages, and unwanted pregnancies. Now, women are written as fierce warriors, the head of a harem of men, lithe shapeshifters with deadly promise, and the stuffing in a manwich. Men on the other hand are portrayed as much weaker, more submissive, more helpless, and emotional. Where only a few years back you probably couldn’t crack open a romance where men shed a tear.

Some more double standards I see in writing.

Men can smoke cigars or cigarettes but women 99.9% don’t, despite the fact that the gap between men and women who smoke is steadily decreasing. To be fair, not many men smoke in these stories either. A reflection of what women and men find sexy, methinks.

Men drink a lot more than women, sometimes it’s so prevalent in a ‘short story’ I begin to worry about their liver. Often men douse their anger or sorrow in heavy drinking. Drunkenness also seems to be the rule of thumb for gay admissions or compromising situations. I’ve read plenty of drunk men. I’ve written some myself, but honestly, off the top of my head, I can’t remember reading about a drunk woman.

Well, these are all the DS  I can think of right now. I’m sure there are more. This isn’t an attempt to garner feminist support, its simply my shared thoughts in the hopes that some folks will start thinking too, or perhaps share their take on this. I really would like to know if any of these thoughts have run through someone’s head other than mine. I think that writing gender differences are influenced by what society has decreed is a gender norm. Men can be more violent, more crude, more vulgar than women and no one bats an eyelash.  I think of all the men who are being abused out there who don’t speak up because it isn’t ‘manly’ to cry about a few ‘licks’? And will those men ever have the support groups or awareness ads that women do? Or will this type of thing continue to be accepted by society because its the norm?


HEA…Why Do We Love It So?

The Disney Movie Club shipped me the wrong movie. I’d ordered “Monsters, Inc”, but I received “Enchanted.” My upper lip curled in disdain at the sight of the cover, but my four year-old son was unfazed by the error.

“Let’s watch this movie, Mommy,” he said, finding (as children often do) the simplest solution to the problem.

Now, I’m a huge fan of Pixar, the quality of their storylines and the detail in the animation makes their movies easy to sit through over and over again. And over and over and over…well, you know how kids can wear out a DVD. “Enchanted,” on the other hand, seemed to me a saccharine piece of shlock I didn’t want to watch even once, much less dozens of times in a row should the little one develop a liking for it. But, thanks to McDreamy’s starring role in the movie, I decided to give it a go. If nothing else, I could stand watching Patrick Dempsey as the charming leading man for a couple hours.

By the second musical number in which rats, pigeons, and cockroaches helped our heroine scrub down the hero’s filthy New York apartment, I was laughing aloud at the funny and astute satire of archetypical Disney princess movies. And though I don’t want to spoil the ending for those of you who want to see the movie, but haven’t gotten around to it, I will say this—by the end of the movie I cheered right along with my son when Princess Giselle wound up with her true love. Okay, I’ll admit it, I even got a little misty. My heart rejoiced though my brain huffed, “What a load of crap.”

Given the predilection in romance and sensual erotica genres for a neat, fulfilling happily-ever-after ending, the movie made me wonder—Why do we love HEA so? In reality almost as many marriages fail as succeed and that doesn’t take into account the myriad of people we burned through just trying to find the person we’d be willing to take a chance on. With a real world full of broken hearts, dysfunctional couples, and blasé pairings, how can we willingly suspend our disbelief and seek out fiction that propagates what some would call the myth of true love?

I finished my long list of reasons why we shouldn’t buy into HEA and then the realization struck me—It is for all these reasons and more that we do crave the fantasy in our fiction. HEA endings allow us to experience vicariously the satisfaction that so often eludes us in our day-to-day lives.

What woman doesn’t want a break from work, motherhood, chores, and the tedious (and often messy) reality of an adult relationship? Somewhere inside of us is a little girl who wants to flounce around the house in a tiara and a tutu. We love to conjure up mental images of a prince who knows how to anticipate our every need, who will catch us each time we fall, and who doesn’t fart, burp, pee on the toilet seat, get cranky or forget to take out the trash.

That we have different tastes as to the form of our princes has given rise to the different icons of masculinity we romance writers use to delight our readers—the dark and brooding vamp who longs for a mate to bring meaning to his soulless existence, the uber-macho warrior who needs the softness of a feminine touch, the rebel without a pause who runs into the one woman that can ease his restlessness, and of course the regal and gentlemanly prince who finds his true, but forbidden love through a chance meeting. Just to name a few.

With our appetite for love and romance sated for a little while by the many incarnations of our princes, we are all the more ready to take on the challenges each day brings. But when the real world gets to be a little more than we can take, we’ll be back at the cinema, the video store, and of course Once Upon a Bookstore hungry for more flights of fancy.


Blog Clog

Okay…I confess. I’ve been a bad girl. Not sure this is much of a surprise since I’ve declared that clearly in my branding, but there are some things an author is responsible for doing that just can’t be shirked. Blogging is one of those things. I admit, I haven’t been terribly regular about blogging lately. Why? Good question, glad you asked. Though I have 3000+ word writing days on a regular basis, many times when it comes to blogging I can’t think of anything to say, lol.

All right, don’t look at me like I’ve sprouted a third head. Yes, I know, I have a reputation for verbosity, but when it comes to blogging, I feel my readers deserve more than “Why I Love Cornflakes” or “Public Enemy #1–Sock Lint.” Perhaps it is this desire to dazzle with each and every entry that’s led to this specific type of writer’s block–blog clog. I open the blogging application, crack my knuckles (yes, I know, bad habit) and *poof* all the funny observations and clever stories I had to tell my readers disappear in a cloud of smoke and I’m left thinking, “Is that an M&M under the dining table? I wonder how long it’s been there.”

I admire authors who keep their blog topics fresh, timely, and witty. I also admire those who can put a new spin on a well-worn topic. Here’s a question for those power-bloggers out there…how do you avoid ‘blog clog?’

Wanna make sure I keep on the straight and narrow? Check out my writer’s blog or join me on Facebook and be sure to superpoke me if more than a week goes by without a fresh entry!

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