As a general rule, I don’t judge anyone for what they want to read, especially not in Romance. You do you! Romance is about finding a happy place and about reading your fantasies. It’s individual and it’s great that there is so much choice, so everyone can find themes and protagonists that work for them.
It’s a genre that’s generally for women, by women. And I believe you can do any trope in a way that is relevant and fun to read. But also please not insulting to entire groups of women!
Misogynistic Manwhores and Slut-Shaming
The manwhore is a popular Romance hero because he has the practice and the proof that he can really deliver in bed. I can see why he works so well. Most manwhores are true lovers of womanhood and make a point of treating women with respect. But if an author decides to go with a misogynistic pig, things get trickier…
In that case, I strongly feel he needs to be teamed up with a heroine who kicks him so hard in the butt that he flies from the
It’s not okay! Which brings us directly to…
The Virgin heroine who is “not like all the other girls”
Don’t get me wrong, of course the heroine is always special to the Romance hero. But that doesn’t mean every single other girl he knows has to be an airhead! I can’t put in words how much I hate that line by now, “You’re so different from all the other girls”.
Why does every girl who has slept with the hero have to be too stupid to see she’s only being used and tossed away? And hence deserving of having been used by him? Maybe she just enjoys the S.E.X., had a good time and moved on.
A Romance heroine can be special without demeaning all other women! Don’t lift someone up by putting everyone else down! It’s just not cool.
And it enforces so many unfortunate assumptions many (younger) women might have. How women feel they always have to compete with other women. That you don’t want to be “like other women” because women, in general, are perceived as stupid and shallow. And that you can’t sleep around because only virgins are truly special and smart.
Any trope works with empowered women!
I said this before, but Penny Reid’s Elements of Chemistry is a great example of how a billionaire manwhore and a socially awkward virgin can make for a great story without being demeaning to other women. A heroine doesn’t have to be a doormat because she’s socially awkward and/or a virgin.
Don’t get me wrong, doormat-heroines need to have their place, too. Many women struggle with saying no. But please, please don’t team her up with a manwhore pig! Give a girl a fair chance!
Crazy accidental pregnancies
Now on to my second pet peeve. Miracle conception.
I don’t want to preach. Accidental pregnancy is a popular trope and it can be so much fun because it really gives a different level of depth to the HEA (Happily Ever After).
But why does it so often have to be a crazy miracle accident? It makes me cringe so hard when a Romance heroine gets pregnant from anal sex just for the laughs.
I wholeheartedly wish accidental pregnancy books had couples who just make an honest mistake as so many people do in real life. Be it alcohol, passion, or a broken condom. These things happen! And they’re all much more likely than that someone gets pregnant despite being on the pill (honestly, if the pill had the level of safety in real life as it has in Romance, none of us would even bother with it anymore).
And yes, of course, Karen on the internet got pregnant despite taking the pill without any user error. My point still stands!
Why it matters how your heroine gets pregnant…
In recent years, I’ve seen people make Facebook posts why a fake pregnancy April Fools’ is not cool. And I think this should also apply to Romance novels. We expect a certain level of realism from Contemporary Romance. So why do those heroines have to get pregnant in the most improbable ways?
I know my fair share of women with unplanned pregnancies. It’s a thing that happens all the time. They made common mistakes, like taking antibiotics and not using extra protection. But I also know many women who unsuccessfully tried to get pregnant for years and years. And this is something that deserves our empathy.
Readers who had a happy little accident themselves might not care much either way. But women who have struggled to get pregnant or are close to others who’ve struggled, do care.
That’s why I’d like to see those completely crazy conceptions disappear from Romance.
Not every heroine has to be on the pill. And that’s something that already changes the odds quite a lot! I can say for sure that I wouldn’t love a Romance heroine any less for simply making a mistake that leads to pregnancy. It’s what I first expected to find in accidental pregnancy / secret baby Romance novels!
Ye Olde “But it’s Fiction” Argument
I know, I know, we’re talking about fiction here. But isn’t this argument mostly used as an attempt to defend inconsiderate writing
Now I hear you say: “Snowflake, if you don’t like these tropes, just don’t buy books with this trope!”
But I like to go into books blindly since I don’t really have triggers. And whether it’s a favorite narrator, a favorite author, a recommendation, or simply not “researching” a book beforehand, sometimes we end up with misogynistic manwhores or accidental pregnancies.
Is it the job of a Romance author who writes for entertainment to care about all of this?
Frankly, yes, I think it is. Because the limit of something being “just entertainment” is always drawn where people get hurt. Not to mention that it seems extremely easy not to put down women as a whole in a Romance novel if you just think about it for a moment from that angle. Or to be considerate of the many, many women who wish for a child but can’t have one.