In preparation for Valentine’s Day, a recent USA Today article (5/14 ETA: article no longer in USA Today archives) gave the relationship advice that a man should: “look into her eyes, focus on what she says and really talk to her.” Wow, earth-shattering ideas.
Or not. The suggestion to treat a woman like a person and not just a collection of body parts is nothing new. Neither is putting down the remote and listening to her instead of clicking through TV channels. And communication is always on the top of the list with marriage counselors for how to solve problems.
So why did the supposed female-oriented website Jezebel rail on this article? Because USA Today took their inspiration from (horror of horrors!) romance novels:
If you want to show the woman you love how much you care, take a page from a romance novel.
Oh. My. Goodness. The nerve of those USA Today people. Why, in the words of the Jezebel article:
Aren’t dudes in romance novels kind of… rapey?
I might be offended if I weren’t laughing so hard. “Rapey”? Sure romance novel “heroes” from the 70s and 80s used more force than now, with the bodice-ripper cliché . But just as TV shows have moved past Archie Bunker and Dukes of Hazzard, romance novels have evolved too.
The Jezebel columnist admits she hasn’t read a romance novel. Instead, she visited a humorous review blog to confirm her opinion that romance heroes don’t have any good qualities. Uh-huh. In the brilliant words of Jezebel commenter Deeba:
Judging romance novels by reading reviews of bizarre ones on a comedy site is like watching MST3K and concluding that all movies are low-budget schlock with poor acting and worse special effects.
Now, are all romance novel heroes great role models? Absolutely not. I’m sure multiple essays have been written about the controlling, stalker activities of Edward Cullen of Twilight fame. And especially at the beginning of the story, a hero might display some less-than-acceptable behavior.
Most TV series don’t show loving marriages or good parenting skills either. Duh, perfection is boring. Writers need problems, issues, and weaknesses to create conflict.
However, unlike TV shows, which drag issues out for the next season, romance novels end—happily. During the course of the story, the romance hero learns how to value and treat his woman right. And that behavior is realistic. Real men can be just as awesome as the studliest romance hero when it comes to making their women feel special.
As I’ve said before, this is why romance novels are not porn. There’s no insulting or denigrating of men. Sure, the heroes are usually good-looking, but that’s not why the heroine stays with him at the end. The heroine ends up with the hero because he makes her feel treasured. That’s not an impossible standard or fantasy.
So, yes, I think romance heroes can be good role models. Or rather, I think good men can inspire great romance heroes. My heroes protect, spoil, and love their women, all characteristics I know from experience exist in real men. In return, I have to make sure my heroines deserve such great guys by showing her treating him with respect, spoiling him, and loving him as well.
Sounds like both the hero and heroine can be good role models actually. Studies show romance readers get more action in bed. Maybe non-romance-readers should try it before they knock it. *smile*
Do you think romance heroes and heroines can be good role models? What characters do you think are the best role models? Why? Which ones are the worst?Pin It