I was over at Romancing the Blog, reading today’s article Not So Wild Thing, and frankly, I got torqued. So I ranted a bit there, and since I was off-topic, decided to continue my rant here on my own blog. The main issue was cliches in romance. Fine. But this quote got my attention:
“Iíve been bouncing around the idea, that in its own strange way, the romance genre is a bit shy about women who claim their sexual natures with both hands, no shame, no excuses. …Itís the little things: the heroine doesnít have good sex before the hero, the wild woman is really a virgin, the town slut really only slept with one guy. Where are the women who have had more than two partners Ė and are willing to look the hero in the eye and admit it proudly?”
Why, why, why? Why does a sexually secure heroine have to be one who has had more than one partner? Or any partner for that matter? Wouldn’t a heroine who was sure of herself say, “I don’t need to prove my sexuality to anyone. I’m big enough, I’m strong enough, I can wait.” Oh yeah, I forgot. Marriage is no longer the main goal for Happily Ever Afters.
And the poor hero! Does he have to act like a crazed animal to be considered “unashamed” of his sexual nature, to be considered a “real man”? Is self-control such a bad thing?
True, in the past men were expected to “gain experience” before marriage. That’s because men are uncontrolled beasts who have to release their wild passions on the local whore rather than the sweet, innocent, insipid maidens who they marry. So instead, the guy goes off, get laid, get infected with STDs (they were rampant then, and still are), and brings that lovely gift home to his darling wife. Okay, surely some smart guy put two and two together and realized that waiting until he had a clean maidenly wife would mean a much safer sex life? If there are men now who wait for The One Woman, doesn’t it stand to reason that there were such men in the past?
Or do manly-men have to proved their studhood before being allowed to be a hero? I would ask, to change her quote a bit, ” Where are the men who have had no partners Ė and are willing to look the heroine in the eye and admit it proudly?”
Now the virgin heroine is still an accepted (if somewhat passe) character. But a virgin hero? I can think of one off the top of my head. Jamie Fraser, from the Outlander series. The author has him wait until his wedding night, but afterwards Gabaldon seems to go overboard trying to make up for that fact (Iím sorry, but even in fantasy no one, not even a hot Highlander, is probably capable of that level of sex all the time. Rather ruins the believability of the story, IMHO.)
This subject is rather important for me, because the hero of An Uncivilized Yankee is a virgin.
- It’s not because he can’t get a girl (he’s the most sought-after boy in the county).
- It’s not because he’s a saint (by no stretch of the imagination is he a saint).
- It’s not because he has “other” interests (No. No. And NO.)
- He has nothing to prove to anyone–he’s secure in his manhood and doesn’t need sex to prove that himself.
- He made the decision a while back (back before the hormones got terribly wild) And he’s so stubborn that the teasing he gets from his brother and other friends only makes him more determined to stick it out until #3.
- He really hasn’t found the girl he wants enough to marry (remember, in the old days, guys who went too far with “good” girls often found themselves married to them at the point of a sword or barrel of a gun) and the corollary:
- He’s smart enough to know that going to the other type of girl usually ends up with all sorts of not nice things (And the farm country of Pennsylvania wasn’t exactly the red-light district anyway.)
- He has other important things to occupy his time (like fighting a war. Yes, I know. That’s the time most men turn their thoughts to sex–one final fling before facing death. But there’s # 4, which is doubly so for camp followers, and #3 hasn’t changed either)
So is Travis a wuss? A wimp? A shero (to use a phrase from the previous RTB article, A Girl in a Man Suit)?
Breaking News: In the continuing comments from the RTB article, someone was told that a man who refrained from sex was unrealistic.
Who’s to decide unrealistic? Is it any more unrealistic than a guy who tosses every woman he meets in the hay? Or who’s able to go for hours and days without a rest? That seems to be norm for many of the heroes of romance novels.
And here I was under the illusion that romance was, well, a form of fiction. Aren’t time-travellers, vampires, spunky young widows who pretend to be housemaids in order to spy on rich lords who end up marrying them, etc. aren’t these all fairly unrealistic? If I want realism, I’ll read a biography.
Tho’ I’m fast finding out I’m in the minority in a lot of my thoughts on this subject. For example, I don’t like reading full-blown sex scenes–they take me out of the story, make me laugh, even the well-written ones (i.e. those that avoid the use of phrases such as “manroot”). Give me a hero and heroine about to snap from the sexual tension, close the door, and let my imagination fill in the rest.
More on this later…
*Thanks to Robyn and Missie for this priceless euphemism. Maybe it originated elsewhere, but I first read it, and loved it, on Snarkling Clean, so that is where I shall send you.