Everyone’s doing it these days. Creating romance heroines who are just so speshul that nobody can resist them, because they’re Not Like Other Women.
Well, I don’t think it’s a good thing to imply all other women are faulty – even if they’re fictional women!
Here are some popular romance heroine traits – and why I hate them:
The heroine who dresses like a lumberjack.
The Twilight Effect strikes again.
Ever since Bella (quite literally) stumbled onto our page and into Forks in Twilight, the lumberjack heroine has been all the rage. Just as her co-stumbler doppelgänger Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey does, she manages to attract every man within a hundred-mile radius even though she is proud of looking as unattractive as she can make herself be, and thinks nasty things about women who take some pride in their appearance.
And – naturally – she’s always paired with a man whose wardrobe we never hear the end of. Of course, they make a perfect pair even though he’s in Armani, and she’s in… dad’s hand-me-downs.
I don’t get it.
This is where Sylvia Day makes more sense with her Crossfire series.
The heroine who scorns any traditionally female activity.
Making sure you only like and participate in traditionally masculine activities doesn’t make you better. Because men are not better than women. Looking down on “girly girls” and spending your afternoons shooting bad guys in a video game doesn’t make you smarter or more interesting.
Like whatever the hell you want to like. But you’re not better or worse than other women because of your interests.
Again, Crossfire’s Eva wins this round. She embraces all sorts of things, and therefore isn’t a raging misogynist hidden behind the façade of the genius Plain Jane.
The heroine who eats a lot.
Nothing wrong with eating. Believe me, the first thing I did the afternoon I finished my ballet career was eat a hamburger and a bar of caramel chocolate. It was great.
However, it seems every second book these days has a hero who complains about All Other Women and how he hates it when they don’t eat much. Or when they’re watching their weight. Or when they order a salad for lunch instead of a bucket of fried chicken and a slab of chocolate as a side.
Of course, the heroine wolfs down burgers like they’re going out of fashion, and yet still manages to be dainty, even though she never exercises. (Which is why I was so thrilled with food-loving, exercise-loving Eva in Crossfire.)
Naturally, the hero is a perfect specimen with muscles on muscles, and while his physical beauty is his main character trait, we’re supposed to hate the same trait in the female characters.
Makes no sense to me.
The heroine whose uselessness allegedly makes her cute.
You’re a Regency era maiden and you can’t sew? Well, I guess you’re not fussed on wearing clothes. Or, at least, you prefer things with holes in them.
It’s the nineteenth century and you refuse to dance at balls because you consider yourself too smart? Because you’re “better” than other women because you read books? How about dancing AND reading books, and finding yourself that husband you want in the process? You CAN do both.
You’re in high school and you trip over every time you move, and so therefore do no physical activity whatsoever? And you devote a lot of time to thinking nasty things about the students who play sport? And everyone thinks it’s endearing that you’re failing P.E.?
Well, that’s got to be good for your long-term health.
It’s one thing to not be perfect at everything, but another entirely to think you’re BETTER because of it, and that’s exactly what the tone of so many heroines’ thoughts project.
Mostly, what I don’t understand is the attitude of so many romance writers that in order for our heroine to be a, well, heroine, she has to prove she’s BETTER than Every Other Woman in the book. This is the heroine’s romance story, not her fight to the death with everyone else of her gender.