Recently I was catching up with RT Magazine (having missed a few issues while travelling in Europe) and I came across an interview with an author whose work I happen to have a lot of respect for: Jill Shalvis. She was discussing her Lucky Harbor series, and after saying some things I agree with (like making sure all the books work as standalones), she said something that annoyed me:
“So yes, you do occasionally see Maddie, Tara and Chloe, but just cameos. The focus isn’t on them or their story. And, actually, you’re far more likely to see the guys: Jax, Ford and Sawyer. I just love them more, as unfair as that might seem.”
Now, why did it annoy me so much?
Firstly, because what I took away from the original trilogy (the only books in the series I’ve read so far) was that this was a series about women. About strong female friendships. About women with different interests and totally different personalities still loving and respecting each other. It was by far the strongest element of the books.
Secondly, because in a genre that’s supposed to celebrate women and their achievements, all too often female characters are overlooked in favour of constant scenes involving “hot guys”. And I thought Shalvis was above that.
Perhaps it’s an overreaction, but the comment disappointed me so much.
A common complaint about J.R. Ward’s oh-so popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series is that the women more or less cease to exist once they’ve had their happy ending. You see the male characters everywhere, but the women apparently just sit in their rooms and act like sex dolls when their guy is feeling horny.
In almost all Young Adult and New Adult fiction, the heroine is either a loner in a sea of “hot boys” or she has that one best friend and all the other girls are skanks and sluts and bitches (Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster, I’m looking at you!) .
Women are treated as the enemy in romantic fiction, which is such a bizarre approach to a genre that is supposed to be catering to women. I thought we were smart enough to be able to appreciate the male characters without doing away with the women.
I’m just so disappointed. Because a series I enjoyed so much now feels tainted. Books I thought were – at their heart – about female relationships…
Turns out they’re about the “hot guys”.