The Man of My Dreams

Elia's Diamonds

I think the romance genre is full to the brim with damn-near carbon copies of male-sexed characters. Personally I feel the need to do something different with my writing.

There’s a difference between writing ‘unrealistically’ (like corny, sexist, and/or overdone romance novels, half-baked or overcooked heroes, powerplay and cliche male characters, etc.) as opposed to conceptualizing realistically and idealizing a little. Its called originality.

None of my experiences with most men have been very positive. I admit that right off. Growing up in a single-parent household with my mother and two other siblings and not having met my father until I was eighteen, I believe, has prevented me from having one of those super daddy’s girl complexes and that it has disillusioned me to idealizing men romantically and seeing them as heroes or the means to my completion. I think I’m better to myself for it and I’m definitely not sitting on my ass waiting for some man to come and ‘complete me’. (Although sometimes I trick myself into thinking it would be nice from time to time–fleeting fancy.)

Its not that I don’t believe in soulmates; I believe that two or more people can be more together than they are apart and it seems like some folks are just destined. I also believe, on the other hand, that there aren’t many people who actually need someone else to make them whole–they just think they do because that’s what they’ve been taught, especially young women and girls. Look at Sex in the City as a pop culture reference, which is totally several seasons of a group of white middleclass women looking to be ‘completed’.

As a artist who writes romantica, I believe that maybe the only reason the same type of men exist in such a quantity in the world and in literature is partly because we keep writing, acting, and speaking them into existence. If that’s only true in the smallest way, its still true. For writers, maybe if we ‘conceptualize’ realistically, as opposed to replicating archetypes of male-sexed characters, we can ‘sort of write them into reality’ in more of a variety.

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Maybe this is just to airy and intellectual! This is all coming to me as I begin to write more gender queer male characters that I find very beautiful and attractive physically and in terms of personality and spirit.

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Still lost? I’ll be brief then.

‘Man’ usually means something very specific and limiting. Maybe if we loosen, or dare I say, lose the concept of a ‘man’, we can move towards presenting a person, a human being, with a full range of emotions and experiences.

I think an ideal like this changes romance as we know it. Maybe romance writers are completely portraying male characters realistically but why should people with broader tastes than the usual brawny man-aristocrat-sensual-lover cutouts settle for the stuff the market is feeding us?

~MsQ

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Xhex–I’m still mad about that

So let’s take another look at Xhex and Lover Mine. Now, I could be splitting hairs or being a plain drag, but I still can’t get over how J. R. Ward just totally destroyed this character. Here’s why:

*WARNING: Spoiler Alert*

  1. The thing with the shiny satin dresses on her Barbie doll characters always did bother me. I never thought I’d see Xhex playing house in one…AND CRYING over the oh-so-ESTEEMED honor or recieving such teenage normativity like she was made the f*ckin’ prom queen or something. *Miss America wave, cries*
  2. John Matthew, AKA Tehrror, comes along after she’s been raped and abused repeatedly by Lash and voila–she’s ready to have sex again. Disbelieve my disbelief if you can.
  3. She definitely should be crying and screaming after what happened to her–let it all out–but my disbelief will not be suspended: J.R. Ward should totally not have made her into a softer, more stereotypical girlie like the rest of them. Xhex went from being hardcore and totally cool to sliding right down the scale to being like Phury’s-what-‘s-her-name.
  4. Though she fights with the Brothers, she isn’t considered a Brother–whatever the equivalent is. You shittin’ me!
  5. She can avenge herself, JM. You feelings are understood but… Go away and stop being overbearing.

Xhex is probably the most radical female character in the entire series thus far presented candidly. Ward just broke her down and made her into a cliche. Is this her idea of a HEA (“happily ever after” in chatspeak)? If so, she needs to go have her brain checked and I need to have my brain checked for wasting my time on this.

Ever more real,

Queenly

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Issued: J. R. Ward

Lover Mine, A Critique

Why Historical Fiction?

Elia's Diamonds

There are many American writers who make a conscious choice to write historical fiction. My area of expertise or experience is historical romance so I can’t really speak to all genres. But the question remains.

Why is that? Why do they choose to do this?

It is just so interesting to me how some artists wish to remain confined to antiquity. In the worlds that these writers build, I would ask who is excluded, alienated, and marginalized by them? For example, who is backdrop scenery in romance novels that take place on plantations? Usually, its the Black and African and Afro-Caribbean peoples. My ancestors are the backdrop, the trim, the exotic locale of some European-descended person’s romance and happily ever after or drama. You too often in many circumstances see the same thing with many minorities or marginalized peoples.

This dates back to early writings in America and before it was even America, with European explorers like Christopher Columbus and John Smith, both of whom were responsible for countless atrocities against the humanity of Native peoples.

One reader’s literary escape is another reader’s marginalized hell. I’m sure that the Native peoples did not view “America” as the “New World”. They were already here, living their lives with their own sets of cultural ways.

So much of what we know about history is distorted. So much of what we do know about history is written by the victors of wars fought to instate and maintain oppression and commit genocide and to promote the agendas of the few in power.

What is this obsession with the socially alienating past? Why aren’t there more writers trying to write about these things but with a more focused social commentary?

Why is it that historical romance writers choose to write about women in patriarchal societies? Why is it that they choose to write about women who are practically, by their own societal laws, under men’s feet? Why is that they choose to write about women who were often coerced into sexual relations with their husbands and sometimes men who weren’t their husbands? Furthermore, why would they choose to make it sensual? What is sexy about that? Why is it that they choose to write about a time when women were considered property in their societies? Why do they choose to glamorize the institution of marriage? Why is it that they choose over and over and over again to continue to support a market built on the backs of oppressed women? Who would choose to give something like this to the world of the arts?

Is the past just safer and easier to write about, for white writers in particular?