Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Het Romance Is Boring

I've got a theory about this.

I know a lot of female readers who have switched to male/male romance, not just because two hot men are better than one, but because they're finding het (male/female) romance boring. Not that the plots are slow or the same or whatnot, just that they don't care that much if the couple get together.

This is my theory: Sex ruins suspense.

Back in the day, love really was a battlefield for a female. Examine Jane Austen's stories carefully - there's a lot of quiet desperation there. If a woman couldn't find a husband, she was doomed to a life of dependency on the kindness of others--family, friends--and that often meant poverty.

She couldn't introduce herself to a man (a mutual acquaintance was required) and if she tried seducing a suitor not only her reputation but the reputation of her entire extended family could be ruined. She might be shunned socially, cast out of her family, and end up dying on the streets.

Single-motherhood was practically a fate worse than death, right up to the last few decades of the 20th century. Families that could, hushed it up by sending the woman away - saying she "went west for her health" or some other months-long, far-out-of-town vacation where, by the virtue of distance and anonymity in a new area, she could secretly give birth and give up her child.

Love, romance, marriage - these were life and death decisions for a woman. There was danger involved.

This isn't the case any more. Women need men like a fish needs a bicycle, right? ;)

A single woman can have everything on her own--a career, a child, her own place in society, success, happiness. She can have sex with whomever, whenever.

And since sex sells, the heroine is often required to have glorious sex every other chapter.

However, if you have a romance book where the conflict is: The sex is fantastic but do I really love him? You don't have any urgency. It's mundane. There's no danger anymore.

With male/male romance, the love itself is the danger.

Just by existing, it could threaten the welfare and future of the men involved, and their families - and extended families if the book is historical. In fact, the mere love itself could lead to jail time or death--right up to the last few decades of the 20th century (and even later).

So with m/m romance, the reader is actively engaged in cheering for the couple to succeed, hoping that, against all odds, despite all the blocks society placed in their way, they find their Happily Ever After.

There can still be hot sex, but many readers like the Forbidden Love aspect best. The longing looks. Breathless meetings. Fleeting touches.

The way het romance used to be written.

So anyway. That's my theory.

And the fact that two hot men are hot. :)


  1. I can only speak for myself, but this is my opinion:

    This may make me sound ugly, but I can't help but hold women characters to a higher standard than men (believe me I've tried not to). Partly because I am sensitive to the portrayal of women in the media, it carries on to aspects of entertainment I enjoy for pure leisure (like fiction). It's like that for any poorly-represented minority, be it women or Asians or even punks. It's only until I approve of them that I can ease up.

    I've also become sick of hetero romance in every damn thing I read or watch. It's shoved down my throat constantly and I just want something new. This may account to straight romance being boring to me as well.

    Not just the straight romance, but romance in movies and books (I don't watch romantic comedies or read romance novels) are presumably engineered by heterosexual men for heterosexual men, and though I firmly believe women and men are exactly the same in many ways, there can often be a disconnect in what women find sexy and what men find sexy.

    I admit sex sells. I find slash fanfiction or yaoi manga "sadly" lacking if it has no smut. It's a gratification that clean prose/art doesn't have, and I have to mentally tell myself that it's not necessarily needed if fanfiction is good enough without smut. However, when it comes (heh) to titillation, I personally find gay sex to be much more exciting. By far. So as far as sex goes, I like man-on-man.

    Another thing is that my preference of fanfiction comes from Japanese media such as manga and video games. Because women are treated much worse there than women here, it's not surprising that you'd come across weak and uninspiring women characters. Because I don't like them, I don't want to read about them, and I certainly don't want them the focus of my reading. Although that is not a direct impact of why I like slash and dislike het, it's worth mentioning.

    ...sorry for prattling on. heh.

  2. This is a very interesting comment!! Thank you for taking the time to type it all here.

    And you know I love it when you prattle. ;)