BOYS.

Let’s talk about male love interests.

They’re sexy! They’re steamy! They’re…stalkers?

This has been catching my eye A LOT lately, in both fiction *cough Edward Cullen cough* and in film. Agent Colleen Lindsay points out that even the man of steel, Superman, in Superman Returns, HOVERS outside Lois’s bedroom window.

I’ve been thinking about the fine line between male love interests being POSSESSIVE (read: Edward Cullen with his sparkly eyes hissing "Mine!") versus PROTECTIVE (I just finished Lament, and I’d put Luke in this category). And what disturbs me is that the majority seem to be falling on the possessive side. There seems to be an interest in promoting that as sexy, desirable (I harp on it because of stories like Twilight’s influence over young girls). But in my opinion, it’s going a step too far. Protective is sexy. Possessive is…troubling. Troubling for its prevalence and for the messages it sends.

In The Near Witch, there are two male characters. As I started writing them, I was astounded by how one was so much more attractive to me than the other. And I realized it was because one character, Tyler, was incredibly possessive of my MC, whereas the the other character, Cole, was protective of her.

So, if the boy:
-Hovers/stands outside your window or IN your room while you sleep.
-Refers to you as a possession, or uses terms like "mine!"
-Speaks to you in terms of "Forever," "Never" (or you speak back in those terms, as in Bella’s case)
-Is frequently putting arms around shoulders/neck, grabbing wrists, or other physically dominant behavior…

This might be an unhealthy relationship.

What are your thoughts on this trend?

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12 thoughts on “BOYS.

  1. tessagratton says:

    It’s BAD! Is what I think.
    But I also think it’s nothing new, especially if you look at the history of adult romance novels. They’ve certainly gotten better, but the books I was stealing from my mom in the 80s were all about this kind of dominant male possessive thing. Literally in a lot of cases, when women were forced into marriage and that sort of thing.
    And in adult UF (which I’m bringing up because your examples are UF) you still see a lot of this tension between alpha-types and their lovers. It’s like we’ve said: well, human males have to respect us and can’t be dicks anymore, but these inhuman guys have an excuse to behave in this demeaning (and yet attractive?) manner because of the monsters raging inside of them.
    Paranormal guys get away with a LOT more of this these days, in my experience. Sometimes it works as an exploration of aggression and humanity, etc… but sometimes (I’m looking at you, Edward) there isn’t anything healthy/meaningful backing it up.

  2. dawn_metcalf says:

    THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS!
    Gah, it makes me *crazy*…!
    Don’t get me started. Seriously. GAH.

  3. veschwab says:

    True, it has definitely been going on, and that’s a really interesting point about the expectations we have about human boys versus the non-human ones.
    Interestingly, in my WIP, it’s the human being overly possessive and the non-human being protective. I much prefer it that way šŸ™‚

  4. veschwab says:

    I know. This distresses me TO NO END.
    I don’t care how many girls read things like this and say “I know, I know it’s an unhealthy relationship, but I still want him! Who wouldn’t?”

  5. tessagratton says:

    Mixing it up is always fun!
    “But her blood smells good” is the new “she was wearing a short skirt.”

  6. My thoughts are that you are exactly right. To cite again, in her comments about Twilight, the book, she mentions the moment when Edward grabs Bella by the scruff of her jacket’s neck after the blood typing thing and drags her toward his car, and suggests that that’s the creepiest moment in the book (of course, that’s before she realized that Edward was actually IN Bella’s room at night – she assumed he was hovering outside, which is creepy, but not nearly as much of a violation). She suggests that folks grab a copy of THE GIFT OF FEAR because in real life, guys like that are bad news.

  7. veschwab says:

    Exactly, the KIND of physicality is so important. People tend to overlook the differences in arm placements, gestures, and they get ingrained in us as normal or appropriate or sexy. I’ve been really conscious of them because these physical markers are one of the primary differences between my two male characters.
    It just sets of a warning light for me.

  8. dawn_metcalf says:

    Yeah, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me think of Jean Kilbourne and http://www.about-face.org.

  9. sharpegirl says:

    LOVE this post. This is something that is often on my mind (radical feminist that I am). I always found Edward’s behavior very squicky because there wasn’t an equal amount of respect there (at least in the way I saw it). I didn’t see that as a healthy relationship because it was so skewed in terms of male domination. I found the relationship very patriarchal.
    I find this a little disturbing because the question is: are young women getting the idea that this kind of behavior is acceptable, or even romantic, in the real world?

  10. sharpegirl says:

    The 70’s and 80’s were such a weird time for romantic fiction/romance novels. There was so many where the hero actually raped the heroine first/was really forceful/she said no and they ended up madly in love. There’s actually a book by Johanna Lindsey where the heroine is DRUGGED with an aphrodisiac because she refused to sleep with the hero.
    Even now, there’s a some of that in romance fiction, but what I’ve been impressed with lately with some of the books is that the heroines are becoming much more strong and assertive.
    Paranormal guys do get away with a lot. It’s kind of gross, if you consider it.

  11. sharpegirl says:

    Thanks for this link. I somehow have missed this site until now.

  12. tessagratton says:

    Drugged? Wow. I read a bunch of the rape plots, but not drugs. But I’m sure since he fell it love with her it was all ok in the end. /sarcasm.

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