11 February 2015 2 Comments
Tuesday Wednesday! I had this written and ready, but then i plum forgot about it. Oops and oh well. I have some strong opinions on fictional romance, so i’ve just decided to post it late. I thought it would be a list of ten negative things about romance in fiction, but i’ve chosen pretty wide-reaching aspects, and was therefore able to tack on a couple of things i like in romance–when it’s done well! Which is rarely, in my opinion.
This list of mine is about romance in general, not just books that focus on romance. It can be a zombie apocalypse and i’ll still be judging that one romantic coupling (cough).
– Gender stereotypes. This is a far-reaching topic for me, and aspects are covered in topics below, but it still comes top of the list, generally. It can be as simple as a girl fluttering her eyelashes or a man flexing his muscles. A girl waiting around for a guy to ask her on a date instead of just asking him or a guy paying for everything on a date. A girl admiring a man’s bravery and daring, while he’s admiring her hair, make up and clothes.
– Dependency. I hate the idea that a woman needs a man, for protection, for emotional or financial support, for a family. Maybe have a woman not looking for a man, who is fine and dandy on her own, thanks. Then she meets someone whom she likes, who treats her as an equal, whose lives fit well together, for whom she has to make no sacrifices.
– Inequality. Very closely related to the above, but then, this general theme generally is what so often makes me livid about fictional (and, hey, non-fictional!) relationships. When one person holds more power than, and over, the other.
– General lack of gay and bi relationships. And I mean, in general fiction. I don’t want to have to seek out GLBT-specific books to read about them, I want them to be mainstream and in, just, books. I want any book I pick up to have just as high a possibility of a same-sex relationship as a heterosexual relationship. Fuck it, I don’t want to have to rely on Ursula Le Guin to read about polygamous relationships, I want them explored and referenced, respectfully, in any and all books.
– Saccharine clichés. Gazing into each others eyes, holding hands across the table, feeling like they’re known each other all their lives. Cut the bullshit, that kind of romance is a boring and vomit-inducing fiction far beyond the fiction I enjoy.
– Love triangles. As if a character has to pick between only two people. That they can’t say, “Fuck you both, I choose me,” or, “Actually I met a lovely person at the zoo yesterday.”
– When the love story is the story. People falling in love is fine, but can other things be happening as well, please? I have read and enjoyed books that are more a character study than very plotty, but those are the exception, and they involve exploring more about the character(s) than just their love life.
– Love at first sight. Lust at first sight is one thing, but a lasting relationship is built on foundations, not a meaningful gaze across a crowded room or over some dropped papers after an accidental collision.
+ Respect. Romantically involved couples respecting each other, being more to each other than romance, a shag, a trophy; an obligation or necessity. My favourite example of this is Mike and Phyllis Watson from The Kraken Wakes. Just… they were perfect.
+ Genuine feelings. Romance can have me sighing contentedly and smiling with joy, but the author has to work for it; make me believe it. The relationship can’t fall into place and be perfect, it has to have flaws, it has to be fought for.