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arhyalon

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08:58 pm: Kaa...Bah?

In the recent issue of Locus, in an article about urban fantasy and paranormal romance, I read:

"(I know right now you are saying -- "Monogamous?" Well, yes -- in romance, the heroine does not sleep around, at least within the pages of any one given novel. That rule was a surprise to me, too -- the things you learn from your colleagues!)"

To which I responded: "Kaa...bah?"

Blink. Blink.

Er...is anyone else out there surprised that characters in romances are monogamous? Does anyone else expect that all heroines have to sleep around? Is there some subtext here I am missing? 

My favorite romance author, Mary Balogh, once wrote a book where the main character was a working prostitute. (I have never found it to read it, but I hear it's out there.) But that is the only exception I've ever heard of -- though who knows nowadays, seems like anything goes. But...

Bah...?

It's a romance...a story about a man and a woman coming together in the space of one book. Has our culture really come to the point where we require an entire paragraph to explain why the heroine is monogamous?

Eek, egreek, zed!!!!! 



Comments

From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
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I'm guessing this was a male writer who is used to "romance" being mostly sexual fantasy fulfillment. Bring on the bimbos.
Consider Heinlein. Consider Piers Anthony. Etc.
The author of the article may have assumed that we females find polyandry to be liberating.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
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That was I, by the way.
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From:randallsquared
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
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> The author of the article may have assumed that we females find polyandry to be liberating.

Sometimes it seems (especially on LJ) as though most women identify as poly.
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From:arhyalon
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:51 am (UTC)
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No. This was Ace/Roc editor Ginger Buchanan.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:May 22nd, 2009 09:06 am (UTC)
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Tongue-in-cheek?
She's got a few decades on us and is married, so this attitude is unlikely a new development.
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From:arhyalon
Date:May 22nd, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
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That's what I thought. That's why it seemed so weird. She doesn't seem like the heavy partying type...but she might be the type who normally reads something like Anita Blake and expects such behavior in a book.
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From:jordan179
Date:May 22nd, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
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You're not being fair to Piers Anthony; most of his characters, particularly the ones he wrote after he got a bit older, are monogamous.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:May 22nd, 2009 08:58 am (UTC)
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I was thinking of his Adept series. Then there was that lovely little number, Firefly. That was an interesting gift for his teen reader base (Xanth series). I know, I know, authors shouldn't have to have their art be pigeon-holed by previous performances but still and all.
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From:randallsquared
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
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Maybe they just don't know anyone who is not in a long term relationship and yet doesn't sleep around. It seems uncommon these days, so it could be that they just find it an odd behavior.
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From:arhyalon
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
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That is what I found so weird. I know many people in long term relationships who don't sleep around. The idea that there are people out there who don't is creepy.
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From:randallsquared
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
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Well, if the female character in a romance was in a long term relationship *already*, that would be weird, wouldn't it? I assume that the long term relationship starts near or at the end of the novel, so for most of the novel, she's not in one, and therefore is in the category of "not in a long term relationship".

But I haven't read a lot of romance novels, so maybe my assumptions are off base.
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From:arhyalon
Date:May 22nd, 2009 11:11 am (UTC)
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Female characters in romances can start out in relationships. The starting set up kind of doesn't count. In historicals, there's no sex in the initial relationship, it's an engagement or something. In modern books, there are probable heroines who break up with their old boyfriends in the early part of the book, but it would be a set up thing, not part of the main story. (I don't read contemporary romances, but this fits what I've seen from glancing at a few at the bookstore.)
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From:headnoises
Date:May 22nd, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
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Does anyone else expect that all heroines have to sleep around?

...In a wait-for-the-hobby-horse-to-ride-by-and-be-flogged way, yes. I've been beat over the head with it too much to not do so...although most of the books I've read that are mostly romance, the sleeping around goes on before the book starts, and in secondary characters.

A lot of women apparently can't get the idea that you can be equal to men without taking on the less...tasteful characteristics of some men.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:May 22nd, 2009 09:01 am (UTC)
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"A lot of women apparently can't get the idea that you can be equal to men without taking on the less...tasteful characteristics of some men."

That's odd because we, unlike men, on the whole seem to not so obviously be at the beck and call of our sex drives.
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From:headnoises
Date:May 22nd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
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I still can't find any appeal to the notion of having anyone but my Elf.

Maybe it gets more apparent if you don't have someone that loves you and folks just keep using you?
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