Friday, October 28, 2005

Tortured heroines

This..concept, idea, problem, issue? I can't think of the correct word I want but those are pretty close. I've noticed that there are quite a few tortured heroines running around Romancelandia these days. They probably pop up across sub genres, but I've noticed them most in paranormals & contmporaries with police officers/special agents/military men.

Often this is due to rape or physical/emotional/sexual abuse, murder of a loved one, etc. Now, I'm full well aware that in reality these women are far too plentiful & that they need (ought to demand) fulfilling, healing relationships with strong men who are able to cope. However, I am not talking about 'real life' so to speak. I'm talking about Romancelandia.

Why has this become so prevalent? Surely all human beings have baggage, but the vast majority of women are reasonably healthy physically, emotionally & spiritually. Can we, do we, empathize with such wounded heroines? At first, I didn't realize how much I placed myself in the heroine's shoes until I started running across more heroines I simply can't relate to.

Do vampires/werewolves/demons/assorted mythological men prefer tortured heroines? Does the extreme vulnerability of these women cause them to be more accepting of/needing/open to alternative creatures? These types of heroines also pop up in combination with police officers/special agents/military men. Are paranormal males or cops or special agents especially well equipped to cope with these types of women? You know, if I was a cop/special agent/military guy, I would want a strong, independant woman who could cope with the unique stresses of my career as opposed to a high maintenance, emotionally needy woman.

Perhaps these authors want their readers to believe that love heals all wounds & that there is hope out there for those women who have been damaaged by life's slings & arrows. Love as redemption. Love as the ultimate & only healing balm. I won't delve into my philosophies of personal growth & inner stregth, et al, here. Suffice it to say, I disagree with the premise that a woman must have a man (or werewolf or selkie or cop or Marine) to be healed, whole, complete, etc. In fact, I believe a woman won't be any of those things unless she heals herself.

What it comes down to is- I have to be able to relate to the heroine (and fall in love with the hero). If I can't put myself in her shoes, at least a little bit, then I usually can't or won't finish the book unless there are plot issues I really want to wrap up. Too, I read romances for the happy, happy, joy, joy feelings. Working my through the heroine's heavy duty emotional & psychological issues feels like a betrayal of the unwritten contract between author & reader. Issues between the H/H are fine. Tortured heroes are fine too (a whole seperate entry, in fact). Extremely damaged/tortured/baggage laden heroines are not fine.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Am I off my rocker? If you think I am off my rocker, you won't be the first to say so, believe me. Are these types of heroines more appropriate to specific subgenres within romance?


Jenster said...

LOL!!! Oh Amanda. You do have a way with words.

I do agree with you, though. I have a hard time relating to tortured heroines. My favorite heroine is the type of woman I can see myself sharing stories and laughter over a cup of coffee or tea.

And that shouldn't minimize what some women have gone through. But when I'm reading that's what I want.


Bookwormom said...

Oh Jenster- I'm soooo glad someone agrees with me!

Tara Marie said...

Jenster stole my thunder--LOL. I soooo can not relate to a tortured heroine and am always left wonder. I never understand the alpha hero/tortured heroine thing. It seems to me a tortured heroine needs a beta to help heal her. It's probably why I prefer alpha heros, they need alpha females.

And, Jenster's right the best heroines are ones I want to have lunch with.