Thursday, April 15, 2010

Romance Heroes in General

Sometimes I see men on tv shows and think, wow -- now that's a man romance stories talk about - even though they may not be six feet tall, or work out to keep a stellar body hard and sleek like. Which brings me to the questions -

Why in romance stories do we require the perfect male body? Do women really fantasize about men like that? This one doesn't. There are too many other important factors. An over worked-out body doesn't make a man a great person, or a great lover.

Don't most women think Harrison Ford is sexy? I know I do. What about Martin Sheen? Thomas Gibson? OMG! This is a man I thought was perfect in Dharma & Greg and more so now in Criminal Minds. He's dark and brooding and if you happen to catch a rare espisode where he almost gives a full-blown smile, you want to freeze-frame the moment -- it's heart melting. What about Mel Gibson? He was all the craze back when -- I think he's more handsome today than he was then. Same for Tom Cruise and Pierce Bronsnan.

It's not just about what the body looks like, though I do like a man with chest hair. If that was the case, none of us would ever get married. My husband was slim and toned thirty-three years ago, but not what we write about. Goodness, if I had wanted what we wrote about, I still wouldn't be married - the men I know with bods like that are self-absorbed.

Recently, I came across photos of my husband taken at the end of his military career -- wow - he was hot, but still not the buff man with a six pack. I look at him now with his overweight body and beard, and think - wow -- he's hotter than ever. It's not his body, it's the whole package.

I've always been hooked on expressive eyes, smiles, attitude, how a guy smells, and even how they walk. And don't faint, but I think men look sexier clothed than unclothed.

So, how does one go about changing the world of writing to include the normal male with all the other romantic attributes? Will be they be accepted?

These are questions I've been asking myself since high school -- all my earlier works are written with men I find sexy - characters that make sense to me. I'm not changing them. They will be put before the reader.

What about you - are your ready to read about characters whose core is more important than looks? Whose character jumps off the page and outshines his less than perfect attributes?

So you say you read to escape reality -- don't you think normal women fantasize about a man who's normal, but willing to give that extra hump they're not getting from their current man? Most women I know don't fantasize about the hunky dork in the corner of the weight room constantly checking his biceps and wish they were the muscle he was squeezing - most women I know are turned off by that. They just want a man to give them more than they are getting and if that man turns out to be the nerd who comes into the coffee shop -- why shouldn't we cater to their needs as writers. We cater to every other woman's need.

Besides, looks and all is in the eye of the beholder - who are we to judge?



Celia Yeary said...

Bekki--I had to get in on this. Your statements are my sentiments, exactly. Real women don't look for the toned men with perfect everything. Not me, anyway. In fact, it really turns me off. I like to look at these photos, but do I see a "real man?" No, I see a guy who might be just a little too much into himself. I do appreciate a guy who keeps himself groomed properly when it's called for, and healthy-looking. Hair is a big thing with me. (I'm a closet hair-cutter--really sort of obsessed with it). I can't stand to see the back of a man's hair and neck that is overgrown, bushy, even if sparse, without his neck shaved. Ewww. Even politicians or commentators on TV--I'll always say aloud--"He need a serious hairstylist!" Or "Oh, I wish I could cut his hair!"
A super-hero man in a movie who wasn't even trying: Kevin Costner in OPEN RANGE--dirty, scruffy, trail-weary, uncouth, but when he met pretty, clean, sure-of-herself-Sue, he whipped off that hat and shyly drawled, "Well,Sue..." And she laughs and says, "Well, Charlie...." See? That gives me goose bumps everytime. Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, I know where of you speak. No, a self-absorbed, into-the-gym guy is a major turn off.
In my dating years I turned down a few of the guys who were considered to be the hotties... why? because they were blatantly conceited.

I've also been involved with men who were not considered to be the best-looking and loved them because of who they were... in that sense, love is blind.

However... and this is a big however... no, I don't fantasize about Mr. Nice Guy down the block, who might give me something I need. Heck, I don't fantasize about the so-called movie and TV stars. Not anymore, and not for a VERY long time. And while I deeply crave love and a real relationship, no, I'm not looking for some male just to give me something a little extra in life.

I think women have been forced by societal pressures to sell out way too cheaply and for much too little when it comes to guys, and when it comes to life, in general.

Now,I'm not talking about TRUE LOVE, here, and finding your soul mate or your twin flame...THAT'S DIFFERENT.

From my viewpoint, if I'm going to write romance, well, I'm going to do it my way, fantasize it my way, and I'm going to write heroes I WANT and my heroines WANT, I mean REALLY want. WANT IN EVERY WAY, including love and passion. And, since, that includes studly bods... well, the truth is, it's all fantasy anyway, and a lot of us read to escape reality...

EXCEPT that romance novels often reveal and tell the truth about the complexities of love and relationships.

That being said, we readers and writers are all different and we all want different kinds of romances, different things out of the love story. I think there is a great market for the genre of romance stories you're talking about. As there should be. And, it's one reason why there is such a HUGE variety out there. And its only getting bigger.

Bekki Lynn said...

Well, Savanna -- I hope those readers find me eventually.

Celia -- I do the same with clothes with newscasters and so. Especially ties.

I'm off to work.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Well said, Bekki!!

I agree, Savanna, that women are often encouraged to take less than they should. It really irritates me that slimming ads in the UK are always aimed at women.

I guess as well that Mr Spectacular Buffed might not want to help in any way in case he tears a fingernail.

The one I don't get is height. Why should tall always be sexier than shorter? One of my favourite heroes, Aweserre in BLUE GOLD, is short and makes no bones about it.

Savanna Kougar said...

Lindsay, there are sexy men who are medium height and shorter. In fact, at one point, I preferred a medium height man... but then, I had a relationship with a tall man... and, let's say, my tastes changed.

Although, it wouldn't matter if I really fell in love.

I'm guilty of making a lot of my heroes tall, but not all of them.
Volcano is probably what would be called medium-tall and Trail is the same, just under six foot... like my dad was.
Baron Zaggry is about six foot.
No, I haven't written a short hero, except in one WIP that I began lots of years ago, and that's just how the hero appeared to me visually.