DMAW:C13

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menandwomen

 

Political Correctness. This has been one of my most treasured chew toys these days. Whether or not I prefer something discussed in certain terms, do I save room for honesty? Do I even care?

The author of this essay (Jayne Ann Krentz) tackles the critique romantic literature has received since its inception.  It would seem there has been a push in recent years (recent, to its 1992 publication date) to tame the aforementioned beast, among all other manner…reportedly to no avail. From the aggressively charged atypical alpha male to his traditionally virginal target, swept in the heat of passion, everything has come under fire and survived – which would say a lot about our nature, or at least the nature of our fantasies..

About said passion she makes an interesting point: although the conquering of the heroine is often perceived as bordering on rape – there is a distinct parallel in romances of any genre. Usually, interestingly enough, the seducer – in mysteries, sci-fi, you name it – is female. Most other areas of fiction feature a male lead, succumbing to (or at least deterred by) a siren. One immediately begins to think of our present day teacher-student scandals. It should come as no surprise to anyone, given a reversal of roles, our initial impression of an affair changes. Whereas no other genre is questioned about this, romantic lit is routinely attacked for what would be standard seduction anywhere else. Solely, it would seem, because of she who is being seduced. This is simply at odds with our “newer” sense of what is right – to say. Our pocketbooks, however (a more than loaded term, in this instance), would argue otherwise. One is left to wonder why..

I can remember many conversations with past lovers in which I was exclusively identified as the aggressor. Exclusively. As if there where no doing on the part of my partner – and she would insist upon this as I sat in awe of her convenient amnesia. In light of this essay, it actually makes a lot of sense. The author cites our inherent desire to identify with the treasure more-so than the treasure hunter – even though romantic fiction serves up its reader the rare opportunity to vicariously be both. As attested to in the previous essay, there is something deep within our legacy of romantic myth that insists upon a very particular order to our fantasies. And the woman, for fantasy sake, must be a target of her aggressive captor – were she to ever enjoy “taming” him in the final act.

Another aspect criticized, was the virginal state of said target. According to this essay – the oft used virginity of the heroine, exists most importantly as a metaphor for the completeness of a woman’s trans-formative power (one should note, hymens can break platonically).  It is not that sex corrupts her (which would be the lament of the PC), but that the most complete transformation can only come from what is essentially at first- pure. This actually made me think of the “perpetual innocence” I’ve known many women (even the most lurid) to travel with. A sort of insisted upon narrative that was often treated as both beginning and end point to almost every instance – again, no matter how complicit she was in the matter. And why not? as is suggested – without this purity.. her fantasy dies. Maybe even fantasy itself for man and woman alike- for what is there to be affected when everything has known corruption? And on whom does the societal “burden” of redemption weigh more heavily? The man? or the woman?

Interestingly enough – political correctness would have these stories feature gentle, pre-tamed stallions. Ready-made affectionate lovers who understand everything that already needs to be understood and sit inoffensively in their predetermined chairs with ‘nare objection. But what about that even begins to appeal to our intrinsic notions of fantasy? (Man and Woman.) Sales would insinuate that there are little if any buyers at all for this sort of saga, and I’d say reality reflects this truth profoundly.  Young girls dream of horses, not the puppies at their bedside – why should women be any different? And what’s with this whole “should” thing anyway?

– sah

DMAW:C12

****BOOK IN PROGRESS: PRECEDING CHAPTERS MAY BE ADDRESSED BUT WILL NOT BE COVERED****

menandwomen

 

Just realized I read the wrong book for today  but whatever.. This essay covered what is referred to as “dark romance”. Darker fare is (understandably) a more gritty and emotionally tense rendition of the more common romantic saga. The hero, as usual, is a beast only to be tamed by the heroines redemptive love (see: Belle) – but these would be tales pertaining to alcoholism, incest, ect and so on..

The author (Mary Jo Putney) essentially states her case that romantic lit is not all fantastical and “light”… highlighting the realism – discussed in the previous post – that would ensure a grounded reader is complicit in the move to ‘escape’ from said reality. Interesting points are made along the way: the ability of location (as in time/era) to buffer against extreme brutality, the existence of wounded heroes (as opposed to the standard “unmovable man”), and even the tragically flawed heroine (which is humorously rare) ..but not too much in the way of new information..

The confirmation is clear however: it is the transcendent quality of an all too unobtainable redemption that draws us in.. the emotionally charged dynamic of the hero and his(?) redeemer ..is what makes us stay.

– sah

DMAW:C11

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menandwomen

In all other forms of literature ‘love’ is simply a minor note. According to the author (Elizabeth Lowell) there is a driving faith in love that is particular to the reader of the romance novel. Just about everything else (emotional tension, action, strong males, ect) exists in other genres, but this resilient brand of what we commonly call “love” does not, and the conflict between what we know and what we long for – keeps us glued to our relative grounds..

Much like the revelation of the previous chapter (we escape our realities in a feverish search of what can only exist beyond them), the point is made here that there is always an explicit.. guaranteed promise that love WILL conquer in the end – and our hero and heroine will definitely be together. Romances are built upon our assurance that “real” love is destined to come undone. How many real life examples do we need? We who fantasize hold out on faith that in spite of this, the journey will still deliver a rich taste of promise – almost as rich as the fruit itself were we to ever reach it (..and, of course, in such novels, we’re promised we will..). But this promise must bear the flavor of a very familiar reality – that things will always fall apart (and this time should be no different – should but wont)..

Essentially without doubts, our faith counts for nothing. #whoknew?

– sah

Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women – Chapter 10 (DMAW:C10)

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menandwomen

Seductive elegance. what is the lure of the darkened alley? ..the author of this short essay (anne stuart) begs the question in relation to her attraction to vampires.. she spoke a few interesting quotes that struck me immediately as i read them:

“..I need something beyond comfort and safety in my fantasy world. In real life I’m sensible enough to search for just those pragmatic things. A life of delight and despair is, in reality, too exhausting. But in fantasy, I want it all..” 

& “..the threat of death at the hands of love is the most potent fantasy of all. Only if you’re prepared to risk everything can you gain everything. And only in fantasy can women have it all..”

one supposes for many, women especially(?), the magic of fantasy is precisely that tangible sense of that which we (knowingly) may never live to see. for the puritan: the remorse of a Faustian pact, perfectly balanced with the anointing that would call even Lucifer home (AND the pious pride/glory therein)..

I find that delicate balance intriguing. Perhaps romance is intrinsically nestled between the sacred and the profane. deep within the friction. Give me a demon I can unwillingly serve until beheading…but only after he bows in honor of my prudence,  a trembling mass that could crush me in an instant.

– sah