Ruminations and fulminations about -isms, animals, and writing.
Monday, December 12, 2011
The Romance of Betas
I papered the walls of my adolescent and early adult existence with the pages of romance novels. As I got older, I expanded to other genres, but romances will always mean safety, comfort, and reliability to the adult Elle. I love romances: their predictable narrative format, their feel-good happily-ever-afters, their celebration of relationships as the most crucial aspect of human existence. I have great affection and nostalgia for some of the more common romantic staples: the initial dislike and distrust that hides bubbling passion, the BFF who represents the shero’s and/or hero’s id, the shero’s stumble or fall from a tree root or from a ladder (oopsy-daisy!) and into the strong arms of that oh-so-insufferable man. I even find adorable some of the impossible euphemisms for orgasms. Overall, I’m a flag-waving fan of the genre. Only one thing causes a slight snag in my overwhelming devotion to the genre: A preponderance of alpha men.
I like alphas; they’re great peeps and all. And sure, I realize romances are all about ideals, from romantic relationships themselves to the people who populate them. But, you know, I also dig gender diversity. Is it just me, or does your heart go pitter-pat at the thought of a tender, nurturing man with a far bigger IQ than gun collection? Or, and maybe this is just me, but I’m seduced by the thought of a nerdy, bespectacled hero, ala Spencer Reed inCriminal Minds or Daniel Jackson in Stargate: SG-1, who use their brains rather than a bullwhip to help the shero save the day.
I don’t write alphas, or at least not traditional ones. At folks’ urging, I’ve written semi-alpha men, but they tend to read more like moody brooders. My question for you: Am I the only one who wants to read about heroes who look like hot nerds and sensuous poets rather than arrogant business tycoons and vampire lords?
Alpha males are great, but is there also room for nurturing, sexy, and soulful heroes with backgrounds in quantum mechanics? Yum!