The mishandling of toxic relationships

I think this is actually one of the biggest problems in romance novels. Quite a few of them have some big secret or lie between the main protagonists, or they broke up because one of them did something supremely shitty, and the books just seem to say that you can forgive anything if you love someone enough. There have been times when I have to take a step back and ask myself if any reasonable person would have been able to resume a romantic relationship after one of the betrayals in a book, and a lot of the time, the answer is no.

Even slightly more insidious, is when authors portray toxic familial relationships. It is infuriating when they force their characters to keep trying for a relationship or to mend a relationship that is so clearly unhealthy, just because it’s with “family”. Plenty of toxic romantic relationships end in romance novels because of various reasons – granted it’s only permanent if it’s with a secondary character – but hardly any unhealthy familial relationships end, and it is such a disservice to both the characters and the readers, I think.

It’s not about forgiveness. You can forgive someone, and still cut them out of your life, and a lot of the time that is the best option, but one that doesn’t sit well with people, because they’re taught that family comes first. So authors have their characters forgive and forget. If they do end a familial relationship, it’s typically one that is obviously abusive, and only after the protagonist has been repeatedly stepped on and mistreated and has continued to try and make an effort to connect with their family. And even then, they usually find some sort of long lost relative or something, because God forbid someone doesn’t have a family that’s related by blood. Oh, and it usually only happens after the SO gives their encouragement and/or “blessing” to end the relationship.

I don’t think love and trust are a foregone conclusion just because of some shared DNA. Maybe that’s just me. But I sometimes just wish that authors would do their characters a solid and let them say “Fuck you. You’re a heinous, miserable excuse of a human being and I no longer want or need you in my life.”

I bet that it’s pretty empowering.

Here’s why: People can tell themselves all they want they know books and movies aren’t real, but they still impact the way we think and view the world. So if in someone’s favorite romance novel, the main character has a shitty relationship with their dad or someone, that’s fixed by the miraculous intervention of their shiny, brand new life partner, then if that person ever meets someone who is distant or non-communicative with members of their own family, the words “I bet it’s not that bad,” or “It’s probably a misunderstanding,” or even “You’re not being fair to them,” might come out. And that’s just shitty.

Pets as a Reliable Judge of Character

Ok, so the pet tropes. There’s the one where the cat or dog or whatever, hates everyone but their owner, and then miraculously loves the guy the protagonist is into. Or where the pet absolutely loves everyone except for the main squeeze, but then, though dedication and proof that they will treat the cat’s owner right,  the love interest manages to foster a sense of mutual respect and admiration.

Excuse me, while I barf.

I’m kidding actually. I kind of love reading pet tropes. Believe it or not, I’m super fucking sappy.

My problem,

because of course I have a problem,

is with the first trope.

I’m kind of a selfish asshole and I’m pretty possessive of my pets, so I’d be kind of thrilled if my cat hated everyone but me. So if some guy waltzed in and the cat liked them? I’d probably be like, “Get the fuck out of my house, you cat-affection-stealing-bastard!” (I have issues, whatever).

But seriously, my future SO can not get along too well with my cats, because…because of reasons.

Shut up.

 

Oh, and to make this actually passably relevant, it’s also ridiculous to base your belief in the viability of a romantic relationship on how much your pet likes someone. Pets are not good judges of character. Typically. I’m like a cat whisperer though, so obviously some of them have the gift.

I don’t have a snappy title in me right now.✌

In almost every romance novel, – at least the ones without the foreshadowing of an unplanned pregnancy – there’s this moment when the man goes to get a condom, or starts cussing because he doesn’t have a condom, and the woman says something like, “Don’t worry, I’m on the pill and I’ve always worn a condom before,” and the man says, “I have also always worn a condom and I am clean,” and I just kinda wish that someone would take that step and have one of their protagonists have an STI. So many people have them, I mean 1 in 6 people have herpes and a standard STI panel doesn’t even test for it, some people don’t even show any symptoms, so it just seems like something that a lot of people will relate to. Especially if it’s one of those stories where a former manwhore has sex with the innocent young virgin, it just seems so unlikely that these damaged characters, some of whom have struggled with alcohol or whatever, are totally clean – and I am not saying that someone with an STI is damaged or an alcoholic or slutty or whatever, just that someone who’s slept with the population of Delaware is more likely to have an STI, but it only takes one time.

Also, I get that it means clean bill of health or whatever, but the connotation is that having an STI is dirty, which sucks.

Things about life (Warning: this is seriously rant-y)


There is a lot of hidden judgment in writing. I have a BA in English and one part of literary analysis is researching the author and trying to see how their life and their culture affected their writing. However, it works the other way too, one can read someone’s work and see a lot about the author and how they feel about things and that’s where the judging really comes through.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit it, but I read a lot of fanfiction. The type I read most and am most up front about is Harry Potter fanfiction – all of it Hermione centric, sometimes crossovers with Hermione and Sherlock, Doctor Who, Supernatural etc. The next is slightly more embarrassing: Twilight fanfiction. My typical pairing is Jasper/Bella, but I have been known to read some AU Edward/Bella. The last is the worst because I didn’t even like the TV show that much, but I shamefully admit to reading Glee fanfiction, and I fully support Puckleberry.

The reason I bring this up is because in a lot of stories, authors try to convey the idea that Rachel’s dads aren’t enough for her, that she needs a woman around and that she feels her life is incomplete without a mom. And to be honest, despite the whole Shelby storyline, ( ok, I watched the show a little) I feel like a lot of that is projection. Glee is kind of a joke, there are a shit ton of things wrong with that show, but one thing they did right was exploring homosexuality in an open and accepting manner. These authors aren’t even being blatantly homophobic, so it’s harder to call out. What they are doing is buying into the idea that a family has to fit the 1950’s ideal in order for the kids to grow up feeling normal and fulfilled which is total bullshit. There are kids with no parents who are better adjusted then some people with two straight parents.

I started thinking about this topic when I read an open letter a mom wrote her daughter about how Miley Cyrus was disgusting and she wouldn’t let her daughter grow up like her (it was posted on Right Wing News, obviously – http://rightwingnews.com/celebrities/mom-writes-letter-to-daughter-about-miley-cyrus-now-its-going-awesomely-viral/) and I actually find this letter disgusting. To be honest, I find the entire open letter thing a little disconcerting because the whole point of them is to pretend to approach someone in a polite manner while really just scolding them publicly. The point of this women’s letter is something that she’s condemning Miley for –  attention. Why bring Miley into it at all?

Do I know Miley Cyrus? No. I have absolutely no fucking idea what’s she’s like or who she is as a human being. I only know what she shows the world, and I have absolutely no problem with it. I literally grew up watching Miley on TV – I have seen every single episode of Hannah Montana and I used to know almost all of her music. Was it disconcerting when she changed? A little. Was it any of my fucking business? No, not really. The reason this letter sparked so much for me is because it says so much more about this mom than it does about who Miley Cyrus is – just as this post probably says more about who I am than who the mom is.

First of all, “acting like a lady” is ridiculous. Let’s not place girls on pedestals and act like they have certain standards to live up to purely because of their gender. I mean could this lady be more sexist?

Second, lets get real: all Miley Cyrus has done is get a little naked and a little stoned and she has been getting a world of Hatred thrown at her. No one is sitting there and telling her she’s awesome and perfect. The mom is teaching her daughter a lesson at someone else’s expense, teaching her that tearing someone else down is ok, acting like famous people are just objects. What she should be doing is saying look at how that Miley girl acts proud of who she is even though people like me make it hard to be, that’s what I’d be proud for you to emulate from this girl.

Some of what this mom tells her daughter is great, like not basing your self-worth on how many Instagram followers you have, but it’s lost amongst the Miley bashing and ridiculous threats. People online are applauding this woman, saying that Miley is gross and this mom is right to say what she’s saying, but I really don’t think that she is. If my mother ever told me that she would smack any boy that I grinded against and she would put my ass on the floor if I danced a certain way, I wouldn’t feel loved, respected or trusted, I would feel unsafe and a little violated. Telling your kids not to make certain choices is vastly different from telling them to make good choices, because she’s not telling her to be with boys who respect her or to dance in a way that’s fun instead of a way that’s expected of her, she’s telling her not to be with boys at all and to not dance in a certain way because it’s not proper. Instead of saying yes, I see this role that society expects you to play and I want you to believe in yourself and who you are and be who you want to be, she’s saying be who I want you to be.

What I see in this letter is a woman who thinks that other women should be put in their place, that their parents should control them and that they should allow society to dictate who they are and what they should be. That they should be ashamed of their sexuality and that they should grow up being someone their parents would approve of rather than who they want to be. Fuck that.

(This has little to nothing to do with Romance novels, but whatever, no one reads this shit anyway. It’s more so I don’t go getting all dramatic and angsty on Facebook)

May I take your order…you sexy motherfucker?

Waitress abuse.

In so many books there is a skanky, gorgeous waitress you ignores our plucky protagonist and throws herself at the hero who is very clearly on a date.

I have never been on a date and I will freely admit that, so I can’t say for sure that this doesn’t happen.

However, I will also admit that I have never, in all my life, experienced a waiter or waitress that is willing to jeopordize their tip or their job by being blatantly shitty at their job, being rude to female customers, and hitting on customers who are on dates. So, I doubt it happens so frequently that when our main characters finally pry themselves out of bed and go on that monumental first date, that they just so happen to get a skanky harpy waitress.

I get that the conflict is a plot device, truly I do, but dear god some originality would be nice. Stop demonizing the waitresses!

P.S. I once read a book where the heroine got angry at the hero for flirting with the waitress who was, in fact, a lesbian and flirting with the heroine while glaring hatefully at the hero. That was a bit funny. Points for some originality.

Smells And Eyemotions

I cannot look someone in the eye and know what emotion they’re feeling, I just can’t. And as far as I know, nobody’s ever accurately read my eyeballs, so I call bullshit.

Second, what the fuck does sandlewood smell like and how come everyone is so goddammed adept at identifying their heroic counterparts smell?

The End

The Moist Seed was Creamy and Steamy

There are certain words that just do not fit in a sexy time situation. I get that being repetitive is bad writing, but so is perusing a thesaurus simply for the sake of variety. For example, cum is fine. Seed is absolutely not fine. There are just some words that wreck the effect of a seemingly well-written sex scene.

Another good example would be the word ordered. I do not like the word ordered. I do not find dominance sexy when it’s just accepted as an inherent part of a relationship. It’s definitly something that should be discussed and that each partner should have the option to explore. So using requested would work so much better, because it plays to both types of readers  – those that enjoy forcefulness and those that don’t.

Tease is another big one. Particularly the instinctive sexisim that is behind the use of the word. In most romance novels the man will tease the woman until she begs, which is fine, except for the fact that when the woman tries to return the favor the man tells her to stop teasing. There is so little equality in the relationship. The man is talented in bed, while the woman is a just being a tease. The man is heightening her pleasure, the woman is punishing the man. The basic premise behind this being that making a woman wait for satisfaction is fine, while making a man wait is a punishment. I’m not sure of a replacement for this one. If you find one, let me know.

I started writing this with a completely different intent than how it ended. Whatever.