Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where have all the good men gone?


I was on Publishers Marketplace the other day, a place I probably need to stop going as sometimes it drives me crazy, when I saw several deals involving New Adult books. All of them featuring… Bad Boys.
Bad Boys are the new chic. And I dig it. I read Kristen Ashley’s Own the Wind and I was completely down with the idea that a girl’s boyfriend would beat up her boss just because he was giving her a hard time at work. I mean really what’s a little assault and battery when a man’s woman is being hassled?

But here is the thing about bad boys… in fiction they are not really “bad”. In fiction there is a core of goodness that runs through them usually driven by the powerful love they feel for the heroine. I mean what girl doesn’t want the biggest, baddest, strongest man standing between her and the rest of the world.
(I will also add that I do think there is a link between women getting stronger, professionally and financially etc… and wanting the bad boy fantasy even more. If we in the US elect Hillary Clinton as president oh my goodness we’re going to see some bad bad boys. Just sayin’)

But I’m not worried… or I can’t be worried… about young teenage girls devouring these New Adult stories riddled with angst and bad boys and fearing that they are going to only want for themselves in real life bad boys. Because despite what people say to the contrary women and girls can separate fantasy from reality. I was fourteen reading Kathleen Woodiwiss. I didn’t think Roark was going to ride up on his horse and carry me away.
But one of the things that does worry me a little is that we seem to be losing balance. Yes I read bad boy stories back in the day. Elizabeth Lowell alphaholes - I could not get enough of them. But there were other heroes too. Jayne Ann Krentz’s heroes were always strong steady reliable family men. Nora Roberts heroes were often similar.

I get New Adult is the spawn of Twilight and all that entails but I also hope there is room in there for the good guy. I wrote about Pitch Perfect as a New Adult movie and that is a perfect example. The hero in that story was a great guy. He was funny and personable. He won the girl over not by grabbing her by the neck, sticking her on the back of his bike and saying you’re mine. Instead he was just nice and friendly and he sang. Also he was really nice to his geeky roommate.
Let’s not forget them… The good guys. Because at the end of the day… in life those are the guys you want to spend your time with. They should be represented well in fiction too.

 

8 comments:

Sinead M said...

Wow! such a great post. I read an article today comparing New Adult to Chick Lit and I don't think the comparison is all that wrong.
It just seems the boundaries for new adult is so limited, along with the boundaries for the alpha motorcycle man/billionaire hero. After the first 20 stories, it takes some serious creativity and writing mojo to make them seem fresh.

Eileen said...

I so hope you're not right about women who are in control of their lives emotionally and financially fantasizing about being dominated and mistreated. I've heard the theory bandied about when people are discussing 50 Shades of Grey. It somehow smacks of being uncomfortable with our own power and control.

Although, on the other hand, the fantasy really is taming the bad boy with our good and pure love, isn't it? I'm going to have to think about that. We already had the power. We always had the power. Hmmm.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I don't think it's about being uncomfortable with the power and control... I think it's about needing men to be AS powerful and controling.

Forget 50 shades... because that was not a great example of a strong heroine.

But if you look at the Kristen Ashley books, or the book I'm reading now by Cara McKenna... the heroines are incredibly strong. And the stronger she gets... I think the stronger he has to be.

So for women the stonger "we" get... the more appealing the fantasy of the uber strong man gets?

Or I could be totally full of it. But the numbers are there...

Eileen said...

No. I like your theory. I'm going with it.

Maureen McGowan said...

New Adult is like chick lit? Really? I'd like to read that article, Sinead. Send me the link. Same age protagonists, I guess, but to me the genres are so different. At least based on the few I've read.

Or did they mean similar in terms of the sudden publishing phenomenon thing?

Interesting.

Sinead M said...

Hey, I'll send you the article,but the author meant it more as in publishing trend, age of the antagonist and also, breath of stories.
I think what really led to the downfall of chicklit was too many similar stories published too close together and New Adult seems to be heading there, at least that's how I read it.
I really should read a New Adult. I'm speaking with authority on something that I don't know enough about.
Basically I'm "mansplaining" a term I learned today.. and now love.

Maureen McGowan said...

Ah, that makes sense. No need to dig out the article if you don't have it easily accessible.

Mansplaining. Love it.

Anonymous said...

"Where have all the good men gone"?

Ha, I never expect to find one in a book, that's why they are fiction. Although, it seems just as difficult in reality these days to find one (according to my single girlfriends). I always am reading, thinking, oh, one could do so much better than this guy. But, the point is that even though that seems true, love still happens in the storyline, which makes it all entertaining in some strange way and keeps me coming back for more, GRIN!

I was lucky enough to find one of the greatest men on earth (IMO). As stated, it's what we all really want in a long term relationship, a real life partner. Someone who treats us with the dignity and respect we deserve as human beings and values us and our opinions. Someone who encourages us to be our best, someone to pick us back up when we are down. Someone to help us navigate through this thing called life. Someone who is loyal, honest, faithful, and committed to us. Someone who makes us feel safe, someone that will always be there for us through thick and thin. Someone to love and to be loved by. Oh, and yes, he's a romantic too, BONUS!! LOL! Now, if his "being bad" is just what would he do to protect me or our children from things that could hurt/harm me or us, I have no doubts that he would be one of the baddest boys around. As he has been known to say, "Nobody F**s with my family" and I have no doubts he seriously would back that up!

I quote -

"I mean what girl doesn’t want the biggest, baddest, strongest man standing between her and the rest of the world. "

EXACTLY! (except for maybe the biggest part - yuck)

Oh, and I am surely glad my relatiosnhip is absent of power and control, there's room for none of that in TRUE LOVE.

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