The topic of today’s post was triggered by a couple of things I’ve heard/read in the past few days.
First was a recently released tape of a conversation by one of our presidential candidates which, if you haven’t been living under a rock or staying away from the news, you’re probably familiar with. The tape has generated a lot of discussion about men (how they talk and what they do) including a very thoughtful piece on Chuck Wendig’s blog about locker room talk.
The “too long/didn’t read” gist of the post is:
“No, it’s not all men.
No, it’s not all ‘locker rooms.’
But it’s some of them. It’s more than we’d like.”
Chuck’s post and several others discussions I read about how men talk and are perceived got me to thinking about how men are portrayed in the books I read
I don’t remember ever encountering a misogynistic sexist male in a romance, unless it was an antagonist or some other character who received his comeuppance or an “attitude adjustment” by the story’s end. I certainly don’t recall ever encountering a hero who would ever be described that way.
Just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not there, however. According to this week’s book review on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website, the misogynistic sexist hero is a reality, not a myth. The book, which they gave an “F” rating, contained general assumptions about men like the one below; annoying but ignorable.
“Men couldn’t help checking women out. DNA and all that.”
Less ignorable was the language used by the hero to insult the heroine during the story; language that was left unchallenged by the heroine (or anyone else).
“I hated that no one in the story said, ‘Hold up, this is NOT ok.’” ~ SBTB reviewer’s comment
What I found interesting was that none of the other reviews I found for this story noted any of the flaws that caused the SBTB reviewer to give the book an “F” grade.
The way men act in the stories I write and my expectations for how they will act in the stories I read are shaped by what I’ve experienced in real-life. If the same holds true for other readers, then it makes me wonder what kind of men the reviewers who gave this book a positive rating have encountered in their own lives. Was this particular hero not really as bad as he seemed? Maybe they have a lower bar or maybe, as I sometimes do, they just mentally ignored the appalling parts. I’m really hoping it’s the later.
So, have you read any books where a male portrayal, especially if it was the hero, left you shaking your head? Conversely, how about a recommendation or two for a book with great male characters.