Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing Brunos

Awwww, poor Bruno. We have such problems writing heroes with less than alpha tastes. Why do we struggle so? It strikes me that a true alpha male with complete confidence in his masculinity would be quite comfortable with all aspects of his humanity--including smelling the flowers.

Somewhere along the line we've lost our way. It's okay for a woman to be a welder or love football or adore fishing, but a man can't do needlepoint or flower arranging and still be manly. Yes, yes, I know we all know men that are excellent nurses or decorators or kindergarten teachers but we don't use them as heroes. No, we use lumberjacks and SEALS.

Why is that?

The extreme fascination with military and other super-alpha characters might be more about our feminine discomfort with men who are well-rounded than the innate attraction to the alpha. I wonder if perhaps women are threatened on some level by the male who invades our "territory" much in the way men are threatened by the woman who dares to be a CEO?

Yet, we are still threatened by a real male. We objectify them in pictures, focusing on body parts rather than the whole. In the vast majority of photos our men are hairless, like small boys. Muscles and definition are all very well, but our underlying message is your masculine immaturity will allow me to be in control. We want our men to be pretty, hairless, and polished. Real men need not apply.

How do we reconcile the two? Women are insulted when men objectify them by stereotyping them--the dumb Barbie, the masculine landscaper, the bitchy CEO. We insist we can do it all, be everything from madonna to breadwinner, seductress to mechanic. Why then do we marginalize our male characters?

I've noticed the books in my library have a preponderance of men who are comfortable with their place wherever that is from cooking a special dinner to comforting a small child. They protect their women and children, but are proud when their woman can take care of herself. They provide for their families, but support their woman's right to her own accomplishments.

I say bring on the real men.



  1. I haven't written about male nurses yet, but I do make my men good cooks for the most part. I like a guy who can cook.:-)

    Truth be told, I don't mind reading about the real alpha male but I'm not comfortable writing about them. I too often want to kick their stubborn backsides as hard as I can. I try to blend some of the alpha traits, such as the self confidence, with more beta traits like being easy-going. I think we are all a blend of many characteristics in real life so I try and blend it in my books.:-)

  2. Sometimes I like a true alpha hero, but generally he's too trite. I guess I prefer my heroes sensitive but not angsty, complex, observant - but pretty alpha in the sack.
    A bigger factor for me is the wimpy heroine. No maidens in danger/distress for me. I like strong, alpha heroines.

  3. I believe women write what they think other women want to hear and we don't always hear very well - if at all. I want a real man who stuffs things up, who doesn't get it right all the time and plays netball. Navy seals and those gung ho types? Not believable. But, in saying all that, I find the other extreme where female writers write MM romance and they make the men big sooks who burst into tears and need to be babied obnoxious. Heroes? More research needed before applying a stereotype