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Friday, September 30, 2011

Doggy style

In Jennifer Crusie’s Faking It, Steve, the dog, shows up with a gash across his nose and Tilda, the heroine, wonders how he got it.
“He met Ariadne on the way up the stairs,” Nadine said, shaking her head at him.
“And she attacked you, poor baby?” Tilda cuddled Steve’s little furry body.
“No,” Nadine said. “He jumped her and tried to, well, hump her.”
Tilda stopped cuddling to look into his beady, clueless eyes. “Steve, she’s a cat.”
“And he’s a guy,” Nadine said.

I laughed. But why? Guys will hump anything that moves. Is there a hoarier cliché than that?

Not in light of author Gail Konop Baker’s Huffington Post essay that says women are increasingly on the make while guys increasingly make excuses.

“Men are taking on the ‘honey I have a headache’ role for the same reason some women do—and it doesn't necessarily have to do with not wanting sex,” says a psychologist Konop quotes.

Some women take on that role, according to Konop, because it's the only power they hold in relationships. Men who are dating or married to successful women may be taking on the role—as well as saying they'd rather just cuddle.

The shrink calls this "a power grab by men who feel powerless."

So, if a woman has a headache, it’s a joke, but if a man pops an Excedrin, it’s a problem? That can’t be fair to men or women.

Konop calls for the sexual liberation of men from “vestiges of a traditionally macho perspective. Much richer, more exciting relationships await men who embrace the fluidity and current evolution of male/female roles, in and out of the bedroom.”

I’m for that. Poor Steve the dog needs a break. Depending on your point of view, what Crusie’s saying is either that boys will be boys or that men will be pigs. I don’t think it’s the latter—Crusie is always very fair to men.

Still, the jokes get old fast. Saying all men are perpetual horndogs is a lot like saying women who like sex are sluts. Either way sets up nothing but a lose/lose situation for everyone.

It comes down to this: People, in general, like sex. Just not always at the same time. And negotiating that inevitability is part and parcel of true romance.

1 comment:

Donna McDonald said...

Very interesting post this week, Dave. There was a time when the heroes in romance novels were all rich and the heroines were in need of saving financially. There are still many books like that, though the last twenty or thirty years has seen a lot of change.

I had several readers write to ask me why I made my heroines so wealthy and successful in the Never Too Late series. I think in general people are churned up about shifting power/wealth and how it affects relationships.

I like and look for balance in my favorite stories and try to do this when I write them. I describe this by saying that I want my characters to like and respect each other, as well as be in love with each other. When the power is at question in a relationship, the liking and respecting is much harder to believably achieve than the fact that the hero and heroine have a great sexual relationship.