Escapists Uncensored: Why are men in books so boring?

Escapists Uncensored

Escapists UncensoredWhy are men in books so boring?

Seriously, I read quite often and for more than a short while every male romantic lead looks and acts exactly the same. Not only does this make for a predictable relationship, but it’s a double standard.

How many times have we (myself included) commented on how there are few multi-layered female love interests? They generally all fall into three or so archetypes with a couple of minuscule differences. So how can we ignore this in our men? After all, these male characters are supposed to be the ones we find attractive, the ones we dream of being with and frankly, lust after. So are our tastes so simple? Or is that just the perception of what’s attractive right now?

I am personally in the second camp. I believe that while we all have our different tastes in what makes the perfect man, the general opinion is that there are some basics which all of us like. Now, perhaps I have noticed this because the type of man that keeps cropping up in the novels I read from steampunk to sci fi, historical fiction to urban fantasy are all men I don’t find attractive. I have wondered many a time why this type of male is considered attractive to begin with and maybe some of you can give me insight.

Does this sound familiar? He is always tall and broad shouldered, always with a dark past, olive complexion and dark hair. His light eyes are captivating and he’s gruff despite his privileged upbringing. He is always forceful in his desire for the female and doesn’t mince words. He both calms and infuriates her but always gets his way-and his way is always having her. He’s mysterious and funny in a cynical way but has high morals of family and tradition. Perhaps, most importantly of honor.

Haven’t we all met this character in several of our books? Now, let me ask you. Where are the Nordic gods? What of the tall thin English cad? Where’s the nerd? The funny guy? Hell, where are the guys that aren’t white?

If this is your type of guy, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m certainly not saying it. But where is the reflection of the world we live in? Maybe we need to start remembering that sexy doesn’t only look like one thing. We all have our own perfect man (or woman), so why don’t writers? After all, we don’t want to be told we’re not attractive if we’re not the petite brunette, buxom redhead or leggy blond.

About Natassia 143 Articles
I am a performer by trade and have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My bookshelves are full of many genres but I have a love of fantasy, SciFi and steampunk which have only spurred my performing dreams to help one of these fabulous worlds come to life. I tend to read books with a lot of edge and grit; if it's got zombies, space battles or fantastical steam inventions, I'm in. When I'm not reading or off making my own adventures, I can be caught watching movies of every era, gaming, and being scandalously political like any good steampunk heroine.


  1. Yeah, it’s pretty annoying to read as a male UF fan too. Roughly equivalent to most female love interests in a genre being Bond Girls.

  2. I’ve got all those – I have an elegant fashion designer, a merman with long, blond hair, a half-Asian hero, a half-Indian hero, more than one nerd, more than one thin supercilious Englishman (and that’s not counting the historicals) – you’re not reading the right books!

  3. I’ve got all those – I have an elegant fashion designer, a merman with long, blond hair, a half-Asian hero, a half-Indian hero, more than one nerd, more than one thin supercilious Englishman (and that’s not counting the historicals) – you’re not reading the right books!
    PS I can’t get your captcha to work.

  4. Yes, I have also read other books where they are multi-racial, and not dark and foreboding. Yet I have to agree that they do tend to have that same characteristic. I am not a big romance reader and their is a reason for that. When I tend to roll my eyes at certain part, mainly the stereotypical male/female, I have to wonder what it means. Does it mean I am somewhat cynical? Maybe, but it could also mean that I am tired of the same type of character. Especially when men have long hair. I am sorry but for me, that is not attractive and to read several sentences about it makes me want to skim the rest of the pages until it is over.

  5. I am not sure which target audience the books you’re reading are going for, but archetypes exist because they reflect things “we” all agree to be true. The bad guy dresses in black and is a coward, the good guy is in white and he’s brave and self sacrificing. The bad guy is dark haired and betrays his allies, the good guy is blonde and saves his enemy.

    That’s every episode of the Lone Ranger but it’s also the plot of The Fifth Element. In more literary terms, the hero needs to be clearly identified in mainstream fiction pretty quickly on or the audience may fail to figure out fast enough who they’re supposed to be rooting for. A dark past means the man has survived things that could have killed him – ergo, he’s capable and self sufficient. He’s dangerous, which means he can be used as a shield. He’s blunt or forthright, because he can afford to speak his mind, something we all wish we could do. He has dark hair and light eyes because … well, *I* like that coloring.

    The more important the romance angle is in the book, particularly if its the entire plot (go, Harlequin!), the more true-to-trope the characters need to be. It’s a very common female fantasy to be unwillingly forced into sexual compliance (“he made me do it!”) and any novel romance that brushes against that fantasy is going to thrill some significant portion of the female readership. It’s a safe thing, in a book. The heroine is often initially against the hero (he’s rude, he’s arrogant, he’s above her station, he’s dodgy and dangerous, he’s initially only interested in her sexual charms) but comes around by the end to love the sensitive inner-boy covered over by that rough exterior, the one with the heart of gold, the one that will love her through all the ages.

    The heroine is unable to resist against all her better judgement. As a reader, I can experience that capitulation and surrender from the safety of my own chair and without disgrace – all of the thrill with none of the real world second guessing of probable consequences, emotional or physical. In a book, I can wallow in the unreality of everything taken to extremes, with none of the baggage and compromise that always, always comes with the real life territory.

    Tall is sexy. Broad shoulders are sexy. Danger is sexy. Contrasts are sexy. Confidence and fierce desire and unshakeable loyalty are sexy.

    The more intricate the novel plot and the less importance there is on the love story part of it, the more room the hero has to be things other than the above described. But if the heroine is going to fall in love with the guy at some point, he’d better have a few things off the above list or we’re going to wonder what’s wrong with *her* and toss the book onto the Return pile.

    It’s interesting to me at least that as I’m running through the novels I’ve read lately in my head and checking off how the heroes stacked up, the physical descriptions are wildly varied but the basic makeup of personality isn’t. And again, strict romance novels are very formulaic for a reason – sci fi or fantasy novels can and do vary it up some.

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