ClitLit – Women, Romance Fiction and Patriarchal Discourse

February 27, 2010

Yin/Yang Love/Sex Woman/Man – Quick Shots

So I’m reading this really bad sheikh category at the moment – Exposed: The Sheikh’s Mistress by Sharon Kendrick – and while it has lots of elements which I am sure I’ll write about ad nauseam lately, I had something vaguely resembling an insight.

This is wildly simplistic, but in a lot of romance fiction, particularly the playboy/virgin type (my particular field of interest at the mo) the hero represents sex and the heroine represents love. He teaches her how to behave sexually and she teaches him how to behave emotionally.

This is done particularly clumsily in this book of Kendrick’s that I’m reading at the moment, which is probably why I noticed it (and why I feel comfortable reducing it to something so simplistic). I’m only a little way in, but we have our virginal, vulnerable heroine and our harsh, alphole sheikh hero. (Sidenote – that thing from Talbot about eroticisation coming from the polarisation of gender? Kendrick totally tries to play that out. The first time they meet, the hero is totally all ‘I want to crush her soft lips with my hard ones’. Not great writing, but it illustrates that point pretty clearly). There is a total double standard at play – he is obviously one of those virile do-anything playboy sheikhs, but he totally ditched her the first time they met because he thought she was a virgin (which she was and still is) but he found out she posed for topless pictures one time.

As noted, I haven’t finished the book yet, but I can tell you exactly how it will play out (and if I am wrong, apologies to Ms Kendrick). Our sheikh hero will initiate our virgin heroine into the ways of sex, and multilple orgasms will be had by all. He will then realise that he can’t live without her, because all this time, she has been awakening his empty barren heart, etc etc. When, at the end, they get their happily ever after, it will be the union of sex and love in one domestic paradise.

There are obviously gendered¬†implications to the man representing ‘sex’ and the woman representing ‘love’, but I’ll get into them later… when I’ve thought about them some more.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] to my actual point, but I am totally smug about how clearly this plays out what I hypothesised in this post. Don’t I feel clever and […]

    Pingback by You are allowed to look: Reading romance as a subversive act « ClitLit – Women, Romance Fiction and Patriarchal Discourse — July 11, 2010 @ 12:52 am | Reply


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