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Sexual Objectification of Men in Romance-land: Part 2

Okay, so in the last post we covered the fact that YES, we romance readers definitely objectify men sexually...but that it isn't really a bad thing as I believe it supports gender equality....oh, and I threw in some hot eye candy as well. How did I forget that?

Now where was I... I need caffeine.

Oh yeah, today's post is how we do it better.

Point One: We lust after men with a variety of  appearances whereas the media seems to objectify on one type of woman.

I think they have serial numbers instead of souls.

Here's a pic of some lucky lady with a group of cover models.
Something for everyone here. I call dibs on the one with the long hair.

Point Two: We also care about the guy's personality and accomplishments. When all the guys are lusting after  (insert starlet name here), do they really care about what she does or how she feels about, well, anything? Now when romance fans are discussing books, you'll here things like: "Oooh that cover's yummy. Is it any good?" "Not really, the hero was an asshole/ moron. Try (insert title). The hero was hot...and sweet/ brave/smart/funny."

Point Three:  We welcome baggage. The media always bitches about women having "too much baggage." I dislike a drama queen as much as the next person, but it seems "baggage" has become a blanket term covering everything from life experience, to emotion, to even the slightest hint of a personality. It's like they want women to be cyborgs.

Resistance is Futile

In romanceland we embrace heroes who'd been abused as children, heroes who've been emotionally traumatized by some other bitch (who hopefully gets what she deserves later in the story), heroes who've been physically tortured, etc.

Final point and summary: Although we lust after a hot romance hero, we also see him as a human being, with unique virtues and flaws. Romance heroes, as well as men in general, are all individual human beings. It makes the concept of falling in love (and lust) always fresh and exciting, no matter how many books we read.


  1. I don't necessarily agree with the first point, that men with a variety of appearances are desired. I'm a male model myself and I've done some book covers in my home country and I've never really experienced an acceptance for a wide range of appearances, at least not in terms of body type. My clients (for instance female writers) have always desired me to achieve the classically fit body for covers.

    That being said I've never expected to "come as I am" to any of the photoshoots and I agree with your other points, women are much better at valuing personality in addition to physique. I see this among writers, photographers and other staff in the literature business and it's makes the job much more pleasant. I've tried modeling in other contexts and it's just more superficial and I even contemplated quitting modeling until I was given the opportunity to model for a book written by an amateur writer. The past year it has all added up and thanks to the respect and kindness I've met in the (amateur) literature movement in my country I'm no longer thinking about quitting. On the countrary, if my clients books become blocbusters (they are not known writers) I've been contemplating quitting my day-to-day job and become a full time model. Whether this is economically possible or not is hard to say at this time but at least the motivation is there. And that motivation comes from writers and audience's ability to see the guy as a whole person.

  2. I had to laugh when one guy tried to convince me that romance novels were bad because it set impossible standards for real men to live up to. Are you kidding me? We love our flawed heroes.

  3. Great post, Brooklyn Ann! Thank you so much for taking two days :-) I have to agree with Male Model above that we do want one type of look in some ways, although it's not as clonish as men seem to want.

  4. @MaleModel, sorry to hear that your earlier experiences demanded one type of look. I and many of my compatriots have written a variety of appearances into our characters, clean-cut, tall and lean, or muscular, or even disfigured. And I admit I am getting tired of the trend that seems to only show one type of physique on romance novel covers.

  5. I think you nailed it. Male Model has a point in maybe we do want the "hunky" man (one type of look) but my experience assures me we all like something different in our men (look wise). Even the hunky part we all seem to like something different. I know women who adore the huge muscled, body builder type. I don't - give me the fit and toned/athletic man, not huge muscles. I love my wounded/flawed heroes that need fixing. Love this post!


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