Blog Post by Guest on The LIFE CHANGES Show, Stacy Gold
The Power of Representing Strong Women (and a New Kind of Strong Man) in Romance Novels and Beyond
By Stacy Gold
Sixteen. I was sixteen the first time I picked up a romance novel (and 45 when I first tried to write one). It was the time of “bodice-ripper” covers featuring a shirtless, well-muscled Fabio, his long hair blowing in the breeze, embracing a woman with her breasts about to spill out of her dress. Romance is still (in)famous for these covers some forty-odd years later. It’s also still infamous for highlighting these kinds of heroes.
The covers were, and are, works of art. But even then, I knew the damsel in distress being rescued by the big, strong, Alpha male wasn’t for me. I couldn’t relate. It wasn’t my fantasy. My fantasy was to create the life I wanted. To become the person I wanted to be. And then, maybe, hopefully, someday I’d find a partner who would like, respect, and love me for all that I am.
Becoming a whitewater raft guide, ski technician, kayak instructor, and Forest Service Ranger wasn’t exactly a conventional life path, either. Certainly not for a woman back in the 1980’s. I would’ve loved to have seen more examples of badass woman—especially in the outdoors. Even more especially finding love with a man who isn’t afraid to shelve his ego and support her or learn from her.
This kind of representation has gotten better now, but in romance and all book genres except maybe women’s fiction, plus movies and TV, it’s still the exception. Women are still too often the nagging wife, ditzy girlfriend, the one who gets killed off/sacrifices herself, the crazy girl, or the side character without much to do or say.
That needs to change. Women are powerful and deserving of love, respect, and support. And let’s not forget deserving of great sex without being slut shamed. These old tropes do us a disservice. The more we see examples of independent, competent women in loving, functional relationships the more we’ll strive for the same. The more we see men unafraid to cry, or genuinely share their thoughts and emotions—or care about other people’s happiness—the more we redefine what it means to be a strong man.
Which is what I try to do with all my romance novels including my latest release, Wild at Heart. I write the stories I’ve always wanted to read. The ones where the badass outdoorswoman who doesn’t need a man discovers she might want a partner. Particularly when he’s kind and smart and sexy and funny and great in bed…And thinks she’s the most amazing human to ever walk the planet.
I’m lucky enough to have found the man of my dreams kayaking twenty-four years ago. We just went camping and did a 37-mile mountain bike ride to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. I made my fantasies come true. Whatever it is you want to do or be, pursue it. And know you deserve love, too.
Hear Stacy Gold on The LIFE CHANGES Show at: https://lifechangesnetwork.com/adventures-in-love-and-the-great-outdoors-ep697/
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