Thu, May. 19th, 2005, 05:26 pm || Rules for Romance Novel Heroines

add to memories

As usual, I mock because I love. Well, actually, I only partially mock because I love. The other part mocks because I want to love, but I am angry and constantly irked about gender role stereotypes in romance novels and even more irritated that many romances that step out of said stereotypes end up being lambasted as "unromantic."


  • You are beautiful beyond reckoning, even if you think you are ugly. If you are short, you are "petite and perfectly formed."

  • You are slender or voluptuous, but never fat

  • You must never be taller than the hero

  • You must be younger than the hero

  • You must be spirited, but never so spirited so that you can actually rescue yourself

  • You must be PC, no matter what kind of background you come from
    • If you are not PC, fear not, you will be by the end of the book

  • You will be loved by all people designated as "Good" in the book
    • If you start out disliked by "good" people in the book, it is because of past actions that you either regret whole-heartedly or did because of extenuating circumstances. Said "good" people will realize this and forgive you later on.

    • If they don't like you by the end of the book, they are Evil

    • Please note that the hero may remain mysterious and dangerous, but you may not under any circumstance.

  • You may be as fashionably and tomboyish-ly "unfeminine" as you want, as long as you always want to have sex with the hero (but no one else) and as long as you want children

  • You must always succumb to your emotions, even if you are usually a hard-headed professional
    • As such, you will always be less professional than the hero, no matter what your respective backgrounds are

  • You must always fall in love first

  • You must forgive the hero anything, especially if he has a traumatized past

  • If you are so unlucky as to have a traumatized past, it will only make you so much saintlier and more daintily troubled
    • As such, you are allowed to be a bit of a spitfire, as long as you are not genuinely nasty and as long as you have a heart of gold under the easily scratched exterior

    • You must never think that said trauma allows you to have random sex, even though it pardons the hero's exploits

  • You must be instantly sexually attracted to the hero, even if you despise him and everything he stands for. This instant sexual attraction is the best way to tell that he is the love of your life.

  • You must deny said instant sexual attraction. Acceptable reasons are (feel free to mix and match):
    • You are shy and virginal

    • You are afraid of sex

    • You mistrust your "baser instincts"

    • You were raped

    • Your heart was broken by a former lover, so you are now afraid of sex instead of love

    • You are afraid of intimacy

    • You are morally opposed to sleeping with the hero

    • You think you are in love with someone else

    • You don't want children

    • You think you hate men

    • All of the above

    • Please note that while most of these reasons will make a romance hero more prone to having sex with anything that moves, as a romance heroine, you must never want to have sex with anyone who is not the hero.

  • You must be more sexually inexperienced than the hero
    • If you are not, you still must never take the lead in sex

  • Despite your relative sexual inexperience, you must always orgasm whenever the hero touches you

  • You must always discover your sexuality for the first time under the hero's manly control. Furthermore, you must be pushed to the point of near-rape by the hero to be a sexual creature because you must never admit to your own desires

  • You must always relinquish control when aroused, because said arousal befuddles your brain so much that you lose anything resembling rational thought

  • You must always have the best sex of your life with the hero, regardless of the circumstances

If you star in a historical:
  • You must be a virgin
    • If you are not a virgin, you must be a widow. As a widow, your dead husband never loved you. If he did, it was a lukewarm type of love. Regardless, sex with the dead husband was never as good as sex with the hero.

  • You must be anachronistically enlightened for your time, enough to help out poor servants, but never enough to question the fundamental structure of your society

  • You must be a non-peasant

  • You must dress in fantastically beautiful clothes that have many layers but are somehow easily undone by the hero when necessary

  • You must know nothing about how your body works, particularly when it comes to sex

  • You will somehow be exempt from things like bad personal hygiene, fleas and ticks, and oily, greasy hair

  • You must always want hordes of children, despite the dangers of childbirth

If you star in a contemporary:

  • You must be employed in a glamorous profession, or else a charmingly bohemian one

    • If not, you are genteel-y poor

    • Regardless, you will always somehow manage to live a lifestyle outside your means

  • If you attempt a new profession, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams, despite all odds being against you

  • You will not have to worry about paltry things such as bills, insurance or unemployment

  • You must have the secret ability to perfectly balance a love life, children, and a career

  • If you have children, they will never interrupt mid-coitus

  • If you have children, they will be obnoxiously cute and never a disappointment

If you star in a trilogy:
  • You must have two other friends or sisters, of approximately the same age, so that they can be matched up with the loves of their lives

  • The three of you must have different hair colors. A good fallback is one blonde, one brunette/black-haired person (is there a term for that?), and one redhead. This is the case even if the three of you are sisters and your parents both have black hair.
    • A further note is that it is extremely unlikely that both your parents have black hair, as you and your hero may never have the same hair color (this is a general rule).

  • The three of you must be substantially different, personality-, interest- and temperment-wise, despite being amazingly close. Acceptable groups of traits consist of:
    • Hot-headedness

    • Sexiness

    • Rebelliousness

    • Intelligence(-ness)

    • Prudishness

    • Practical-ness

    • Gentleness

    • Maternal-ness

    • Dreaminess

    • These three categories of traits somehow all manage to get along spiffily. You must never have mix traits in these categories

Luckily, most romance novels that are recced to me directly go against these rules. I almost want to be a writer just so I can write romance novels that go completely against the grain.

Rules for romance novel heroes to come!

ETA: added cuts because I realized this was horrendously long.