Back in 2004 I had an essay published by The Romance Studio entitled “The Romance Hero vs. the 21st Century.” I wrote about the dearth of old fashioned alpha-male type heroes in real life. Here’s an excerpt:
It may be 2004, but we are still women, are we not? And regardless of what we think we want from the males in our lives, regardless of what society tells us to want, on some deep level we want males who exhibit the traits we look for in our romance heroes. Women have psychological and spiritual needs that transcend society and culture, which only the masculine can fulfill.
Today’s women have been well taught to want men who are sensitive, nurturant, and cooperative. There are practical reasons for this: in society today men and women share in each other’s traditional roles both at home and in the workplace. These demands have caused us more and more to consider males and females to be peers in every respect. We gain in mutual self-respect and other positives, but we lose in that neither gender is permitted to bring its strongest traits to the table, or allowed to appreciate those traits.
And consequently, both sides feel something is missing. Men will compensate by watching “The Man Show,” playing violent computer games, and hanging out with the guys, so that they might unfetter some of the inborn traits our culture forces them to stifle. Women will fantasize about Mafia hitmen, go to vampire movies, and read romances that feature the very sort of men we don’t tolerate in real life.
At the time I wondered if eventually there might be some sort of backlash in popular culture, and I’m starting to think it’s already underway. At the leading edge of the phenomenon are the new reality shows that showcase “real men,” including (of course) “Survivorman,” “Deadliest Catch,” and “Dirty Jobs.” More recently added to the mix have been “Man vs. Wild” and “Ice Road Truckers.” All of these shows have a common theme of showing a lot of guys employing their courage, physical strength, and daring in surviving danger and—how very masculine—making money.
TV has finally discovered a genre that can be enjoyed equally by males and females, for entirely different reasons of course. My husband is a huge fan of those first three shows, because he gets off on watching men be men, strong and uncompromising and for once unapologetic about being male. I get off on the shows because the guys flaunt their testosterone. They aren’t all hot, but even the unattractive ones have my respect.
And it’s just so dang refreshing.
Our world has truly gone crazy lately. How about that case of a grade schooler being made to remove a toy soldier from a mortarboard he made because of the school’s no-tolerance weapon policy? Or that judge suing for millions because a dry cleaners misplaced his pants? Be a man, dude, buy yourself some new pants. Soon playgrounds will require kids to wear helmets when playing hopscotch, I swear. Society is hell-bent on forcing or rewarding wussy, wimpish behavior at every turn, and making it a criminal offense to have balls.
But we’re fighting back! Men and women alike are saying, “I will pay $25 for a Cornelia Marie tee shirt so I can pretend (I am)(I am with) Captain Phil on his crab boat!” Chicks are mailing their underwear to Deckhand Edgar! Romance writers are penning tribute stories to Les Stroud featuring intergalactic survival guys! (Oh hey, that’s me!)
I’m backing this trend in every way I can. I’m even watching “Ice Road Truckers.”