|"I don't need a fedora, but I like a fedora."|
I'm not saying that male writers do relationships better, I'm just saying that they don't equate constant togetherness with twu wuv.
(You see what I did there?)
|Have you the wing?|
I can't tell if YA novels are preying on the fears of young girls with regards to rape and abuse, but if they are, in the author's attempt to assuage a character's fears about rape generally makes her the prey of every man in the universe except the guy she's currently dating so that he can save her from those men and therefore make her even more dependent on him than she otherwise would be.
Now, the problem with teenaged relationships is that teenagers are basically still children (doesn't adolescence supposedly last until 21-22? I don't know, but it lasts a long time), and children lack the life experience that is required for really good, balanced relationships, and the only way they can get that experience is to have relationships. So they're pretty much doomed until they hit their mid-twenties, fingers crossed that they didn't do something stupid like marry their childhood sweetheart. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) What I'm saying is, remember in New Moon when Bella finally starts snapping out of her zombiehood and her friends are all pissed at her? Most people (well, I can't really speak for guys but most girls I've known) experience this after breaking up with a guy that they dated for an extended period.
I was in the band in high school (shut up), so most of the time when we dated between ourselves (like an episode of Friends), we were usually together no matter what (making breakups haaawkward) so my band friends didn't get into this as much as my non-band friends did. And if you didn't have any classes with those people, you'd see them at lunch and be like, "Where have I been? I've been here, eating lunch at our usual spot while you made out with your pimple-faced idiot boyfriend all afternoon, thank you very much. No, I do not want to share a pizza, just tell me why you're here so I can get on with my day, okay?" Only I was a teenager so it probably came out more like, "Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
Most authors probably remember this. Maybe some of them haven't grown out of that phase yet. But the point is that if this boyfriend that this author is writing were a guy in real life, you'd call him a perv and creepy, no matter how floppy his hair was.
|Christian Grey/Edward Cullen levels of floppiness should be avoided at all costs.|
This makes women objects of lust. It makes us purely sexual creatures. It makes us the prey of any man who finds us attractive because naturally they want us in that way and our simple act of existing is somehow offensive to them. It also objectifies men. They become the walking hard-ons who want only one thing out of life and that one thing is sex. It also takes away any choice from them because there's no room for him to say, "But I don't want to rape this girl if she's unwilling to be with me." He's essentially saying, "I must have this girl, and if she doesn't want me, I shall have to rape her." So that's where the overprotective boyfriend comes in. He doesn't have to rape the female protagonist because she's already giving it to him, but he does have to protect her from all the other guys who just naturally want her because she exists and that's her point of existing.
Buttercup had a huge adventure after Westley went away. Count Reugen decided that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and Prince Humperdinck decided to make her a princess so she could marry her (this doesn't happen in the movie). She survived The Cliffs of Insanity, the fire swamp, an ROUS attack, lighning sand, and a nice jump from a castle tower. After that, she totally intimidates the castle guard all by herself and gets Westley, Inigo and Fezzik to safety. (We think.) (Read the book.) If she had been Bella, she would have been dead for all of that because Bella would have killed herself the moment someone told her that Edward was dead. Bella could never switch places with Murphy because after her first martial arts class, she would have fallen and broken every bone in her fragile little body.
Bottom line, this way of writing hurts women. It hurts teenagers. It hurts men, too. It puts unrealistic expectations on relationships and makes controlling, abusive people seem normal. It makes uneven power dynamics in a relationship look reasonable, and I really think it can make inexperienced girls afraid--of men, of being on their own, of not being in a relationship--and that's not what literature should do. Literature should empower women. Katniss was not afraid of Gale or Peeta or any of the other guys trying to rape her. There was one man (one, uno, ein, un) in The Seam who preyed on young women, but he used them as prostitutes so at least they got something out of it. (I know, but...she recognized him as a pervert! Not as a normal example of human males!) Neither did Peeta or Gale stalk Katniss. Westley left Buttercup on her own while he went out into the world to get educated so that he could provide to her. He actually trusted her to not only "behave" while he was gone, but to wait for him and he promised to be true to her as well. Harry might hold information back from Murphy, but we're literally talking about life-or-death, and he actually tells her more than he should (legally by the laws of the White Council) and trusts her to be able to defend herself. If anything, she takes care of him.
So, Authors of the world, can we please have more kick-ass heroines like Katniss and Murphy and put Bella and Ana in the place they should be in: the girls that Katniss and Murphy would try to save from their abusive boyfriends? That's all I ask.