We all have things in fiction that bother the hell out of us. You know, those tropes and themes that make us eye roll until there’s a threat we might actually get our vision stuck that way. Below are my top three!
Gay for You
As a bisexual, I tend to eye-roll and skip over books with this trope since they usually—more often than not—completely ignore and erase bisexuality and pansexuality. They are rarely ever contenders for the lead’s newly awakened sexuality. Nope, it’s right from straight to gay in the blink of an eye. Yes, I do understand that some gay people may live as straight to pass through society more easily and then may meet that one person who they come out for. I’m not here to judge how someone lives their life.
However, in the books I’ve read with this trope, the straight hero never has even considered the same gender in a sexual or romantic manner. Even if you are gay and living as straight, you at least think about the same gender. But yet these narratives (in my experience) completely lack the lead’s internal struggle, thereby making it out like having tried cock once was some magical pill that awoke the inner gay. Ah yes, The Mighty Peen™.
Also, books with this trope usually end up being rather misogynistic. I read one recently where the lead straight-turned-gay guy claimed he’d been shown the ways of “the evil pussy.” Really? REALLY? *rage* So yeah, y’all can keep this trope far, far from me.
Sex Worker with a Heart of Gold
So, in this trope, as stated on Mindy Klasky’s site, “one of our lovers works regularly exchanging money for sex, but once s/he meets the other lover, s/he’s ready to give up that profession”. To me, this is implying that sex work is seen as unseemly, that it’s something dirty that must be given up when “the right one” comes along. The heart of gold insinuates that sex workers can’t be good people or that this sex worker “isn’t like other girls” and just…
I’m not against sex workers in romance, far from it, but I would like them shown more positively, without the stigma. Show me a sex worker story where the partner actually supports what the sex worker does, whether it’s porn or fetish films, erotic photography, cam shows, cybersex chats, being an escort, or even actual prostitution. (I’m currently reading Porn Star by Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone and so far it’s been really positive, so maybe there’s hope for the sex worker trope.)
Marriage of Convenience
This is going to make me sound hella traditional, but I feel like this trope makes very light of marriage. While I definitely don’t see divorce as an affront to the institution of marriage, I do see getting hitched as a sacred union between two people in love and should not be entered into lightly. And entering lightly is exactly what this trope (and usually “arranged marriage” – though I dislike that trope mainly because it removes a person’s choice) does. It’s just not for me. The only time I can sort of deal with it is with historical fiction.
Runner-up Tropes I Dislike
“Does Not Like Women”: …in which the male hero only hates women because of the actions of a bad woman, and will be cured in the end by the good heroine. (x) I’m a sucker for man pain, but this just makes me go meh. Feels too misogynistic to me.
“Nature Adores a Virgin”: I have nothing against virgins; I was a virgin until I was 30 for my own personal reasons, but none of those reasons were because I thought I was somehow “noble” for holding onto it. However, I do have issue with stories that regard virginity as a virtue or virgins as “pure” whilst simultaneously slut-shaming sexually active women. Fuck that.