Why Are Sheiks More Palatable As Romance Heroes Than The Black Man?
If you groaned when you saw the title of this blog, then the following isn’t for you. Seriously, leave. Now.
Gwyneth Bolton has a really interesting blog about the popularity of the Romance Novel Sheik. She posted a couple of excerpts from an essay written in BITCH magazine, which focused on the very subject of Middle Eastern men in romance.
The excerpts were interesting, but this comment from Gwyneth was what ultimately caught my eye:
"Given all the recent talk on various blogs about racism in romance land, I thought this article raised some really interesting questions. We have been having this discussion based on the things that most white romance readers won’t read--African American romance novels.
But what happens to the conversation when we really interrogate the ever-so popular reads: the sheiks, the Native Americans, the Latin Lovers. What happens when we really interrogate how men of color are objectified and made into the exotic other"?
She asks some interesting questions don’t you think?
A lot of the comments that were made during my Racism In Romance posts, seemed to hint that one of the reasons why white women seldom read AA romance was because they couldn’t relate to the characters, or the vernacular. (Or should I say, the assumed difference in vernacular)
I never bought this at the time, and quite frankly, I still don’t, because if that were true, then J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series would have sunk big time.
Ward writes about vampires who are into hip hop, bling, and expensive threads, and call each other “My Brother”.
Sounds like the stereotypical black man to me, except of course, the Brothers aren’t black, are they? They’re white, and that I’m afraid, is the key to her success.
Had Ward made The Brothers black, how many books would she have sold? Would readers have rushed out to buy her books in their thousands? Would she have inspired the same kind of fangirly following that she has? Even with her gift of turning the written word into a thing of beauty?
I really don’t think so.
Why do I think this? Simple, I just don’t believe that Average Jane Reader finds the black man sexy, and she definitely doesn’t see him as a romantic hero. Now before y’all go and get all defensive, and twitchy, think about it. Seriously.
If you really, truly think about it, you’ll probably come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I’m more right than wrong.
So, considering the current social, and political climate that we exist in today, considering the repercussions from 9/11, considering the current unrest in the Middle East, considering the fact that the majority of men from this part of the world believe that women are ultimately inferior to males, why is it that the Middle Eastern Man, is so much more acceptable to The Romance Reader, as hero material, than The Black Man?
Anyone hazard a guess? Anyone totally disagree with my assertion? Would you have bought Ward’s Black Dagger series, if the Brothers had been black? Honestly?