The title should be pretty much self-explanatory here, I wanted to talk about the trend of having a group of paranormal or supernatural creatures be overwhelmingly male, what I think it is (consciously or not) representative of, and why I’m not a huge fan of it.
Cool! Let’s go.
If you’re a fan of urban fantasy at all you’ll have come across this trope; especially if you’ve read anything about werewolves, for whatever reason¹. Basically, the race/group/pack will have far more men the women, the main character will be a woman, and she’ll usually come into contact with an ‘alpha male’ type who she eventually falls in love/lust with, or she’ll contend with an alpha male type villain. Maybe both.
Not necessarily a bad thing², the trend only gets annoying when you start thinking about why it became one. The answer is simple—male privilege.
But for real, though.
So: urban fantasy (which includes a lot of women writers, and a few far more lauded male ones), not to be confused with paranormal romance (a label far more likely to be attached if the author and protagonist are women), tends to do what a lot of art, and fiction does: it examines or mirrors conflict from the real world. Right? Right.
So these female authors want to write about the way they’re sidelined in their careers, the way they’re disrespected and underestimated in their daily lives, the way they’re expected to perform any duty with no reward or respect attached, or face the consequences (social and otherwise). In other words—they want accurate representations of how women are treated in the real world.
The problem comes when men read this, and get annoyed. Male editors, or readers, or publishers. They don’t treat women like that (that they know of), and don’t understand why women are trying to make them feel bad (because that’s clearly what it’d about, right?). They don’t see the confrontations women are talking about, and think women are probably exaggerating (they’re not). They have never been in that situation, but after 0.2 seconds thought, they have decided the obvious solution is [some cliche bullshit about staying safe, protected, restricted, contained] (it isn’t!).
So! The not-so-fictional reflection of how women are treated in society needs a reason to be the way it is. After all, it’s 2018. Aren’t women treated equally to men, maybe even better? I’d laugh if it weren’t so dangerously untrue.
The dynamic occurs very often with werewolves/other wereanimals/shapeshifters because of the not-so-subtle connection between ‘animal instincts’, aggression and masculinity. When’s the last time you heard a non-demeaning reference to a woman’s natural instincts? One that wasn’t spouted by an incel or a pick-up artist³ to justify trying to manipulate a woman into sleeping with them?
Men are applauded or excused for or by their natural instincts (cave man advertising exists for a reason); women are demeaned by theirs. Men are supposed to be feral, primal, traditional. Women are supposed to be ever-improving, made-up and civilized.
Even the cavewoman has to be sexualised, made up, with earrings on and her hair done, doing unpaid child care
Tl;dr: The gender binary is bullshit, and so is urban fantasy’s need to lowball feminist topics in via some bullshit about babies or women being too weak to survive the change or whatever bullshit will be used to justify the near-constant sexual harassment of the heroine by people she may later genuinely have a relationship with (gross).
¹I can have a good guess at the reason—stay tuned
²I like the Mercy Thompson series, and still actually like the first eight Anita Blake books. Don’t judge me! Edward is an interesting character
³That is, raging misogynists trying to find an excuse for why they can’t hide their hatred and disrespect of women long enough to get a girlfriend