Monday, August 6, 2018

The Fantasy of No Control

Lately, I've been reading a large percentage of M/M romances. However, my personal advertisements (suggestions from Amazon that come up in my Cart)--which usually include manga, mysteries, and history books--began to suggest traditional romances (M/F).

I do read traditional romances, but I couldn't figure out what was triggering the suggestions. 

Until I realized--it was the MPreg books I'd read.

If one wants to pinpoint M/M romances where the characters might as well be M/F, MPreg would be it.

It isn't, as far I can tell, the pregnancy itself that makes the books so utterly traditional. Rather, the MPreg books I sampled reflect a particular type of traditional romance, a type that frankly I don't usually read.

The omega--pregnant male or, let's face it, female character--raises interesting issues about the biological reality of pregnancy. What irks me personally, however, is the thread of passivity that runs through the narratives.

These are old-fashioned Harlequins in which the female character is swept away by any of the following:
(1) A domineering male.
(2) A wealthy domineering male.
(3) A wealthy domineering male who brings out her wild side.
(4) A wealthy domineering male who brings out her wild side and doesn't leave when she gets pregnant.
It's the kind of thing that makes me want to read a book about a woman who was abandoned by the father of her child and had to go on welfare--and I don't even like those kinds of books.

I am a huge fan of people being able to indulge their fantasies in constructive, non-hedonistic ways; hey, I'm a big fan of not undermining civilization or the moral coding that helps it along so yay for conservative values plus tolerance and respect for mutual rights. But I admit to being more bemused by this fantasy than not (despite being a woman who loves romances).

I also must admit that this fantasy is incredibly seductive.

It is not so much about submission. The female companions who get overwhelmed by these wealthy, rich, powerful, utterly committed men (who don't bat an eye at an unexpected pregnancy) are often quite outspoken. Their arguments and claims of independence are rather tokenish, rarely seeming to end in the women actually walking away from the situation. But the men will often listen. And change. Sort of.

So submission isn't the name of the game. The name of the game, I suggest, is not having to take control in the first place.

That may seem like an odd fantasy for women since supposedly they have less control than men, but the type of control I'm talking about is the type of control a person has to take when they have fewer options, not many. As a person who lives mostly from paycheck to paycheck (with a little extra for savings), I have to control my spending. In my current situation, I can relax to a degree but in past years, I had to be far more careful, counting dollars to decide whether or not I could afford meat for dinner and which bills I would pay first. 

Taking control in these ways is part of adulthood. But the kind of constant control practiced by women--"I better watch my habits/behavior/surroundings because I don't want to get pregnant or end up in a dangerous situation late at night in a bar"--can be a relief to shed.

In fiction, of course. In reality, it would be really stupid. And not all women go for it, even in fiction.

I, for instance, prefer romances which are about bargaining with control: what's the compromise? But I can't deny that the fantasy of someone swooping in to pay off my student loan is appealing.