Are Romcoms to women what Harems are to men?
So, my lady friend and I were sitting at my place last night and she was watching some drama on Netflix, so I decided to continue working on my story.
This came as a surprise to her and she felt a bit upset, which I did not know at the time.
When I finally coaxed the reason out of her, it sparked a debate.
The title says harems because it is more pertinent to the people on the forums, but it could include games which I know some women and men have problems with. (the oversexualization)
It was sparked by a question she asked me. "Why do all men hate Romcoms?"
I will say this, it was a generalization and it came from a place that I find cute. (She wanted me to spend time with her.)
There are most definitely guys that like them.
All that aside, the question made me start to think. (I really don't like Romcoms.)
I have heard it said that harems are wish fulfillment and unrealistic- that sort of thing, but are most Romcoms not the same?
For the people rolling their eyes at me, hear me out first.
The men in these stories always seem willing to sacrifice their dreams, careers and sometimes even their lives to win the women's affection. I don't have any data to back this up, but I feel like these movies would cause women (not all) to have unrealistic expectations from men and give them a false idea of what love should be like. Expectations that men would have to live up to. I personally feel it would not be fair.
So people have issues with the oversexualized games and harem stories because the females depicted in them promote body issues and stuff like that. I agree to an extend, but its not any better when men are expected to be prince charming, ready and willing to risk ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally and are called selfish for daring to have our own desires.
To me these stories bolster the idea that women should expect to have their boyfriends/husbands be their knight in shining armour. Give them everything of who they are, dehumanizing themselves for the women's pleasure and perverted idea of what love and romance is. I don't find that romantic at all.
Some, may be scoffing or feeling offended right about now, but does that not prove my point? Thinking that its wrong and selfish that a man should not give in to all of his counter part's demands.
I will say this. Where I am from men used to be taught that they have to be that knight to a degree, you know the whole you have to provide, care for and give safety to your woman. So some part of me is also conditioned to be the knight and i believe it is the same for a lot of others that were taught the same.
What do you guys think? Lets keep the conversation going.
Also, my story is not a harem.
Personally, my issue isn't with the wish fulfillment or the sexual part of the content. I'm of the opinion that centuries of being ashamed of sexuality and making a taboo out of it have brought us the current mess, where a woman breastfeeding is somehow global news again. We don't need less sexuality in media, we need much more of it until it's so mundane, all the arcane mysticism is lost.
However, the roles and ideas about society in both types of media (harem and romcom) do rub me the wrong way but I'm not going to fight them. They'll naturally shift over time. That said, while there is a bit of double standard when it comes to romcom and harem, it bears to keep in mind that romcoms are usually PG-13 with a kiss at most and harems have the connotation of being much more focused on sexuality and would be closer to an NC-17 rating. Now romance novels... hah, if we'd be honest, they'd get hammered with an adult only rating. Sorry, personal pet peeve after having to edit several dozens of these things.
Romcom and harem aren't equivalent, no. Harem and romance novels are much closer and have significant wish fulfillment overlap. Both go nuts on weird societal roles and ideas.
The same is true for (rom) comedy sitcoms. The man is always the stupid joke, who has to apologize in the end to get back his lost favor of the (or all) female characters.
Many women would probably think that a man just fantasizes about the kind of thing that you see in various adult videos. Sure, we have an animalistic side that thinks about that. But when we think with our heart we fantasize about something completely different.
When it comes to romance, a man is typically expected to take on a very active role. He's expected to make the first move and do something or be something to prove his worth to her right away. He's expected to walk up to her and put on a good enough show in order to qualify as a candidate. He needs to be charming and/or funny and/or other beguiling enough to receive a passing mark on the entrance exam to dating.
For a man, dating is work. It's a lot of work. He needs to put his heart and soul into a performance just to hope that it is enough to be noticed.
But society expects the opposite for a woman. She is allowed to just be there. She just needs to exist and be visible and it's expected that she just needs to be available for a man to make put on his display. Dating for a woman is far more passive. Not for all women, of course, but in general.
Women have things that they do but little of it is socially active. Little of it comes with the risk of embarrassment or overt rejection. He comes to her and puts on his show and then she gets to decide if he gets the chance to move on to the next round of trying to impress her.
The typical romantic fantasy from a woman's perspective is for a man to come and "sweep her off of her feet". It's for the man to put on such a good, enchanting show that there's no way that she could possibly reject his advances. Her fantasy is to have the ultimate active partner. The vast majority of high selling and extremely popular romantic movies or romance novels reflect this, because women are their biggest consumers. This, however, propagates a vicious cycle when/where men turn away this type of media.
So, here's the point of all of this: A man's romantic fantasy is just be accepted for who he is.
Men are tired of having to constantly put on a show. They're tired of putting so much of themselves into trying to read a women in order to react to her and to be this wonderfully charming individual to pass her barrier of entry. He's tired of having so much on the line and then waiting those gut wrenching moments where she's silently deciding, over the course of the attempt, whether he gets the thumbs up or thumbs down.
A man just wants to be wanted for who he is a regular basis. He wants someone who stand by his side and support him even when he can't be "on". He wants a moment to feel what's it like to have that more passive role where someone else makes him feel desirable simply for being there. He wants a partner to show him that he matters for no reason other than being recognized as someone who actually does matter.
A man just... wants to be wanted.
I could go on an even stronger tirade, backing this up with data. But I'm sure you get the point. A quick look at all of Amazon's romance best-sellers will quickly reveal who the genre is targeting. With the market for romance, and society's expectations as they are, it's no surprise men turn away from rom-coms.
Just like women, men also strive for some kind of wish fulfillment. When the story/content of this product doesn't provide it, we will naturally end up looking for it somewhere else. That's where the harem genre — poorly written as it may be — enters the fray. It lets us project a sense of being the object of desire for once. It lets us live our fantasy.