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Lizzie Ashworth: Men, men, men, men…
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

One of the most heartfelt parts of writing romance, for me, is the male character. I have no idea why this is the case, except that I’ve always had a soft spot for guys. In high school, I enjoyed hanging with a group of guys, not that I didn’t also have female friends. I did. But with the guys, I felt more relaxed.

There was also something about the conversation with males that I preferred more than conversation with females. It’s hard to exactly pin down what specifically annoyed me about chatting with females—maybe that there seemed so little substance to it. With guys, conversation tended to be more to the point. And the point seemed more substantive. And there was less conversation overall, which suited me fine.

Throughout my life, I’ve found less to like about women than about men. Women can be unbelievably cruel, vindictive, and easily provoked to violence. Verbal violence, that is, things like character assassination, gossip, and vicious bad-mouthing.  I seldom see the same kind of hatred spewed by men that I’ve seen from women.

I’m sure both sexes dish out their share of ugly remarks, but in my experience, men tend to just walk away from that kind of confrontation whereas women can’t get your face long enough to suit them.

Maybe there’s some truth to the theory that while early man was out silently stalking game, women were talking up a storm around the campfire. By necessity, women had to develop words for every aspect of their close-knit lives that centered around children, food, and textiles. That setting bred endless options for intrigue, jealousy, nitpicking, and other traits for which women are famous.

Men didn’t need words to signal other hunters about the elk he spotted or to carry dead animals back to the cave. If he used words, it would spook the game he planned to eat for dinner. Once he dragged the carcass home and turned it over to the women, and as long as everybody played fair, male tribal members just wanted everybody to get along.

When things went wrong, however, men did what was necessary to defend his home and family. Physical violence was the language that mattered in those confrontations. Maybe a few words would be thrown down just to clarify his intent to kill your ass if you didn’t let go of his wife or his best bow and arrow. Otherwise, brother, it’s open season.

When I write or read modern romance, it’s not difficult to spot all the ways those primitive patterns remain in force today. Women swoon over men who have the same assets as men of long ago—muscular physiques capable of killing an elk and dragging it home. We still value the warrior mentality, men who would sacrifice their lives to defend his home and family.

Likewise, women in our romance stories tend to have a cluster of friends who gather to talk about—what else?—men. Well, maybe also chat about the latest acquisition of shoes, clothing, or accessories. Or maybe a new recipe.

While the 20th century saw a lot of progress for women in gaining the right to vote, the right to control her body and reproduction, and the right to a professional career, the majority of women tend to see marriage as the most important accomplishment of her life, soon followed by the production of children although children have become somewhat a priority than in past centuries. There’s no big ceremony with fancy dresses when a woman becomes a lawyer or a doctor, no engraved invitations to friends and family when she gets promoted to vice president.

Men tend to judge themselves—and other males—by the success of their elk hunting—er, their ability to provide a living for his family. In modern times, the old routes to male success are mostly obsolete. No more stalking wild game. No more daily interactions with animals or endless hours plowing the back forty. Men aren’t well suited to sitting behind desks and dealing with minutia. This contributes to my sympathy.

Still, things seem so much simpler with men than with women, at least, that’s how I see it. Maybe that too is part of my sympathetic affection for men. I tend to write my male characters that way, big, charming galoots with not much to say but determined to follow his heart. Not complicated, not conniving, not spun out over the least assumed slight, not changing his mind or mood every fifteen minutes.

Maybe I’m a minority of one in seeing guys this way. Do you have a different take on all this? Do you consider men as more conniving than women—or at least the same? Which of the two are more trustworthy? More dependable?

Would love to hear your comments!

P.S. Just throwing out some photos here—hunky guys who embody the male I’m talking about.

About the Author

Lizzie Ashworth lives in the wilds of the Ozark Mountains with three cats, two hound dogs, and too many deer in her yard. She’s been writing her entire life and wants her readers to know how much she enjoys sharing her naughty stories. When she’s not writing, she’s staring out the window or washing dishes. They tend to pile up…

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