Spineless, Witless, Silly Heroines

Stack of BooksYou remember that heroine who drove her car clear across another several state(s) when her car could barely make it to her house? Or the heroine who was scared of her own shadow but didn’t need a bodyguard? Or how about the heroine who decides to let a stranger sleep in her bed only because he was passing through town (pop. 20) and didn’t want any strings attached? Or how about the heroine who decides to go to Columbia and rescue her brother even though she had zero contacts there and only went because of an email she received from someone who might have been her brother? Oh, here’s my favorite one: how about the heroine who ends up pregnant but the father wants nothing to do with the baby? Are any of these women your hero?

There’s a big reason why my purchases of romances has been on the decline. The spineless, witless, silly heroine is only part of the problem. Next would be the hero and the plot. Each I will address in another segment but right now, it’s the spineless, witless, silly heroines who seem to populate romance novels and raise my blood pressure.

Like any reader out there, I do enjoy a good story. However, when a story features the witless, spineless, silly ass heroine, I get annoyed. I throw my book at the wall and I scream why? Why am I being punished and I want my money back.  Are the majority of readers out there clueless or what? Why is the clueless heroine so popular among readers? Yeah, you. Focus of my rant: Anne Stuart. Love her books and her earlier books. I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not but her heroines are completely clueless. They do some of the stupidest things known to man and I’m to believe that the hero who usually is an assassin ends up with the clueless heroine and they live happily ever after in a big red house with a white picket fence around it. Give me a break. I know it’s escapism but it’s a bad escapism or fantasy. It doesn’t evoke happiness in me. None at all. It’s more akin to annoyance, confusion, bafflement and an “if you say so” attitude.

Yet there are fans of Anne Stuart’s books out there who see these heroine’s as anything other than stupid. They are passive, mousy, someone with baggage or needing therapy or completely helpless to the situation they find themselves in. Uh, no. They are stupid. I don’t care how you spin it – they’re still stupid as a doorbell. However, I am curious. Is Anne Stuart being deliberate in writing these spineless, witless, silly heroines or what? Is there a plot necessary for their existence? Obviously so because any real woman wouldn’t end up with these men and the story wouldn’t even be 200 pages long but I digress.   All I ask is that authors give me a half-way decent heroine who can at least stand on her own and I’m good. She doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist. Just let her think for herself and stand up for herself. That’s all I ask.  I don’t like doormats, mousy heroines and please don’t let them narrate the story, that’s like adding injury to insult.

Anyway,  I’ve  thought it over and concluded that if Anne Stuart had her hero’s narrate the story alone, then I’m good to go. Clueless heroine’s make bad narrators. The heroine’s POV would only serve to raise my high blood pressure. OK, it’s time for reader’s to speak up. Why do you enjoy spineless, witless, silly heroines? Yeah, you. What is the point of their existence in fiction? Do they serve an important purpose?  Somebody clue me in please. A spokesperson? Anyone willing to speak up for these spineless wimps of fiction? I’ll take answers like: “because” or “just don’t read them” or “I agree with you but I still read them anyway, hee,hee,hee”. I say good riddance to the spineless, witless heroine. We’re smarter than that. On a more serious note, it’s insulting and demeaning to have to read about clueless, spineless women. They don’t represent me. How about you?

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14 Responses to Spineless, Witless, Silly Heroines

  1. Margaret says:

    Keishon, I’m begging you…please stop reading Anne Stuart. It’s not good for your blood pressure. 🙂

    I’ve always thought her heroines are a perfect match for her heroes. Her male characters can be so dark, and I think the heroine represents their light…and both tend to be ‘damaged’. Funny enough, like you, I read Stuart becasue of her male characters…so even we can find common ground here. Into the Fire is in my top 5 favourite Stuarts. Is that you I hear screaming? 😆

    You’ve raised some great questions, but I don’t have the answers for you. For me, I don’t read books based on if I can identify with a character or how she represents me. Stuart does for you what JR Ward does for me and it ain’t pretty. I bought 2 of her books and that author will not get one more penny out of me. Now those books I find demeaning, but I know so many others love her, and I’ve moved on.

  2. Avid Reader says:

    Margaret, next time Anne Stuart has a new book out, I’m gonna need an intervention, OK? Also, speaking of JR Ward, I did buy her last one :biggrin: and will probably regret it soon after I read it but she is so popular even though readers admit that her books are demeaning to women. Maybe what bothers us doesn’t bother other readers as much or they can simply move past that. Fair enough because…. there’s certain things I can’t get past and will throw the book in the trash. Stupid heroines don’t quite rank up there but close. I’ll try to keep your advice in mind.

  3. Karen Scott says:

    Keishon, I could live with Chloe in Black Ice, but Genevieve in Cold As Ice, was one of the most fucktardly heroines, evah.

  4. Tilly Greene says:

    Okay, how do I stand reading a book with a witless wonder for a heroine? I rarely, if ever [the last female character I remember identifying with was Margaret from Judy Blume’s “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret”], identify with the heroine so her pesonality flaws mean little to me unless they pull me from the story.

    However, I’m thinking Margaret has the right advise…step away from the Anne Stuart books and don’t look back.

  5. CindyS says:

    Ahem.

    Well, you see –

    *runs like hell*

    CindyS (rabid Anne Stuart fangirl)

  6. Amie says:

    I’ve never read Anne Stuart but I wanted to say what a great post! I don’t think I’ve read any books with heroines like that lately. Anymore I tend not to finish books that annoy me even though sometimes I don’t know WHY they annoy me

    (and as long as i’ve been reading romance I’m sure I have some spineless, witless, silly heroines ) :biggrin:

  7. Tara Marie says:

    I’ve thought it over and concluded that if Anne Stuart had her hero’s narrate the story alone, then I’m good to go. Clueless heroine’s make bad narrators.

    Thats a really good point–LOL.

    I’m an Anne Stuart fan, but I come at it from a different perspective. I see her heros and heroines as foils for one another–bad boys (real bad boys not fake rakes) and good (sometimes clueless) girls, though I have to agree with Karen Genevieve in CAI was an idiot.

  8. Sotheara says:

    I’m with you on this one. I loath stupid, spineless heroines. They think they’re so smart and know so much better, but they always end up putting themselves and the heroes in danger. Thwack. Yep, that’s the book hitting the wall. After reading Cold as Ice, I’ve given up on Anne Stuart’s books. The ones on my TBR pile are going to the UBS. I can’t relate to them, and I’m unable to enjoy a book if I’m annoyed by either character. I’ve also given up on JR Ward’s books. Bought the first two, and I couldn’t stand the spineless wallpaper heroines. I didn’t care for their nzahmes (ie. names LOL) as well.

  9. raine says:

    Okay, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here…
    (and for the record, I’ve never read Stuart, and I DO agree with you that spineless, silly heroines are VERY irritating–although I can enjoy a heroine who seems weak at first because she doesn’t KNOW how strong she can be, and then finds it when she’s tested)…

    A reason for their existence?
    What if they’re simply foils for the strong, dark heroes?
    What if the lack of strength and personality makes it easier for some readers to put themselves in that heroine’s place (i.e., a blank slate)?
    What if it’s meant to make those of us who are superior to such behavior feel even MORE superior? :angel:
    What if readers who ARE rather mousy feed on the fantasy of a big, strong brute actually falling in love with them?
    And what if an author is simply weak at writing strong women, but excels at every other aspect of storytelling?

    Okay, so I didn’t say they’d be GOOD reasons, lol, and I don’t relate to these ‘heroines’. Just throwing stuff out there. :whistle:

  10. Avid Reader says:

    Hmmmmmm, Raine, good points especially on the fantasy of a mousy woman attracting the attention of someone dark and mysterious and possibly dangerous? *Looking over at CindyS* I could buy that scenario but I still wouldn’t want them to narrate the story for fear of hypertension. Just to answer a question you posed: why would an author have such a difficult time writing a strong heroine? My theory would be that a) the plot is weak thereby making her characters weak b) don’t care to write strong heroines because there really isn’t a whole lot to do with them in a weak story. I respect authors who have to look at a blank screen and come up with a story that is memorable and entertaining. I just can’t buy another Anne Stuart novels. She seems to be writing the modern Gothic that just doesn’t work for me. She may be the Queen of the Idiot Heroine. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve read gothics ala Mary Stewart and their heroines were nowhere near this clueless.

  11. CindyS says:

    Here’s something I posted a long while back but it’s more about the rescue fantasy, the Stuart hero and the fact that she lets the heroine get hurt.

    http://cindyl.blogspot.com/2006/02/ya-know-what-i-mean-me-neither.html

    I cracked open Ice Blue while waiting for an appointment and got to the part where the heroine gets home and goes to have a bath instead of calling 911 and screaming bloody murder – yeah, I was sooo thinking of you (and the fact that I would have dialed 911 the minute I got in the house – Stuart could have had her do that but then the line could have been cut).

    And my bad but I thought Genny from the last book was one of the stronger heroines that Stuart has written.

    CindyS (still a fangirl)

  12. Najida says:

    I’ve been pondering this because many of the heroines I’ve liked or identified with have been labeled ‘weak’ by some. Maybe it’s the sum total of my life experiences, maybe it’s that I’m a woman who has always had to carry my own weight, worked since I was a teen, built my own house, paid all my own bills, had a few hard relationships where I had to be strong to survive (we’re talking food, clothing, shelter survival here).

    So many of my favorite reads are of women who are the light to a dark, kind and gentle against a strong and out of control. They are loved because of their character, not because they can out ‘something’ the hero. Whatever. Not silly or stupid, just happy. Just giving. Hell, my biggest secret fantasy these days is to actually have a guy care enough to bring me a glass of wine, rub my feet and pay the bills for a month 😉 Oh, and love me for who I am.

    Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, my joints hurt, I’m still working hard to keep body and soul together, I’m tired of always being the one to fix things for everyone else. Being a strong tough chick ain’t all it’s cracked up to be ;). In fact, it sucks most of the time.

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  14. Avdotya says:

    It is certainly unnecessary to read books so entirely devoid of literary, social or philosophical value. If you feel degraded by their lack of any thoughtful merit, why not return to the classics? It is impossible not to recall the power and the glory of art after one returns to masters like Dostoevsky, George Eliot and Camus.

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