Young Adult Paranormal Fiction is on the rise in terms of popularity; however, it uses fundamentally sexist and repetitive tropes for success.

Paranormal romantic fiction refers to fiction based upon elements of fantasy which cannot be explained by scientific means, such as angels or nephilim, children of God or demi-gods, aliens or luxen, vampires or faeries- among other supernatural beings. Though there is a lot that can be done with this genre, the authors usually fall short of experimenting with the same. It almost seems as if, post-Twilight, paranormal fantasy writers use particular tropes in order to cash in on the Twilight readership/success. Today, this genre has a fool-proof formula which insures that the novel is an instant success.

The Damsel in Perpetual Distress

hush hush What Happened to Feminism: Clichés in Paranormal Fiction

One of the recurring stereotypes (or tropes) in the paranormal romance world is that the female protagonist has no idea of her past, her parents, or even what she is. She is an ordinary teenager, living an ordinary and ignorant teenager’s life, and has most likely just transferred into a high school populated with paranormal beings, such as Bella from Twilight, Evie from Inescapable, or Katy from Obsidian. She’s pretty, but unaware of the effect of her charms and beauty upon the male population; she constantly belittles her looks, perhaps she is too pale, or too frail. She’s never curvy enough, and she’s almost never blonde. It’s surprising what authors have against blondes, actually. She looks like Bella from Twilight, with her slight body, pale face and brown hair or Clary from The Mortal Instruments, with her slight body, pale face, and red hair, or Evie from Inescapable, with her creamy skin, red hair, and what-in-her-mind-is-lanky body. She goes au natural, and usually doesn’t put any makeup, which makes all the males in the novel notice just how different she is from your run-of-the-mill ‘Barbie’ girl. What’s problematic in this is that these authors subconsciously demean girls who do use makeup. The former type of girls is ‘innocent’; she’s almost always inexperienced with boys, something which the male heroes find very endearing. Often, there are attempts made to emphasise upon her virginity, as Evie’s is when Russell sleeps over, and later when Candace is being mean to her, in the novel Inescapable.

Best Friends Forever

Once the female protagonist moves into a new town, and a new high school, she meets one friend who suddenly decides that the two of them are going to be best friends for life. What happened to spending time getting to know one another? Evie and Russell, from the Premonition series are tight from day one, Dee from the Lux series, fights with her brother in order to be friends with Katy. Only Clary and Isabelle, from The Mortal Instruments, don’t get on too well in the beginning. Clary honestly admits to the fact that she hates Isabelle because of her beauty and they only become friends after spending ample time fighting demons with each other.

Paranormal Darcy

inescapabale What Happened to Feminism: Clichés in Paranormal Fiction

The biggest cliché that lies in this genre, however, is that of the male hero. The male hero is almost always gorgeous; usually the most beautiful boy the female protagonist has ever laid her eyes upon. He’s also the most powerful supernatural being in the novel, such as beautiful Jace from The Mortal Instruments series, infuriating Will from The Infernal Devices trilogy, or hot Daemon from the Lux series. One must watch out for the cheeky one-liners that are said by him during a heated moment, whether with the female protagonist, or when facing the bad guys. As is with almost every Young Adult paranormal fiction, the male hero is aloof, rude, infuriating and hates the female protagonist, whether it be in order to protect his family, as Daemon does in Obsidian, or in order to protect the girl herself, as Will does in The Infernal Devices, or because his intentions are to kill the female protagonist, as Patch’s are in Hush, Hush before he surprisingly falls in love with her. Even though the male heroes almost usually hate the female protagonists from the very beginning, they are always there to protect them. The female protagonists are trouble magnets but one does not need to worry, because the heroes are always there to save the day! Whether it’s a creep trying to take advantage of a situation, or supernatural baddies coming to kill or capture the heroine, the hero is always there. He may even be stealthily following her in order to protect her, like Edward follows Bella in Twilight (Twilight #1), like Daemon follows Katy when she goes off with Simon in Obsidian (Lux #1), like Reed follows Evie around almost all the time in Inescapable (Premonition #1), like Aiden follows Alex in Half Blood (Covenant #1), and so on. He hates her, he thinks she’s stupid, but protecting her becomes of the utmost urgency. While on these adventures, the female protagonist does a very brave, yet naive thing and next thing he knows, the male hero is in love; big time. It’s almost a miracle. Reed, from Inescapable, later tells Evie that when she had tried to taser him, he just wanted to take her in his arms. Once it has been established that the male hero and female heroine have fallen for each other’s charms, it is revealed that they cannot truly be together, that it may even be illegal, as is the case between Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments, who believe that they are brother and sister, till it is later revealed to be otherwise, or Will and Tessa from The Infernal Devices, since Will is under the misconception that anyone who loves him will die, because of a curse he believed he had been put under when he was a child.

What truly disturbs me about these novels is not the fact that they thrive on stereotypes, or limit themselves to particular tropes, but the portrayal of the relationship between the main male and female character. If one was to base one’s thinking about relationships through these novels, one would assume that women desire their love interest to be aloof, rude and overbearing. Other than Clary from The Mortal Instruments, or Tessa from The Infernal Devices, these female characters are not strong. If they ever assert their will against the male heroes, they end up regretting it, because they invariably get into trouble and need saving. It is unfortunate that every time I read a paranormal romance/fantasy novel similar to the Lux series, the Twilight series, the Premonition series, the Covenant series, or the Hush, Hush tetralogy, I have to ask myself :

What happened to feminism?

By Aarushi Maheshwari

Also See:
Disney’s Changing Face
Bias against Bollywood’s ‘Bad’ Girls

Image Source: Inescapable@Facebook, Hush, Hush@Facebook

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