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Michelle Conder. Sandra Marton. The Wildes: Five Complete Novels! Mistress of the Sheikh. The Prince of Pleasure. The Borghese Bride. Lynn Raye Harris. Susan Napier. Roarke's Kingdom. The Spanish Prince's Virgin Bride. The Haunting. I was born and grown up in the Middle East. First off I hate the term Middle East! It's called Aisa or Africa or whatever the name of the countries are. Is there anything like Middle West?? Anyway, Sheikhs do not look like what these novels depict. Sheikh is a term used for old people in tribes. So, I don't understand this whole handsome, young, sexy I think there's something much deeper going on than the male protagonists of these books not fitting modern US cultural norms.
Most romances, if my understanding is correct, present similar protagonists--virile and marginally-violent men who are 'tamed' by love. Also, notice the covers. The men are not markedly or stereotypically Middle-Eastern. They're slightly darker skinned than the women, but they wear modern 'Western' clothing, don't have beards, wear turbans, or anything else that would mark them as a stereotypical Sheik. This is strange to me because covers being representative of the plot and characters is very important to readers, according to Jane Radway's work on romance novels.
I wonder if publishers felt that stereotypical or markedly Middle Eastern men on the covers of books would be threatening, considering the West increasingly views Middle Eastern men as threats. I think these are misogynist, orientalist, and racist, and women who are into these fantasies?
Of 'domination but not too much'? Or whatever they perceive these stories as.
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This is an okay article, but I wish the blogger would stop using 'masculine' or 'hypermasculine' as synonyms for 'wants to buy women' and 'might rape you'. Manga seems to have the same genre, except with gayness. Maybe they have the heterosexual kind too but I haven't seen the covers while browsing through books. The "modern" Sheikh books seem to just play off the general "Unapproachable Rich Man" theme that Harlequin likes to use.
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Just throw in a different Ethnicity or Job. The whole "inter-racial" aspect of these Sheikh books is interesting when you approach the "no mans land" of racial definition in the Arab community.
You will also notice that these romances never have the Heroines falling in love with a broke brown dude. The Greeks, Arabs and Sicilians all have to be rich or royalty in order for them to be doable. They don't get that "Rich only in Character" option like white Heros do. Though I'm an off-and-on romance reader, I haven't read widely in the sheikh genre -- probably a dozen or so over a year span.
Anyone remember the Iran hostage crisis of ? Please excuse the phrasing there, I'm trying to emulate how it would be expressed in the novels.
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So the hero is presented as "uncivilized" by comparison to his English peers, but "civilized" compared to his peers in his own country. There are lots of powerful magnates who force meek women to marry them by threatening their fathers with prison, etc. Rape fantasies are prevalent, but by no means all the genre has to offer. Back in the late s, they had stats claiming 50 million American women regularly read romance fiction.
I highly recommend the blog "Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels" or "Dear Author" if you're interested in learning more about romance novels. Both sites have compelling and interesting takes on the genre and address many of the issues raised by comments on this posting. Someone did mention this above. It's like-- Oh I want a dark and sexy lover, but I want him to have no vestiges of a different religion and only stock characterizations of his culture. But, truly, romance novels are the ultimate fantasy novels, so I sort of give them a break.
If girls don't want Islam interfering with their romance experience, that's their choice. It might indicate something in their subconscious, but that doesn't necessarily intrude into their actions. What is interesting to me is related to the thesis of Taylor's article.
The East is generally feminized in our culture, but in this female-dominated genre, the East is hyper-masculinized. Essentially, the East is always Othered either made feminine or made masculine by Western sources. So if it still tends to be feminized in literature, film, TV, etc. Those images are definitely not the images that come to mind when I think of shiekh.
That's what I find odd. This is quite typical of romance novels. Whatever the ethnicity of the other, the story plays out the same. He may be an invading Norman, he may be a fierce Native American, he may be a cruel Viking, he may even be of the same race and ethnicity as the female but of a different subculture- detective watching her house after a robbery,rough mean biker dude who kidnapped her by mistake, cowboy riding through the plains looking for temporary work on a ranch, super controlled emotionless businessman who has to work with the flaky hippy heiress to his partners shares.
I'm not dismissing the race issue at all, just saying that regardless of the race or nationality or ethnicity of the man, he is usually an Other of some sort and the story plays out the same every time. This goes back well before Edith Maude Hull's novel in There are lots of cases of real-world, historical conflicts being used as inspiration for romantic or pornographic texts.
Representing Difference in the Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance | SpringerLink
Yeah those are kind of offensive. I think you are right in saying that it is supposed to show the common theme of the woman taming the wild man and the writers just chose sheikhs to represent this but there are just as many of these books where the barbarian is presented as other "wild" races. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Sociological Images encourages people to exercise and develop their sociological imaginations with discussions of compelling visuals that span the breadth of sociological inquiry. Read more…. Toggle navigation.
The topic is popular enough that Harlequin has a whole series, Desert Brides : Another popular option is the Sons of the Desert series: Taylor argues that these novels present a masculinized, exotic, and ultimately pre-modern Oriental Other that is contrasted with the modernized West. The article is in Journal of Popular Culture v. Comments 75 AR — November 16, And, of course, they make light of slavery.
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I doubt any of those women found their situation romantic. Ben — November 16, I'm not an expert on romance novels, so I'll defer to those who read and study them, but I wonder how much the gender roles in this Desert Brides series diverge from the gender roles portrayed in other Harlequin books and series. Mo — November 16, Hence why I always take a romance novel or two when I go camping. Sayantani DasGupta — November 16, Fabulous analysis! Amanda — November 16, The "sheik and the white virgin" books also usually portray the relationship as much more "he rules, she submits" than the rest of the romance genre.
Morgan — November 16, Very true! It sparks several thoughts: 1. Lilac — November 16, The excerpts from the paper remind me of a lot of the research I've read about fanfic, especially how much of it stemmed from the "taming Captain Kirk" romances that women used to write.