During my neverending journey through the indie author scene on Amazon, I’ve seen a good share of terrible works and a fair share of awesome ones. And wading through the ocean of crap to find the diamonds lying hidden underneath is still my favorite hobby. However, I’ve noticed an odd trend among independent authors on Amazon which brought me to ask the question: is masculinity dead?
Amazon Kindle has allowed independent writers to sell their works without having to jump through the hoops set by publishing companies. In fact, one of the greatest things about modern indie publishing is the resurgence of stories featuring tough, manly men doing manly things and always getting the girl. Too bad so many people forgot how to write a masculine story.
Of course, we have stories that sound good where we have a manly man as the main character who kills all the monsters with sheer testosterone and sleeps with every beautiful woman he comes across. We have a new rise in the harem genre, where the male main character is so awesome that he attracts an entire roster of attractive women who are devoted to him. You have everything from barbarians to wizards to superheroes to god-like beings at the center of supposedly masculine tales.
Masculinity, however, has been so demonized by the media that the mere act of a man looking at a woman or being assertive in any way must come accompanied with apologies and shame. And the same – I’m so sorry for being a man – sentiment is heavily present in stories supposedly written for men.
The hero might be powerful, and might even be open about how hot he thinks his female companions are and might even have sex with them at his leisure – but that’s more of a highschooler’s version of what manly actually means.
In these stories – several male leads let the female characters run his life. It’s like anything beyond fighting and throwing out one-liners is too much for them to handle. That’s not really how masculinity works. Or, for example in the book Doom Infinity Marine (which I actually like), the main character is working together with a team of female marines in a desperate fight for survival on a hostile world filled with vicious alien bugs – ok, sounds good so far. He kills a lot of bugs. He does nearly impossible things and pulls off one badass feat after another (which is why the books are great – you should seriously check it out) However, despite its graceful pandering to the masculine power fantasy – we still get some (I’m sorry for letting by testosterone out) apologetics.
There are two books as far as I know. Several situations pop up where the main character has to do something manly like save everyone or go off to sacrifice himself because everyone else around him can’t get the job done like he can. When this happens, often we get his inner monologue to remind us how awesome and competent and totally special his female companions are. It’s like he’s saying to the reader: “Look, I fully acknowledge that these women are strong and independent, okay? I just want to be sure that you know – when I jump into the mouth of a giant sandworm only to tear my way out – at the end of the day we’re both equals and I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes. Also, sorry for being manly – I know it’s childish of me.”
Or something like that. You get the picture.
I remember true stories of masculine men – where they do manly things without apology. Do you think Conan the Barbarian tries to ensure the audience that he respects women and thinks very highly of the female warrior around him before he sinks his ax into the skull of an elder thing? No. He kills and plunders to suit himself. He takes what he wants. He’s aggressive without apology. He’s smart. He’s strong. He stays cool under pressure. He fights until he wins. He’s knowledgeable. He’s virtually unbreakable in the face of overwhelming danger. These are truer tenants of masculinity – stuff the modern author seems to have forgotten.
If you’re going to write a masculine power fantasy – we don’t need the characters getting all touchy-feely with constant emotional validation. You just need blood, big weapons, and boobs.
The point is – you shouldn’t have to apologize for being a man, and the main character of your testosterone-fueled story shouldn’t have to either.
Of course, not all indie authors on Amazon are like that. Mike Leon is like the honey badger of indie publishing. His works are geared to trigger any feminist or crazy regressive out there. Not a single fuck given.