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Link: Author S.L. Huang Discusses the “Manpain” Trope

July 10, 2016

I wanted to pass on this link to a recent post on Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds blog. In, it, author S.L. Huang discusses the trope of “Manpain,” where the focus of a story centers on the angst and suffering of the male protagonist. Disturbingly, this shows up even in cases where the protagonist has done something terrible to a female character, who disappears from the story after being harmed. Huang deliberately subverted the trope in a recent book, and analyzed the feedback she received:

It’s interesting, the responses I’ve gotten on this character and this scene. Male readers have tended to be neutral on the arc and the character or even view him as weak. Whereas female readers have almost universally come back with, “OMG I HATE HIM SO MUCH YEAH CAS PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE PUNCH HIM AGAIN!!!”

Of course, a few first readers on one book aren’t enough to draw empirical conclusions. But what I can say is this: it’s a pervasive trope, and at least some of us are really dang tired of seeing men given sympathy for the awful things done to women.

It ain’t your pain, dude. It’s ours.

I find Huang’s explanation, even though she’s referring to sci-fi and fantasy, very relevant given how often this also shows up in romance novels. Kudos to her for having her female protagonist fight back!

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