Troublesome Tropes in Urban Fantasy, Romance, and Paranormal Erotica and How to Subvert Them

Alpha Male/Rich Asshole:

The concept that a man who is power-hungry, aggressive, violent, stalkerish, possessive and territorially jealous as a romantic lead is worrisome. It not only promotes toxic masculinity, but might encourage readers to seek abusive or codependent relationships. It’s not just toxic for individuals, it’s toxic for humanity in general.

We live in a patriarchal society where men statistically make more money and have more power. Yet, they cannot express any emotion other than anger without being deemed weak. We don’t need more fiction propagating this as a cultural norm. Does anyone living in 2020 really believe we’re better off for this type of man in charge let alone in our fiction?

In Eastside Hedge Witch, I introduce Gabriel, the archangel of the Pacific Northwest, as a person, who aesthetically fits the trope. However, the reader will soon discover, he’s not what urban fantasy readers would recognize as an “alpha hole”.’ I pepper throughout contrasting characters who get the metaphorical backhand for their behavior.

We need more sexy scientist/librarian/humanitarian male leads. The despot thing is getting kinda stale.


Kidnapping itself is fine. The antagonist taking the protagonist hostage is fine. Taking someone again their will is problematic because any action they take afterward means squat. Stockholm syndrome is a real thing and the MC falling in love with their captor/abuser/rapist is not sexy. I stopped reading an author who had a ton of indie books that were all about consent then as soon as they got published by a big house wrote a kidnapping alphahole story.

What is a sexier trope? Two people on opposing sides, equal in battle and power, falling in love. Give me an enemies to lovers story any day over any kidnapping story. Give them a common enemy to defeat. Or, better yet, a peace to negotiate to end the dying on both sides of the conflict. Cast them far from the battle and throw them in dire circumstances, which they must learn to overcome prejudices and work together to survive. That’s hot.

Sexual Assault:

Any sort of unwanted touch, kissing, or rape is not sexy. It is not BDSM. That wold is all about consent. A man forcing themself on a woman and her falling in love with him because she liked the unwanted sex is not cool. Do I need to say why?

Men boxing women in, invading their spaces, stalking them, and not taking no for an answer until they finally relent are all crap tropes.

Rape isn’t a plot point. It’s a lazy way to create sympathy for a character. There are so many better ways to create empathy and relatability without going there.

Comment with some tropes in fiction you’d love to stop seeing and ones that you love.

©Tammy Deschamps
Photo by Simone Pellegrini on Unsplash

Published by TJ Deschamps

Tammy loves to build worlds with words, exploring themes the effect of diaspora on the generations born elsewhere than their ancestors with the backdrop of tech or magic and dragons (sometimes both). These stories are inspired by her own family's immigrant experience. She's queer and many of her characters fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum (though that is not the focus of her work). She's married to an engineer who dances. Together they are raising three precocious teens in the Seattle suburbs. Two of her children are neurodiverse. Her experiences have taught her much about the world, its beauties and its injustices. All of this comes through in her fiction with a healthy dose of absurd humor.

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