I truly hate the Blank Page Heroine. She is in a lot of books—I don’t mean to pick on romance, because sadly I have seen her in every genre, including my own—and sometimes she seems to be there as a match for the hero who won’t bother him with things like ‘hobbies’ and ‘opinions.’ Sometimes she is carefully featureless (still missing those pesky hobbies and opinions) so that, apparently, the reader can identify with her and slot their own personalities onto a blank page. As I don’t identify with blank pages, I find the whole business disturbing.
I had always thought of this as The Girlfriend. She is in many many many Hollywood movies and is absolutely interchangeable in them. Because it’s the male characters who are important in movies like . . . Nah. I won’t name them so the comments don’t become an argument about how I am wrong and So & So movie is not like that and blah blah blah. The girl, if she’s there at all, is merely decoration and a reward for the hero. She is entirely without personality. And thus completely without interest for me, which is why I do not like such movies.
I was quite shocked to find the same character in books written by women. I’d become convinced that she was a straight male fantasy. Surely women know that we women have opinions and hobbies and an internal life? Why would they write a female character without dimensions? It’s still a mystery. I adore Sarah Rees Brennan’s name for them: Blank Page Heroine. That’s exactly it. There’s no there there. Just a blankness. A very sad making blankness. Bad enough that we women are all too often told to shut up and not take up space in real life, but for it to happen in our escapist literature too? Aaargh!
And what kind of a lesson does Blank Page Heroine Love teach? If the love between two people involves one of them giving up everything for the other one including their personality, their own likes and desires and needs, then that love is not going to last long or end well. Trust me, I have seen it happen. If you have to suppress who you are in order for your relationship to last2 then that relationship does not deserve to last. It’s not good for you or the person you love.
But thankfully, as SRB points out, there have been many wonderful romances of late.3 Heroines who exist for many reasons other than to find the love of that one true hero.4 My favourite recent romance writer is Sherry Thomas, who not only writes wonderfully believable men and women but some of them are even older than 25! Bless! Go check out SRB’s post for more romance recommendations.