If some guy said to you, “A Jewish guy cut me off while driving on the highway, so I hate Jews,” you’d think he was a complete bigot and a tool. We certainly wouldn’t think he was romance hero material.
So how is it a justifiable plot point that a guy is unwilling to commit because one woman, ONE. JUST ONE WOMAN broke his heart, dumped him, slept with his best friend, or committed some other act of douchebaggery?
I realize asking these questions may undermine the emotional tension of 65% of romance plots, particularly those in the category category, but COME ON NOW AND I MEAN IT. Unless the woman in question is his mother, and mommy issues are a whole lot of mess that we can discuss ad nauseum, how in the world can one bad experience with one person paint that person’s entire gender with such negative possibilities that a man becomes convinced that every woman walking is out to get him?
Seriously, can’t that one person just have been a douchebag?
Or is it too much to ask that actual issues be present for emotional conflict? Must we grab the Giant Broom of Judgment and push all potential mates, of the same or opposite sex depending on the romance, into the Trashbin of Plot Conflict?
I find this oddity exists in so many different subgenres, and holy pu pu platters, am I tired of it. And it happens to the heroine, too: one guy betrayed her, humiliated her in the worst way possible and caused her to doubt herself for years. It’s awful. Engagement broken, marriage shattered, presents returned, cold reality dunked into. Let there be sweeping judgments, and eternal penalties for his early withdrawal! Either she will be convinced it was entirely her own shortcomings that caused him to leave her, or she’ll suspect every man with the same color hair, or the same career, or the same history of having dated more than, say, four women in his adulthood of being just as feckless and shitful as Mr. Assmonkey. With heroines, it’s either all her fault, all men’s fault, or both. With heroes, The wimmins iz evilz. Heroes can’t be doubting themselves or their manly manful manhoods, obviously.
I understand having someone’s behavior cause you to question your own ability to gauge people for trustworthiness. I think everyone’s been there at least once in their lives. I know I’ve had to confront the fact that someone close to me wasn’t who I thought s/he was. But I don’t automatically ascribe the same behavior to all people who bear even the slightest similarity to the toolius originalis. That would make me a mighty, mighty asstool.
But in a romance, heads up: if one person acts like a tool and fractures the heart and confidence of a hero or heroine, four out of five dentists agree that a romance protagonist may therefore ascribe that behavior to the entire opposite sex for plot tension. Because that totally makes sense. Right.
I’m not even sure what to call this sweeping prejudice as plot point – nonheroism? Douchbaggery Judgmentalitis? Lame? I’m about ready to stop reading the minute Sweeping Judgment as Plot Tension rears its silly, overused head. Does this drive you bonkers, too?