One Man's Thoughts: Men v Women

‘A beefy caveman totes his trusty club over one shoulder while he drags an unconscious woman by the hair through the dregs’ in many ways sums up the nature of romantic relationships. For the caveman, he has proven himself worthy to the female with his prowess in her capture and presumably has a lair in which he can provide shelter and food for his new-found love. If the caveman is successful he will have many offspring from several such headache-induced seductions. While this is a distasteful method for finding romance there is an acceptance of this scenario as being the fundamental social building blocks from which we have evolved. The result being that the confrontational relationship between men and women does make for bountiful sexual tension and thus good romance.

Allow me to first assure everyone that no anthropological evidence exists that early man engaged in the practice of clubbing women to acquire them as mates. The notion of such behavior is traced to stories written sometime in the eighteen eighties. However, the popularity and acceptance of the idea that men ‘hunted’ women in prehistoric society is telling as to our own perceptions of the dynamics between the sexes. What is it that attracts us to the juicy story about the pirate who captures a noblewoman and falls for her, a wounded cowboy tended to by a gentle Indian woman that doesn’t trust him, or perhaps the small town preacher’s daughter who discovers her boyfriend is a blood-sucking vampire? All of these are ripe with conflict and would make appealing plots.

In telling an enticing tale of the heart there are two basic forms of conflict, social dominance and physical dominance. Social dominance serves as both hook and obstacle for the would be couple. The difference in social standing can be anything, a wealthy industrialist and animal rights activist, royalty and commoner, people from different nations or cultures, but in the end it is this difference that electrifies the situation into an engaging story and makes the characters memorable. The unique situation that divides them is what constitutes the satisfaction of their coming together.

The second form of conflict is physical. This is the more delicate to handle, however takes the drama to a higher level. The kidnapped woman is the most familiar incarnation of physical dominance. The reader may know that the abductor, who is behaving as an antagonist, has no intention of harming the damsel in distress, but it is her fear and uncertainty that acts to entertain the audience. The physical threat can also be less menacing and may appear as withheld assistance. The brave woodsman who refuses to guide a noblewoman through a forest fraught with danger unless she deigns to grant him a kiss, or the nurse that mends a fugitive’s gunshot wound only if he reveals why he wishes to return to his parent’s graves before turning himself in to the police are examples of such physical dominance.

These dynamics are the focus of my writing and it was the exploration of such relationships in my first book that made me aware of my fascination with this aspect of human interaction. Somewhere between the need to control members of the opposite sex and submit to them is the balance that defines love for each of us. Reading and writing about this journey to discover that balance among characters allows us to live that experience in ways we would not be able to on our own. In short, romance is drama and drama is conflict.

Michael Matthews Bongamon


About April Dawn

Hello, my name is April Dawn. I live in California with my loving husband and a beautiful baby boy who was born in '08. I enjoy reading, travel, and music. I have always loved to read. I have read voraciously for more than twenty years now. (OOPs, guess I'm showing my age there.) I have a love of suspense, fantasy, PI and police crime novels, and so many others, but I have a real soft spot for historical romance. I think I wrote my first official romance scene when I was about fifteen or so. It consisted of a girl being taken aboard a pirate ship and falling madly for the captain. I wish I still had that writing, because it would be real fun to read what I wrote like back then. I started writing seriously in 2002, and finished my first novel that year which retained the title "Romance Novel" for more than five years. Now titled Bound by Love, and available through Breathless Press. I have since finished two other novels that were lucky enough to be named something other than "Romance Novel". My current work in progress, The Piratess, stars a female pirate named Cat. In the future, I hope to be able to bring more of my characters into the world as I work to finish and publish the other novels that I have begun. Stay tuned to meet all the pirates, gunslingers and thieves that run through my head. Hopefully you will love them as much as I do. At this time I have about fifteen novels in the works, and enjoy the lives of the characters so much that I am sure I will finish them all within the few years. I am currently in the process being published, and hope that I will have release information coming soon for some of my novels. I hope you enjoy the site, and come back to look for samples and release dates often, or perhaps just to read the blog. Feel free to sign the guestbook, or join us to get updates.
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4 Responses to One Man's Thoughts: Men v Women

  1. Lise Horton says:

    I think, Michael, that in fact, the image of the hunter and the hunted is alive and well. It’s just the tools the hunter (man) uses, and his hunting ground (clubs, cruises) that have changed. And in some cases the hunter is now the female of the species!

    Fascinating overview of the way “love” works.

    I’m looking forward to this new blog, too, and good luck with the venture.

  2. Stacy says:

    April, awesome website and great first blog.

    Michael hits on keep points regarding the chemical push and pull between men and women. Physical and social dominance or conflict are huge in a story and definitely not easy to create. I have read tons of books with great potential situations and no follow up from the author and then I’ve read other books with unusual conflict that have blown me away because the author knew how to draw upon the situation.

    A fascinating follow up to this blog would be how authors make good and bad use of these foundational relationship.

    • Michael Matthews Bingamon says:

      Stacy is correct that physical and social conflicts are huge in a story. The key to creating the tension you want to using real situations. In my book, Savage Worlds, there are three near human races that have clashing cultures. Racial tension is at the heart of every relationship in the book, making for sort of a science fiction Westside Story.
      On Breathless Press I have a short story where a guy doesn’t get along with his female boss. Lise’s observation that women can also be the hunters comes into play in that story, Who’s the Boss, when the lead female character uses her position to her advantage in a professional and sexual showdown.

      But racial, professional success, money, religious differences, are all fair game. Everyone knows what they are and when love conquors over these types of barriers it is a win for the human condition.

  3. Excellent post, Michael!

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