View Full Version : Poc romance heroes and... Er... Size relations.

08-18-2015, 06:24 AM
One of the usual conventions in romances of certain heat levels is that the hero should possess a particular attribute of high-average to above-average proportions. While size doesn't have to matter, I'm generally okay with this. ;)

My current manuscript has a Black hero (pure historical, no paranormal aspects), and of course, one of the major othering stereotypes of Black men is that they're all so blessed.

Am I playing in to that stereotype by following genre expectations for endowment, or do I go with the flow and make him as heroically proportioned as the rest of his romantic hero peers?

(The things I worry about over my evening tea... But seriously, I don't want to fall in to ugly tropes because I didn't think things through.)

08-18-2015, 07:34 PM
Okay, I'm not a big romance reader, but really? All the dudes are well-endowed? In erotic romance, this is not required. I've never had an editor suggest I add an inch to my utterly ordinary gentlemen.

I do think you run a risk of furthering the stereotype if your Black hero's size is mentioned. My honest question, and I truly don't know the answer for this genre, is: What would the negative consequence be, if any, if you just didn't say one way or the other how large he is?

08-18-2015, 07:49 PM
It seems to be a thing -- along with no infidelity (main romantic partners are not allowed to sleep with anyone else once they've kissed, essentially), and no domestic violence allowed from a protagonist. Which make sense in a romantic fantasy, really. It seemed to be a generally accepted requirement across the board from the books I'd read before I started writing. Maybe I'm completely mistaken? (it's been known to happen. ;) )

I don't imagine my editor would make me put a line in about it if I omitted it completely, but it seems to me that checking out package size is one of the first things to go through someone's head when they see their male lover naked for the first time. It seems weird to omit it from my heroine's train of thought, after she's been rhapsodizing internally about his hands and arms.

eta: I can probably solve this to my satisfaction with a line about 'perfectly proportioned' and leaving the heroine's personal preferences to the imagination. I like to think the hero is a well-rounded and non-stereotypical character otherwise, but I don't want to cross the line into problematic.

08-18-2015, 07:50 PM
I don't think I've ever been too specific about size, and never had an editor ask for more details.

And I've certainly read books where size isn't mentioned. So I don't think it's mandatory that you give details on it one way or another.

ETA: You could bypass the need to describe by focusing on the heroine's reactions. Talk about her mouth watering or her hands reaching out involuntarily toward him, or clenching in anticipation or whatever. Better from a show-don't-tell perspective, anyway!

08-18-2015, 07:54 PM
I must not think like other women. I have more concern about technique than size. But as I lack experience in the genre in general, I should bow out rather than turn this into our own little conversation (although that might be fun and interesting, too).

Stray thought: Rather than size, might she note such things as coloration and pubic hair?

08-18-2015, 11:06 PM
I'm just echoing Captcha here. I've read plenty of steamy romance that omits that detail altogether. Substituting other preoccupying details like the hero or heroine's passion is a good idea. I do think this particular stereotype is quite strong in some people's imaginations -it's not an obscure or fading stereotype- so I would avoid it rather than reinforce it.

09-06-2015, 10:16 AM
Does this manuscript also follow genre conventions in having the FMC being a virgin, up 'til she met the one-and-only? In which case, problem solved, she has nothing to compare him to. ;)

09-07-2015, 04:36 AM
Maybe it's a sign of the kind of erotica and hot romance I've read, but I don't think I've ever read anything where the actual measurements are given. Aren't the number of inches something men think about more than women anyway? I vaguely remember that in the penthouse erotica section (my high school boyfriend was a penthouse fiend), the men always mentioned the size as being at least six inches, often larger, but those were written by and for men, obviously.

It's certainly not something I ever thought about during my misspent youth while groping around under the covers with a new boyfriend (And I think about it even less now, having been married for very many years). Who is your pov character and target audience for this?

09-07-2015, 05:13 AM
I really can't stand that maidenly "OMG HE'S SO BIIIIG HOW WILL IT FIT!" thing in my romances (and I read a LOT of historical romance, and have seen it entirely too often). It seems to me a holdover trope from the 1980's true bodice-rippers. I just don't think it's necessary (or a requirement) at all. I've read plenty of books that don't go there, and I actually appreciate it.

I do think in this pairing, you'd be toeing a line I wouldn't want to see toed. It doesn't seem worth the risk of playing into stereotype when it's really not a necessary convention. Let the reader's imagination go where it will.

09-07-2015, 06:59 AM
Maybe it's a sign of the kind of erotica and hot romance I've read, but I don't think I've ever read anything where the actual measurements are given.

I've never seen measurements given, but it is often suggested that the hero is well-endowed...Like in an "apparently he was big EVERYWHERE" kind of way when she first sees him naked. However, this isn't mentioned so often that it would stick out to me if it was missing.

Personally, IRL, I wouldn't think much about size unless it was extreme one way or the other. Which is something I have (fortunately?) not experienced.