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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sexual Attraction - Repost

I'm reposting this entry from March, 2006 because I believe it's just as pertinent now as it was when I first posted it.

In the world of romance books, heroes are usually fashioned from the same cookie cutter: tall, thick, muscled, or at least imposing enough to set a woman's heart pacing. As a writer, I'm guilty of the same, only because I write for a market that has already shown its preference and it's my job to give the readers what they want. Still, when it comes to personal preferences, I sometimes go outside the boundaries, lust "outside the box."

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder at times finds herself going for lean instead of muscled, young instead of mature, short instead of tall. I never know what's going to strike me about a man: voice, personality, intelligence. I don't really have a set preference for physical attributes: sometimes it's the eyes, the mouth, or simply the way a man carries himself.

I thought of the peculiarities of attraction this weekend while watching the movie, The Station Agent. The movie stars Peter Dinklage as a loner who meets two other odd loners, and against his initial guardedness, forms a tight bond. Now, the one attribute that is immediately obvious about Dinklage is that he is a dwarf. And I was just as immediately attracted to him. No, it's not some fetish going on; to me the man is just handsome. I first noted the actor in the now-cancelled sci-fi show, Threshold, and later in the movie, Elf. Despite his stature, Dinklage's features are strong and belie any supposed physical abnormality.

This perfection-obsessed society thinks to tell us who and what to admire, yet I don't follow the party line. For example, while women were pining for Fox Mulder in the defunct X-Files, I was taking notice of AD Skinner, Mulder's irascible and gruff-spoken boss. Older, bald and at times paunchy (although in earlier seasons the man was totally buff), Skinner was hardly the romantic archetype. Yet, there is a fanhood of admirers who have penned some very hot, erotic fanfic about Skinner.

Another actor who has piqued my sexual interest despite not having the standard attributes of a "romantic hero" is John Malkovich who, although bald and "quirky-looking," projects a certain sexual malevolence that attracts even as it repels. I would take a Malkovich anytime over some of your standard Madison Avenue mannequins.

Mitch Longley, who starred in an interracial romance with Debbi Morgan on the soap opera, Port Charles, does have the archtypical features: he's tall, dark, classically handsome – and he's a paraplegic (from a 1983 car crash). The audience loved the romance between this persistent doctor bound to a wheelchair and the uptight, resistant hospital director who literally let down her dreads once she succumbed to his undeniable charms. And yes, they even had sex (which had me researching sex among the disabled). Once I posted that his character made me realize that disabled men can be sexy. I remember the reply I received from another poster, who was also wheelchair-bound: "Thank you."

So will we ever see these men populate popular romances? Probably not. But thank goodness that individual preferences are broader than the cookie cutter.

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Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 4/10/2010 09:12:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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