Friday, June 1, 2007

The Protector

By Kirsten Scott

I almost didn't make it home last night.

I am a migraine sufferer, and last night on my way home from a very long day at work, I started seeing a little wavy spot in my vision. Within five minutes, the spot had spread to a large crescent shape. By the time I pulled into my driveway, a few minutes after that, a large section of my vision was impaired.

Needless to say, this can be terrifying, particularly when you're in a car. In this case, I got home, took my meds, and thirty minutes later, the lines were gone and I just had one whopper of a headache.

My husband, fabulous alpha male that he is, instantly went into protector mode. In these situations he likes to herd the children away from me, get me into bed, pull the covers up, and gently shut the door. I feel him check on me later in the night. It makes me feel safe and cherished. It makes me feel...feminine. Fragile.

This morning I thought about the importance we place on our our heros being protectors. One of my favorite plot devices in romance novels is where the heroine is terrified of something (I like the old terrified-of-thunderstorms device), that something comes to pass, and the hero must protect, soothe, and care for her. He may even distract her with a little kiss...(heehee). This also works well with the heroine getting sick (ah, he wets her feverish brow) or hurt (he gently binds her wounds).

Yet as modern, liberated women, we're supposed to be the ones saving ourselves, right? We're supposed to be strong, tough, a match for our men. Is what we seek in romance novels a contradiction to this strength? Can the desire to be protected, cared for, and fussed over live in harmony with our "I am woman hear me roar" independence?

I love to feel fragile and delicate. I never feel more feminine than when my husband is protecting me. Yet I also like being a ball-busting attorney. Hmm. Am I dealing with multiple personalities, or is this simply a sign of being a modern woman?

What do you think?

(And in case you're wondering, no, that isn't me in the picture. Sigh. I wish.)


Caren Crane said...

Ah, Kirsten, the question of the ages. Anyone who knows me will be quick to point out how independent I am. To a fault, almost. But you know, there are things I simply don't want to do and acting girly gets my husband to do them.

Although he complains about killing the wasps and disposing of the "presents" our cat leaves us, I think his manliness requires him to do those things sometimes. My daughters and I make much of his machismo and, though he rolls his eyes, he loves it.

I have to say, though, that when I'm sick, I just want to be left alone. It's nice if someone comes in once a day to make sure I'm breathing, but that's about it.*g*

No, my poor husband will have to live with vermin disposal as showcase for his manliness. I am simply a woman who has only the most miniscule need to be cosseted. (I know plenty who need it, though!)

Kirsten said...

Caren, I can't think of any better use for a husband than as a general exterminator of bugs, spiders, rodents, and other icky things. :-) But while I happily relinquish these tasks to my darling guy, I hate to see my daughter squeal and make a fuss when she sees a beetle or bug in the garden. I want her to be stronger than me, I guess.

Caren Crane said...

Exactly, Kirsten! That's why it's important to make sure the girls understand the rules of the game. When Daddy isn't around, of course we dispose of our own bugs with no qualms. Okay, I do. At 12 and 14, they are still a bit hesitant. But they understand the day will come when they are responsible for everything and that not acting is often not an option.

Raising women today is a complicated business. I've been a Girl Scout leader for many years. Any leader worth her salt is teaching girls to be strong, independent young women (as opposed to, say, making potholders *g*). You would be stunned how many girls I have met over the years who don't even know how to shake hands properly, much less what to do if they are lost in the woods. Yikes!

Keep working on your daughter. And even if you hate the bugs, act like they don't bother you. She will benefit hugely from your example. And she will totally buy it, believe me!

Kirsten said...

Caren--I love that you're a Girl Scout leader! I hope to get my little one doing something like that when she's older.

I get worse about this the older I get. When I was fresh out of college leading backpacking/canoeing/kayaking trips and teaching rock climbing, you bet your bippy I did whatever it took to show I was just as strong and tough as the boys. But now...well, not so much...

jo lewis-robertson said...

Great post, Kirsten. I think romance writers and readers in general have specific fantasies they look for. I have a friend who reads voraciously, and if she doesn't find a strong alpha male in the first two or three pages, she won't buy the book.

I've always been a sucker for the male protector fantasy too. My S.O. is a 6'4", 230 pound alpha male who only goes into protector mode when one of his own is threatened. Otherwise, he's a regular Clark Kent, intellectual type.

Once when we were dating, a guy made the mistake of making an inappropriate comment about me. I thought he was looking at his last comment on this earth when S.O. called him on it. The reality is often very different from the fantasy. In real life, I was embarrassed because I didn't want to be the cause of a physical altercation. But in my fantasy, it was "go-guy, go-go, defend my honor."

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, the protector fantasy! Works for me in books although in real life, I hate to be smothered. Kirsten, great post and really harks back to one of the most enduring archetypes of romance.

FilmPhan said...

For me, I do like to be pampered and taken care of but, I also like people to know that I can take care of myself too. Sometimes I like to pampered, and other times I like to be the hero of the story. I makes life more interesting when you get your hands dirty.

Stacy S said...

Nothing wrong with being pampered by your husband. I do like for mine to get rid of mice or things like that. But, yes I can do it only I'd rather he did.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I'm a lot like Caren. When I'm sick I just want to be left alone. In fact, it's best for everyone if I am. And as for bug killing, no problem here.

However, my husband gives a near orgasmic footrub! The man can do that anytime he wants. And call to say, "Would you like me to bring home dinner?" Oh yes, he can spoil me that way any day he wishes.

Dianna said...

I have migraines that start with the spots, I have approximately 15 minutes to get myself to bed.
I pretty much take care of things myself, I don't always like it but there is no guy to do the macho male other than my son. He is not your basic macho man. I am not saying I wouldn't like to have someone kill the bugs and take away the little cat presents but, I am the only one available.

Aunty Cindy said...

I'm with Foanna, I prefer the protector fantasy to stay in books. Matter of fact, I get all tingly when the big macho hero protects the heroine. But just like in real life, I sometimes like for HER to save HIM.

I wrote a scene like this in my second RS book. The big bad Alpha hero feels this responsibility to save everyone in sight, which he pretty much manages. However, he does have this one little short-coming...he isn't so good at driving a car, esp. a stick shift. Of course, when it comes time for the heroine to save his cute little *rse, she does it by driving in like Tony Stewart on the Nascar circuit. And yes, the suitably impressed hero rewards her later. heh heh

Joan said...

I'm a pretty independent gal both by circumstances and by genes (the Irish, you know). I've yet to meet my Alpha guy but I think I would enjoy being protected now and again.

Last week, my best friend and her husband dropped me off at the airport in Panama City. I was astonished and very touched when Glenn asked me if I had my tickets. A very, very simple thing but I'd never had a fellow care enough to ask.

As to being sick. I generally am alone whether I want to be or not. My brother (not an alpha brother) will stop by and THROW popsicles, Sprite, Tylenol through the door at me. He doesn't want to get sick!

Kirsten said...

Hi ya'll--sorry to post and run this morning! Had to work all day (wah) and they've got these really aggressive FILTERS that manage to keep out the Romance Bandits! Can you imagine?! :-p

jo-sounds like your guy is a lot like mine, and I would probably have reacted the same way if he had threatened a fight--embarrassed, but thrilled (on some deep, dark level!).

AC--the stick shift turn-about sounds perfect! I love the kick ass heroine almost as much as I love the alpha guy.

filmphan, well said. Life is better with dirty hands! ;-)

stacy, of course we can do it all, but they don't have to know that, do they?

Suz--can I borrow your hubby for a foot rub? Or is that too personal? Hmmm...

dianna--wow, sounds like our migraines are alike. do you get them often? Makes me nervous when I have to drive a long way for work by myself. Luckily, if I have my meds with me, the visual part of the headache only lasts about an hour.

Joan--your story is the perfect example of how the little things can mean so much. Sounds like your friend is a very dear man.

Kirsten said...

Oh, Anna, didn't mean to forget you! Don't like to be smothered, ay? I hear you on that. Remember our extrovert/introvert poll? I'm the true introvert and definitely need alone time. I'm lucky that I get to go on the occasional business trip. I get a little dose of solitude that way.

Christine Wells said...

I think that women (and I'm generalising here, I know) tend to care for everyone else, non-stop, 24/7, so it's really nice to be cared for by others on occasion, no matter who it is. It seems all the sweeter when the carer is our partner because often that sort of thing doesn't come naturally to men. In practice, I often soldier on and reject the offer of pampering, but it's still nice that the offer is there. And when a man's sick, I don't think it would even occur to him to think he's giving up his independence to be coddled by his partner. Men LOVE being pampered like that, so why shouldn't we?

hrdwrkdmom said...

Kirsten, I get them about every other month or so, sometimes more often, sometimes left, we have yet to find the "trigger" but the doctor is leaning towards stress as a contributing factor. It is just plain scary when you can't see anything but lights dancing in front of your eyes. When I first started getting migraines there were no lights, just the pain crawling up the back of my neck. Then one day at work, I coudln't see! Scared me to death, no pain, just couldn't see, fortunately there was a lady at work that knew exactly what it was, they took me to er and so the journey began.

hrdwrkdmom said...

ACK-sorry folks, I just noticed that I was posting with two different names, bear with me, blogging is all new to me, Dianna and hrdwrkdmom are one and the same.

Kirsten said...

dianna/hrdwrkdmom (I like both names!) that does sound scary. I had been having mirgraines for years, so when I got my first visual one, I figured what it was. Still, it is terrifying when it happens in the car. Yuck. I have all sorts of triggers, but this one was all about the time of the month.

Hugs from one sufferer to another!