The recent story about Nigella Lawson got me thinking. The papers said Nigella looked upset – but evidently not angry. She should have been very angry. He may have had his hands round her throat, but she still had a knee free to use. And if she was upset, how much of her distress was caused by nearly being strangled and how much was due to the incident happening in public?
So what do women want?James Bond doesn’t treat his women particularly well, and neither do Daniel Craig. Or Shaun Connery for that matter. Nora Roberts’ hero, Rouke, was a thief and a murderer in his early life, but he is so incredibly gorgeous we can forgive him almost anything. Superman treats Lois Lane badly, but she keeps coming back for more – and Tarzan started the whole macho thing in the first place.
So how much do we like our ‘little bit of rough’? We obviously enjoy reading about it. Fifty Shades must be the most talked about book of the year, with Christian very much the dominant male and definitely abusive at times. But that is fiction. Women seem to prefer to take their thrills vicariously, and with our romance novels that is exactly what we provide. A few hours of vicarious pleasure. Where we draw the line is up to us. Female abuse in any form should never be condoned, but we can’t make our heroes too soft either, so we walk a tightrope every time we sit down at our computer.
What fun it is, though, to invent the perfect male. Someone who can make us go weak at the knees with just a glance, cook a perfect meal, and then whisk us away in his private jet to a tropical island.