Of Pussycats, Distressed Damsels and Django Unchained


I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t really comment on the controversy involving the film, Django Unchained, but I do want to talk about the “damsel in distress” issue. Kerry Washington who is the female lead in the movie commented on how nice it is to have a black woman play a damsel in distress. I think this is a role many black women have longed for. Let’s face it, it’s nice to see a film where a man is willing to go to hell and back for a black woman. We get a lot of that in our romance novels. The rescue fantasy is a very strong trope and with good reason. Most of us are holding it down in one way or another. For generations, black women have been required to be superwomen whether we want to be or not. It’s nice to think that it’s possible to be taken care of simply because we are women. A courtesy other women take for granted, but which, for us is often not present.

And that’s where my Pussycats come in. I’ve mentioned before that the Pussycat books don’t sell well. The “kick ass” heroine, while hot to death with white readers, just don’t fly with black readers. I think this is another case of, “Your Blues Are Not Like Mine.” For white women, sheltered and protected whether they want to be or not, a world where a woman gets to kick a little ass is a lovely fantasy. For black women, who’ve pretty much been on our own for the most part, more ass kicking has little or no appeal. Years ago I remember a white reviewer saying that white readers who tire of TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) heroines really out to check out some black romances where the heroines seemed more capable and less damsel. I always thought that was an interesting insight into the different mindset and views of black and white readers.

So, where does that leave writers like me who really enjoy writing these books? No matter what, I love my Pussycats and have at least two other novels planned. Which means I will have to double down to produce more books to compensate for the poor sales on this one.

3 thoughts on “Of Pussycats, Distressed Damsels and Django Unchained

  1. This can’t be, poor sales, ie. While I adore contemporary romance without drama, I also adore a well written kick butt and take no names female heroine, especially if she’s wearing a big afro like Pam Grier. Please give me more. I’d buy them just to keep you writing them!. Hmmm, one learn something every day. So I’m going to surmise that black female readers prefer drama, urban speak and a swaggerific hero,?. At least that’s the impression I’m getting as you’re not the first author I’ve read who has voiced this dilemma…..

  2. I don’t they necessarily want street lit, in fact the opposite. I think many of them prefer the rescue fantasy with the damsel being rescued by the hero. I like thos too, but I also like to mix it up a bit.

  3. I bought the lion of Russia! and loved it. wish it had been a longer book!! did not want to leave the characters :-) i love anything portraying lack women as awesome!!! whether she is kicking ass or being the damsel in distress i want it all.. sorry that the books will have poor sales…. :/ that’s unfortunate… but yeah .. keep doing your thing

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