Hermaphroditic Heroes

I am stunned by the romance heroes who possess both male and female “parts”. They seem to have two pairs of nipples (one set for each gender), two pairs of lips, four arms, and far too many fingers.

How else could you interpret descriptions of the guy that refer to his “male nipples”–this must be to differentiate them from his female ones, right? His manly arms hold the heroine while his masculine fingers stroke her and his male lips caress her face. So I assume since the author had to specify the gender of each body part, there must be female arms, fingers and lips attached to him somewhere. Maybe they are waiting for another guy to join the fun so they can have a turn too? I like ménage stories, but I think not like this.

If you are writing about a male character, believe me, readers assume his body parts are male. Cut out the unnecessary and annoying words. Well, okay, if he’s an alien or a really weird paranormal creature, you might have to be more specific. But not your normal human guy.

This doesn’t mean you should never use such gender descriptors. Sometimes it is accurate or appropriate to draw a contrast between feminine and masculine characteristics. A “masculine chin” implies a square, strong chin, and could be used to describe either a man or woman. Not all men are broad shouldered, so we understand that you may want to specify “masculine breadth of shoulder” to mean wide shoulders. “Male scent” can be an allusion to the scent of sex, of pheromones, or even to differentiate a “clean masculine scent” from the smell of cologne.

But please never, ever write “his male penis”. Unless he’s also got a female one.

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