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The old “placeholder heroine” myth

I’ve been mulling something over for awhile now and a post over on Racy Romance Reviews about Romance Fiction as Popular Culture made me bring something off the back burner and get it ready to post. I first ran across the placeholder heroine concept back in the late 1990s when I read about it in Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women, which is a group of essays by romance authors edited by Jayne Ann Krentz and originally published in 1992. The placeholder heroine or “heroine as placeholder” was simply confusing when I first read about it. It was nonsensical psycho-babble all tangled up in reader identification to me unlike how I reacted to other concepts presented in the book such as alpha heroes, which I’m either for or against depending on its use, or even say the “by women, for women” mantra which I hate with a passion and argue against any time I have the opportunity. Anyway, I read third essay in the book, “The Androgynous Reader: Point of View in the Romance” by Laura Kinsale, and thought that, okay, this is supposed to make sense? Right? How come it doesn’t? How come it doesn’t apply to what I’m reading? How come all I get... More

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