Let’s shed a little educated light on the resurgence of this whole “Vampire Romance” genre. Now, before you justifiably click away, assuming I’m going to start talking about Twilight, let me assure you: This is not about Twilight. This is about vampires. Twilight is not a vampire book, it’s Hello Kitty caliber softcore pornography for First Level Goths. It is entirely unconnected to the true resurgence of the vampire, present in anything from True Blood to The Vampire Diaries to Anne Rice to Being Human and on and on. No matter how effeminate, emotional, romantic or just unabashedly gay the shows, movies, and novels featuring the modern vampire might be, they do undoubtedly contain actual vampires. Not pallid fairies that glitter when you tickle their anus: Vampires. They’re back. But why?
It’s clearly apparent that this resurgence is geared almost exclusively towards women, so to truly understand the re-emergence of the vampire, you first need to understand the female mind. Luckily for you, I majored in Feminist Studies in college (mistakenly believing, due to the exclusively female attendance of the classes, that I had somehow stumbled upon an unattended all-you-can-eat buffet of hot, nasty bitches. But I found no hot nasty bitches there – only proud, strong women who deserved my respect and admiration. Later, I found all the hot nasty bitches in the sociology wing, but that’s a story for another time, and another court stenographer). The vampire, if broken down by its core story components, should have a primarily masculine appeal: Super-powers, monsters, hot lusty bitches and vicious maulings – on paper that sounds like classic Man Territory.
Watch out, it's sticky. All of it.
For women, however, the appeal is something beyond the core components: Vampires are cold, dead, emotionless creatures. Most women want two things from a romance: To be physically
saved and occasionally dominated by a big, strong, impassive man, and to in turn emotionally
save and dominate that same physically strong, but psychologically weak man. Vampires, being quite literally dead, are the most in need of saving. They have lost touch with life itself and need to be “nursed” back into their own basic humanity, the ultimate metaphor for a crippled emotional state. And their supernatural strength and monstrous nature means they’re always able and willing to both save and dominate their fragile women (especially appealing in this case because the women need not be insulted; they’re only “physically weaker” because they lack those accursed vampiric powers).
"No, I don't feel like I'm re-enforcing gender stereotypes by playing up my weakness, he's a vampire and batman!"
Vampires have experienced this resurgence among women because they most represent this dynamic without further interpretation. If you tell a basic vampire story, the domination/submission elements will always be present, even if you don’t actively try to include them. But most supernatural fiction possesses these same elements as well; they need only be presented with slight tweaks to fit the “Romantic Monster” genre. Like so:
Werewolves are already starting their resurgence, but unfortunately it’s usually as the antithesis of the vampire: They are, if anything, just too in touch with their emotional side and baser animal natures. They just live too much; don’t try to tame them, baby. And so sadly, their place is usually to lose to the vampire in a woman’s heart, because the vampire needs them more. The solution? More aloof, emotionally distant werewolves. A sample:
The full moon illuminated a soft meadow of heather, swaying almost imperceptibly one moment, billowing in great wave-like surges the next. At one stood Bertrand, a haunted visage of an afflicted man, his pale skin glowing gently in the moonlight. At the other stood Sophie, his beloved, in naught but a house-frock (her bare ankles almost slutty in their wantonness). Sophie watched as the moon-rays washed over Bertrand, and observed an odd happening: As the light moved across his body, it was briefly as though he were two separate beings - one in shadow, one in light - somehow occupying the same space. When at last he was out of shadow and the light shone down on him completely, revealing his form in full, Bertrand was gone. In his place stood a wolf of a size Sophie could not have imagined. A great, heaving beast, full of passion and violence. She sensed the bloodlust rise in the creature, and she averted her gaze, mentally preparing herself to be torn to shreds – though to be honest, she wasn’t all that into it anymore; it’s just like, he seemed to want it too much, you know?
But no attack came. Sophie at last dared risk a glance at the monster opposite her. It sat contentedly, its gaze centered far off into the blackness of the woods. Sophie offered her bare neck to its teeth, but the only response she received was a churlish, scoffing woof. Shivering with lust, Sophie hurled her body on the ground before the monster, laying herself entirely bare before it, to do with as it pleased.
With movements so laborious the anticipation became agony, the wolf bent its head, spread its mighty, crushing jaws…and began to apathetically lick at its own testicles.
Sophie knew then that she would marry this man-thing, if it was her last act on Earth.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde is very nearly the ideal combination for the monster-humping modern woman already: He contains both a needy frightened nerd (a doctor at that! For those of you with Jewish mothers to impress,) that needs a good woman to nurse him back into confidence, as well as a hulking, murderous psychopath to swoon for. He’s like a fuckable Incredible Hulk. He doesn’t need much reimagining. Simply update him for the modern world, and all the desired elements are present:
The plaza was warm and a little dusty, and full of burgeoning sunlight. On the rich adobe stones sat Professor Jekyll, a man of infinite sadness and also a professor of something sexy. Sociology, perhaps. He was immersed in a book, as per usual, his standard uniform of khakis and a cardigan concealing his wispy, fragile frame.
Madysson Utterson approached confidently, her own ample frame swaying beneath her skirt like a Boston garbageman driving home after a particularly devastating Red-sox loss. She had nurtured a secret affection for the urbane, sophisticated Prof. Jekyll, though she found the affection lacking something ethereal and implacable. It was an affection that bordered on lust, but always came up just short of breaching the line into lust, settling always into the friend zone. Just then, the professor spasmed in pain.
“Professor Hyde!” She cried out breathlessly.
“What? I missed that,” he replied in agony, “take a breath before you talk.”
“Prof-" she began again, but he cried out so abruptly that she ceased. With startling savagery his skin ballooned and burst before her eyes. In one sharp wave, the man’s frame had altered completely – becoming larger, thicker, hairier. A bubbling appeared on the flesh of his arms, and from the depths of his bones emerged dark intricate patterns, resolving themselves into tattoos seemingly tribal in nature (though she had a feeling they didn’t mean anything, and were there merely to “look fuckin’ sweet.”)
“I…professor?” She ventured tentatively.
The new man that stood in the formerly witty but slightly bland professor’s place stood up abruptly. He reached from nowhere in particular and produced a leather jacket.
“Call me Hyde,” the man corrected, “but do it fast: I got a cage fight to get to.”
Madysson began to swoon, thought better of it, and texted the word “OMGSWOON” to her non-threateningly pretty friend Haley instead.