My last romance pact post was an interesting one. It was an out there concept, a type of genre I never imagined that existed, didn’t know I would like so much and hell, never imagined myself reading with such enthusiasm. I am talking about Reverse Harems! At the time, I had been shoveling it in like a kid obsessed with chocolate cake. Hey, it’s just sitting there! I ate it! And honestly, I have been devouring that chocolate cake ever since.
Back in – July? – I started my first Reverse Harem, rabbit hole (call me Alice) and chocolate cake eating (call me kid) reading adventure. I want to say I found it while looking for my pact reading for a month and found semi-complete series where instead of a group of guys that are anthology-d in separate books in how they found the right mate for them, all the guys finds the right mate in ONE girl. Picture that emoji where the mind is blown! Around the same time, I asked a friend if writing a Polyamorous relationship book was a practical idea. She said it wasn’t some “abnormal” thing and in fact, there was a whole aspect of society devoted to it. Do not picture the mind blown emoji, I am not that naive. It was weird that shortly after, I found Reverse Harems and my reading has changed ever since.
Why Reverse Harems?
It’s simple: A lot of the time in books, when there is a romance between one character and another, characteristics of the male and female are shoved overbearingly together. She’s a tough girl, with a large life altering thing that makes her special when she didn’t think she was but she needs to be weak sometimes, she needs to be wholly herself while fitting in and being loved by all. He’s a misunderstood boy, with a chip on his shoulder that no other person help him carry or someone did help him carry but they’ve been killed or double-crossed them so their trust is solely lost until her. Then these two broken, whole pieced things, come together and are individually together. And that’s beautiful and truthfully, we don’t really lose that girl stereotype in a Reverse harem – we just give her the ability to experience something that for society reasons is unusual and borderline scandalous.
Harems, and their place in history, are incredibly real. Without too much research backed knowledge, the best way to describe them as generally as I can, a King or leader of some sort would have a collection of women (and sometimes men). Partially this is explained as a way to provide viable heirs (hopefully more boys), create a sustainable family name/lineage and also because men of great power were nearly – if ever – never denied their “needs.” Do I think that this is barbaric? It’s hard to say, because honestly that is a mindset of a time period with which I did not live and a society with which I was not molded in. I am a pretty free thinker – I am ok with whatever pronoun you wish to use, love who you want to love, identify as whatever or who ever you want to identify with and if it’s not my kink or my interest, that’s just a part of life. Everyone is entitled to lead the life that makes them happy.
How does this lead to Reverse Harems? We spin the original idea of a Harem – one man, many women/men – and move into a different way of thinking – one woman, many men (sorry, I haven’t found one YET that includes men and women). I am not saying these didn’t exist for our women leaders of old (for real, for real) – I am literally just talking about a genre of books. Anyway, back to the story at hand, Reverse Harems ignited a beautiful unfolding. I find that – for the ones that I loved – building a solid, logical story where a girl is faced with loving many men and them accepting that was extremely interesting and endearing. Truthfully, a lot of my early relationships ended because the guy “found” someone else that they liked and the line was the same – “I like you AND her.” And generally, we clap a guy on the back for his many interests while women are shamed and told to be more delicate than that. The line stopped there. When a girl said “I like you AND him,” she was a bitch – she was bad or scandalous. It was him or me and your loss sweetheart. It’s almost emotionally abusive because if it didn’t work out, a lot of girls were laughed off or tossed around from friend to friend. Trust me. I know – I have friends that know – it’s not a secret.
In these types of stories I found a refreshing air to it being acceptable that a girl could like him and him … and him and him and you. In a few of these books, a couple of the men even were open to being with each other and didn’t deny themselves their interests because of some notion that type of love was not normal. Mostly, I found that the men are so different, that each offer a character motivation that allows the story to be about the lead female and she doesn’t have to share that aspect of her story with them for a reader. A lot of time, female leads are bolstered by the men that love them and in a few of these Reverse Harems, the women stood on their own and were unabashedly supported without judgement, without constraint of having a man make her more and that…THAT…is something all good female led stories need – they just don’t always need a Reverse Harem to do it.
I have read a lot of female led stories with just one love interest – they weren’t always men. They’re good, some where better than others where I genuinely felt as though the story was about her life and he was part of it. But so many more were age-old notions that she cannot be without a he. Reverse Harems, for me, kind of changed that. They created an atmosphere that she is living and breathing and making her way. She finds a group of men who walk beside her and imbue her with the notion that acceptance in what you want is not second nor selfish, that who you are is not identified by what you can do and provide and ultimately, what you can offer – as a woman – is more than decorum in public and naughtiness behind closed doors.
And hell, Reverse Harems are just good women empowerment if you ask me 😉