Safe sex - or why we protect ourselves during sex
If I see another author having her heroine tell the hero that it is okay if he sticks his pee-pee into her unchartered waters without a condom because she is on the Pill, I will scream. Please don't tell me that these authors honestly believe that safe sex is only to prevent pregnancy. Actually, I once had an angry email from an author that convinced me that this could indeed be the case for some authors, shudder. They genuinely believed that the Pill is a method of protection during sex. I'm going to say this in caps because I've been saying this for so long, I think it should be tattooed on the forehead of these authors:
DO NOT MENTION CONDOMS OR SAFE SEX IF YO
Weight acceptance - or Big Beautiful Women deserve love too
This one always rings false because we are basically saying that fat women deserve love while in the same breath we go "Eeeeuw!" at the idea of men with similar state of, er, curviness. If we want to talk about weight acceptance, then we need to show the same love to members of the opposite sex who are similarly overweight. The whole BBW in romance thing is not affirmative action if we insist on the heroes conforming to the tall, muscular, and well-hung convention, not when we ridicule Big Beautiful Men at the same time that we insist that Big Beautiful Women deserve respect and affection. In this case, the message isn't "BBW are doing it for themselves!" The message is: "Hello, I am a fat female reader and I want to get off on stories where I can imagine myself getting it on with men who will never look at me even once in real life." Nothing wrong with wishful thinking, of course, but in this case, perhaps we can do it less blatantly and with a little more decorum.
Acceptance of one's physical flaws - or Plastic Surgery Is Evil
See above - it's the same principle with the woman's looks. Plain Janes deserve love too, we insist, but heaven forbid the guy to be similarly drab. Shy and timid plain heroines are supposed to remind us of ourselves, but shy and timid plain heroes are not good enough to make the cut. Why the hypocrisy? The message here isn't "Beauty within is what matters!" but "Hello, I am a plain and socially awkward single woman who wants to get off on stories featuring heroines I can imagine myself as getting it on with men who will never look at me even once in real life."
Another form of hypocrisy is authors having female characters who have plastic surgery to be automatically shallow, vain, and immoral. The thing is, the heroine that we supposed to adore, who is 100% natural when it comes to the looks she is given, is already stunning and gorgeous. It's the same effect that will arise when someone like Beyonce Knowles tells women that they should be pleased with their natural looks. Of course she will say that - she is already gorgeous, duh. When we have stunning romance heroines telling me that cosmetic surgery is evil, I don't hear the author telling me to be happy with my looks. I hear the author saying, "This romance novel is for fat and/or ugly women with self-esteem issues who want to imagine themselves beautiful while simultaneously hating on actually beautiful women." And, of course, while those other beautiful women are hateful hags, beautiful men are always romance hero material.
Money Isn't Everything
Of course it isn't, when the heroine inevitably marries a man with enough money to rescue her father six thousand times, feed all the orphans in Seven Dials three hundred times over, and such.
Rank Isn't Everything - Viva La Yankee Democracy (applies only to historical romances set in England)
It isn't? Then why make all the romance heroes a titled gentleman? For all the lip service the heroine pays to liberty, equality, and fraternity, she becomes one of those people she supposedly despises in the end. Bonus lulz if the author has the hero pull ranks and misuse the authority that comes with his title to save the heroine, when the heroine spent the whole time bleating about the superiority of American values over English morals.
Feminism in historical romances
Early forms of feminism involve women seizing their independence, taking up lovers without marrying them, and generally behaving in many ways that break romance novel rules. Romance heroines are required to marry and have babies. Authors who have their heroines start out as feminists always end up making a mockery of the heroine's principles. There are some exceptions, but those books horrified romance readers so much that those authors lost their contract and were never heard from again.
The "Real" Supermodel
You may have come across this one: a supremely gorgeous romance heroine who reigns in the catwalk of Paris, London, and more, who also eats freely, has curves, is modest, comes back to her hometown ten months a year even if it's fashion week here and there, doesn't have a drug habit, doesn't pose nude, scorns wealth, doesn't believe that she is that gorgeous... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. This isn't an author making some social statement about beauty, this is an author on a soapbox babbling about her wishful thinking that she could have been a supermodel if supermodels are allowed to go up to size twenty.
The "Real" Creative Hippie
You know this one, I'm sure. The reclusive artist romance hero who scorns the materialistic society and therefore has appropriately retreated to a small town where he can paint in peace... because he has several billion dollars in the bank and therefore he doesn't have to work like us mortals, instead he can paint naked women to his heart's content in that studio he built with all his billions... and his paintings are exhibited and sold for millions of dollars... even if he hates people who care only about money. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, authors, you cannot have the cake and eat it too.
Edited to add on 17 Feb 2010:
I can't believe I miss this one.
Hollywood as a Soapbox for Beauty Within and Non-Materialistic Virtues
Just like how supermodels in romance novels have curves, eat non-stop (red meat, ladies, none of that wimpy protein shake stuff), and can't wait to get out of such a superficial industry, romance heroine who are also actresses are invariably child-like, innocent, virtuous, free from taint and scandal, and yet somehow manage to become tabloid fodder. She could be even a virgin. She has a protective father-figure agent who recognized her talent when she was in high school, and she can't wait to get out of such a vile and materialistic industry. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Of course, actresses who actually have sex, do drugs, enjoy being rich, and get cosmetic surgery are depicted as whores.
Historical movies always become big, big, big blockbusters in America. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Romance heroes who are actors invariably act in testosterone-laden action flicks, but when a romance novel opens, he would be starring in a drama (see historical movie, above). And he will naturally command such eloquence and dramatic presence, despite having no prior experience in doing anything apart from grunting and shooting people on screen, that he wins awards by the buckets by the end of the story. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Oh, and let's not forget, these heroes sleep non-stop with whores and skanks (see actresses who actually behave like actresses), but deep inside, these heroes are actually seeking virginal Shirley Temples in porn star bodies like our heroine actress to heal the scars in their souls.
By the end of the day, the hero and the heroine will retire from the glitter to open a farm in Texas, occasionally acting in an indie movie (see: historical movies) that will still win gazillions of awards. They are grateful to be finally free from the grasping whores that prey on his pee-pee (he) and the horrible fat men bent on rape (her). Nothing is said about the billions of dollars they have amassed from that OMG SINFUL AND DISGUSTING SODOM & GONORR
Whenever an author depicts Hollywood in such a manner, I can't help but to wonder whether the author is trying a little too hard to make me feel better about my mundane existence. Thanks for trying, but I really don't need reassurance that much. How about telling me a good love story instead of preaching at me about the evils of fame and saline-enhanced skanky DDD boobs? Not to mention, such depiction of Hollywood always has me wondering whether the author has followed the industry in any manner after 1957.