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Pet Peeve #1 -The One About IHS

Have you found certain things that consistently annoy you when you are reading?  Certain plot mechanisms, maybe, or character behaviors?  Overused phrases or over the top descriptions?  I’m curious as to what little things writers do, sometimes even in pretty good books, that drive you crazy?  And, of course, I’m going to share some of my own pet peeves, too.  Here’s my first one, and I know this is one every single reader, tv viewer or movie watcher in the immediate WORLD has been exposed to.  I hate female characters who suffer from IHS.  Idiotic Heroine Syndrome.  It’s an insidious disease, apparently infecting 95% of all women in any form of jeopardy, throughout literary history.  

You know the typical signs of this condition, I’m sure. The afflicted exhibit signs such as:

1) An inexplicable need to go down to the dark basement alone to investigate a mysterious noise.  Preferably wearing very limited clothing, or perhaps see-through lingerie.  The skimpier, the better.

2) A hard-headed refusal to see the transparently evil motives of any assortment of smooth-talking villains, no matter how obvious they are. A clearly villainous character could be wearing a tattoo on his forehead that reads, “Crazed chainsaw killer looking for next gullible victim,” and a sufferer of IHS will still go with him to help him find his “lost puppy.”

3) The desperate need to satisfy an unhealthy curiosity by unlocking the door to the Forbidden Room, in spite of every warning against doing just that.  Pictures could be spinning on walls, voices shrieking, “No,  no, nooooooooo!”, and blood could be seeping from under the door.  It wouldn’t stop your average IHS sufferer for longer than the 3 1/2 seconds it takes to pick the supposedly tamper proof door lock with a hair pin.

What is it with these women that makes them such gluttons for punishment and such easy prey?  And why do we want to read about their fate at the hands of whoever, or whatever, the Bad Guy happens to be, when they are so completely lacking in common sense that they should probably be weeded out of the gene pool, anyway?  Just askin’……..?

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23 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #1 -The One About IHS

  1. Hi Marcia!
    I’m laughing like an idiot here, lol, that’s really a good point.. i guess it probably has something to do with their DNA, the idiocy DNA, that makes it impossible for them to behave in a sensible way.

    As to “why do we want to read about their fate?”
    Well in my case, i DON’T. So the only way for me to be reading that kind of story, would be due to some serious lack in judgement on my part, probably aided by a very misleading synopsis. Oh, yes, and tons of positive comments 😦


  2. Hi, Susana! Yeah, it’s hard to read about heroines with IHS, for sure. Of course, a certain amount of it is pretty much standard in everything from urban fantasy to basic murder mysteries. So I’ve learned to overlook a bit of it. But geesh, sometimes I read a book where the heroine is so stupid I just don’t CARE if she dies. Sometimes, I figure the world will be a better place without her! Urk!

    Good to see you!! I have some stuff for you to read. Will send it along later.


  3. You really made me laugh reading this post! Loved it! And I agree with you; I think we’ve all seen those movies and read those books to know going down those creepy dark allies or talking to some creepy looking guy, has a bad outcome. This best thing is to do the opposite.


  4. Hi, Jennifer! (Do you go by Jennifer, or a nickname? I feel like I’m getting to know you, and I’d like to use your preference.)

    Yep. You knew just exactly the nubile young sillies I was thinking of, didn’t you? Sometimes, I find myself yelling at them in sheer frustration! “What are you THINKING, girl???? Never walk off into the dark with a guy who has teeth filed into points, or hair longer than yours…on his hands!”

    To be fair, an author has to be pretty clever to write about a SMART heroine who plays by all the rules, uses her common sense, yet still ends up in danger through no fault of her own. It’s easier just to give the gal a good dose of IHS and let her throw her own self under the bus. Or into the Lair of the Beast, as the case may be.

    And sometimes, the story is so good, or you’re having so much fun indulging in a guilty pleasure, or the heroine is just so LIKABLE, you forgive the stupidity in spite of it all. But every now and then, they just go TOO far, and I just start rooting for the opposite team. “Bimbo du Jour for dinner tonight, Zombies! Chow down!”


    • I do go by Jennifer. My female characters are mostly heroines, if not they are pretty clever. I’m one of those that screams at the TV, “Run, RUN!” as the stupid girl just stands there looking at the killer coming towards her. Then I shout, “Aw, come on! Seriously?!” I don’t even make it halfway through the movie before I change the channel.


      • You sound like me, Jennifer. I love good strong female characters, and especially in Urban Fantasy. They can bedeck themselves with weapons from head to toe and even dress in skimpy low cut leather pants and push-up bustiers (WHY????) as long as they don’t do things that are so abysmally stupid it strains credulity. And I’ve almost given up on tv, altogether. I don’t even find the sitcoms as funny as they once were. Since Frasier went away, I have to manufacture my own laughs. Usually by plotting the demise of heroines attired in the above outfit and afflicted with IHS! *grin*


        • It makes you curious if the creator of these characters has even bothered donning such outfits themselves. Im sure such with as much movements as they have their characters make, they would see that the outfit would be a potential fail. As in the person would simple fall out of their top, etc. I never could quite understand how female characters have the skimpy outfits, but the guys don’t.


  5. Hi Marcia!
    Feel free to send them anytime you want! 🙂
    Oh, and i’ve started the new book by Seanan Mcguire! Yay!!! ( a little fan moment here, lol)
    So good!!!
    And then we’ll have to wait another YEAR for the next one…..this, not so good 😦


  6. Hi, Susana! I meant to send them to you last night, but I got tired and stupid…two things that seem to go hand in hand for me. 😉

    I have Ashes of Honor (that’s the one, right?) on the very top of my To Be Read basket, right next to Kingmakers (Vampire Empire). If I ever manage to slog the rest of the way through Swamplandia, I’m jumping right on it. In fact, I might quit slogging soon. More on Swamplandia, the good and the bad, later today. Finished or not.

    Enjoy Toby!! And mostly…TYBALT!!!! Yay for the King of Cats!!!


  7. Hahaha…yes, Jennifer. I agree totally. The outfits look just great in a Who’s Your Bimbo kind of way, but how in the heck would a kick-butt, monster killing, bad to the bone heroine fight anything more dangerous than a mosquito wearing them?

    I am particularly fond of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series, but I laugh every time I get a new book. (Sorry, Patricia). The Mercy on the cover wears the lowest cut jeans you could put on and still be allowed out in public, and little, skimpy tops, usually tied up under her bosom, leaving about an acre and a half of mid-section completely exposed. Now Mercy is a…wait for it…AUTO MECHANIC!!!… by trade. Not a Monster Hunter, no, but personally, I have to wonder just how much she spends each month on cleaning products, in order to scrub all the axle grease off her body every night? I mean, the auto mechanics I’VE seen over the years have apparently learned what Mercy hasn’t…the value of protective clothing. Can we say COVERALLS, boys and girls??

    I am a huge fan of cover art, but sometimes you have to wonder if the artist has even read the book he’s painting for. I know they want to add drama and sex appeal, but still. For many of the outfits portrayed, it would seem the only appropriate career choice for the wearer would be pole dancing!

    Again…I’m just sayin’……………….



  8. Hehehehe…You owe me a new pair of panties. I just PEED these. Hilarious!!!


    • Hey, laughing is GOOD. Even if you do have to change yer undies now and then! I’m happy you stopped by to enjoy the conversation. Thanks for commenting, too. It’s good to know when folks are enjoying themselves here.


  9. The covers of Mercy Thompson series , regarding Mercy’s wardrobe are not what i would say “true” to the character personality, because Mercy is very…. lets say, “basic” and “down to earth” when it comes to her wardrobe. She would never use something the likes of what the model on the covers is using…

    But i guess, having her dressed in flannel shirts or with coveralls and with her hands and face covered in grease wouldn’t have the same appeal to some readers, lol


  10. You are so right, Susana. Mercy doesn’t much go in for such provocative outfits, and she usually doesn’t go looking for trouble, either. It just seems to find her, somehow. I like that about the series. She also doesn’t have all those tattoos that the covers display so prominently. I read an article about how the artist asked permission to give her those, and Briggs thought they were so pretty, she went along with it. Personally, I would have been fine with the two described in the books…the coyote pawprint on her tummy and a band (Celtic, if my memory serves me correctly, but I could be wrong) around one upper arm. Oh, well. Nobody asked me. And I enjoy the series enough that I don’t worry about it much. But it IS funny, thinking about her crawling under leaky cars in those flesh-exposing outfits. Sounds messy to meee……


    • Yes, trouble does seem to have a GPS device when it comes to Mercy. Not even on the woman honeymoon did she had a break….very inconsiderate, of all the evil forces in action !
      No she really doesn’t have all that tattoos. I found that strange. Why would someone give the character all those tattoos, especially when the character has a somewhat conservative disposition …

      You see, i didn’t know that. I thought that the author had no saying about the covers of the books!

      I really have to stop with the pizzas, all that cheese is damaging my brain. I only remember the pawprint….and i read the last book available of the series, probably about a month ago! Iaics, my brain cells are dying here!


      • My brain is dying, too. I always thought she only had the paw print, too, Susana, but in the article, Patricia Briggs mentions the armband one, as well. Then the artist did a whole “sleeve”…artistic license, I guess…and Briggs decided she liked the look. But she never writes it into the books anywhere that I’ve seen, so I always picture her without them. And having enough sense to put on coveralls before crawling under a car! 🙂


  11. Right along with the IHS Syndrome is the MMS (Machismo Male Syndrome). When you find a character suffering from IHS, you can usually find an MM beside her, probably rescuing her while simultaneously insulting her intelligence.


  12. Oh, yeah! Those MM’s are everywhere, annoying the heck outta me, with their always exquisitely chiseled jawlines, six pack abs, and hawklike noses. All writer-speak for “Chauvinistic Neanderthal, yes, but hot, hot, HOT, just the same.” And dang if it doesn’t work, at times, if the writer is good enough.

    But therein lies the rub, as they say. The heroine has to be in some amount of peril and her love interest has to be involved at least marginally in helping her escape, or in solving the crime, or whatever the scenario calls for. It’s doing it skillfully, so that the heroine isn’t afflicted with IHS (or maybe only mildly so), and the hot, hot, hot guy isn’t a total troglodyte that’s tricky. It’s all in the balancing, for me. And it’s better if the heroine rescues the GUY now and then! Yeah, that’s the ticket.


  13. You got me laughing. My wife and I were watching a movie the other evening and we both commented about these curiosity. I figure it is a female thing. You mean to say that it is not a general behaviour in women ? I think I’m in trouble,here…


  14. Well, Felix…actual scientific research by….ummmm…scientists!…has proven that IHS does run in families. Fictional heroines suffering from extreme examples of the condition have definitely produced more and more of the same over the millenia. Apparently it spreads like the flu from author to author as they endeavor to write ever sillier danger-laced scenarios for scantily clad and gloriously nubile young lovelies.

    As for it being an issue with REAL women, though…I suspect most of us have better sense than to take up monster-hunting in the first place, much less donning work clothes which expose so much tender flesh to the mercies of the environment and/or the sharp pointy teeth and claws of said monsters. I, myself, would only fight these kinds of evil-doers while crouched under a solid steel bucket, wearing chainmail armor and a cast iron helmet. And then, only if the monster had broken down my locked and barred door, and cornered me in a room with no windows nearby.

    As someone once said, “Never trouble Trouble till Trouble troubles you.”


  15. Loved this! My daughter just read this one to me when she was up for the weekend~ the article said that a lot of writing instructors use Dr. Seuss-isms as a writer’s template. For instance, reading everything you write out loud to yourself and then again to someone else…. helps you to see how it sounds. How many times do you have the word actually, or always, very or so….etc. I know that I will publish something on my blog and then go back and re-write about ten times before it is where I want it. I wish that I was patient enough to just keep it in draft form but I like to see what it looks like and so if someone has read something as soon as I publish it, the whole thing may look completely different the next hour! :O
    Great Post!


  16. So glad you enjoyed the post, CM. I had a lot of fun with it, and I really got a laugh out of everyone’s comments, too. Thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to respond. Have a great day!


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