“Condoms Break. Birth Control Fails.” Heroes in the Procreative Realm and Jessica Scott’s “Anything for You”

Publication year
Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Here's the abstract:

This paper considers the role heroes play in the procreative realm, which has long been studied in terms of women’s roles. Drawing on recent work on infertile heroes, this paper considers the hero who seeks his own infertility. In Jessica Scott’s short story, “Anything for You” (2013), readers are (re)introduced to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison, who has been recovering from injuries, and Jen, a breast cancer survivor. The two do not need to fall in love in the story because this has already happened in the novel, Because of You (2018 [2011])—the first novel in the Coming Home series—and so it focuses on a particular facet of their relationship, namely, Shane’s fear that Jen’s breast cancer will come back. As the description of the book reads, “as their loves grows, so does the risk of Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.” The “toughest decision” that Shane must make is about their future together as a couple, and more particularly, vasectomy as a safeguard to protecting her. He fears that if she becomes pregnant, she will once more endure cancer. In this essay, I consider how masculinity and vasectomy intersect in the construction of heroic masculinity in the popular romance novel. Finally, I provide brief observations about popular romance novels in the post-Dobbs Era, recalling that Justice Thomas specifically set his sight on Griswold v. Connecticut, which afforded married couples the right to contraceptives, a case that informed the expansion of access to them. The goal of this paper is to think carefully and critically about the roles men, and more particularly heroes, play in the procreative realm.