With the resurgence of vampires in movies and literature, several different types of vampires have arisen out of popular culture. Most modern writers focus on the romanticized vampire—I.E. the struggle of having a human past combined with a monstrous lust for blood. Another recent theme tends to pair up a vampire falling in love with a human, or vice versa. More often than not, however, we tend to see a male vampire, who is usually struggling to be “good,” who falls in love with a human female.
Why do we rarely see a female vampire falling in love with a male human in a non-comedic setting?
Before we can answer that question, I think we should examine how female vampires are generally portrayed in literature and cinema.
Recognize that most vampire females are fairly one-sided/underdeveloped characters, unlike their male counterparts. In fact, most vampire women fall within one of the following simplified categories:
- Submissive Guardian: Overly sexualized females who protect the head vampire. Usually there are three or more of these women who use their sexual prowess and hunger for blood to keep their master safe.
- Vengeful: Because they have been made into a monster, these women seek vengeance on their fellow vampires.
- Obsessive: They become fixated with one goal and will do anything to achieve that goal. Usually the goal doesn’t make complete logical sense, and it’s not well thought out past the point of obtaining the desired object/outcome.
None of these three female vampire archetypes are truly capable of falling in love with a male human. The submissive guardian is devoted to the head vampire. Usually female vampires on a vengeance kick stay centered on vengeance. Those who do allow a romantic entanglement usually end up with their lover dead by the end of the story, making them even more resistant toward falling in love in the future, and in turn go back on the vengeance cycle. Obsessive vampire women can have lovers, but they’re usually just tools to obtain the ultimate goal. In other words, a vampire woman would kill her lover if it meant getting one step closer to her desired object.
Moving away from these archetypal characters, what are we left with for vampire women? Writers have tried to give female vampires more power and development. Unfortunantly, most modern female vampires tend to become a blended representation of the above stated archetypes. That still doesn’t answer our questions about the female vampire /male human union, but we’ll come back to that point later on.
To view this blending concept, let’s examine the main character, Selene, from the Underworld series:
She starts off going through a warrior phase as she tries to protect her kind (Vampires) from Lycans, (Werewolves). This caregiver motif is similar to the submissive guardian archetype. It differs mainly in the sense that Selene has free will. As she begins to discover the truth of werewolves and vampires, she takes on the persona of the vengeful archetype as she turns against those vampires who’ve lied to her, and joins forces with the enemy (werewolves) to fulfill her thirst for vengeance. Here one could say Selene becomes the obsessive archetype, however her actions are not necessarily chosen haphazardly. Her pursuit is for truth, whereas the other vampires are elitist trying to have all the power, which is far more obsessive and illogical.
So where does that put us on finding an explanation as to why we don’t see female vampires falling in love with male humans?
Some would say that it’s too outlandish to have a monstrous vampire woman falling in love with a weak human male; it goes against gender stereotypes. Others might counter that argument by stating that Selene, for example, does essentially fall in love with a male human, Michael, and therefore proves that there are acceptable examples of female vampires falling in love with male humans.
However, I believe the scenario in Underworld only works because of two key factors. A) Selene is taking care of Michael in a nurturing, almost motherly way. B) Michael is becoming a specific type of werewolf that will be stronger than any other vampire.
Due to these factors, society accepts the Underworld scenario because it really hasn’t changed the scheme of a male/monster loving a female/human. Yes, Selene is a vampire, but considering she still takes on the role of nurturer as she tries to help a male monster, the basic elements really haven’t changed that much.
I suppose in essence what I’m saying is that because of our gendered concepts in regards to the relationships between men and women, it becomes difficult to have certain “abnormal” gender-based scenarios being seen as acceptable or taken seriously. On the other hand, I feel this interpretation only applies to the more serious dramatic genres. In a comedic setting, such as MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, a female vampire can be fully developed and strong because of the comedic element in the background. Under the guise of humor, we as a society can accept abnormal social conditions because everything is meant to be fictional — all in good fun.