Last semester, I took a creative writing class. For our final assignment, we had to write a short story, and I decided to write mine on the true story of when I received a death threat from someone I used to protest with, and three of my friends from New York came up to help me while my boyfriend at the time did nothing.
I thought it was a good story, and everyone agreed it was well written.
But my professor decided it wasn't good enough. Because there was no love story. He believed that in order for the story to be good, the protagonist (the character I based off myself) needed to get into a romantic relationship with someone other than her boyfriend during the 12-hour story, or at some point in the afterward. I actually took the afterward out, it was supposed to be a brief summary of the aftermath that took place within the following month, but the professor wanted me to extend it. No. Not happening. Did not happen. I did not make the change, not for the final draft, and not even when the professor called me at home after finals were over and told me he wanted me to send him another revision with the requested change.
I adamantly refused each time. It's not even that I wanted to stick to the true story, though that was a big part of it. The other part came from the fact that it would completely alter the theme of the story. It was supposed to be an empowering story about a girl who is emotionally weak and practically helpless at first, having guys insist on protecting her and wishing her boyfriend would do something, to finally refusing help from anyone and taking back control over her life. Having her get into a romantic relationship would weaken that concept and make it just another cliche love story. No thanks. The point was, in the end, she didn't need a guy taking care of her, and that she was just fine even without her deadbeat, emotionally negligent boyfriend looking out for her.
Why does a female protagonist need to get a guy in the end? Why can't the story, any story, end with her being just fine without a man in her life? Maybe it's because women, both in movies and in real life, are often defined by their relationships with others, especially men.