Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a young woman who got into a spot of trouble. She was rescued by a prince and they got married and lived happily ever after. The End.
Oh. You've heard the story before? Yeah, never mind the lack of detail, I might be a few dozen millennia late for that to be an original story. Indeed, that story and a few variations (knight in shining armor instead of prince, for example) have been told over and over again, I think probably since shortly after language evolved enough complexity to tell it.
I have a number of alternate plots. She could've been saved by the big-hearted pauper and then gone on to starve on the streets. She could've been saved by the kindly serf farmer and then died from infection after giving birth to her second child. She could've been saved by a courageous merchant who then fell afoul of the king and was beheaded forcing her into a life of prostitution to stay alive. All of these would be much more realistic (and in my opinion better) stories, but no, the big favorite is that she's saved by, and then marries, wealth and power, and then lives happily ever after. Yeah, right, like that ever actually happened. Nonetheless, that's the favorite fantasy of the ages.
True love's first kiss usually makes a showing as well. How can anyone feel true love at their first meeting? Well, the prince is such a better catch than anyone else in the kingdom that I'm sure the young woman did indeed feel true love. For the prince, it was probably true lust. Close enough for government work.
In the modern age of feminism, you would think stories like that would be banned or at least rewritten. They are, to some extent. For example, Disney's Tangled is a rewritten version of Rapunzel to have the savior be a reforming thief, rather than a prince. However, books are one area where feminism has had minimal impact.
One of the genres I like to read for fun is Science Fiction/Fantasy leaning towards Fantasy. Think Harry Potter. Or maybe King Arthur and Merlin. The Fantasy end of the genre is overwhelmingly populated with the story I told above. Except it wasn't necessarily "once upon a time" (it's often set in modern times) and instead of a prince, it's a superhuman alpha-male. Or two. Or more. All fighting over the girl.
Unlike the young women in stories of old, the young women in these stories have few, if any redeeming qualities. They're usually whiny, bitchy, weak, incompetent, untalented, and the plot generally is built around her continually doing really foolish and stupid things that puts her in mortal danger requiring repeated rescues by the alpha-male(s) at great cost to them. She sometimes has agonizing difficulty deciding whether or not to be in a "relationship" with the alpha-male hero, and if there's more than one interested in her, it's a heroic struggle on her part deciding which, if either, to commit to.
The alpha-males are not only the strongest superheros ever imagined, they're also intensely loving (they'd give their lives for her), tender, emotionally intimate, incredibly devoted, impossibly patient (they'll wait for her forever if they have to and if she chooses the other alpha, that's okay - they'll still be there for her), and of course handsome, talented, etc. Even though she has no or few redeeming qualities, they love her because, well, um, just because. Maybe just because she exists.
One of the most popular fantasy romance is the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer and closely follows the above description. But it is neither the first nor the last of its kind. In the sub-sub-genre of paranormal romance, Amazon lists 95,338 titles, most from "indie" authors, and from what I can tell, most of those were written since 2010. From what I can unfortunately tell, over 80% of those follow the above description pretty closely. I use the term "unfortunate" because so many of the books have descriptions that sound pretty good, so I read (at least part of) them, before becoming frustrated with reading about yet another completely lame young woman. At this point, if it's a female author and a female protagonist anywhere in the realm of Science Fiction/Fantasy, I won't read the book. Ever.
95,338. That's just paranormal romance and doesn't include other teenage girl romance titles. Hundreds of these books are released every day and hundreds of thousands or even millions (on the days surrounding a popular release) of young women finish reading one of these books every day. Why would any self-respecting female author write something with such a weak and incompetent young woman? Because it sells, that's why.
This post is an interlude in this series, just a tidbit. It may be a puzzle piece in the War of the Sexes, it may not be. If it is a puzzle piece, I don't really know how it fits. Perhaps it's a primary persistent fantasy of a substantial percentage of teenage girls since the beginning of time/language, which might indicate that the feminist narrative will always find some competition in the female psyche of a substantial part of the population (after all, it's always members of the patriarchy that comes to the rescue). Perhaps teenage girls going their own way (from men) have nothing else to do and are retreating into this fantasy reading. Perhaps teenage girls are influenced by these books and end up with unreasonable expectations about men fueling the War of the Sexes.
Or perhaps it's just entertainment, though at best, certainly not entertainment of which feminists would approve.