Brain-candy that isn’t
I read an awful lot of textbooks for classes. I’m fortunate in that most of them are fascinating, but there does come a point where I feel like my brain is full, and I need a break. That’s when I pick up what I call my brain-candy reading: fun fiction that I can tear through in a couple of hours, that requires little to no concentration, and that I enjoy. Usually I read urban fantasies, the occasional paranormal romance, or some murder mysteries.
On the whole I find these quite satisfying to relax with. Admittedly, I prefer the urban fantasies to the paranormal romances, since I don’t always believe in “true love” occurring within the span of one novel, which seems to be a requirement in paranormal romances. I personally like (and find more believable) a slower, more thoughtful development of interpersonal relationships. Not only is this characteristic common in urban fantasies — one of the reasons I enjoy them so — but it also means more things are happening than just the two main characters’ personal issues. Often the author draws things out into a long-running series, thereby giving me more wonderful books to read about characters which I may have become fond of. ;)
The romance novel requirement that the male and female leads end up together by book’s end is sometimes handled in the paranormal versions with authorial imposition of an in-story sort of deux ex machina: a supernatural bond of some sort which connects two characters and causes them to madly desire each other and no other. They may initially fight it, but they are doomed to fall under its sway by the end of the book. While this was initially an… interesting authorial method of forcing the characters together by the end of the book, I think it has been incredibly overdone by now — to the point that I’m starting to consider it the sign of a poor author who can’t come up with anything better. I can’t help but wonder, too: what if this “mating bond” thingie hits a gay or lesbian character — what then? Or do they just not get perfect mates? Seems rather unfair.
However, I’ve noticed a growing trend in the paranormal romances — and, unfortunately, in one of the urban fantasies — which I deeply, passionately despise: the idea that rape, whether physical or emotional, is acceptable with one’s pre-destined “mate.” I recently tossed aside one of these books without finishing it — something which is highly unusual for me, but I simply could not bear to continue reading. This is, in fact, why I’m writing about it here and now: I’m trying to get this vile garbage out of my head.
Completely aside from the fact that I read brain-candy for fun — and RAPE IS NOT FUN!! — I’m appalled at the (usually female) author’s betrayal of both common sense and her gender. First, is it really wise to teach women that what good and loving men truly want is to “conquer” and “master” them?! Or that being violently overpowered against their will is supposed to be at all romantic? Secondly, when a woman says no, she should mean it! To have the male protagonist repeatedly force himself upon the female protagonist, until she gets aroused and (supposedly) participates willingly, not only teaches women that their feelings and desires are subordinate to those of men — it also teaches them that men know best what women really want! This is so breathtakingly, patently false that I have trouble imagining how the authors justify it in their heads, let alone in the stories. How can I put this more clearly? Authors, sane protagonists DO NOT STAY WITH RAPISTS!
Thirdly, regardless of whether it is supposedly motivated by love, angry or possessive jealousy (a danger signal in and of itself), or irritating and fakey supernatural bonds: rape is not about sex, and is never about love — it is a violent and selfish attack, which every sane woman and man should know and unequivocally avoid! Finally, in these ugly rape situations, having the guy indignantly tell the upset woman afterwards that it’s somehow not his fault because of the bond — that, in fact, it is somehow her fault for being his “perfect mate”… arrrgh, I hardly know where to start with how utterly WRONG this “blaming the victim” crap is! Just stop it, please!
Whew. Okay, had to get that out of my system. Any authors out there reading this? Please please remember: no matter how you try to justify it or pretty it up, rape is not entertaining — and it is not sexy!