I bet a few of you were already growling at the post title huh? Well let me explain. I read all kinds of books that would scare the crap out of some of you. Nothing is too violent or gory to upset or scare me as I'm a big tough booky reader! But I do take issue with the use of The Rapist Hero in urban fantasy, and paranormal books for all ages.
Let me explain. You have the plot where the terrified girl is running away from the psycho monster who keeps trying to rape her. She is sobbing for her life as he abducts her and takes her to his home to 'lay claim to her' as his soul mate. As soon as he starts touching her, she's falling in love with him. Say WHAT??? The excuse given is that he's a paranormal creature who has had a tough life. This was my reaction on reading Kresley Cole's 'A hunger like no other' which had this very storyline:
"I DESPISE this kind of rape-glorifying b******t! We have the innocent half vampire girl chased all over town by psycho madman who makes several starts to raping the terrified girl and has her crying and begging, then lo and behold just as he is about to 'do' her she suddenly feels desire for him and off we head to lovey dovey land despite him treating her like shit. This s**t sickens me to the bloody stomach and I hate to see this kind of forced sex used as entertainment and wrapped up with pink bows and paraded as romance and seduction. If men on the street behaved like this I somehow doubt that we'd see it as fluffy bunny romance-we'd be screaming blue murder! I know this is fiction and the excuse is his tortured past but it still isn't the slightest bit erotic or romantic to me,just plain sick."
Apologies for the language as this was the way I used to write my reviews. If I were to re-write it now I would be a bit more constructive. OK lets take that plot and go to the real world. Guy on a Glasgow housing estate chases a girl into the darkened underpass and starts ripping off her clothes to rape her. Is that poor girl suddenly going to melt at his touch and fall in love? No, her life is about to be ruined by what he will do to her. He has grown up with an alcoholic mother and deadbeat dad. Does that excuse what he does? No of course not. So why is it that in our paranormal books, we seem to happily accept violent rapists and bullies to be portayed as romantic heroes? I find it pretty sickening. I have read a book where the heroine is dragged across the floor by her hair and assaulted by the guy who has been voted as an ideal man by some of my friends. That disturbs me! Here is that book:
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning: "Barrons did nothing for me as a romantic hero-cold, cruel, nasty and with a delight for physical violence against women. Being dragged around by my hair and almost passing out as my ribs are crushed by him is not what I'd want from a man, I can tell you that right now. I've read lots of reviews where people are talking about how much they love Barrons but I despise violent men being packaged up as a perfect boyfriend that we should all aspire to have."
A Girl's guide to vampires by Katie MacAlister:
"And then the caveman behaviour of the 'men' that they meet in the hotel bar that night had me gritting my teeth. The women were getting physically pushed around and hurt by these guys(I call that assault buddy!!!).I'd have checked out and gone home if men were shoving me down the stairs deliberately or treating me as if I was some kind of slag to be claimed and fought over because I'm sitting in a bar. I don't call that a romantic vacation! I call that a pretty damn scary place to be.Seduction is fine but intimidation and force ain't!"
Now, I am NOT saying that people who love these books are wrong or sick or anything like that. Of course they are not. It is fiction we are reading, not instructions on how to behave badly. We all have the right to love or hate any story we read, and there is no right or wrong opinion of a book, only opinion. I am also not trying to say that the author is sick or is a 'bad author' because of their chosen subject matter. They are obviously selling plenty books and many readers rate them highly. Should these books be treated as harmless fun or should we be worried about it?
I am concerned what message we are sending to the more vulnerable teenage YA readers if this sexual bullying is continually paraded as the ideal man to want to be with. It is coming into a lot more YA books and that is a concern to many parents that I know. Maybe I'm getting old and cynical but I just don't want to see this in the books that I choose and if I see in a review that The Rapist Hero is being used, I move on to buy something else.
Best not to send those books to me to review!