Thursday, December 16, 2010

Non consensual sex in romance novels

Hi, everyone!  I’m KS Brown, and I’m so honored that Lillian invited me to be a guest on her blog!  You’ve never heard of me because none of my books have been published yet, but I’m working toward that goal every day.  I write steamy paranormal romances about weredragons and day walking vampires and the bad guy organization that wants to exterminate them.  But enough about me…

Lately, I’ve been wondering when rape became sexy.  Oh, I know there are people who get off on rape fantasy, and I get that.  No problem.  What I do have a problem with is when romance and erotica authors write thinly disguised rape as sex scenes.

I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about.  Where the hero insists on sex despite whatever level of objection the heroine raises.  Then, the heroine either decides she likes it, or that he’s not really hurting her, or whatever, and goes on to fall in love with him.

It’s normally justified in some way, so the reader might not always see the hero as a rapist.  He’s from a different culture, so his standards of behavior are different.  He lost control, because he just wants her soooo much, or he loves her soooo much, or some other reason.

I’ve seen these scenes in everything from old historical romances, to BDSM erotica, and nearly everything in between.  The result for the reader can be as simple as being turned off by the story, to as serious as making them think that behavior is the norm and expecting it in their own relationships.  It also perpetuates the common myth that participants in certain kinks are either abused or abusers.  The debate on whether or not authors should bear the social responsibility to accurately portray such things is a subject for another time. 

Many authors, probably most, don’t resort to this kind of thing.  They do the work to ensure that both parties thoroughly enjoy themselves, and consent to the act.  In my opinion, these non-consensual sex scenes are poor, lazy writing, a way for the author to add conflict without working for it.  If the author cares so little about her characters, why should I as a reader care about them enough to read their story?

As a reader, I read romance and erotica to get lost in the story, the fantasy, of the relationship.  If the author includes non-consensual sex between the main characters, I don’t buy any more of her books.  If it’s in a newer book, I try to contact the author to let her know I was disappointed and why.

So, authors, please, take the time to make sure your characters enjoy the sex and consent to it. Your readers will thank you.

Find out more about my guest at her website and her blog

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