Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rape in Romance Novels...Yes, I'm gonna go there!

*****Before I begin, I in NO way shape or form condone rape at all. It is morally wrong to force sex on any person******

Hey y'all, this post has been stewing in my brain for some time now so I decided to suck it up, put on my big girl panties and write a post about it. 

Rape (I know most of you are cringing right now) has been a theme that the romance novel has shied away from for a long time, and those who don't shy away from it get hung out to dry. 

So, in this post I want to express my feelings on what is considered rape in the romance novel.

The first time I encountered rape between the hero and heroine was in Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey.

I read this book back in 2007, which was when I first started getting into romance novels. I loved this book. Seriously, I've read it like fifty times. I was completely shocked when I read reviews that said things like, "There is nothing romantic about rape, revenge and cruelty." and "There were too many violent and sexual scenes." I was flabbergasted by this. Those scenes are what made it so hot! I started to question if I was just sick for enjoying the book, or if those people were just stuffy farts. 

So, let's define rape. 
According to the Oxford English Dictionary rape is...

Originally and chiefly: the act or crime, committed by a man, of forcing a woman to have sexual intercourse with him against her will, esp. by means of threats or violence. In later use more generally: the act of forced, non-consenting, or illegal sexual intercourse with another person; sexual violation or assault.

In Prisoner of My Desire the heroine ties up the hero and forces him to have sex with her so she can conceive a child. This doesn't exactly fit in with this definition, but I will let the OED slide on this one. ;) Once the hero escapes he captures the heroine and ties her to his bed, where he exacts revenge for the "sexual torture" she put him through. 
I didn't find any of this to be offensive or to be rape in my mind. Neither character was truly forced. The reader saw inside of both characters heads and neither of them were totally repulsed, or against having sex with the other. While the sex wasn't something they intended originally, both of them enjoyed it immensely and if anything, they only regretted the fact that they liked it so much in spite of the situation. 

People are still flabbergasted by this, and others have said..."but Megan, it is still rape!"
My response -- "It's still a book."
This isn't real life. As much as we can emotionally connect with characters, they are still just characters. These situations they are put into were written by someone sitting behind a computer, they weren't composed by a rapist, fornicating on unsuspecting women in public (hahaha at least I hope not). 

Dark romances are meant for entertainment. It is a safe way to read about dark twisted relationships that spawn from something that isn't innocent at all, which in itself is very real. This opposite side of the argument. Relationships in real life don't always start with the innocent meeting of eyes on a train. Real life invokes relationships that start in behind backs, in dark corners, and for all the wrong reasons. Hearts are ripped apart, lives are destroyed by it. It's reality and it's harsh. A lot of the time relationships like those don't work out, people who are severely flawed don't always find that happy ending...and that's where books come in. This is where those ruined people can find their match, the happy ending in spite of their darkness. 
A newer example of this would be Wanderlust by Skye Warren.

This book is one that seriously messes with your mind. Most of the sex in this book could be considered rape, though I argue, like the Lindsey novel, that it isn't. The lines where rape is concerned are severely blurred. 

Where I draw the line:
While I am am all for a dark, edgy, borderline non-consensual romance, I also have limits. I don't like to read books where there are long descriptive scenes where women are violently gang-raped by strange men. (I'm not a complete animal, lol.) I enjoy books where women and men are slaves to their desires--which ultimately ends up in books that a lot of people do accuse of having rape.

There is--and will continue to be--a great divide in opinions on this matter.

As for whether or not I am sick in the head for liking this stuff, I have to say, that yes, I definitely am. I don't mind it though. :-)

What do you think about rape in the romance novel? What is too much for you?? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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