My two cents on rape culture in romance.

One ticket to Crazytown, please….

People read romance for the thrill, for the feels, and nothing gets to us more than the image of a man’s voice in a woman’s ear growling, “You’re mine.” Am I right? It’s primal. It’s fantastic. It’s also got limits.

We want a book boyfriend, not a jailer. (Don’t get me started on kidnapping trope. Stockholm is not sexy) There’s a thin line between sexual possessiveness and Crazytown. Why does it seem like more and more romance is headed to Crazytown on the express line?

When I read this kind of interplay between characters, the question that determines if I keep reading is this; If she wanted to leave, would this guy let her go? I don’t mean would he try to change her mind about leaving. I mean, would he ultimately let her leave him?

If my answer is no, I close it. Nothing to see there.

I’m not sure how our culture has gotten this confused about what it is to be Alpha. You really can’t make someone stay. That’s illegal. It’s also one of the reasons I quit doing reviews. Typically, the authors writing this trope, and some who weren’t trying to write it, don’t want to hear that the heroine needs a therapist and the hero needs jail time.

Yet, strangely, you don’t usually see that switch, do you? Not a whole lot of heroines running around growling “mine” at their men, and then boiling their pet rabbit in a stew pot.  Because in a woman, we recognize the crazy. We call it what it is.

In a man, it gets sold as manly, alpha, bad boy. No, enough! Alpha is about protective instinct. Real men don’t have to “take” a woman, she’ll just fall at his feet, if he’s that good. And, bad boys aren’t for the long haul when they truly deserve the name.

The difference between a dominance scene and a rape scene is so simple it can we encapsulated in a single question: Will he let her leave? If she says stop, will he stop? This is where it matters what we write.

It matters what I as an author have to say about male roles and gender roles. It’s important that we recognize this in our culture. We can say all we want about women’s and men’s right to fantasize … whatever. It matters when men and women are looking at fiction and media for the images that shape those fantasies. That’s how group think works.

There is nothing wrong with domination, not one single thing, when it has boundaries. When fantasy crosses into reality, that’s when we get into real trouble.

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