…Or are cover designers cashing in on the Outlander craze?
I WANT rape to be included in books. That’s not what I’m going to try and say here. I want it in there because it happens nonstop. Women are experiencing it right now. If romance authors can randomly blow up every military hero’s best friend to add some drama, or even randomly blow HIM up so he can return to Texas traumatised and with serious injuries and meet his wholesome hometown heroine, then we can have rape victims as heroines.
I become so frustrated with the type of romance reader who wants their head permanently buried in the sand. I’ve even got in trouble from romance authors and readers for saying I don’t like the way Disney sanitises fairy tales!
However, the way so many authors are dealing with rape and other trauma in their books is beyond disturbing.
There are a few authors whose books have been disturbing me recently. Maya Banks. Lindsay McKenna. Diana Gabaldon. Cindy Miles. Look, there are many, but I can’t write about them all.
I want to mention Maya Banks first, because it is her newest romantic suspense book, Darkest Before Dawn, that prompted this post.
Banks LOVES to rape her heroines. She almost destroys them through horrific experiences, in order for the Big Strong hero to come in and fix everything with his guns and his sex.
Her latest book, which I have not yet read, but I have read excerpts and summaries of, involves a hero who HAS to turn the heroine over to terrorists in order for her to be tortured and raped and tortured and raped and raped and raped and raped and raped before she’s murdered. Why they won’t just murder her is anybody’s guess. The virginal heroine, named – of course – Honor – then decides she’d rather the hero screw her first, because Stockholm Syndrome rape is probably better than torture rape.
The author makes this about the hero’s man pain, with him saying things like this to her:
“And you think you don’t matter to me?” he roared. “Do you think I’m going to just hand you over to him and walk away knowing that he’ll repeatedly rape you, that his men will rape you? Whomever he wishes to reward will rape you. He’ll torture you just because he enjoys it. And then he’ll turn you over to ANE and every imaginable horror you can possibly imagine, they will do them to you. When and only when you are so near death that you can no longer withstand their constant brutality, they’ll kill you, but it won’t be merciful and it will not be swift. They’ll drag you into the middle of whatever village they occupy and they’ll inflict as many wounds as possible so that you die a slow, horrific death, and then they’ll leave your corpse to rot and decompose and no one will move you for fear they’ll be killed for interfering.”
Thanks to this blog for the excerpt.
Why in the holy flying hell would you SAY that to someone??!!
Another horrifying Banks book is Shades of Gray, where the entire team of male superheroes suddenly screws up so the tough girl heroine gets captured. She then proceeds to be cut up with a knife and raped twice in a row (on the page) for no particular reason, while everyone listens in.
She had nothing, no buffers to what had happened. She’d been raped by two men and sliced open like some piece of meat.
For some reason, she waits until the second time she’s being raped before she uses the knife in her hand to put an end to it.
Much of the rest of Shades of Gray is devoted to the *hero’s* pain about what happened.
The book finishes with the heroine fighting off the baddies while totally naked. None of the men are.
“Okay, I’m naked,” she said coolly. “Let him go.” Brumley cast a glance in Cole’s direction. Cole’s expression was murderous. “And let him miss out on the fun?” Brumley asked. “What better satisfaction would it be than to fuck you right here while he watches?”
Lindsay McKenna is an author whose current series involves all her heroines being victims of repeated rapes, as well as torture. She has a heroine who is raped by terrorists so badly they have to have surgery to put their genitals back together. At the same time she is in a coma because she’s also been shot in the head. She has heroines whose husbands beat and raped them for years.
Then she “fixes” these heroines with super sex and pregnancies.
I’m not getting into Diana Gabaldon’s obsession with rape in her Outlander series, but I DO want to say that her defenders saying it’s historically accurate are being ridiculous. An English officer “invading” Scotland (England was NOT invading Scotland in the 1740s, by the way – that’s the worst of all her historical mistakes), raping everything in sight, nailing a man’s hand to a table and raping him all night? I’m going to bet that never happened even once.
We have Cindy Miles’ Stupid Girl, where the heroine is drugged and raped right at the start of the book. But don’t worry! Her brother (in one of the romance genre’s most creepy and paternalistic acts) gives her a purity ring!
Then when we meet the hero, the first thing he does is sexually assault her. But don’t worry! When he finds out she has been raped not all that long ago, he says he would never have assaulted her if he’d known about it. But it’s just fine if she’s not a rape victim, it seems.
I get that people don’t want to read this sort of thing in their books. I don’t want to read this sort of thing either. This is not dealing with rape sensitively; it’s gratuitous and disturbing, and really worrying that female authors would use this sort of brutality as a plot device to make the heroes look strong and caring.
There are better ways to deal with serious issues than over the top brutalisation and degradation of the female (and male) characters.
PLEASE, authors. Write about rape. Write about assault. Write about serious issues instead of cupcake shops. But for God’s sake, use some sensitivity when you do it.
Friday sunset in Canberra
My computer died! I have two new devices to set up and learn now (tablet and laptop). I lasted 1.5 days with Windows 8 and the stupid kiddies’ coloured box start menu. After a lot of swearing and a few tantrums I upgraded to Windows 10. Now I’m almost in the 21st century!
I have lost some important documents, but am still hoping to recover them.
This week was mostly enormously hot, and then it rained one day. There were emergency and flood warnings (for thee towns surrounding our city), but in the end we didn’t get much more than a sprinkle! The river in Queanbeyan, where I have always had family, regularly floods. It’s scary for us because our Ukrainian Catholic church (that my family both helped build and provided the chandelier above the altar for) is on the banks of the river.
It was Ukrainian New Year this week, but we celebrated a day late because of stuff.
It’s an in-joke for anyone who has watched the television adaptation of Outlander, and it is one of the main reasons I have gone off the show.
Despite the book series being – at its core – about Claire and Jamie in the past, the show’s producer is obsessed with the actor playing Frank. I find Frank deathly boring, and just because someone thinks an actor is good doesn’t mean the fundamental elements of the book need to be changed so drastically.
So a fan made a joke Frank-themed poster for the first of April!
I have no idea who to credit for making this!
I’m trying to decide whether or not to read the Poldark books, because I suspect they’re very different to the new television adaptation!
Poldark seems to be starting in the United States this month, and anybody who loves history, historical romance or anything in between should give it a go. Particularly if you love your historical fiction without quite so much graphic torture and rape as a certain other current show set in Britain in the eighteenth century!
Here is a spoiler-free clip from the beginning of the final episode of season one. It’s a gorgeous show, and ever since Death Comes to Pemberley, I’ve been hoping for this actress to get a big break.
A crimson rosella at our house on Tuesday.
I’ve lost my Kindle! It has to be somewhere in the house, but I have no idea where! I’ve climbed under furniture and checked both in all the normal places and the abnormal places… I did, however, find a paperback copy of Lover Eternal that I’ve been looking for.
I am so sleep-deprived I can’t think of anything else to say about this week!
I’m not reviewing the last few episodes of Outlander because I honesty cannot be bothered, and I also have a really big problem taking time to sit through any more graphic, gratuitous violence and gore – especially at the expense of Claire-Jamie character development.
Additionally, I have been watching Poldark, and everything that’s missing from the Outlander television adaptation is there in this other show. First and foremost, the wonderful, wonderful connection between the romantic leads, that is so, SO sorely missing from Outlander:
I’d rather stick with Poldark than Outlander, which has become a lesser show. Poldark doesn’t attract the horrendous, ridiculous, mean fangirl lunacy that’s going on in the Outlander fandom now, has better acting, a truly great heroine, and – yes – a more appealing leading man.
Some Outlander fan (some call the Gabaldon Army) attacks on professional reviewers in recent days (click to enlarge these):
Much of my dislike of what was done in the second half of season one has to do with attitudes. Attitudes from the book’s author, Diana Gabaldon, attitudes from the show’s producer, Ron Moore, and, sadly, attitudes from the vicious, obsessive fans who resort to personal attacks whenever the story is called out for historical inaccuracy, misogyny or bigotry.
Fan: Shut up.
It’s no fun talking to a zealot, but more and more, contemporary fandom is zealotry.
The final straw came when I read a few reviews of the final episode of the season. People who were unaware a story that started as a little love triangle would turn into two full episodes of torture and rape said they were no longer interested in watching the show, and the fangirls (sorry, but there’s no other term for them) responded:
Across the board, this vicious, vicious nastiness. This is like Twilight or Fifty Shades fans, but on a nastier level. And the sad thing is that – on every site (I’ve deleted names and profile pictures) – every single one of these comments was made by a middle-aged woman who should know better (not a twelve-year-old, as with Twilight).
Diana Gabaldon fosters a cult culture, and has done for a long time. She’s infamous for her short, superior, sometimes even cruel comments to her fans when they don’t fall into line with what she dictates. She has reimagined scenes from her twenty-four year old book by rewording and rebranding.
The wife-beating is downplayed and has become “the spanking scene”, as nobody was all that thrilled with it after bodice rippers went out of fashion. And in accordance with that, Gabaldon finds it justified to make all sorts of derogatory comments about both feminists and women under thirty-five (Google will prove this; I have no desire to read any of her comments again).
Black Jack Randall’s homosexuality was rebranded as “equal-opportunity sadism” when it became no longer socially acceptable to demonise homosexuality the way the first book did.
Perhaps the most offensive thing was how in the lead-up to this final episode, Gabaldon has been publicly joking about rape.
Anybody who has any issues with this is called “stupid” (something Gabaldon has actually said about her own fans on her social media accounts – again, use Google), and so the fangirls follow suit and call naysayers “stupid” too.
Then there’s the whole other issue with the show’s producers deciding they need to up the rape and torture and deemphasise the relationships because the show is too “womanly”, and because – you know – women are such a minority in this world(!) the story must be “fixed” (blood and guts for the all-important men who might watch!) in order for it to be interesting.
So much for Outlander being a feminist show!
Generally, I’m now having trouble looking on Outlander – book, show or even people who support it – with anything other than annoyance. And so I won’t be continuing to watch whenever it is they get their act together and actually make a second season.
I know it has been two and half decades since this book came out, and fans have been waiting all that time and so are passionate about it, but the total, irrational viciousness of the people who are invested in this turns my stomach. Perhaps the author’s open dislike of women is bringing out the worst in the women who follow her and quote her like she’s a religious text.
Ladies: grow the hell up!! Outlander fans are the nastiest and most childish of any group of fans I’ve ever come across, and I’m ashamed that it’s grown women who make up that tribe.
I’ve said a bit about how Outlander has lost the plot since its return, and so I found this article interesting. It mentions Outlander as guilty, but is actually about Game of Thrones – which I have only seen some scenes of (they were filming the latest episode in Seville when I was there last year, so I watched those parts).
It’s about how the rape of female characters is a plot device to give the male characters something to be upset about, rather than showing how the female characters deal with it.
If you watch enough prestige television, you come to realise that the most traumatic thing that could possibly happen to a man is having to suffer the pain of a woman he knows getting raped. It’s not, actually, the most traumatic thing to happen to a woman, likely because it happens all the fucking time, but for a man there’s really no greater indignity. To exist as a woman on a cable drama is to understand that at some point you’re probably going to be raped by someone you know or in the presence of someone you know or as a punishment to someone you know, but it’s okay because in the end, it just gives you something to overcome and everyone knows that having something to overcome is the only way to prove that you are a strong woman.
In fairness to “Game of Thrones,” it’s not the only show on television that falls into the “how do men feel about rape” trap. Throughout its first season, the freshman Starz drama “Outlander” has repeatedly pulled focus from the actual victims of sexual assault to instead dig into how their male loved ones feel about the matter.
I think romance fiction is guilty of this sometimes too. It’s one thing to show a man dealing with this, but when it’s at the expense of the woman, then it’s gratuitous. It lessens what has happened.
Three priests and my father…
Phew, it’s a relief for this week to be over. Monday was spent at the funeral home and Tuesday was my grandmother’s funeral. Now we’re settling in for everything that comes after, but at least the stress and the very public aspect of farewelling someone are finished.
Very odd to have to figure out how life works after the loss of someone who was at the centre of it. What happens on weekends now, for example? Do you keep going to the same pub for drinks that you used to go to with her on Fridays (we actually DID go this Friday, but it wasn’t the same…)? How about Sunday dinners? The church that was important to her but I would never have attended otherwise?
I’ve been writing thank you letters for the funeral, and have discovered just how many different people were there. Baba used to work for the Department of Defence, and I see their names in the condolence book. I’m trying to track down the people from Defence (I cannot find addresses!) to thank them, but no luck so far. I’d love to know where you are. We’re all a bit humbled by how many people came to show their respect.
Even though it feels like an age since I read a book, it really has only been a couple of weeks. However, I’m easing myself back into it now. I deliberately put all of my review books aside the moment Baba went into hospital, because we knew it was the end and I didn’t want to unfairly review with that hanging over me, but I think I’ve been fair in the past few days, and yet still I haven’t loved the review books I started.
I’ve been rereading a bit. Outlander – which is reminding me just how much humour and warmth the television adaptation’s version is missing in recent episodes. And Pride and Prejudice – I’m just in the mood for it at the moment, and have also been re-watching the 1980 and 1995 adaptations. I’d love for someone brave enough to do an adaptation that is historically accurate come along and do a new version. It’s SO stagey (almost embarrassingly so), but I love the 1980 production more each time I watch it.
This week I also read Sabrina Jeffries’ upcoming book, which had her usual strong writing. However, I think I’m becoming a little tired of new historical romances set around only a few characters in a country house. I think I’m looking for more action and excitement at the moment. A little more plot and a little less lusting!
From reading a few discussion forums, I see I’m not the only one who thinks the Outlander television adaptation has lost its way. Even some of the hardcore fans (and Outlander has followers that make Twilight fans look sane!) are starting to grumble a bit. A far cry from a few months ago when you’d have to lock your doors and call the police if you dared to insult anything about it!
I’ve been trying to work up the motivation to review the past few episodes, and I haven’t been able to…
Somewhere along the way the Jamie/Claire connection – the entire point of the series! – fizzled and died. Apparently the show’s producers decided it was too girly, and so have focused on anything but that. I’m disappointed.
I’m thinking I’ll just do one big review at the end of the season. Anyone who has read the book knows some Big Stuff is coming up. However, with so much filler and feet-dragging in the past few episodes, I’m really concerned they’ve run out of time to give the big issues the time and respect they need.
I’m also lamenting how much better the show could have been if they’d cast a trained actress rather than a bland, inexperienced runway model to carry the show…