Just finished reading a book that at first glance appears to be a fun-to-read, graphic sex, romance novel. On closer inspection, however, the book is revealed to be a #novel that portrays women as weak and childlike and not only embraces but glamorizes some very damaging myths about women and relationships between men and women.
The Synopsis of the Subject Novel: A werebear cub is found in a woman’s house. The child/bear has obviously been abused. The clan leader, a very large, male werebear arrives at the woman’s house and demands that she turn over the child so he can “reunite the child” with the child’s uncle. The woman refuses to turn over the child because when the child heard his uncle’s voice at the door, he peed himself in fear.
The clan leader is so taken with this woman that he “and his bear” (his bear gets a lot of blame in this novel for violent behavior) decide they have to get her to stay at his house though she has said “no thanks” a couple of times already. Using his physical strength, he scoops up the now-changed-back-to-child werebear and starts to leave the woman’s house. When she protests, he tells her that he is taking the child (and she is human and therefore no match for an adult werebear) and if she wants to continue to be with the child to provide nurturing she will have to stay at the clan leader’s house.
For the sake of the child, the woman goes with the clan leader to his house for the clearly expressed purpose of taking care of the child. The next day, the clan leader, without the woman’s consent, has his brother break into her house and gather clothes and other necessities for her to continue staying at the leader’s house. The woman is angry when this fait accompli comes to her attention, but the leader successfully uses “his hot sexiness” to sidetrack her anger. After all, women are unable to continue to focus on complaints or issues if the man uses flattery and attention to distract them.
The leader continues to pressure the woman to have a sexual relationship with him. Though he stops short of forcible rape, he does climb naked into her bed in the guest room without her consent and refuses to leave her bed. Throughout the early part of this book, it is made clear to the reader that the leader intends to relinquish the child to a very possibly abusive male relative simply because “it is what is expected since the child is the only heir to the male”, though this is contraindicated when considering the child’s welfare. However,in order to placate the woman and entice her to remain at the leader’s house, the leader continues to foster her belief that he will assist her in keeping the child with her where the boy can receive the nurturing he needs. (His mom and dad were murdered shortly before all this and the child is only four years old.)
Throughout the novel the clan leader pushes more and more intimate contact–just short of forcible rape–with the woman though she is, at best, unsure, and at worst, makes it clear she wants him to desist. Her “no” is ignored.
Every time she attempts to leave his house, he makes it clear that he won’t allow her to take the child though he knows the child is better off with her. She continues to remain at the house for the child’s sake.
Early on in the book, the clan leader frequently loses control of his temper and begins to change into a werebear with the clear and express purpose of committing violence toward others, including members of his clan and his own brothers, for very minor infractions. Each time this occurs, ONLY the WOMAN can “soothe his savage beast” and thereby halt his violent behavior.This statement bears repeating: She is responsible for stopping his violence.
Eventually, it comes out that if she stays with him it increases her chances of maintaining care and custody of the child. She is prepared to do that; and, of course, over time and exposure she finds the man “hot and too tempting to resist.” At the end, she realizes she can’t live without him and “begs him to claim her”.
The problem with this story is not the graphic sex which is consensual and well within reason as far as roughness, and so forth. No, the problem is that this book puts forth these erroneous statements:
- When a woman says “no,” it really means “yes”. All the man has to do is continue to insist that she does what he is telling her to do.
A man’s coercion by using the safety of a child to force a woman into a position she declines to be in, is very acceptable.
A man can continue to ignore and override a woman’s decisions about her own life because the man knows what is best for the woman.
A man is right to keep secrets from a woman if it is, in his estimation, better for her not to know XYZ, even though the XYZ affects her life tremendously.
In stressful situations, women will always faint and need to be carried to bed and tucked in like a child. Also, they will need physical rescuing as they are unable to even use a gun in their own defense.
Women are responsible for keeping men from escalating in their violence toward others. Women must “soothe the savage beast” in order to keep others safe.
There is a happily ever after as long as the man is in charge. He only needs to pretend he is consulting her about her life and only tell her what he believes she should know.
These are myths about relationships, men, women, intimate communications, rape, coercion, use of children to force women to do what a man desires (this all too frequently occurs in divorces!), that need to be shattered beyond repair!
As long as literature, movies, television, and music continue to glamorize these #myths and make the actions they represent seem like the “norm”, unhealthy relationships will continue to thrive. As much as we may not want to admit it, what we watch, read, and listen to, affects our subconscious minds and implants either healthy or unhealthy beliefs.
- Healthy relationships respect both parties. Communication is used to facilitate respect.
“No” means no. Stop. Desist. Do not continue. Not wanted. Unless it is a solid, non-coerced “yes” then the answer is “no”.
Children should never be pawns in adult relationships.
Women are NOT responsible for men’s violence. Men are responsible for controlling their own violence.
Each person–be they a woman or a man–have the right to make their own decisions about their own lives. No one knows what is “best” for another person because we are not the one living that person’s life.
As an author, I am not only obligated to write entertaining stories, it is also my responsibility to dissect what I write and to determine its probable impact on others. I have a clear commitment to write stories that bring about positive change and which glamorize healthy relationships.