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"Chloe Harris" really is the pseudonym for two writers, Noelle and Barbra, who've joined forces to write intriguing and sexy stories. A quintessential eccentric southerner, Noelle seems to find a story in almost everything. Ever ambitious to change her stars, she has a degree in Communications. Barbra lives together with her cat ('Princess Mimi'), who isn't very happy that she is spending so much time on writing. But this folly of the living can opener with opposable thumbs is mostly tolerated.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Poo By Any Other Name

by Barbra

Forced Seduction is a plot device that’s believed to be dead. It’s responsible for the negative connotation of romances, which some people still conceive of as bodice rippers. And don’t you just hate that name?

For me, Forced Seduction is highly disturbing, because it’s basically a rape fantasy: an alpha male rips a hapless . . . erm, helpless is what I wanted to say, or was it witless?
Anyway, the uber-alpha-testosterone-poisoned-hung-like-a-bull-male tears his dumbfounded victim’s clothes and pride (and legs, mustn’t forget those!) apart and takes her. Hard. Fast. Sweaty. Dirty.
Don’t forget to imagine the sounds that go with the image: he’s probably grunting like a Neanderthal man, the woman bleating in the face of his superhuman-sized c . . . oh erm, danger! Danger, I mean! And the woman is turned on by his dominance and climaxes again and again.

I’m sorry, but here’s where I draw the line. Anything “forced” is, as the term itself indicates, done against somebody’s will, not safe, not sane and certainly not consensual. Or am I wrong?

However, I’m well aware that there is such a thing as “rape fantasies”. Why women would have rape fantasies when they are repulsed by the thought of actual rape is beyond my grasp, never mind that such fantasies feature sex acts they would want to do only with attractive men.

There might be a number of explanations for psychologists (compare Why Do Women Have Erotic Rape Fantasies?). However, most of them are based on wild speculation. See for yourself:

The simplest explanation psychologists could find is that some women are just masochistic. Experiencing helplessness and suffering humiliation gets them turned on - provided they know what they’re going to is a game only.
Then there’s what psychologists call “sexual blame avoidance”. Some women are still brought up with the belief that a woman mustn’t crave sexual attention or experience sexual desire. Sex is, after all, dirty. By having sex against their will they avoid feeling guilty. This is one extreme.
The other extreme is “openness to sexual experience”. If you like sex and you’re also into the kinky stuff, kinky rape fantasies turn you on. But that’s not an explanation why a woman could have such fantasies if you ask me. It's just stating that if you have a healthy sexuality, you can deal with that stuff.
A thought-provoking concept is “desirability”. Some women believe themselves to be so irresistible so that men simply cannot bring their inner beast to heel. Again I can hear the Neanderthal’s grunt, can you too?
And speaking of the grunting, rutting Neanderthal: According to the article women still think men’s fantasies exclusively revolve around being sexually dominant.

*whip swishing through the air and landing on the slave’s butt* Hilarious, isn’t it? Now hurry up. My heels aren’t clean yet and I want to truss you up as soon as you’re done. You're up for a little CBT! *kicking the slave so that it remembers its place*

Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes.

I guess this Forced Seduction BS fits into evolutionary history where the female is predisposed to surrender. You and me, baby, ain't nothing but mammals, and the male must hunt the female down and defeat her. By doing so, he proves he’s worthy of mounting her. (Again I can hear a Neanderthal’s grunt!)
And when we’re talking of predisposition, acting on instinct is what some can do best. In times of danger, a fight or flight response is activated: heart rate speeds up, you’re breathing faster, your pupils dilate - and you get aroused.
Uhm . . . really? I mean, are you serious??? You get aroused when you’re frightened to death? Sounds contradictory in itself to me. Be that as it may, I ain’t no psychologist. And them psychologists call that reaction to fear “sympathetic activation”.
The last explanation the article gives is “adversary transformation”. The definition is so ludicrous, I have to quote it here:
In one survey of romance novels (which tend to be written by and for women), the lead female character was raped in 54%. The male heroes are usually rugged warrior types and these books may illustrate a desire to "conquer the heart of the rapist" and tame him for marriage.

Okay, so, let’s sum up: Some women have rape fantasies. They’re generally no problem unless they pose a problem for the woman who fantasizes about being taken against her will. Psychologists lean toward explanations that involve earlier sexual abuse, masochistic tendencies, or just plain depravity.

Ahem. Sounds like women have a problem, but men don’t. I do beg your pardon, but - HUH?????

Well, I’m no closer to understanding than I was before. This is what I was trying to do here. I wanted to understand. I like to get the facts to a problem in order to understand it. Only then I can try to work toward a solution. You see, I had today off, so I thought I’d get comfy and read a book. The first third was fine. But then - wham! - I was confronted with a Forced Seduction - I thought nowadays it's no longer done!
I hated it. I have no rape fantasies, perhaps that’s why. It totally freaks me out when I read a book where the heroine is turned on by being manhandled - and I'm not talking about a little bondage and spanking here. I'm talking about a "fearing for her life, being beaten to unconsciousness and waking up to chains immobilizing her"-situation.
Forced Seduction is not for me. I guess I’ve finally found I do have limits!

Where are your limits when it comes to reading? What makes you uncomfortable? What is disturbing for you?

4 comments:

Noelle (Chloe Harris) said...

Great Post. I totally agree with you.
I'm glad romance has progressed.

Barbra (Chloe Harris) said...

Thanks, Noelle!
But maybe I didn't make myself clear enough: The book I read was NEW (copyright September 2009).

Noelle (Chloe Harris) said...

Ohh I got so wrapped up in the psychology I missed that. So the pendulum is swinging back again. Interesting.

Barbra (Chloe Harris) said...

Hm. I don't think so. God, I hope not!
I believe the book was written in a hurry (looming deadline?).
There are a few inconsistencies throughout the book - small things like the curtains in the room where the seduction took place, for example. At one point they were there, then they weren't. Then they were of brocade, then of damask. His eyes had different colors and her eyes changed colors also. Hair color stayed the same, but the length varied, once they were really long, then they were only down to her chin. That kind of stuff.
I guess the only reason why the author got away with all that was because it was her umpteenth book.