More Jacks, less peacocks!
I am well aware that a line between abusive bastards and brooding men exists in fiction; I am also aware that said line it’s thin at best; fickle at worst. Oftentimes I find myself reading a blurb, or synopsis as you please, and that get me interested in a book – especially when we talk about romance-. I get intrigued and comforted whenever I happen to find tropes I particularly like, and I start to look forward to said book. My expectations have never really managed to be under my control, I’m an excitable person by nature and it’s so easy to make me giddy, to satisfy my craving and make me happy, it’s really not that difficult! But because it’s so easy, I allow no margin of error and, even if this makes me sound like a bitch, my very low bar can’t be passed or my already high hopes will come crashing down and I will end up analyzing every single detail like they were clues of a murder mystery and I was Poirot!
Honestly, I don’t care much for wordings or legal accuracy and so on. You can throw me all the cheese, invent yourself the most absurd law rule for which the two shall get fake married and I would drink that shit up! But make the reading slow, redundant or make one, or both, petulant and manipulative, abusive and or gaslighting and try to make me drink that sh*t up as romanticism and true love, and I will become a fury.
I – for one- know am the victim of blindness by mass media. I am the asshole who grow up with Disney and my mother’s harmony books. And when my mother worried about my porn exposure ” because that’s not real sex” she never even thought about another type of bad exposure because she, like many others before her, didn’t think it as toxic as it actually is!
Romantic Love is a fickle emotion, it’s not easy to grasp as a concept and it can easily be twisted, bastardise and when society tells young boys that there is only a way to be ” men” and that entitles a certain way of relating to the other sex; and young girls to appreciate certain abuse as token of love or to wish for it or become a spinster well… we have a problem.
More often than not I come across books – some of them wildly popular- that sells abuse in the clothes of love and people drink it up! Now, I’m not saying abuse shouldn’t be portrayed. Representation is so important and so needed! What I’m saying is that romanticizing abuse brings no joys!
I know firsthanded how easy it is to mistake abuse for love, to mix signal because you read it in books and seen it on tv. The possessive and jealous broody type, the one for big gestures, the ones who will make mistakes and change you and isolate you but he loves you ever so. We all have read at least one of those, one of those protagonists that will force the girl to change her clothes because distracting, the one where he can have all the liberties and she can’t even leave the house. The one when she makes one tiny mistake – often a misunderstanding- she is the one shun and destroyed and he will overreact and then later come back to beg and manipulate ( but if he is the one majorly fucking up, then it’s ok, let me make it up to you). And I think this needs to end or, at least, be largely generalized.
Dark erotica exist for a reason, those men will be highly abusive, and it’s ok, it’s a narrow genre for people who know what they are looking for. it’s advertised on the cover and everyone is happy about it. Some eroticas, too, are pretty open about the level of abuse the poor girl will receive. Is it right? yes! It’s openly stated, doesn’t pretend to be anything but itself as well as a horror or a thriller can’t help but contain a certain degree of murdering! You can read unhealthy relationships in the same way you can read a horror. Murder is bad, but you can read about it!
Blatantly writing abusive characters is not the problem! Sneaking abusive characters in slow-burn romance ( chick-lit, comedy romance etc) or, even worse, in YOUNG ADULT is fucked up. Now, I understand it might sell, for some twisted reason ( i still blame Disney), but it remains fucked up. No one is mass trying to romanticize mass Murder!
All in all, I can also understand that, probably, the writer of a similar book might actually think of relationship of such nature as a loving and romantic one. I can understand how fucked up of a point of view that might be, but that’s why editors and publishers exist!
“– what about self-published books?”
Hun, I run a blog, I’m trying my best, but I can’t fix every psycho! That’s then up to us to flood the web with true and honest review and try not to make those books popular to the masses. What I can do is use my tiny platform to plead in this post to the people that can actually stop certain books from ever seeing the light and that includes publishers, early reviewers, editors, later reviewer, random person who gets said book for Christmas by an aunt who just wants her married at 22. And – from my corner- keep doing my best, reviewing, listing triggers and pushing you guys towards healthy reads and not abusive ones!
Toxic masculinity kills girls and boys alike!
NB: Since I don’t want to generalize, there is the occasional book when the abusive and manipulative party is the female one! You can read this whole thing changing genres, the content remains. What I’m ranting about is my need for an end of this false advertising of abuse as love.
For the people who’ve been through it and fell in an abusive relationship mistakening it for love because that’s what it looked like in their books, and for those who might luckily avoid ending up in one thanks to having read even just one book that will show them what “healthy love” looks like. Please, stop.