Friday, July 5, 2013

"Literary" Musings - Rated R

So, remember when I posted about 50 Shades of Grey and the resulting media firestorm and really people should be allowed to read whatever they want (with possible exceptions of how to build bombs or similarly national-safety-threatening items)?

Well, since then I've continued my trend of eclectic reading material.  Some I will openly proclaim.  I like all of Patricia Briggs "traditional" fantasy -- haven't read any of her urban fantasy.  And I will be forever grateful for eBooks for making it feasible (read: cheap) for authors to re-emerge, such as PC Hodgell, whom I have very much enjoyed.  Nevermind that both authors write very strong female heroines ... whose cleavage is prominently displayed on the covers.  Frown.

The Patricia Briggs novels that I have read have all involved romance, mostly in a PG or PG-13 sort of way.

The PC Hodgell novels about the Kencyrath have definitely been more PG except for one thing.  The heroine's love interest is her brother.  (There's a bit more to it, but nothing changes the fact that he's her brother.)

Now, in this world and culture that Hodgell has created, this is acceptable by society.  In fact, given the strength of their bloodline, it is both desirable and expected by some.

However, in our current society, this is beyond a faux pas and into criminal territory -- as in, you can't marry someone closer to you than a 2nd cousin (based on a 5 second Google search).

I find it interesting that I like this author and this character enough that I am rooting for this romance, despite my occasional head tilt. 

In somewhat related news, I still read some things that I can only call crap -- primarily romance novels.  (Note -- I'm not saying all romance novels are crap.  But many are.)

Since 50 Shades came out, a lot of authors who tend toward the steamier / more explicit side of romance have definitely hopped on the bandwagon.  No blame here -- a capitalist society typically generates such reactions.

My qualm is this.

50 Shades is an explicit romance about a monogamous relationship that involves BDSM.  And I don't have an issue with that.   

My issue is that I've read some books that seem to me to be a game of one-ups-manship -- who can be the most daring, in hope of attracting the most readers.  

  • Oh you had a scene with bondage, so I'm going to have a scene with spanking.
  • I see your bondage and spanking, and raise you a threesome.
  • ...And so forth with the escalations (I'm trying not to be too graphic here)

One particular author that I've read (because Amazon recommended her to me, based on previous purchases ... sometimes it's like you either don't know me, Amazon, or you don't know what you're recommending...) crossed my personal boundary by inviting other people into the room.

More explicit explanation in smaller font for those who choose to skip over it:

Though there are a few scenes in different books, and all at least begin with consent from the woman, the example I'm thinking of involves a woman being nude when her partner's business associates come up to a hotel suite for a meeting.  She is bound before them, and things escalate to a point where she no longer is willing to participate, and things get out of hand.  No actual rape occurs, but video of the incident later surfaces, and the male partner involved is upset because he had only started this to prove to himself that he didn't have an emotional attachment to the woman.

When reading this novel, for the first time ever I threw my Kindle across the room in disgust.  (Luckily I throw like a girl, and it just ended up at the end of the bed.)

What I am saying is that in no way did this behavior appeal to me.  I did not find it in any way romantic.  I did not and do not have any sort of fantasy about this behavior. 

My intention here is not to judge anyone.  I have always believed that what goes on between *consenting* adults is their business -- so long as no one is harmed.  If this is someone else's cup of tea, more power to them.

As for me, it felt more like being at a steakhouse as a vegetarian.

What I find demoralizing here is that so very many of these books seem to be about women relinquishing control to a man.  Very few are about women taking control.  Based on that, I assume that the submissive-women-plots sell more and are more popular.

I just wonder what implications that has for our society.

I also wonder what it says about me, that I am more on-board with an incestuous romance in a fantasy world, than a submissive romance in the real world.

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