Comments: 7
: / Oh the book made me do it !
Whaaaaat?! O___O

I can't. I just can't.
Linda Hilton 4 years ago
It depends. Was I expecting that the book would actually make/inspire someone to try this, or just expecting that someone would use it as an excuse?

Oh, wait. Both.
I really try to sympathize with those who defend FSOG as just a fantasy and/or just a movie, and on some level I get that, but what it encourages is not OK. Life imitates art for too often. There are part of the book where Christian has sex with Ana, and there are grave debates whether she consented or not. Verbally, she did not. He forced himself onto her while she was telling him to stop. For me, that is rape. But haven't we read that same storyline in a few hundred historical romances from the 80's? Where no really meant yes? Still, the guy is a rapist regardless of what inspired him. And I wasn't the least bit surprised to read about this happening either.
Linda Hilton 4 years ago
One of the significant differences between FSOG and a 70s or 80s historical is the historical setting. The reader entered the story knowing it was fantasy because it was completely removed from the real world. The same was true of GWTW and even Forever Amber, the historical blockbusters of 30 years before The Flame and the Flower.

Another significant difference was that the reader knew more than the heroine. In other words, the reader knew that the two main characters were going to fall in love, if one or the other or both hadn't already. Therefore the reader gave a kind of vicarious implied consent, thus making the rape not really that particular situation. Often the author provided mitigating circumstances -- the hero thought the heroine was a prostitute, etc.

There was an interesting case in the mid 1980s, IIRC, of a guy who was convicted of rape based on the testimony of the "victim," and I believe he served time for the crime until it was discovered that her testimony was laced with direct quotes from historical romances. (My memory for useless information sometimes even amazes me; I remembered his name. )

Wow. Linda, your memory is scary smart! Useless or not!! I never heard of this case. Oh I feel terrible for this guy. And her excuse is so similar to this one.

"Crowell later admitted her fabrication was based on a scene from a 1974 best-selling bodice ripper romance novel, Sweet Savage Love."
Linda Hilton 4 years ago
There's a quote floating around in my notes somewhere that I think kind of sums it up. I can't remember if it was in Helen Hazen's "Endless Rapture" or Beatrice Faust's "Women, Sex, and Pornography." But basically the quote amounted to women admitting they wanted to be raped, so long as it was by _______________, in other words some hunky guy they already had the hots for. Well, that's not "rape." And basically that's the same situation that applied in historical romances of the time. If it was rape by the icky villain, it was "real" rape; if it was the hero that the reader already had the hots for, then it wasn't "real" rape. That's where the whole "forced seduction" phrase came from.

For a long time after all of this was taken for granted in historicals, contemporary romance novels remained much sweeter and cleaner. When the sexier contemps came along in the 1980s -- Silhouette Desire, Harlequin Temptation, etc. -- rape and even forced seduction weren't common. I suspect it was because the contemporary real world was more into empowering women, giving women the right to say yes as well as no, and mean it either way. The idea of a woman falling in love with her rapist would have been wallbanging anathema.

But I'm one of those who believes popular culture has an effect on us, stronger on some than on others, but on all of us to some extent. I think a popular culture that's rife with gratuitous violence is going to desensitize us to real violence. A culture that tolerates and encourages racism is going to encourage people to be more accepting of real racism. A culture that promotes and celebrates diversity and justice will create a society that does likewise.

"You've got to be carefully taught," as Richard Rodgers taught us.