My first romance novels were Kathleen Woodiwiss. I found them in my mom’s bedroom and stealth read them when she wasn’t around. I still love them but there’s a hard truth to her writing that quite a few of her romances started with a rape scene. They’re also pretty damn racist but hey if you’re going to mentally ‘f’ with yourself as a brown skinned teenager at least get turned on in the process and she’s good for that as well.
Any way back to rapey scenes. Like all romance that dabbles in this baleful prose it’s a slippery slide. Her scenes like most weren’t the violent OMG let’s castrate the bastard rape scenes. No, hers like most were those of grey, mushy, no means no, scenes where there is enough sexual tension and chemistry that if you’re feeling generous you’ll overlook the fact that he talked himself into continuing to enjoy the moment even though he knew she wasn’t.
Lots of romance authors do this. One of my favorite Anne Rice certainly did and she was good at it. Better than any I’ve read. I mentioned a scene in my NSFW blog. [**Warning that post is randy and if you’re not ready for it don’t click in**] In the scene I mention the heroine asks the entity to ‘make it rape’ and it was one of those times where you’re not sure she’s safe. So far in that novel the spirit had been pretty malicious. Was it exciting? Yes. Did it leave me a little unnerved even as a young adult? Yes.
Ambiguous rape scenes are a hard pill to swallow for me these days. Especially now that I am a parent. They clear the path for bad and inexcusable behavior by redefining it as ok, just kinky and excusing the inexcusable. I know there is a sub-culture of women that love this idea, the rape sex.
I get it. It’s a seductive idea the partner and the somewhat violent but she knows she won’t be hurt by her partner thrill sex. It’s a giant sex rollercoaster, over the top and still tame as a kitten. With the right partner yes, this could make for some pretty hot sex. With the wrong partner you’ve opened a dangerous door.
Too many women confuse this ‘Cinderella likes a good smack on the ass’ with love. Sometimes it is. Often it isn’t. Often it’s exactly what it is – violent abuse.
So I’ve never written one of these scenes and I doubt at my advancing age I ever will. It’s too much grey and there’s too much fun to be had in bed to be flirting with this sort of off color rather dangerous adrenaline rush.