Synchronicity is a strange animal. The Michael Weinstein exploded about a month after this was posted. Prior to that a question had come up on Facebook – in books where a primary part of the plotline is abuse, domestic or sexual violence is it necessary to start with the gory details?
On another thread a rather harsh discussion took place regarding rape in an ‘erotic’ novel. The quotation marks around erotic are deliberate – and pertinent to a recent change on Smashwords as recounted on their blog. Because of the increasing tendency of sexual violence in novels, Smashwords – notoriously intent on being open to almost anything – felt it necessary to define what many vendors consider acceptable or not.
Especially ‘non-consensual’ sex where consent is questionable aka dubcon – dubious consent – by law when it’s questionable when the victim said no or is incapable of answering the question. Unfortunately, this is honored more in the breach than the observance in courtrooms because of the notion of rape fantasies. “She wanted it, she just couldn’t admit it.”
Given that October is Domestic Violence month it seemed like a good time to talk about it.
First and foremost, there is nothing about rape that’s a fantasy and the reality is not a bit romantic. It’s brutal and cruel. Even victims who are incapacitated by drink or drugs know they have been violated. Conscious victims suffer bruising and internal tearing. Someone who commits rape has a psychological problem that cannot be cured. There’s no way to soften it or make it ‘right’. It’s not.
Yes, there are women who have fantasies of being dominated, but that’s not the same thing.
An editor at my mid-level publisher (when I was traditionally published) took one of my stories and ‘improved’ it by adding ‘conflict’ – a scene that if it hadn’t been a paranormal – would have met the legal definition of rape. When the publisher went on to approve ‘rape fantasies’ written by both women and men, I left. That publisher is no longer in business. And thanks to that experience and the preponderance of the usage of bad behavior on the part of what some call alpha males, I stopped writing erotic romance.
As a writer and a survivor/thriver, I understand those who want to write about domestic violence. It’s cathartic. The urge to shine a light on the darkness, to expose the ugliness, is strong.
In a strange way, though, it’s become a romance writers ‘trope’ – like the Julia Roberts movie ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ – where the battered victim flees/escapes and finds love.
However, the writer may not be doing a service to their readers by starting their book with it, at least not without a ‘trigger warning’ – because it may make them relive their trauma.
It also doesn’t address how or why they became part of that relationship or the long-term effects of having survived. All of that is important background. As in Sleeping with the Enemy, many abusers can be at least moderately good-looking and even charming, if overprotective. That over-protectiveness can seem loving and reassuring, like Prince Charming ready to defend his Maid Marian. On the opposite side there are some romance novels where the ‘alpha male’ is dismissive, unreachable until the woman gives up on him, and then he’s interested again. Both are classic manipulative behavior, but many women mistakenly buy into it – he’s just ‘misunderstood’ and if she just loves him enough, he’ll come around. Or he loves her so much he can’t bear to share her. And a lot of writers sell those ideas. He can be redeemed, saved. There is no evidence to support that and it’s a dangerous concept.
The truth is this – rape is horribly destructive to the victim, taking away any and all sense of safety. Domestic violence is just as damaging because it’s committed by someone who supposedly ‘loves’ his victim. That possessiveness, though, doesn’t go away. Leaving is the most dangerous time for a woman. She has a one in three chance of being killed by her abuser. In one case that I know of, her ex-husband waited for years, broke into her home, then killed her and her new husband.
Rape for titillation is allowed by few vendors.
If you’re going to use either in a story, think about what it tells readers – that it’s okay to be mistreated, manipulated?Don’t romanticize it and do include a ‘trigger warning’ in your description for those who experienced it. You might lose some readers, but you won’t traumatize them again by catching them unprepared. If they choose to continue, that is their choice.
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Special Delivery – erotic romance by V. J. Devereaux
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Description – The Internet dating site profile was simple and direct – “Special Delivery. If you’re a woman looking for good, safe, clean, no-strings sex, contact me. I always wear a condom, have no communicable diseases, and I can provide proof if asked.”
The man in the picture was gorgeous with a come-hither grin.
For Lacey MacKay – an attorney wrapped up in a high-profile drug case – he was just what she needed. She wasn’t really going to do this, was she?
The man I called Rick from the erotic romance novel Special Delivery was real. Yep, you heard me – he was based on a real person. and the real man was every bit as impressive to look at as the man in the story. And just as impressive a person. I liked him and wish I could have gotten to know him better, but that wasn’t to be.
Back when I was single – before I met my dear darling husband – I spent time on internet dating sites. (That’s actually how I met my husband, btw.) However, Rick was someone I met before that.
And yes, the ‘Special Friends’ site mentioned in the book also exists, just not under that name. *laughing* It was a fascinating site, and I had much the same reaction to it that Lacey does in the book.
I also noticed, as Lacey did, a certain familiar image. Only on the ‘Special Friends’ site more was revealed than on the dating site. The man did have an impressive six-pack and set of pecs.
The history I give Rick in the book is entirely my invention.
As for the rest of the story? Well… *grins* that would be telling…
The official release date for Special Delivery is April 1, but it is available now only on Amazon.
A few years back I wrote what I considered a ‘sweet’ holiday erotica novel for my traditional publisher that I wanted to title Dream a Little Dream or Cowboy for Christmas and they titled In the Flesh. It was about a girl and a guy who dream about each other until one is finally driven to find the other. Of course, ‘sweet’ and erotica don’t generally go together in these days of BDSM and monster porn, but I’ve always believed that you can still have happily ever after without tying each other up and safe words, yet still be erotic.
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Great minds think alike.
Now Hallmark has taken the idea of two people dreaming about each other and run with it – In My Dreams premieres tonight, I believe, and I hope it does well.
Review of Cooking Class by V.J. Devereaux Aka Valerie Douglas
Cooking Class by V.J. Devereaux Aka Valerie Douglas
Lily Cavanaugh is a Master Chef, Restaurant Owner, Cookbook Author. She has worked very hard to get to this point. Her one regret is Master Chef Evan Taylor. She worked in his restaurant,fell in love with him, dealt with his temper tantrums till one day he went to far. Lily walked and took her heart with her. She has never forgotten him or the heat she felt. One night while teaching a cooking class in walks Evan and his director of his new TV show, Dylan Bryant. Lily finds herself attracted to Dylan as much as she is to Evan. They have an offer or 2 that she can not pass up.
This book is Sizzling Hot!! The story line and characters draw you in and wham you are hooked. Lets not forget the(fans self)sex scenes, wonderfully written and stays right with the plot of this book. V.J. Devereaux aka Valerie Douglas is a Readers Dream Author, she writes so realistically that you can see every detail she vividly describes also feel what the characters feel. She never ceases to amaze me with what ever genre she writes!
I Highly Recommend this Erotic M/F/M Book, you will not be disappointed!
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Today as an erotica author (among other genres) who has published on Smashwords site (since moved), I received an e-mail from Mark Coker, informing me that they are modifying their Terms of Service regarding erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest because the website Paypal would not support such fiction. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Coker for what he created with Smashwords, and I’m glad he’s made the decision. (I’m a little surprised his vetters didn’t bring up concerns regarding ‘rape’ stories, but that’s just me.) However I’m a little uncomfortable with the links provided justifying some of the content.
Now, most people who know me know I’m no supporter of banning books or censorship, but this is neither, for two reasons.
First, while Paypal is the largest secure on-line service for payment, it’s not their only option – Visa and Mastercard are hardly likely to care, and the sites themselves could develop their own on-line secure purchasing platform. Many do. For example, Diesel E-books has their own secure ordering site, but some of these sites simply don’t want to invest the money in doing something similar just to cover erotica. Paypal is simply more convenient. It’s also much easier to slam them for censorship.
And if you look on Diesel E-books you’ll find they still have erotica books listed – including bondage and (Step)Daddy does Debbie. In fact, they wisely spun off their erotic titles as a separate entity. Something I – an erotica writer – suggested to Smashwords months ago when I noticed that the listings were disproportionately weighted with titles that were going beyond erotica (generally erotic romance), into erotic fiction and verging into porn, much of the type that Paypal found objectionable – particularly rape and incest.
Why? Because in reality they’re illegal and send a terrible message to both women and men. As with the difference in freedom of speech from yelling fire in a theater because there is one, to yelling fire in a crowded theater for fun causing a panic that threatens lives, it’s a matter of common sense.
Again, most people who know me or have read any of my books know that I’m a firm believer that if you can show violence in a book you should be able to show people making love.
That’s a far different thing from making rape and incest look appealing.
Some would even argue that most of the incest that takes place in some of these books is ‘okay’ because it’s step-father/step-child, no direct blood relation. They forget the uproar around Woody Allen when he admitted he was shagging his step-daughter by Mia Farrow. No blood relation there, either, and Soon-Yi was also adopted. But as with any relationship where one individual has a position of power, influence and trust, taking advantage of that position is a minefield of psychological dangers. Where it might actually result in a healthy relationship for someone like Woody Allen, giving tacit acceptance to it by putting it in an open forum it may send the wrong message to someone else. And that’s a scary thought.
Such content also belittles the victims of rape and incest, who know how devastating it can be, by making their pain a source of titillation, and fuels stupid comments by sports figures and politicians. (Do you think they don’t read it? Really?)
So, am I advocating censorship? Isn’t that what Paypal is doing? And how is that different from say Barack Obama requiring churches to provide contraceptives?
Well, first Paypal isn’t saying all erotica, just the really objectionable and illegal stuff.
Secondly because it’s not censorship, there are alternatives. Some would argue women have alternatives, too, they don’t have to work for some Christian organizations. But that, again, is pushing someone else’s views on individuals and it’s wrong. As its wrong to push the view that rape and incest are ‘okay’ under certain circumstances.
All is should have taken was simple common sense to look at some of the covers and the blurbs during the vetting process and recognize that these books pushed the envelope. A decision could have been made, as Diesel did, to move those titles to a separate branch, giving those who wanted to read them the ability to do so. After all, you don’t recommend putting those titles on the shelves of your local bookstore or supermarket, and in the bad old days of video rental stores you had to go into a separate room for those videos. In terms of bestiality you may not want to walk down an aisle to see Donkey doing Dallas or a ‘rape’ scene where the victim is clearly tied down and appears terrified. For the same reason, separating erotic romance into one category (story centers around the relationship with more graphic language) from erotica and porn (where the sex is the primary focus and the language is all hard core), isn’t book banning or censorship, it’s common sense.
We have a responsibility as authors for what we write. I make no bones about the fact that I write for adults whether as Valerie Douglas or V. J. Devereaux. I firmly believe that the act of making love is one of the most beautiful and sometimes the most fun things two adults can do, and that if you can show someone blowing away a couple dozen people with a gun, showing two people loving each other should be just as acceptable. But I don’t write for children or YA. Where given the option, I make clear on my book pages and elsewhere that my content is for those 18 years or older. While I could wish our attitudes about sex and violence were more evolved and that all human beings could treat each other with respect, we’re not there yet. If you doubt me, just read the headlines lately.
Until then, we have to rely on common sense. And I’m just putting in my own two…
Here is the link to what Mark Coker actually said https://www.smashwords.com/press/release/27
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