In recent years, a new genre of romance novel has hit bookshelves in stores around the world, and boy, has it rocked the world of book sales. I am not talking about the now-common genre paranormal romance novels, though. I’m talking about the genre of romance novels that center around douchebags, jerks, and controlling, stalkery nutjobs. What completely mystifies me is how female authors can take men who are textbook examples of everything a woman should watch for in an abuser, and turn them into romance novel heroes.
The Twilight Series
Let’s take Twilight as an example. (OMG Edward is so dreamy, right?!) He constantly stalks Bella throughout the course of the novels, has been known to hit women in the past, threatens to kill himself when she wanted to leave him, and isolated her from her friends at times. He also made sure that Bella became dependent on him for financial needs as well as a sense of security. Oh, and he also had Alice kidnap her at one point in the books, apparently. But, you know when he really messes up, because, well, he apologizes and promises never to do it again. (Spoiler Alert: He does a lot of these things over and over again, anyway.) Edward Cullen is a textbook example of what an abusive boyfriend looks like.
And yet, many women swoon over this fictional douchebag vampire. Can we all agree he’d look best with a stake through his heart? Or at least, can we all agree the idea that having an abusive boyfriend that sparkles in the sun is laughably stupid?
The 50 Shades Series
One of the latest smash hit series to hit the shelves is the 50 Shades of Grey series, which has introduced many a middle aged housewife into the world of BDSM. Normally, I would not take offense to that, but the fact is that the subject was broached in the worst possible way – with an abusive male lead. The story basically starts off with a young woman who has a boss that decided that he wants to have kinky sex with her. Grey never actually is emotionally there for the woman, and he shows zero concern for her emotional well-being, or even her physical comfort during the BDSM session. The story even goes on to say that Christian Grey isn’t even emotionally stable. This guy is basically using his power over this poor girl to get off, and she doesn’t have much consent to any of the things he does to her in the book. That breaks one of the 3 main rules of S&M – Safe, Sane, and CONSENSUAL. You know what non-consensual sex is called? RAPE.
When I read the first couple of pages of the book, I imagined that Grey looked like a less angry-looking version of Donald Trump. Oddly enough, if he worked for Trump, he probably would have been fired before any of the apprentices on the show for that kind of gross misconduct.
The Feminist And The Cowboy
This book’s story is just sad, and it’s so sad on so many levels. The writer of the book actually was in the relationship that she wrote about. The Cowboy (later exposed as a guy by the name of Steve) wouldn’t allow her to question his decisions, cheated on her, lied to her face about cheating (she took him back), and then basically controlled her every move. According to the Cowboy, he was showing her “a woman’s place in the world,” and according to the book, she happily shed her feminist side and lived happily ever after.
Except of course, she didn’t. It was revealed after the Feminist was published that the Cowboy was verbally abusive, as well as physically abusive. In fact, in the real-life version, she jumped out of the Cowboy’s truck and suffered injuries because she was so scared that he was going to kill her. He also broke up with her when he decided that he had his fill of fun. And yet, she lied to her teeth about the abuse and the breakup until after the book was published.
Of course, she got a lot of flak from the feminist community for basically, you know, setting back the feminist movement 50 years and giving MRA’s lots of fodder for their political means, but even so, there is just so much that needs to be said about the sheer disregard she has for other women by suggesting and endorsing the idea of going out with a very obviously abusive individual. It became clear to many people who watched this scandal unfurl that she had serious issues when her next boyfriend wrote a letter of thanks to her ex for “showing her her place.”
Man, I can’t even come up with a good joke about that last one.
Although it may seem glamorous, romantic, and thrilling to be involved with a real life Cowboy, Edward, or Christian Grey, it really isn’t. The authors of these books aren’t experts on what it really takes to make a great boyfriend. However, they are experts at how to create abusive, woman-hating characters that are perfect models for what to avoid while you seek your Mr. Right. Use these books as a guide on how to identify abusers. It might just save your life.