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Rape in Romance

It seems that everywhere we turn nowadays women are being brutalized by men, when even people like Bill Cosby, deeply beloved for decades, turns out to be a monster, capable of assaulting dozens of women while showing the rest of the world how great of a person he is.  Nothing has been proven, but the lack of any explanation screams guilt on at least some level.  Does he have the right to privacy, to not come out and categorically deny these accusations?  Yes.  Is it the smart thing, the thing done by an innocent person?  Hell, no.  It just makes him look worse.

Cosby's not the only celebrity in hot water because of things he may have done to women.  There's Ray Rice who knocked his girlfriend (now wife) unconscious and dragged her out of an elevator.  He may not have raped her, but these are not the actions of a loving boyfriend/husband.  Ray MacDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested on domestic violence charges a few months ago because it appeared as if he hit his wife.  The charges have since been dropped, but that doesn't necessarily mean he didn't do it just that his wife decided to pretend that he didn't do it, which is something that many victims of domestic violence do.  If you read the comments by the Santa Clara County District Attorney, it is clear that the reason charges were not filed was in part because his wife would not cooperate with police.  Did he do it?  Like Cosby, we'll never know for sure. There's Eminem, who recently rapped about wanting to rape Iggy Azalea.  He's not a stranger to this type of thing--he, who liked to threaten his ex in his songs.  MTV even made a list of all the women he's dissed in his songs.  CeeLo Green has an interesting definition of rape, which he claimed is only real if the woman remembers it.  I guess he must be a fan of Rohypnol. Last month, Stephen Collins, the actor most known for playing Reverend Eric Camden on 7th Heaven, was accused of molesting multiple girls over the years.  Last, there's Roman Polanski, who was accused of but never convicted of raping a 13 year old girl back in the 1970's.  His excuse--the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate by Charles Manson's family in 1969.

Celebrities aren't the only ones committing these types of crimes, although they are the ones we hear about the most.  We don't hear about the normal people who beat and rape women because they're not celebrities and no one particularly cares about them.  In truth, criminals can be anyone.  They can be a family member, a friend, your high school English teacher, or one of your coworkers.  You never know what is hiding behind the surface because what you see is rarely ever what you get.

Fairy tales always portray the bad guy as someone who is easily recognizable.  He's the big bad wolf or a vampire, an ugly sea witch or an old hag.  In the real world, this is rarely the case (unless of course you're talking Charles Manson, who carved a swastika into his forehead).  Ted Bundy was a Young Republican, which definitely wouldn't endear him to me (but doesn't exactly scream serial killer), a charming lawyer, and looked like the boy next door.  In his spare time, he enjoyed slaughtering women, a trait he learned early, having threatened his young aunt when he was only four.  Jeffrey Dahmer looked like a nice normal guy, but when he was not working for a candy company, he was abducting young men and trying to turn them into zombies by drilling holes into their heads and pouring acid in them.  David Berkowitz a.k.a. Son of Sam looked like a geeky dude, but he terrorized New York City by shooting couples in their cars in Brooklyn and Queens.

You're probably asking yourself why a book blogger is writing about real life crime.  First, this is the type of thing that everyone should be talking about it.  Second, fiction isn't a stranger to rape and for the longest time rapists were the hero.  Yes, you read that right.  The rapist was most often the hero.  This is true of many books, including Storm Fire by Christine Monson, which has a 3.69 rating on Goodreads.  According to the reviews, the hero was extremely cruel to the heroine because he blamed her father for his mother's death, something that is frequently a plot point in historical romance novels (because nothing is hotter than falling in love with the daughter of someone who did you wrong).  Another book that is guilty of the rape as plot devise trope is Dark Magic by Chrisine Feehan, which is one of her Carpathian novels.  I have not read these nor do I plan to because I am not all that big on vampire romances.  From what I've found online, the hero rapes the heroine and then feels bad about it.  Boo fucking hoo.  Poor baby.  He couldn't resist how pretty she was and wasn't able to control himself around her, so he gets to rape her.  Nice guy.  Totally hero material.

Thankfully, this trend has more or less gone the way of the dinosaurs, although there are some modern books that involve rapist characters.  The one that immediately comes to mind is The Taker by Alma Katsu in which the main character, Lani, is brutally gang raped before being turned into a vampire-like creature.  While her rapist was not the hero, Lani and this man continue to have a sexual relationship even after the rape--a rape that was so brutal that she miscarried the child she was carrying and nearly died as a result.  There was also a lot of anal bleeding/leakage involved.  This was the point the book went sailing across the room.  Still, this book has 3.68 stars on Goodreads.  Inconceivable.

Unfortunately, this isn't limited to books.  Television is just as guilty.  When I was growing up, I was a huge fan of General Hospital and Luke Spencer was one of my favorite characters--that is until I found out that he raped his wife before they were married.  This all came to my attention in 1998 when Elizabeth Webber was raped after being jilted by Lucky Spencer, Luke's son, who felt guilty as hell when he found her in the park.  Because I wasn't alive in 1977 when the Luke/Laura story was first written, I didn't know their background until Nikolas told Lucky, who confronted his father.  To their credit, they did a really good job with that scene.  Okay, after rewatching the scene, I realize that they didn't.  Luke makes excuse after excuse about how he was young and how he told Laura to leave.  Ugh.  I feel like I need a shower.  Nothing excuses rape.  Not age, not being drunk, not telling the victim to leave.  None of this mitigates what was done.  (The only time being intoxicated is a mitigating factor is when the intoxication is involuntary, i.e. the alcohol is forced down your throat, and that was not the case here.)

The thing that gets me with the Luke/Laura super-romance is that within a few years of the rape they were married and their wedding beat out the real life wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  I mean really.  I've actually seen the wedding episode and it was really well done, especially the scenes with Luke and Scotty, who is oddly portrayed as the bad guy in the Luke/Laura/Scotty triangle and still is on the occasions Kin Shriner is on the show.

This wasn't the only controversial relationship that General Hospital sold as romantic.  A year after Lucky found out what his father did to his mother, his best friend, Emily Quartermaine was abducted by Zander Smith.  He even tied her up causing her to break a window and use a shard of its glass to free herself, cutting the hell out of her wrist.  Of course, this gave Zander the guilts and was the start of their relationship.  Unlike Laura, Emily eventually broke it off with Zander, although it had nothing to do with the end of her Stockholm Syndrome and everything to do with the fact that Nikolas no longer saw her as a little girl (thanks to a recast) and had fallen in love with her, fulfilling all of her teenaged fantasies.

Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer is guilty.  In season 6 when Spike is going through a downward spiral after the end of his and Buffy's (extremely unhealthy) relationship, he attempts to rape her.  She successfully fights him off and he goes in search of his soul because he never wants to do something like that again.  The very next season Buffy not only forgives him but also invites him into her home on multiple occasions and trusts him around her sister and dozens of teenage girls.

We can debate all of this for years to come, but in all honesty we won't.  In a few weeks, the allegations against Cosby will be old news and no one will talk about it any more.  The only reason Ray Rice is still in the media is because he's trying to get his indefinite suspension lifted because he feels it is a case of double jeopardy and the NFL is violating his 8th Amendment Rights.  (Dude, the Bill of Rights only applies to the government and the last time I checked the NFL is not the government.)

It won't be long before everyone goes back to being deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to crimes against women and that's a shame because the only way to stop these things from happening is to talk about it.  We need to educate young men on how not to be rapists.  We need to hold colleges accountable when a girl gets raped on campus.  She shouldn't have to drag her mattress around to get something done.  We need to be better human beings.

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