Monday, 4 November 2013
Dominance, Alpha Males and Sex in Fiction
I'm taking a deep breath and delving into a topic that has been bothering me for some time. It might be rambly, but stick with me, because I genuinely want to know how you all feel about this.
Since Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica and dark NA fiction has been on the rise. I know these things always existed, but they weren't so much in the mainstream.
Recently I've read/edited a bunch of books in the darker area of NA. I'm not a big erotica fan. I don't seek it out, but I also don't have a problem with it. But here's the thing... it seems to me that scary alpha males with borderline abusive tendencies are becoming more common - not just in NA, but in YA, too.
I don't want to delve too deeply into what women want from a man - what y'all do in your own bedrooms is your own business! ;) BUT, with the amount of people lapping up these books about men who attack when another guy so much as glances at his woman; who bark out orders; who utter the exceptionally overused phrase, "Tell me who you belong to/Tell me you're mine" - I gotta ask, what's the deal? Do women really want to be treated this way, or is it just that people are using books the way they are supposed to be used - as an escape?
I hear you saying, "If you don't like it, don't read it!" And I agree. But another thing I've seen a lot of lately is books which don't have any sign or indication of possessiveness, then suddenly, bang, the couple are going at it and the man is uttering those words I hate. Is there no way to write a hot sex scene WITHOUT dominance?
Before any erotica fans jump down my throat, I want to be clear. I don't have an issue with it.I'm not disparaging those who write or read it, I'm just trying to understand the scary alpha trend. I have actually read two books recently that have handled dominance without it being tacky and cringeworthy: Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters, and The Broken by Ker Dukey.
I've written an alpha male in Game On. Radleigh McCoy. He's very much the "wanting to be in control" type, but I didn't feel I needed to have him making Leah feel like she was inferior for that to be true. If he'd been all, "You belong to me," she'd have punched him in the face.
I get that for the majority of people, it probably is just an escape. But I really do have to wonder about young people who read these books as exploration. In my day, girls reached for Forever by Judy Blume - not books filled with bondage, spanking and mind games. Are they going to think this is the norm? IS this the norm, and I've just... missed something?! :p Books in this area often have weak female leads - ones who are scared of the guy, and rationalise staying with either, "It's okay because he's good in bed," or, "He only does it because he loves me." It's one thing to create characters who like it rough, but quite another to have a man pushing a woman to do things that terrify her because she's afraid the guy will leave her.
These aren't new thoughts. Not to me, or to anyone, because these questions are brought up over and over again. But since some books I read recently triggered this random mess of thoughts, I thought I'd share it.