Part 8: Books and Rape Culture

By December 27, 2013Uncategorized
In this continuing series, guest blogger Toria helps us consider rape culture and how better to “do justice” for women. Warning: May contain explicit images and triggers.
It’s not just movies, music, and public figures who seem okay advocating rape. There are books that do it too! (Thankfully, though, these examples are much harder to come by.)
•       There is the famous example of The Feminist and the Cowboy by Alisa Valdes in which she chronicles the abuse that she suffered during her marriage, only recognizing the abuse for what it was after reading over the finished product.
•       Melissa Gorga, one of the stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, recently released a book called Love Italian Style with her husband Joe that details how to have a happy marriage; instead of talking about sharing responsibilities and being honest and trusting, however, Joe says, “Men, I know you think your woman isn’t the type who wants to be taken. But trust me, she is. Every girl wants to get her hair pulled once in a while. If your wife says “no,”  turn her around, and rip her clothes off. She wants to be dominated.” There is also a lot of talk about sex being used to avoid his violent outbursts if she does something to upset him
(like not be at home when he comes home from work) and other controlling, abusive practices that go on in their home that they claim are perfectly normal for any couple.
•       In some of the original tellings of Sleeping Beauty, separately written by Giambattista Basile and Italo
Calvino
, the princess was poisoned by a splinter in her finger. She wasn’t awakened by love’s first kiss from a prince (which is already sketchy because she can’t consent to being kissed — Snow White’s story is similarly
problematic); she was found by a visiting king who saw that she was unconscious, raped her, and went back to his kingdom. While still unconscious, she gives birth to twins, and only awakens when one of the children sucks on one of her fingers, unknowingly removing the splinter in the process. The story becomes rather convoluted and gruesome, but in the end, the princess marries the king and they still ”lived happily ever after.”
•      The Fifty Shades of Grey series manages to do a disservice to the BDSM community and supports rape culture at the same time. In the first book, Christian Grey insists that Anastasia Steele enter into a sub-dom relationship with him and gets her to sign a contract about what she is willing to endure as part of the relationship. Contracts are never acceptable in sexual relationships because they make someone feel that they cannot withdraw their consent, which is crucial to healthy relationships. There are also several portrayals of sexual and emotional abuse in this series.

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