Rape in Romance

Let’s see. I’m a day late, but since I had a mini post, that’s okay. 🙂 Adrienne was ousted from the MBaM list shortly after hitting #8 and hasn’t been back. I’m hoping it’ll make a come back once I get a review or two, but for now it’s off the list.

I don’t even know if I should mention how I did on my goals for last week. I’m still working on implementing my revisions in Kashmir. I spent most of today on it and decided to take a break and write this. I’m on page 79 of 164, so it shouldn’t take me that much longer.

I didn’t touch my bookmarks and I’m still sitting on my goodie bags. Bad me. I did get the new promo I ordered and it’s lovely. I ordered one of Vista Print’s free t-shirts and that turned out great. I’m going to order a few more and give them out as prizes.

I didn’t read a thing except Kashmir (and some of my other unfinished manuscripts).

But, I have hope. You see, dear reader, I am transitioning to a new day job so this is my last week at my current one. Before I start my new day job, I’ll be taking a week off where I plan to finish a lot of stuff that’s had to be put on hold because I don’t have enough time. So, happy on that note. 🙂

On to the topic:


Before I cover the romance part of this, I’d like to drop a few non-romantic facts:
#1 – “Approximately 10-14% of married women are raped by their husbands in the United States. Historically, most rape statutes read that rape was forced sexual intercourse with a woman not your wife, thus granting husbands a license to rape. On July 5, 1993, marital rape became a crime in all 50 states, under at least one section of the sexual offense codes.” http://www.vawnet.org/DomesticViolence/Research/VAWnetDocs/AR_mrape.php

#2 – “The United States Supreme Court found sexually discriminatory laws to be illegal for the first time in the early 1970s. Before that time, discrimination against women was not only legal but also considered reasonable by many people.” http://www.womenmatter.com/womrights_lifeissues.htm

#3 – “Until the late 1960s, violence against women was not considered an important issue. Since most violence against women takes place in the home, it was generally considered “a private matter.” Many people thought that neighbors, friends, family and especially the government had no right to interfere.”

Why did I list these facts? Well, which romances have the most rape in them?

Easy. Period romances.


Because no woman born and raised in this day and age would date a man who raped and/or abused her — at least, that’s the popular opinion according to most of the forums I’ve visited. I’m sure everyone’s read about or heard of or even knows a woman in an unhealthy relationship and said woman is doing nothing to get out of it despite people trying to help her.

But that’s a whole other topic, back to romantic fiction (no tangents in this one, sorry). Many readers seem to forget, or they just don’t know, that before the early 1900s women weren’t people, they were property and everyone knew that.

It’s not that the heroine is TSTL (too stupid to live) if she falls for the guy that raped her three chapters ago or that she’s “accepting” of it. That was the way things were. Hell, it’s only in the last few decades that rape stopped being the victim’s fault — even though some court cases still make it seem like that.

The heroine may be pissed that the hero forced himself on her for whatever reason, but who’s she going to tell that would care? She can’t tell the cops, since they’ve got better things to do than worry about one lone woman who doesn’t know to stay home where she belongs and not talk to strangers. She can’t tell her family, because they’d just drag the jerk who raped her to the altar and force him to marry her. What did that solve? Now the hero’s been given legal permission to rape her whenever he feels like it.

Hey, wait a minute. That’s not romantic at all.

Nope, it’s not. I’m glad to say I’ve never read a romance like that. I have, however, read a few with — what I like to call — forced sexual pleasure. The hero may start off forcing the heroine but the act becomes consensual somewhere in the middle. Hey, if you can start out consenting and change your mind, then you can start out non-consenting and change your mind. Let’s not have any double standards.

Personally, I love those romances: Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux, Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey, Untamed by Elizabeth Lowell and on and on. If I kept going, I’d be naming off my entire book collection. ;P

I do not consider forced sexual pleasure and rape to be in the same category with each other. One is for the gratification of both and the other is for the gratification of one. If the heroine or hero (yes, men can be raped and I’m not talking gay sex either) isn’t enjoying the ride and never enjoys the ride then I’m not sure why they stuck with their partner.

I know there are a few readers who get bent out of shape over a book that has forced sexual pleasure and I can’t see why. There was an HEA and the heroine probably ended up jumping the hero a few pages later now that he’s “liberated” her — the entire “you started it” mentality.

But, I don’t think it’s the rape or forced pleasure that the reader has a problem with so much as the unexpectedness of it. Most e-publishers have warnings on their books about content, but not every book has something like that. You don’t know what you’re reading until you get to it and then you get pissed off.

I propose a romance rating system. Yes, yes, many publishers have their own rating systems. Those are based on the publishers standards and are all relative. One person’s hot could be another person’s smoldering and so on and so forth. I say let’s have a universal rating system like the movies and video games.

However, that’s next week’s topic. 🙂

My goals for this week:

1 – Finish Kashmir and get it to my beta readers.


3 – Get stuff in the mail.

4 – Write my newsletter.


  1. This was a really great post! It definitely brought up some interesting points. I really liked that you pointed out the difference between rape and “forced sexual pleasure”. I never understood why some readers were offended by that either. Especially in historical romances, it makes perfect sense to me when the heroine initially refuses the man. Not only is the woman almost always a virgin, but she also has her reputation to worry about, so it seems completely appropriate to me! I really enjoyed this post- great job!!

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