I confess… I read Outlander, from Diana Gabaldon. Cheap literature for sure, it has a way of stirring emotions one might think sleeping. But i’m not ashamed of the cheapness of it all… after all, one does need to rest. I am ashamed because, i chose to reread it, even though i had already been through the beating and the raping, passed as love, and necessary to the story, passed as deserved, and altogether enjoyed… I had read it all once, and I chose to reread it anyway… And today, i triggered myself , again! I cried for hours, over 3 pages of a cheap book. I thought at first I was having an overreaction… Perhaps my feminism was becoming too consuming, and had made me overly sensitive… And then it hit me: the Protagonist beat his wife. No matter how you put it, the protagonist beat his wife. And we are supposed to like him anyway (as the heroine of the book goes on doing a day later). He then goes on to rape her, several times, and the author expects us to be aroused, because it’s told in a sensual way… appealing to our Bdsm fantasies. in fact, Claire, the heroine, admits she enjoyed it. Although that’s not impossible, it’s not an excuse. Consent was clearly denied, several times. She even mentioned that she was in pain, and ardently wished him to stop. but that only serves to prove to the reader how little the author gives credit to women’s voices. Passing rape as glamorous, and a proof of love. Furthering Rape-Culture… I am not at fault here. I am not overly sensitive. I understand what historical context means. I also know that it is possible to place the setting of a story without using (more) violence against women… We know that violence against women may have been more tolerated then, but it was not as rampant as the author would have us believe, (or her defenders for that matter).
As there is now a TV series for that book, it’s not a matter of simple preference anymore. More people will be exposed to it, and it will be normalized. It will pass as romance, where it is simple and clear abuse. With movies like 50 shades of Grey that seem to many women like the epitome of romantic, and erotic , although consent is never clearly given, the games are dangerous (because done with a clearly uninitiated partner who does not know the consequences of the acts), boundaries are disrespected, and her will is disregarded many times over. With songs from Maroon 5, (and it hurts me to say this, because i love their music) like Animals, that romanticizes stalker behaviors, and implies that the words of a women are not actually what she means. With songs like blurred lines, that imply that consent is not actually necessary, and that a « good girl » is a girl that will put out… I am afraid of the direction we are headed again… I am afraid of my own willingness to forgive the book protagonists (violent rapists) for mere entertainment. I am afraid for younger women, who may read or watch this, and yearning for their own romantic stories, settle for this kind of behavior believing it to be love…
I am afraid for the BDSM community, that may be associated to these behaviors, and attract people who again, lack the experience to understand the difference between Rape and Rape-play (i.e. consent…), the difference between rough body play, and physical abuse (i.e. a clear understanding of limits, boundaries, safety, and again… consent), the difference between submitting willingly to a partner one is respected by, and psychological abuse (i.e. not the desire to please, but the desire to hurt). Beyond that community, many people may not wish any harm to others, and yet scar them for life , having been socialized by these images and values.
So no… Diana Gabaldon… I do not forgive you. I do not accept your meager explanations. I am not « too young to understand »…