Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

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Book Discussion & Recommendation > How Writers Treat Rape

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message 1: by Eddie (last edited Jun 13, 2012 08:20PM) (new)

Eddie (eddielouise) | 117 comments Some of these themes have been briefly touched on in other threads, but I think it might be worth having a specific discussion here from a writer's POV.

A post this week (here: http://talesofgrim.wordpress.com/2012... ) has the interwebz a buzz. Partly because the author chose to be provocative, and partly because it is a worthy topic in the greater discussion of culture and writer's responsibility.

I have written a lengthy response to the article here:
http://www.eddielouise.com/2012/06/ca...

I would be interested to get this group's thoughts.


message 2: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 76 comments I don't think he displays enough empathy to use it as an effective plot device.


message 3: by Eddie (new)

Eddie (eddielouise) | 117 comments That was my feeling. I believe empathy is critical to writing. Especially when writing a traumatic event for a character.


message 4: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments "Rape or attempted rape is a fucking awesome plot element, one of many.

Rape can place a character in jeopardy where the readers’ care about what happens, without necessarily taking the character out of the story. It’s a threat with implications, but not as final as death.

Rape can have interesting knock-on effects on a character’s relationships and their relationships with each other. If it does happen how does the character’s lover react? If their lover was the rapist, how do things change? Can you use this as a springboard to explore abusive relationships? Can love emerge from a violent encounter?

What if a pregnancy occurs from the rape? How hard is it for the character to endure that? What’s the effect on the father? The child? Nature or nature? Bad seed? Does the mother resent the child? Are they given up? Do they mistreat them through seeing the rapist whenever they look at them?"

What the fuck is this person saying?!


message 5: by Samantha (last edited Jun 14, 2012 11:21AM) (new)

Samantha | 76 comments That he doesn't understand rape or how complex that issue may be for his audience.

Now I'm not saying that the scenario he has outlined, I'm reminded of Olivia in SVU, isn't doable. She was the product of rape and it was very central in her life and her Mother was continuously affected by it. They handled it very well, I don't know how many writers they had on it but it was quite cathartic for myself. But it did trigger me a bunch and I couldn't take too much of it at one time.

I also enjoy Eve Dallas books, a survivor of serious childhood trauma. She is a kick ass character, but again it is complicated and yes it does depend on how it is written.

I'm not sure that the author of the article in question gets it, just based on the article itself. Mind you it is quite hard for me to read a "clinical examination" of the impact of rape on a woman.

Also in some ways the threat is worse than death, death has an end a finality, living with being raped will affect you for decades.

Why doesn't he write about a male being raped? Explore the impact on the male character. How does it affect his wife / girlfriend ... etc.


message 6: by Michele (new)

Michele (nerdmichele) | 74 comments Honestly? I'd rather NOT read a book involving rape. So he can write whatever he wants, 'cause I'm not reading it.

Reality is hard enough for me to handle. I prefer my art not to mimic it. Maybe that makes me shallow, it definitely makes me an escapist. I'm okay with that.

The book and video game discussions on this are getting so damn exhausting lately.


message 7: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 76 comments I would agree Michele, frankly with Eve Dallas I could only take it because memories were given out slowly and gently over many many books.

With regard to SVU I love the characters, but that aspect makes it very hard for me to watch it.

The "slavery" in Kushel's Dart also is hard for me to take.


message 8: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments I must confess I used attempted-rape in a story to explain why the hero and heroine, had to start a revolution against the king.


message 9: by Michele (new)

Michele (nerdmichele) | 74 comments I've been too scared to start Kushiel's Dart, based on what I've seen reported so far. I started reading the Mercy Thompson series instead. I've heard she has a bad experience later, but so far it's awesome.

The author briefly mentions "rape-changed" in the first book, in regards to someone who is savaged against their will in the hopes that they'll survive the change into a werewolf. Such a transgression is punishable by death. While there are horrors in this series, there are also rules. The rules keep us safe. Our flashlights under the covers, so to speak.


message 10: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 76 comments She is mostly consenting and very happy in her chosen trade (I'm about 60% through) but the bdsm is very harsh and she is submissive.

I enjoyed Mercy Thompson =)


message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 89 comments I am instantly suspicious of anyone who dismisses rape culture, without even giving a reason why. Disagree that it exists, fine, but come up with cogent counter-arguments for the people who do think it exists. And make sure you use the word correctly - 'rape culture' doesn't mean that rape is a cultural value; it means that our other cultural values are conducive to a) people getting raped and b) rapists going unpunished (according to RAINN, out of every 16 men who commit rape, only ONE will ever see the inside of a jail cell. When you factor in that somewhere between 16% and 25% of women will experience rape in their lifetime... that's a lot of fucking rapists walking free, even when you figure that most men who do rape commit about 6-8 rapes before being caught).

I think there are definitely good ways to write about rape. I, for one, believe the rape culture exists and that it's fair game to be challenged and examined in fiction. And it's impossible to do that without actually involving rape. But it has to be accurate - most women aren't attacked by strangers, they're attacked by someone they know. They're attacked by someone who's carefully constructed a situation to ensure the survivor's story is questioned (why did you drink so much around him? why did you go on a date with him? why did you wear that around him? why didn't you fight back?).

Putting rape in a story without thinking it through *is* lazy writing. A trope isn't a cliche, and rape has been used so often and so clumsily that it's drifted from one to the other. To really write a good rape story, the writer *has* to understand why the rapist has done what they chose to do - something beyond 'evil rapist is evil.' And I don't think most writers want to go there - they just want to put their heroine in peril and call it good.

I've seen rape done well in stories before. I think the City Elf origin story in Dragon Age Origins managed to handle the topic well. The story made it clear that rape is a crime of oppression and power; not one of lust and passion. The attacked woman is obviously hurt and angry - but when you see her later (approximately a year or so after the attack), she's also managed to grow beyond what has happened to her. On the flip side, you have something like Gabriel's Ghost, where rape is a tool of political dissent(?) (see my review of the book for more on that).

The other issue I have with rape is that it's generally centered around a woman. How do you put your male character in distress? Put something he loves at risk. Offer him the chance to get what he's always wanted, but at a high cost. Take something he loves away and make him work to get it back. Force him to confront an insecurity or anxiety. Show him an injustice which cries out for remedy. Put pressure on him to betray that what is dear to him. Put him in fear for his life. How do you put your female character in distress? Eh, rape. As if female characters were somehow incapable of displaying the nuance and complexity of motivation that we assume male characters can. And, importantly - as if female characters were incapable of telling their own stories without there somewhere, somehow, being a penis involved.


message 12: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Rachel wrote: "I am instantly suspicious of anyone who dismisses rape culture, without even giving a reason why. Disagree that it exists, fine, but come up with cogent counter-arguments for the people who do thin..."

The reason so many rapists get away whith what they did is that the victims are often too traumatized to report what happened to the authorities.

And there are other ways to put a male character in trouble; he might have a drinking issue and get in trouble whith the law, he might be lacking in knowledge and accidentally desacrate an ancient cult altar, or he might get abused by a larger male. I still remember how traumatizing it was when my character from Fallout 2, after loosing an armwrestling match, was taken by a large mutant.


message 13: by Tangled (last edited Jun 14, 2012 12:56PM) (new)

Tangled  Speculation (TangledSpec) | 55 comments While he has a point that rape is something that happens and may be a plot device (although whether or not it is "awesome" is debatable) , I really hopes he comes to consider the questions from Eddie Louise's blog:

Can the power dynamics at play in my plot be served by any other means?

Would I play this scene differently if my character were bigger/stronger/differently gendered

Am I using the rape as sexual titillation in a non-sexual fantasy scenario?

Are the visuals correctly describing rape as about power and control, not sex?

Am I dealing with the aftermath of rape for the victim where appropriate?


If we are talking about rape in the context of a story, I think those are important issues to address. Since the original writer mentions he is a game designer, I would wonder how one would effectively deal with those aspects of rape in the context of a game without sensationalizing rape. While murder is worse than rape from a survival standpoint, a shooter game and a raping game are two very different things, even if both are just fantasy. I hope there isn't really a need to explain that.

I admit again that my reaction to rape as a plot element depends entirely on the context and how the author treats the subject. I was even a little uncomfortable by how The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo treats rape, though I can see where many would find the post-rape revenge fantasies to be cathartic. I can't put my finger on what bothers me about it despite the strong female, but it was harder for me to watch in the movie version than to read.

I recently read Pack of Lies , a much lighter UR fantasy, where the female protagonist investigated a rape and murder--with the added bonus of magical abilities that let her relive the attack and watch what happened to the victim. I thought it was handled well, probably because the main character discussed her feelings. I empathized with her reactions and those of her coworkers. The victim was attractive, but the rape never seemed sexy or exploited. I think it passed the test listed above. I don't automatically avoid all books that use rape as a plot element--just those that seem to treat it as if it were sexy, or that minimize its impact. YMMV.


message 14: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Tangled wrote: "a shooter game and a raping game are two very different things, even if both are just fantasy"

you know rape games actually exist? I once stumbled into a game where the goal was to use chlorofile tissues
to violate womens of different age while working for the mafia lords


message 15: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 89 comments The reason so many rapists get away whith what they did is that the victims are often too traumatized to report what happened to the authorities.

That's actually responsible for only a very small number of free rapists. It's far more likely that a victim feels like she won't be believed than the fact that she's been traumatized.

If a woman goes to the police, she's only got a 50% chance of being believed by the cops (this number plummets if she is a woman of color, trans, lesbian, a sex worker or was on a date with her rapist). Even if the police do believe her, they don't make an arrest for every case. Even if the rapist does get arrested, the DA may decline to prosecute (DAs like to win, and probably won't take a case where there isn't sufficient evidence). Even if the case goes to trial, juries are notoriously unwilling to convict. Even if the jury does convict, there's still a chance the judge will issue a sentence of time served, probation or house arrest.

You can look up the stats here: http://www.rainn.org/get-information/...

So, no, it's not *just* that the victim is too traumatized (and while she might be traumatized in the immediate aftermath, people eventually do start to get better and become functional again - it's not like rape reduces a woman to a quivering puddle of helplessness forever and after).

100 rapists, 3 rapists in jail. That's 97 rapists walking free in the world. Doing regular stuff. Renting apartments, buying houses, delivering your mail, selling you a car, bagging your groceries, going to school, riding the bus, standing in line at the post office. Playing WoW. Going to the movies. Reading books. Living in your neighborhood. Working and living with your daughters, mothers, sisters and female friends. Does that thought terrify you? It terrifies me, because it's not like men who commit rape are courteous enough to have special shirts made up warning women to stay away. By the time you figure out that a particular guy is a rapist... it's usually too late. And that is rape culture.


message 16: by Tangled (new)

Tangled  Speculation (TangledSpec) | 55 comments Kamil wrote: "you know rape games actually exist? I once stumbled into a game where the goal was t..."

Sadly, yes. Players can rape in Grand Theft Auto. Although RapeLay, a game where the players can stalk and rape a mother and her two daughters has been condemned by most official gaming commentators, we can now look forward to saving Laura Croft from attempted rape "Don't Worry Guys, You Can Rescue Her. But it's all fun, right?


message 17: by Kamil (last edited Jun 14, 2012 01:26PM) (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Rachel wrote: "The reason so many rapists get away whith what they did is that the victims are often too traumatized to report what happened to the authorities.

That's actually responsible for only a very small ..."


It's the tipical case of " what came first? the egg or the hen". While i won't deny, the law against-rape is too "milky",Tthe statistics( of how many criminals manage to avoid the righteously deserved pubishment)are what plants the seed of fear into the victim. What if she reports the rape, but the criminal will walk away from the axe ( yes, rapists should have their tools cut down whith a rusty axe) and decides to show her who's in charge?


message 18: by Eddie (new)

Eddie (eddielouise) | 117 comments Great discussion here guys, thanks! Sometimes I fall prey to the fear of just being a hysterical woman for calling these things out.

Then I come and chat with a group of reasonable people and shake off the stupid culturally produced insecurities. I was raised in one of those conservative 'she was asking for it' cultures and all these years later the doubts can still creep in.

Cheers all!


message 19: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Eddie Louise wrote: "Great discussion here guys, thanks! Sometimes I fall prey to the fear of just being a hysterical woman for calling these things out.

Then I come and chat with a group of reasonable people and shak..."


you're not histerical, it's just your intuition that tingles and warns you that something is off


message 20: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Chapman | 83 comments I prefer not to read rape scenes, and if it is used at all, the author had bloody well better know what they're talking about. I'm a former rape victim (as in, I was raped but I have shed my victimhood), so some nasty triggers can still bug me a bit, and I'm very much aware of how triggers can be harmful to those still struggling. So if it's used, it had better be depicted as evil, it better be handled with class by the author, and there'd better be a satisfactory resolution of some sort or other.

I personally refuse to write a rape scene. I have many characters who have had it done to them in the past, and others who are threatened with it, because it's sadly omnipresent (particularly in historic settings), but my purpose as a writer is to say, "This horrific thing happened, and here's how this character is finding her inner strength to reclaim her life." If a reader ever told me that reading my characters doing that helped her do the same, that'd be about the sweetest compliment ever in the whole world.


message 21: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 89 comments I was raised in one of those conservative 'she was asking for it' cultures

Me, too! It's a bitch to shed that kind of thinking. I was taught that good girls don't get raped, because they stay home, only go out in groups and don't party like those wild sluts. It was talking out of both sides of their mouth - "Well, rape is a horrible crime... but, really it's the woman's responsibility to not put herself in that kind of situation."

And if you were really a 'good girl', but still got assaulted, well, God was just testing you. Oh, and spousal rape was probably just the result of a miscommunication.

FWIW, I do know several survivors who tried to report their assaults to the authorities. I do not know any survivor who got to see their (I know both male and female survivors) assailant put in jail. The only assailant I know of who ended up in prison is someone who turned himself in.


message 22: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Rachel wrote: " I was taught that good girls don't get raped, because they stay home, only go out in groups and don't party like those wild sluts. It was talking out of both sides of their mouth - "Well, rape is a horrible crime... but, really it's the woman's responsibility to not put herself in that kind of situation.."


please just tell me,rally i beg you, tell me this was just you trying out your trolling skills


message 23: by Michele (new)

Michele (nerdmichele) | 74 comments Kamil, that's pretty much the standard way of thought in conservative areas...


message 24: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments How did you all manage to grow up so awesome?


message 25: by Michele (new)

Michele (nerdmichele) | 74 comments We all grow up in fear, and those who are assaulted are shattered and forced to piece themselves back together, often alone.

I think many of us are still working on that last bit, no matter how many years later.


message 26: by Eddie (new)

Eddie (eddielouise) | 117 comments I was taught that there was no such thing a date rape. If you were 'with' a guy and agreed to be alone in a situation that led to rape then it was your fault for 'leading him on'.

I was raped at 14 by my boyfriend and didn't tell anyone about it because of the slut shaming I was sure to receive. Luckily, 3 years later I met an amazing man and he was the first person I ever told. His response: "I want to kill the bastard!" I cried for three days. I couldn't believe that it hadn't somehow been my fault. But here was this boy, at the height of horniness, telling me that my rapist was an out-of-control prick.

I married that wonderful young man. We celebrate 32 years married in November. He joined me in teaching our kids about the horrors of rape: both self-protection AND no means no philosophy.


message 27: by Kimberly (last edited Jun 15, 2012 12:18PM) (new)

Kimberly Chapman | 83 comments It's not just conservatives who say that stuff. They just say it louder and more often. I've heard plenty of otherwise liberal folks say things like, "Well, that's awful, but what did she think was going to happen when she wore a miniskirt and went to that dive bar?" In fact, that's something I've heard most often from older women. There's this notion that because they got through life without being raped, surely everyone else can be sensible and do likewise.

That attitude is very pervasive. There are people out there right now arguing that Anita Sarkeesian is foolishly putting herself in harm's way with her now-infamous Tropes v Women project. I have seen people say that it's horrible that she's being so viciously trolled, but then that same person will say she should cancel the whole thing before she "gets herself raped". Those are frequently well-meaning people who don't get that what they've just said is contributing to rape culture. The whole thing is entirely horrid.


message 28: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments What the fuck is wrong whith the world?! It's not that hard to pull back even when being already on the girl's bed.


message 29: by Amy (new)

Amy | 58 comments I've never thought any crime is the victims fault. (I've been victimized myself but I've always held this thought before and after) The only one to blame is the horrible person who decided to violate the victims rights and the law. I never asked to be violated, I was in a safe environment with people I should have been able to trust with my life.

But yea I live in a conservative area, so my thoughts and opinions are not popular, Women who think and want equal rights and treatment for all "well that just 'taint raht"

As for reading these scenes. Yes they make me TERRIBLY uncomfortable, but I read them. It's a reality in this world and education is half the battle. Will I poorly review a book that doesn't end up with justice served against the rapist or it shown in a light that makes it positive or acceptable, Oh you better believe it. Young minds are impressionable, so for example while GTA is not to blame for violent crimes, it put the idea in some little psychopath's head that it'd be cool.*

* my personal opinion here is that if some preteen/teen/adult uses the defense GTA (or etc.) made me do it. I think they probably would have done the crime or something similar without the game/movie/book's prompting, just now they have something to mimic and they're craziness is more evident earlier in their life.


message 30: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Amy wrote: "* my personal opinion here is that if some preteen/teen/adult uses the defense GTA (or etc.) made me do it. I think they probably would have done the crime or something similar without the game/movie/book's prompting, just now they have something to mimic and they're craziness is more evident earlier in their life. "

it reminds me of how a boy in germany, that committed a mass murder, said it was because he was playing counter-strike, while further investigation prooved he had no contact whith the game.


This whole discussion made me want to re-read the iron duke


message 31: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 89 comments please just tell me,rally i beg you, tell me this was just you trying out your trolling skills

I wish! I distinctly remember sitting in Sunday School, in the special session they had for all the teenagers right before the start of the new school year, doing their best to terrify us out of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.

Rape isn't a crime of lust or passion. It's not about a man being so overwhelmed by desire for a woman that he just has to rape her. It's a crime of oppression, to demonstrate power over the victim. It's about disregarding the victim's humanity and boundaries as thoroughly as possible, to 'put her in her place.' I heard somewhere that most rapists don't even climax, though I can't remember where I heard it, so I can't check up on it.

But that's why I dislike rape in fiction so much - it usually *is* shown as a crime of passion, not the oppressive act it really is.


message 32: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Rachel wrote: "Rape isn't a crime of lust or passion. It's not about a man being so overwhelmed by desire for a woman that he just has to rape her.."

and the worst is that for the rapist it wouldn't make any difference if he abused a dead racoon


message 33: by Eddie (last edited Jun 15, 2012 01:54PM) (new)

Eddie (eddielouise) | 117 comments
"But that's why I dislike rape in fiction so much - it usually *is* shown as a crime of passion, not the oppressive act it really is."


HERE is the point! As long as fiction shows rape as a crime of passion, it promulgates rape culture. When it shows it as a crime of dominance and power dynamics, then it does not contribute to rape culture, but rather shines a light on same.

Cheers, Rachel!


message 34: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 76 comments @Rachel & @Eddie! Woot problem fixed!

This clues me back to the OP article wherein the author is exploring a child coming from rape. Such things are very rare "irl" as ejaculation rarely happens during rape.


message 35: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 89 comments The good news, according to RAINN, is that the rate of sexual assault is falling. If we had the same rate of assault today, that we did in 1993, there would have been 6.8 million more survivors in America today (I was wondering why the stat I heard so often in high school was 1 in 4, but have recently begun seeing 1 in 6. It's still awful, but improvement is better than no progress or backsliding).


message 36: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Chapman | 83 comments "But that's why I dislike rape in fiction so much - it usually *is* shown as a crime of passion, not the oppressive act it really is."

Also cheering Rachel for that. Wish there was a +1 button here. :)


message 37: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Rachel wrote: "The good news, according to RAINN, is that the rate of sexual assault is falling. If we had the same rate of assault today, that we did in 1993, there would have been 6.8 million more survivors in ..."

Screw statistics, if there is even 1 case, that's too much


message 38: by Amber Dawn (new)

Amber Dawn (ginger_bug) | 147 comments I have the good fortune to not have any personal experience with rape so my opinions about reading it probably differ from someone who has. I don't really mind rape in a book if it's treated as a bad thing by the author, and has some bearing on the plot, i.e. doesn't seem like it's entirely there just to be titillating or risque or something. The thing that will make me throw down a book in disgust is when a woman gets raped = then she loves her rapist. BARF. Sketchy,"rape-ish" love scenes a la iron duke bother me too but not usually enough to quit reading if the book is otherwise interesting.

Also, a really great book which hinges heavily on a male main character dealing with being raped is (title spoilered here because it's kind of a "surprise" in the book, though it was rather obvious to me early on) (view spoiler) . This book is not for the faint of heart as it includes a lot of other gory and horrible things as well, but I really loved it.


message 39: by Raphael (new)

Raphael | 1 comments I could never get into "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" because of the rape. It bothered me on many different levels not the least of which was it being portrayed as a crime of lust.


message 40: by Elsie (new)

Elsie | 17 comments I think that rape can be handled carefully and truthfully. An author that has had rape in a series is Patricia Briggs with her Alpha and Omega books. On the other hand she then uses rape in her Mercy Thompson books. If she had done it in just one of the series I might have felt like she was using in a necessary way, but using it twice seems like she might have just thrown it in.


message 41: by Tomas (new)

Tomas | 16 comments Rachel wrote: "But that's why I dislike rape in fiction so much - it usually *is* shown as a crime of passion, not the oppressive act it really is."

I'm going to sound like a nitpicker - and I am one...

... In romance and generally "romance-like" novels, I think what you're saying is true; but I'm not so sure it's true about fiction in general. I think we have rape as a crime of passion in romances because the genre is about passion. Each genre has its own set of typical scenarios, and rape does not come up the same way in all of them.

(Example from a different genre: A Boy And His Tank has a scene where mass rape is being used as an instrument of terror in the middle of what is essentially a Yugoslavian civil war set in the far-future. As rape often is used in war; and I don't think that's particularly unusual for how rape shows up in military fiction.)

I dislike the idea that people enjoy fantasizing about being raped, especially when my apartment walls are too thin to filter out the awkward conversation following a woman trying to get her not-particularly-cooperative boyfriend to scratch that particular itch. I wish rape fantasies didn't sell romance books, but they do.

I very much agree with the position that authors ought to treat rape thoughtfully and wish they'd usually err on the side of omission if in doubt. I'm personally not a big fan of seeing rape in books that I'm reading; it's likely to rub me the wrong way, especially in a romance. It's one reason I much prefer Dime Store Magic over Bitten.


message 42: by Crissy (new)

Crissy Moss (crissymoss) new here and happened upon this thread..

As a writer then I would say yes, rape can be used as a plot device just like murder, adultly and death. I don't think it can be used well, though, by most authors.

Someone also mentioned that "rape is pictured as a crime of passion", and the truth is a lot of rapes in the real world are something like a crime of passion. Date rape being one of them.

I think the fact is simply that most people can not get into the mind set of a rapist. It isn't in our capacity to understand, so we equate it with the closest thing we can understand, which is "a crime of passion".

I actually have a story which has a date rape taking place, and of the hundreds of people who have read it, they all say I handled it very well. So it can be done.

And as a victim of abuse myself, I found it therapeutic to write the story. So I wouldn't ever discount a story that happens to have rape in it, or think badly of someone who can go no farther then "a crime of passion". Honestly, I find it comforting that people don't generally get into the head of a rapist and know why they commit those acts.


message 43: by T.S. (last edited Oct 11, 2013 06:51AM) (new)

T.S. Adrian (shadyia) | 163 comments Hello Crissy,

Your refreshing this topic could not come at a better time for me. I am writing a low-magic fantasy set in my own world, a parallel renascence age. I came to a point in my story--very reluctantly--where a character I love tortured and raped.

Please understand, I am mot the type of writer who can do this easily. I had to go into a very deep, dark corner of my psyche to summon the will to do it right.

About doing it right and adding to your topic, most published writers fail miserably when describing a rape scene. They either "fade to black":

She screamed as the men dragged her off.

Or they talk about it in some sort of matter-of-fact off hand way:

The bandits killed all the men, raped all the women, and sold the the children into slavery.

...which means little or nothing at all.

I hate this in writing. It sanitizes rape, puts it in a pill that can be swallowed and forgotten. I understand how hard it can be; a writer doesn't want to be accused of writing a scene like this just for shock value. But if s/he is going there, go all the way.

I wrote my scene from the victim's point of view. The rape was not done out of passion; it was done by religious fanatics to humiliate and subjugate a woman they despised. But I didn't pull my punches; I took the reader there and I sold a part of my soul in the process.

I should read back and see what other folks think on this topic.


message 44: by Eddie (new)

Eddie (eddielouise) | 117 comments Crissy;

Date Rape is NOT a crime of passion, it is one of EGO. Maybe one of obsession. Definitely one of entitlement. Just as anger must change into murderous rage before a 'crime of passion' causes death, passion (lust) must undergo the same type of alchemy to cross the bounds into rape.

So many victims of Date Rape, myself included, speak of that moment (his eyes changed, he stopped seeing me,etc) as the moment their man turned into their rapist. One of the ways we make excuses for it is to blame it on passion. And we confuse our boys with this as well, because they do not recognize themselves as out of control or they can easily externalize the problem (Well, if she hadn't incited such passion in me, I would not have raped her.) If everybody in our society, including our boys were taught that passion can be warped to rape the same way anger can be warped to murder, we might begin to lesson the terrifying statistics on Date Rape.

So as for writing these scenes: if you are writing a Date Rape scene - make sure you include the bit where the boyfriend changes to rapist - that moment where his passion is transformed from healthy to twisted, where the man morphs into the monster.


message 45: by Miya (new)

Miya (nursethalia) I'm actually really glad they decided to forgo the rape scene in the latest Laura Croft game. As if she wasn't already having a terrible enough time with random people trying to kill her left and right.


message 46: by T.S. (new)

T.S. Adrian (shadyia) | 163 comments I read people whining about that on various forums, but it fit. I played that all the way through two times. Those men followed a religious fanatic. I could see him taking a moral high ground against rape. Mathias would encourage the killing of an enemy, but sexual assault would be "wrong."


message 47: by Firstname (last edited Nov 02, 2013 07:53PM) (new)

Firstname Lastname | 68 comments Samantha wrote: "@Rachel & @Eddie! Woot problem fixed!

This clues me back to the OP article wherein the author is exploring a child coming from rape. Such things are very rare "irl" as ejaculation rarely happens ..."


Shades of Todd Aikin. Do you have any studies of same to prop up this assertion?


message 48: by Firstname (new)

Firstname Lastname | 68 comments Raphael wrote: "I could never get into "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" because of the rape. It bothered me on many different levels not the least of which was it being portrayed as a crime of lust."

More than once.


message 49: by Corrina (new)

Corrina Lawson | 54 comments Fascinating discussion. The problem of rape used as a plot device especially in mainstream comics (as I'm a comic geek) has troubled me for a long time. After the latest comments by Mark Millar, the author of the Kick-Ass comic, who used a gang rape as a plot device to show how bad the villain is, I wrote this column for GeekMom:
http://geekmom.com/2013/08/cliffs-ins...

Basically, I don't think having someone happen to someone *else* is the worst thing that can happen to a male protagonist. The worst thing that can happen to a male protagonist is to be raped himself--yet this plot device has been very rarely used in comics presumably because it makes male readers wince. We might see Dr. Light rape Sue Dibny (wife of Elongated Man) but we're not going to see Dr. Light rape Batman. When something happens consistently to female characters but never male characters and those female characters are supporting characters whose trauma is used to motivate the male character, that's a poor and lazy use of rape as a plot device.

That's not saying rape should never be part of a woman's story. Given how prevalent it is and how much women in general have to be concerned about it, it's unavoidable and needs to be explored at times in fiction. But it should be the story of the rape victim, not her boyfriend.

There's a male rape in Outlander, which I won't talk about more fully, but the recovery of that character is definitely about him and his story. There is also male and female rape in the Starz Spartacus series (which I highly recommend) and somehow having both genders subject to the same concerns makes it less exploitive.


message 50: by Firstname (new)

Firstname Lastname | 68 comments Corrina wrote: "There is also male and female rape in the Starz Spartacus series (which I highly recommend) and somehow having both genders subject to the same concerns makes it less exploitive. "

Or...something. I am still amazed by what Starz let them show in Spartacus. Just incredibly well done.


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