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Old 21st January 2013, 05:04 PM   #76 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

Coming back to the original post, I have to admit I haven't read many books with rape as a major event, but I get the impression that the blog linked to is talking about contemporary-set fantasy (UF? YA?) and a rape that affects the protagonist, not something like GRRM where the rape is often a side-event and just one symptom of the brutalising effects of war*.

There's a certain (deluded) mindset that if you want to create a "kickass" female character, a good way to establish motivation towards violence is to have her be a rape victim. This trope is sloppy unimaginative writing, not to mention horribly disrespectful towards real victims of such violence. There are also writers who seem to think that the only way to put a female character in peril is to have her raped or threatened with rape - as if violence towards women can only ever be expressed sexually.

* Not that I enjoy GRRM harping on about rape either, but it's a very different use of the subject
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Old 21st January 2013, 05:39 PM   #77 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

I've just skimmed through a lot of the posts, but not all. So if this has been covered already.....

There is another kind of fantasy rape fiction that was much more common a couple decades ago than today. That of the strong, usually warrior woman, constantly being overpowered by stronger men who "have their way". And although she is always an unwilling participant, her body "betrays" her and she loses herself into the experience.

The character is never maimed mentally by these events. She just gets up, dusts herself off and continues with her adventure until the next assault. And so on, and so on.

Anyone who has read Sharon Green's older books knows what I am talking about. As a side note, I always found it interesting that it was a woman writing these rape fantasies for men.

Then there are the infamous Gor novels where "real" women cannot help having their sexual desires aroused when confronted by a Gorian warrior. One who knows what women really want.

These rape fantasy books could not be further from reality. But judging by the number written, they were quite popular, mostly, I imagine, amongst young men who hadn't a clue how to interact with a flesh and blood member of the opposite sex.
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Old 21st January 2013, 05:50 PM   #78 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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I have not read your scene, so it is a bit hard for me to tell.
I'm not going to post it here, so it will remain unjudged unless I manage to get the novel published, in which case I will point everyone in the right direction.

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Originally Posted by Darth Angelus View Post
I would guess the aftermath of the event would be even harder to portray than the scene itself, though. I think that is where the greatest challenge would be, but I could be wrong.
In the immediate aftermath, she is violently sick, but I guess you mean the long-term affect. I've tried to show that the rape and other events have contributed to make a stronger person than she would otherwise have been.

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I think if you have had beta feedback that's thoughtful hopefully you can rely on that, and that is wasn't gratuitous. The fact you are still worrying about it is another sign that it was a considered piece, i worry about my scenes all the time, but am reassured by beta reaction to them.
Thanks, Springs, that's encouraging.
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Old 21st January 2013, 06:34 PM   #79 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

Interesting how many of this list's 'manly fantasy novels' seem to involve rape - anyone who's read these, any comments?

http://io9.com/5977682/11-prepostero...antasy-series?
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Old 21st January 2013, 06:39 PM   #80 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

I've read Lord of the Rings, does that help?
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Old 21st January 2013, 06:54 PM   #81 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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Originally Posted by Anne Lyle View Post
Coming back to the original post, I have to admit I haven't read many books with rape as a major event, but I get the impression that the blog linked to is talking about contemporary-set fantasy (UF? YA?) and a rape that affects the protagonist, not something like GRRM where the rape is often a side-event and just one symptom of the brutalising effects of war*.
I've (unfortunately) read way too much - while I've used it (well, implied it - it's never outright stated what happened to her in the past) once out of all my many characters, for some writers it seems like the only way a woman can be motivated to kcik butt or be strong... I hesitate to say they may have other reasons to include it, but if all your females end up that way....well, it's going to look odd. At best. Especially if you go into glorious technicolour detail about it, but your consensual sex scenes of the victim afterwards (which should be just as important characterwise if she is recovering from her experiences with the Hero) are all coy and 'Oh, boobie!' followed by a fade to black*.

A UF author (can't recall which off the top of my head, I'll try to find out) recently said she was asked when - not IF, WHEN - her female protag would get raped in the series, because, well, it was a given, right? That just boggles my mind....



*Let's not get me started on the Hero who can instantly cure a woman of her rape experience with his manly manly man love. Ugh.
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Old 21st January 2013, 06:57 PM   #82 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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I've read Lord of the Rings, does that help?
Lotsa rape in that one...
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:00 PM   #83 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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Lotsa rape in that one...
Like uh... Saruman's rape on... the environment?
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:04 PM   #84 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

Just looking at the first two examples, the Gor series and the Conan series: the first sounds downright awful and the second is a series of adventures** set in a non-technological world.

It strikes me that while the Conan stories are not antediluvian, except with regards to their setting, those Gor stories sound as if they are, and so are not manly under any modern definition. (What's manly about rape, bullying and persecution?)




** - As it happens, I've read the book, The Complete Chronicles of Conan.
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:11 PM   #85 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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Originally Posted by Kissmequick View Post
Especially if you go into glorious technicolour detail about it, but your consensual sex scenes of the victim afterwards (which should be just as important characterwise if she is recovering from her experiences with the Hero) are all coy and 'Oh, boobie!' followed by a fade to black*.
This. Very much this.

One of the reasons I write on-the-page sex scenes rather than fade-to-black is I think the genre needs more (non-graphic) consensual sex, as a balance

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A UF author (can't recall which off the top of my head, I'll try to find out) recently said she was asked when - not IF, WHEN - her female protag would get raped in the series, because, well, it was a given, right? That just boggles my mind....
It was Seanan McGuire - I remember the blog post very clearly. And yes...WTF? This is painfully indicative of the prevalence of rape as a trope in urban fantasy.

Epic fantasy - and modern swords'n'sorcery - is mostly pretty tame by comparison, thank goodness.
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:17 PM   #86 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

I've read a couple of Gor books (including the marvellous Slave Girl of Gor), I think I read some of the Sword of Truth and the first 6 or so of The Wheel of Time, I read and loved with complete passion the first three books of the Drenai series. I've read most of the Thomas Covenants and, obviously, The Lord of the Rings.

I don't have a problem with "manly" fantasy. Legend was one of my favourite books (though I haven't read it for years so it may not be as wonderful as I remember), I thought Abercrombie's first trilogy was pretty manly as well.

The icky thing about the Gor books is the theme that all women (except those who are weird in some way) want to be controlled by powerful men who can dominate them physically, chain them up and make all the decisions so the women don't need to bother their pretty little heads about difficult things like, you know, thinking. I haven't read Fifty Shades but I sometimes wonder how different it is.

One thing I have to say in defence of the Gor books (and that's a phrase I never expected to write) is that they're so plainly ridiculous male wish fullfilment, harking back to a (non-existent) time when women knew their place, that they can't be taken seriously.

(EDIT: and just to be completely clear, I don't think all men fantasise about this sort of thing and I'm sure some women do).

Last edited by Hex; 21st January 2013 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:30 PM   #87 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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Originally Posted by allmywires View Post
Interesting how many of this list's 'manly fantasy novels' seem to involve rape - anyone who's read these, any comments?
Seems more a complaint about lack of female presence in "classic" fantasy.

Apparently, the romance genre has far more problems, with rape tropes as established:
http://dearauthor.com/features/lette...nt-in-romance/
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:37 PM   #88 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

(A little warning. Trying not to keep this graphic, but... subject matter *shrug*.)

My thoughts. Probably unpopular ones. Through my work, I've been around a lot of women who've been raped. Most of them, in conversation, treat it very casually. It happened, they accepted it, they moved on with their lives. How quickly depended on several factors including how severe/violent their circumstances were.

In my own experience, rape is not the worst thing that can be done to a person, especially nonviolent rape. If someone you know just pins you down and has their way with you, and you've already been through hell and back, I at least found myself internally sighing and thinking, "This is very rude, right here. Now I'm going to need to get STD testing. And I'm going to need to get the plan B pill so I don't get pregnant..."

I didn't even bother to tell anyone about it, not because I was ashamed, but because I just didn't consider it to be a rape. Yeah, I was pinned down and hurt so bad I screamed a lot and went to that nice happy place I go when I'm in loads of pain.

But, I don't consider myself scarred or ruined by it. I remember some time afterward, I told someone about this really rude thing a guy did on a date, and they informed me that I'd been raped. There was a moment where that horror crept up, the idea that women who are raped are supposed to be scarred for life and all that. And then I dismissed it, because, honestly, there are so many worse things that have happened to me.

It's been five years now, and if one you tells me you're sorry about what happened to me, I'm going to laugh at you and tell you you missed the whole point.

As a writer, think about your characters. Rape affects each individual differently. If they're already a hardened badass, they're gonna be pissed, but might be just fine. If they're a sweet, innocent virgin, they're gonna be pretty shaken up about it, possibly suicidal. But maybe they're a sweet, innocent virgin with a lion's share of bravery. Who knows? Maybe it's a hardened badass, but he/she gets the crap beaten out of him/her and needs to be hospitalized due of the extent of the damage. PTSD special.

The thing I see many times when authors/readers approach rape, is their tendency to assume it can only be done one way. If the rape you read doesn't match your own experience or the experience of your friend, or what you read in a textbook once, it's possible the author wasn't researching very much, but it's equally possible their character was just a completely different person living in completely different circumstances than your friend or the textbook case you read once.

(I apologize if this post angers anyone. It was not intended.)
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:40 PM   #89 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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Anyhow, the thread issue is about the prevalence of rape in fantasy -- but is it also prevalent in SF does anyone know?
I've not read enough SF fiction to know of any cases, but there is a movie that comes to mind. Gamer. VR games has pretty much taken over the world, but instead of controlling imaginary characters, the players control real people who are put in the game as characters because of debts or criminal charges and such. One such person is a woman who is controlled by a man and forced to do sexual acts against her will.

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Also, I wonder why rape is so easily used in fiction -- does it have to do with the belief that it's the worst thing that can happen to a woman? or is it to do with a truly pure woman obviously not wanting to have sex, ever, so one way to keep her "pure" in the author's eyes is to have her raped (that's so twisted), or is it actually supposed to be sexual fantasy (which is significantly worse)?
I'm afraid there is actually people who write stories about rape because of sexual fantasy... ugh... for statistical purposes, just did a count of the number of stories posted on a popular site for posting up erotic fiction, and there were 4000 stories about rape as a sexual fantasy, 8 posted today alone. That's really disturbing.

But for most cases I suspect it's like guys mentioning breasts to tell the reader that the character is female - I know, guilty - and suspect it most likely is more to do with them wanting something terrible to happen to the character and rape just happens to be the thing that quickly comes to mind, just like breasts quickly come to mind when describing a female character.

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Plus, I also wonder how much authors investigate violence and the effects of war on people -- really research rather than just imagine it.

AND would having a story about real war actually be one you'd want to read?
Yes and no. Isn't there a trend for people to want more believable stories? So if making it more believable means making it feel like a real war... then those things are going to happen. I don't think people - or at least most people - want to read about rape but considering it was so prevalent, then if the author is writing historical fiction, or at least in a world that is based on a country from reality, then to make it realistic they might think they are obligated to include it for the sake of realism. I'm sure this is the case for GRRM.

In regards to if they research it or not... no idea.

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I read the scene at a writers' group and a book club and the reaction was overwhelming positive, but feel free to tell me I shouldn't have included all the detail.
It's really subjective. I don't think you shouldn't have included it, as long as it accurately represents the situation and is dealt with properly.

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Originally Posted by Gordian Knot View Post
There is another kind of fantasy rape fiction that was much more common a couple decades ago than today. That of the strong, usually warrior woman, constantly being overpowered by stronger men who "have their way". And although she is always an unwilling participant, her body "betrays" her and she loses herself into the experience.
As you labelled them, those are sexual fantasy, deliberately written for titillation and arousal. I find them highly disturbing, as it says a lot about the author, reading those books. And yes, it's scary how many novels that have rape with no emotional consequences are written by women, so it's not just men who have issues with writing about rape.

Last edited by Warren_Paul; 21st January 2013 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:46 PM   #90 (permalink)
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Re: Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels

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...rape is not the worst thing that can be done to a person...
I'd agree with that. I can't remember who said it here (sorry) that it'd be worse to be raped than lose a parent. Just... no.

And I've said it before on this thread, probably more than once, but every person is different.
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