Let us dispense with euphemisms and call a spade a spade.
I won’t call it forced seduction. Or deflowering. Or taking advantage. Or inappropriate behaviour. Or worse, having sex. Or…any other term people invent so as to avoid to use the r word at any cost. It doesn’t sound pleasant, does it? Well, it’s RAPE with capital, bold letters. And it sounds exactly the way it’s supposed to: criminal, sick, freakish, monstrous.
The mere sound of it should produce a visceral reaction. And if it doesn’t, we should be greatly alarmed.
I won’t pass into the legal territory of all the details of what constitutes rape. We know what it is: a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out without the person’s valid consent due to various reasons (either because one is blackmailed or coerced or afraid or incapacitated or physically…
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It’s hard to root for a romance if you don’t care about the characters. We generally sympathize with the main character (“MC”). But that’s not always so for the MC’s romantic interest (the “RI,” let’s say). What happens when we don’t like the person the MC’s supposed to be interested in?
There’s a variety of types of problematic lovers, and sometimes a particular type is called for by the nature of the plot. Let’s look at a few.
The Friendly Enemy
There’s an entire category of plotline in which the eventually happy couple start out at odds with each other. TV Tropes captions this “Belligerent Sexual Tension,” and has a splendid list of examples. They range from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with the feuding Beatrice and Benedick (here’s the Tropes page) through F&SF examples like Leia and Han in The Empire Strikes Back, Kim Kinnison…
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