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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Clothes off!

Essay on:
Red and Wolf
Cindy Eller
BBW Shifter: I Shifted and She Liked it
Stranded with the Wolf
Bought by the Billion bear
Jinn of Lust
Beardly Sane
Wet for Nessie
And other kindle freebie erotic short stories


Of the books, short stories really, featured above I only managed to finish one. That would be Stranded with the Wolf because it actually put some effort into developing characters. Yet, they all have something in common. Even if the book itself doesn't advertise it (and some do), all the books seem to have this idea of an "alpha" in common. Now, if you read regular urban fantasy, you will be thinking that means like a leader of a pack. Well, in these types of books, it does and it doesn't. 

An alpha apparently means a boss man who is one step removed from being a rapist (at least in the legal sense) and overcomes the woman. It isn't seduction at all. It isn't erotic, at least by my definition.

I know fantasies are fantasies. That what one dreams or imagines doing (or even does in play) isn't the same as really, actually doing it. But I have also read enough theory (feminist and otherwise) that argues (and does so very well), that rape fantasies are not so much about the woman's desires but about the man's or what a man tells (thinks, believes) a woman desires. Reading these, even the one I finished, it's hard not to agree with that.  It's hard not to think of "grab them by the pussy".

Before I go on, I should point out that in one area many of the books stand out and that is in the use of curvy heroines, and in a few cases overweight heroines (not on the covers, however). While this does becomes slightly problematic in terms of a "message" (such girls only get this type of guy), it does make a nice change. Additionally, there is, in some of the stories, a feeling of fanfiction or Mary Sue. In other words, the author is playing with an idea they wish another work had used or done. Furthermore, the ones featured here, while not having the best writing and being somewhat dull (or more telling than showing) do not have the glaring errors in word usage and basic grammar that many others do. There was some level editing beyond using Spellcheck. In very few cases, the basic editing was better than that of 50 Shades.

But the Alpha idea is quite frankly disturbing. I know it's smut, but still. I mean there is smut that doesn't use it the same way (I know because I've read some). Even the ones with bear and cat (solitary non-pack animals) shifters are about the alpha and the search for the mate. For the mate, all the guy has to do is smell the girl (and in most cases the girl is far younger than the man. The one where she wasn't, she was written as if she was). Furthermore, in all of the books, the man is in a position of power over the girl (and yes I am using girl not woman for a reason). This is true even of the one book where she hires him. There is something off about such complete domination. While the idea of a man recognizing a woman's true beauty regardless of body type is wonderful, this is undermined slightly by the fact that it is because of her smell, because of fate. In other words, he is moved by biology more than anything else.  The story is more about his fulfilling his fate or biology.  The women in these stories are not affected in quite the same way, just the man.  This drive to mate is the Alpha’s excuse for acting the way he does.  The story isn’t love and quite frankly it seems more of a story of possession instead of mutual lust.

The heroine is the vessel that he must take and protect from other shifters or magical beings who want her.

But okay, it's smut and we don't really want a plot that makes sense or good world building. Perhaps, but the domination thing is the problem. It isn't just superiority in the sense of his money, his intelligence, his magical shifting, but also in his mental toughness and his wants. At no point in any of these books did I get the sense that if the girl said no, the man would back off. In fact, in "Red and the Wolf" she has been groomed for him. We should just be glad he waited until she graduated college before he made the moves on her. Not that there were that many moves before huffing and puffing. The books aren't about a woman's desire and her sexuality but about a girl (regardless of age) who is being dominated by a man because that is what happens. Even when reading the "erotic" senses, and despite the mentioning of the girl's moans and screams in organism, it still seems to be about the man. The girls are always very tight, even if they aren't virgins (and isn't that disturbing for another reason) and more detail is given to his being pleasured than hers. In all the books here, the girl never, ever has any control over anything - not over what she eats, what she wears, who she loves - SHE HAS NO CONTROL.

The idea of girl with a man is something that runs through a great many of these freebie books.  It is even the virginity.  There is a tendency to have a shaved vagina, as if a natural woman isn’t enough.  I don’t know if various experts are correct when they link the shaving as a desire to have the female porn star more closely resemble a girl, but the idea is enough to freak me out.  In many of these freebie stories, even if the hero is older in terms of a years, she acts like a young girl, as teen.  In other stories, she might act young, but her age is young.  It is not uncommon in these stories for the heroine to be a doctor or well established in her career, one that many times requires a few years, yet she will be mid-twenties at the oldest.  In other stories, she is just in college, usually a freshmen or sophomore.  In most, she is less experienced than the hero.  In many, she works for him.
               
The question, I guess I am asking is how come so many of these types of “romance” novels are proper.  Why the domination, why the alpha, why the man’s desire being central to the story (his fate).  Usually the hero is also the more active, and if the woman is she meets the man she wants babies. 

It’s true that these stories are designed for the reading pleasure or a quick buck.  And this is true.  Yet, we see the trend in those books published by big named publishing houses as well.  50 Shades anyone?  And the politics in the stories, do seem to be played out in the news.  It isn’t just Trump.  There have been cases where the unconscious women are seen to have given consent because she didn’t say no, or at least that is how the rapists claim they see it.  The effect of the case on the rapist is given more weight than on his victim, especially if he is a sports star.  A woman’s dress and behavior is questioned.  Her sexual history is put on trial, not his.  Her motives are called into question. 

And yet, there are hundreds of these books were the hero engages in behavior that should at the very least get him smacked if not arrested.  There are a great many movies. There are photo spreads for GQ.


 There are ads like the one below:


or




How sad is it that the trend is re-enforced by fiction that is supposedly for women?


Though I have always thought it was fiction more for men so women could be brainwashed into having sex the way men want.

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