Archive for February 23rd, 2011

23rd February
2011
written by Steph

Just say no?

We all know by now that I fell in love with Deborah Harkness's magical reading sensation A Discovery of Witches when I read it a few months back. After finishing that book, I was struck with curiosity regarding another series I have long known existed but was never really had any interest in. That series is the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. To me these books seemed like big romance novels not really meant for serious readers, but after legitimately enjoying the romance between the two leads in Witches, I got to thinking, what's so bad about having a little romance in the books that I read? I don't want to make a steady diet of romance-heavy books, but I have nothing against them in principle. So you'd think that I'd just dive into Outlander and see what all the fuss is about. I even went so far as to borrow an ebook version of it from my local library. But I'm hesitating and here's why: from what I've read, I know that this book will have scenes involving gratuitous sex. And I'm not a prude, I've experience plenty of people getting it on in the pages of books I've read, though we all remember that I was less than impressed by the so-called sexiness of the Sookie Stackhouse books whose primary m.o. is to titillate. But reading people rubbing their bits on each other isn't really what's holding me back. No, instead I'm worried because I know that these books will involve not just sex, but graphic depictions of rape. And I don't need to tell you (but I will) that the idea of rape is as far from sexy as I can get. Again, I've read books (and seen movies) that involve rape scenes, but it's always been clear in those scenes that these are a violation of the body and spirit. I am concerned that the way rape is depicted in Outlander may not be quite so clear-cut, but that perhaps we are meant to find it a bit of a turn on. I know there are some women who have rape fantasies, and I don't want to judge, but I am clearly not one of them. I don't think there's anything sexy or exciting about non-consensual physical relations or mixing sex with abuse or degradation. My understanding is that there may be both male and female rape scenes in the first book, and my concern is largely with the latter, though I admit that the former is certainly troubling in its own right. So I guess what I'm asking is for those of you have read these books to chime in and let me know what you thought when reading them. I am ok with them being escapist romps, but I truly feel anxious about the idea of getting invested in a story (I mean, Outlander is like 700 pages or something) that goes to a scary psychological place where forced sexual encounters are condoned or even considered arousing. I could of course venture forth myself and make my own proclamations, but I am feeling reluctant and want to gather some more opinions. So, if you have any thoughts on this series at all, please share them!