This is a rant. Also TW - rape, violently internalized misogyny
So full disclosure - I don’t read Outlander. Historical romance is not my thing. However, I know she’s famous for writing romance. And I wanted some books on how to write better sex scenes, and she has a short novel (more like a paper) on Amazon for 2.99. So I thought I’d give it a shot.
The first few chapters were ok. I’m not a pro writer obviously, so the small details in the book were good. Stuff like “describe a scene by at least three different senses” is useful to me. I’ve probably read that before, but sometimes you need to hear something more than once for it to click, you know?
She put a ton of examples of her own writing in the book. At first it didn’t bug me, because again she’s a famous romance writer. But most other writing books I’ve read pull examples from multiple sources. Hers didn’t, and it should have been my 1st red flag.
Oh, and the initial sex scenes she used to demonstrate concepts were ...gross. I couldn’t get over the accents, or the condescendingly alpha males and her so-called “smart” female characters. I chalked it up to a difference in sexual tastes, but it should have been red flag #2.
I got half way through the little book, and suddenly she just start s writing about rape scenes. BTW, she calls them “nasty sex.” As if it’s just super kinky or something. Red flag #3. She’s not writing about consensual rape fantasies, it’s full on rape. Meant to be painful and humiliating. I found it jarring, and at that point I wasn’t getting many good tips out of the book. One because there just weren’t any by then, and two because I have a real hard time reading rape scenes.
I kept waiting for the book to get back to consensual stuff, because that’s what I was there for, and it never came. It was just more and more rape.
I finally rage quit the book when she described this virgin girl getting raped by a pirate. But that wasn’t even the worst part! After that horrible scene she unsuccessfully tried to make a writing lesson out of it. She immediately transitions into this other scene with that same girl and some man. But now the girl is pregnant, as a result of the rape. And she wants to murder the pirate who raped her. I guess she’s hiring this new man to do it? Who the fuck knows. She barely gives any background info before these huge scenes. Red flag #4 - she probably expected the people who read this to be adoring fans who already know all her stories.
Anyway, during the conversation this rape victim goes through the typical victim mentality. She says she could have fought back harder, and perhaps avoided being raped. So, how does the man she tells this to react? He agrees with her. Then he goads her by saying she probably wanted it. He goes into the classic ‘a lot of women lie about rape’ shit. He asks her if she’s lying. If this pirate just dumped her and now she wants revenge. This pisses her off, obviously, so she attempts to smack him. Him being a condescending alpha male, he effortlessly stops it by grabbing her tiny female wrists. And then he pretty much beats her down. It’s several paragraphs about him beating and choking this pregnant woman. At the end he’s whispering in her ear about how it’d be easy for him to rape her as well.
Anyway - turns out that was his way of “demonstrating” to her that it’s not her fault, and that she probably couldn’t have fought him off. Cause men are stronger than women. No shit. She makes a comment like “you could have just said that.” Imo, that’s not the character. The female character does say that, but that’s really Diana justifying this bullshit to the reader. After that it cuts back to the “lesson.” And the entire thing explains (again) why it was necessary for him to beat up this pregnant rape victim. It’s honestly quite disgusting.
So that’s when I rage quit the book. And requested a return on Amazon. I was more than half way through it so I don’t know if I’ll get it, but it let me submit the request. It asked for a reason, and the list gave me an “offensive content” option so I selected that without thinking. It’s a book about writing sex scenes, and I wanted to return it for offensive content. I know how that looks. But it’s not the sex, it’s the rape and rape justification that I found offensive.
After that I looked up this author and some reviews. Not surprisingly, a common critique of her is that she’s misogynistic. She definitely is. Again, didn’t read outlander. But I saw fans (women and men) defending her with the typical bullshit - “it’s historically accurate”, “don’t take it so seriously, ”“Diana had to write that because of reasons!” Whatever.
Here’s the thing about women like Diana, and women who tend to enjoy this. Cause all this is nothing new to me. I’ve been raging over this kind of stuff ever since I first encountered it in fanfic at age 12. These women not only rape and abuse women in fiction, but they further torture them for being abused. Like that girl - it wasn’t enough that she was raped and got pregnant. She needed a man to further humiliate and degrade her. Consensual sex aside, that’s what truly arouses women like Diana. But she can’t even be open about that. Gorean subculture exists, after all. No, she has to try and normalize it. And make excuses for it. And anyone who dares call it out is being “overly sensitive”, and not a Cool Girl like her.
Sorry for the long-winded rant. I just rage quit that shit and I had to write about it. It’s 2am and I’m going to pound a shot and try to sleep. Ugh. As I was reading her bullshit justification I was literally shaking with rage. Damn it. I really didn’t expect this! I was looking for a book on how to write SEX scenes better. To me that automatically means consensual, but some women these days are too “cool” for that, I guess. If any of you have any recs, I’d appreciate it.
Also sorry for spelling and grammar errors. Again...well, it’s 2:30am now. Damn it.