Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is it Alpha Behavior or Abuse? by Vonnie Davis

I am a romance writer and I love my job.

I also love my heroines--spunky, plucky, intelligent women who discover they're stronger than they imagined. They turn life's adversities into advantages. And as the saying goes, they don't need a man's bull because they've sold the cow.

I also love alpha heroes. Love their confidence, their sexy swagger, their need to protect and, yes, to conquer.

But I'm seeing a trend in our alpha males and it bothers me.

It also bothered another woman who approached me in a restaurant last night. She bore a sheepish expression as she whispered, "I cheated on you."

I laughed. "You did? Who did you read?"

She told me the author's name and the title of the romance--and it was not one of the Fifty Shades books. "I could only read a chapter and a half. It was about a rich man and a younger woman and his need to possess her. I got this creepy feeling that this wasn't going to be a healthy romance, but a story about possession. With domestic violence so rampant, why would romance writers write about possession and glorify it, when in real life it so often leads to abuse?"

I thought of my current WIP and winced a tad. Was my alpha coming on a little too strong?

She continued to tell me she returned the book to the brick and mortar store and demanded her money back. Oh yeah, she was irate! Her hand on her hip, she leaned in. "Why would romance writers write about the kind of male behaviour we women fought so hard to get away from? I mean the whole book was about male domination. What woman in her right mind wants to put up with that? What about our independence? Our ability to take care of ourselves?"

She had a point.

I've been doing a lot of reflection since our conversation. I went to Amazon and read reviews on this book. Many called it hawt--better than Fifty Shades. Others felt the same way as the lady in the restaurant, that it was a story of a rich guy's need to dominate the young woman he'd fantasized about for years--his best friend's baby sister.

So, I wondered. Was it the younger generation who reviewed it in a favorable light? Were those who couldn't handle this alpha's behavior of an older generation who had encountered their fair share of male dominance in the work force and did NOT want it to sift into their beloved romances. What?
 
Has the Fifty Shades mania changed how we want our heroes?

Are women willing to put up with verbal abuse in thier search for a man who will take care of them, cater to their every need and then seduce them to supply the ultimate orgasm? Are we crossing the unhealthy line from alpha behavior into abusive men--and can such men be classified as heroes?

What are your thoughts?

59 comments:

Beth Trissel said...

Great post, Vonnie! I agree. We need to rethink what romance truly is. And isn't.

Victoria Adams said...

Completely agree. A man can be a alpha but doesn't need to be brutal or possessive.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I'm glad you stopped by, Beth, because I love your romances. You write strong heroes, yet there is that strong romantic element. My assessment wouldn't be so strong had I not recently read a NYT's best selling romance with the same kind of trope. Only this time, it had been the hero's sister's best friend. He was very domineering and possessive. It didn't sit well with this ol' woman's libber. I kept asking would I want this guy for my daughter??? And kept shaking my head. No, I wouldn't.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Victoria, thanks for stopping by. I love my alphas, but I especially love them when there's a gooey chocolate center to their hard-core exterior.

lisekimhorton said...

Sorry, ladies, and Vonnie, but I have to respectfully disagree with the entire assumption, which is quite incorrect, that BDSM and Dominance and submission lead to domineering men abusing women. That's not at all what BDSM is, in fact violence is what they try very hard to protect the members of the kinky community from, including with their "safe, sane and consenual" philosophy. The lifestyle is not about women being abused or ordered around against their will. It is about a power exchange in which the submissive partner gives their consent to whatever level of Dominance and submission may occur. I know which book you are speaking of, having just read it, and enjoyed it quite a lot. I can certainly understand that the taste in heroes differs from reader to reader, and writer, to writer, which is a great thing for all romance readers because we'll all be able to enjoy what we want. But I also urge folks who are unfamiliar with the lifestyle not to lump practitioners of it, or fans of romance novels about it, in with spousal abusers and outdated misogynistic philosophies. We're not about being "the little woman" who has no bank account, no job, and relys on a man for permission and sustenance. I'm a smart, middle-aged, long-time feminist and can still be a submissive person in a relationship with the right dominant man - as can my heroines and the heroines in romances that I read.

Joanne Stewart said...

You know, I loved Fifty Shades, but more from a psychological perspective. I'm a sucker for watching a woman heal a man with great wounds. But there was a lot in that book that bothered me. I hate, HATE alpha males because of how they're conveyed these days. I call them "Alpha jerks", because that's what they are--they're jerks. How on earth can you consider that sexy? And why on earth would a woman put up with that? I'll even admit that I enjoy a BDSM romance every once in a while, just because the dynamic is so different. But ONLY when the "play" is mutual and it doesn't cross any lines. There are many books that cross the line. I read a harlequin novel where the hero treated the heroine with complete disrespect...and she let him. I put the book down. Okay, actually, I hurled it across the room. lol

So, I agree. I write the type of hero I prefer to read. He's usually got alpha tendencies, but by and large, he's a nice guy who treats his women with respect. I don't want to fantastize about a man who can't treat women with respect. I do think that puts out the wrong message. And you know, it's okay to fantasize, but even there, you have to be careful about crossing a line.

My 10 cents. Sorry, V. You hit a topic I'm a bit passionate about. lol

Nancy S. Goodman said...

I agree with you Vonnie. I think when a BDSM novel is written well, however, the difference between that and true abuse would come through. After all, the novel is about the love that the man and woman share. If they choose to express it this way, more power to them. It is when the abuse would extend outside the bedroom that my hackles would rise, such as his refusing to allow her to do things-have friends, a job, or violence. Simply hitting someone or dominating them in every aspect of their lives isn't the same thing, as I see it. Great post. I tweeted.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Lisekim, thanks for voicing a different perspective. I enjoy reading BDSM, too. The philosophy is so different than the vanila lifestyle. I can handle that. What I can't handle is the man who has no respect for his love/mate/significant other by inflicting his will upon her or him. We all have a need, a right to have our partner's respect and kindness. I don't always see that in our newer romances. And I'm sorry if my questions and remarks offend anyone. I'm just trying to understand this emerging trend. Is this where the market is heading?

Kathy Otten said...

Interesting post, Vonnie. I have wondered the same thing. Thinking back, I remember the old Harlequin Presents, where an older, rich, dominating alpha man went for the stupid, virginal girl. Readers eventually no longer wanted those kinds of heroines, or heroes. Part of me thinks it has cycled back around, part of me wonders if the readers reading about these controlling, verbally abusive haven't actually been touched by abuse in their lives and it's a glimpse into another life? I don't know. I do know that actual BDSM is based on trust and it is two consulting adults. I'm not sure how much of that is being conveyed in the stories based on these types of relationships. Hopefully, it's a fad, and readers will come back to my slow talking, hard working, beta cowboys. :)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I love a good BDSM romance, too, Joanne. I also love alphas with a soft core beneath that hardened exterior. I have an alpha son who dotes on his wife, adores her...and I've seen her rear back and tell him off when he's being too bossy or jerky...lol...it's a lovely sight to see. Being an jerk in any situation is never acceptable. Thanks for your comments. Woot! I opened a can of worms with this one, didn't I???

Joanne Stewart said...

By the way, V, a really good BSDM I read recently that I thought was done really well...The Reluctant Dom, by Tymber Dalton. It's a menage (blushing!), but with a heart-wrenching twist (I cried buckets) and the BDSM was handled respectively.

haha. Yup, you open a BIG can with this one. Good on you for being brave! By the way, my husband is an alpha with a squishy middle, too. ;)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for the tweet, Nancy, and for sharing your thoughts. Power play exists in any relationship. In my marriage, we often fuss at each other over that very thing. I sometimes feel Calvin is too opionated about what I do...and he feels I don't show him enough respect as a man. We yell, we talk and we hug...and grow a little closer for it. I adore him. He dotes on me. But sometimes we get off-track as all married couples do. But I never have to worry about abuse. I've lived that life. I won't go back to it. Perhaps that's why this topic hits so close to home for me. Are we romancing the bossy male who might prove to be abusive? We all know it starts gently and then escalates.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I remember those books, Kathy. I also struggled with how a man could be verbally abusive for eighty percent of the book and then suddenly be loving. I kept thinking "don't fall for his act. You know how he treated you all this time. He'll only revert once he has that ring on your finger. Run, girl, run!!!"

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for the tip, Joanne, I just downloaded it.

Vivien Jackson said...

It's the fantasy. Us gals have to be so confident, in charge, in control all the time. We owe it to our gender heritage, right? So after the work day is done, the kids are in bed and the laundry is sorted, we get into a bubble bath and crack open a book (mmm, new book smell), and we don't want to read about women who are confident, in charge, in control. Been there. All day, damn it. We want to fantasize about a perfect protector taking care of us, allowing us five precious minutes of *not* having to make decisions. Bliss. Fantasy doesn't have to track to reality, and in fact probably shouldn't.

Karyn Good said...

I have no problem with BDSM or any story involving a physical relationship that is discussed and agreed upon by the participants. BUT I do have a problem with alpha behavior that is really code for abuse or victim shaming or supports rape culture. And that can happen in any kind of story. I just finished reading a book (because I paid for it and surely it had to get better because it was highly recommended) in which the hero, desperate to get out of jail, kidnaps and terrorizes the heroine to make this happen. Supported by the fact he's called an anti-hero. Never okay. Or the tropey bar scene in which the heroine is working late because she's desperate and the only job she can find is swilling drinks in a pirate costume. The hero gets madder and madder because OMG all these guys are flirting with her and touching her. What does he do? He waits until everyone leaves and takes his anger out on her. THEN it turns into a sexy kiss scene. No. Not sexy. Not cool. No more angry kiss scenes. Ever. So yes, I absolutely agree there are alpha lines being crossed. I've come to hate the words gritty and realistic because they're so often code for douchebag behavior. Because being an alpha male is about honor, integrity, loyalty. It's about a code of conduct that supports equality. It's about doing what's right.

Oops, that turned into kind of a rant...but now I've gotten it off my chest I feel better :D

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

OMG, Vivien, you've made me stop and think about that. Yes, I get what you're saying. As a single parent of 3 kids, working 2 jobs, there were moments I wanted a male to take care of me and all the problems of life. The kids are grown now. I've survived that energy-zapping period of my life. Ok, so I can see a female's desire to be taken care of when she's so tired of taking care of everyone else. But we still have the domineering, verbally abusive male to contend with...hmmm. Thanks so much for expressing that thought.

t_mcclinton85 said...

I have heard about this a lot lately. I write young adult paranormal romance and this topic has come up even in that genre. many women have spoke about the series where the hero tends to treat the heroine with disconcern and disrespect a lot through the series. I loved the series but I saw what the readers were talking about. why would any woman gravitate toward a man who treated her like second hand goods? It is happening in every sub genre of romance and you are not the only one who has recognized it. obviously. I write my hero's alpha, but with a serious sweet streak. to be alpha doesn't mean he has to be a jerk. the best heros in my opinion are the ones who can kick ass and take names, but they treat their women like gold.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Yes, Karyn, yes...your remark...Because being an alpha male is about honor, integrity, loyalty. It's about a code of conduct that supports equality. It's about doing what's right.
I love that. So well put. And what I'm struggling with, because that's how I've always regarded alphas. Now they're so often being nothing more than glorified bossy jerks. And this old broad doesn't do bossy. LOL

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for dropping in, t_mcclinton. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one bothered by this trend. I raised my sons to repect and honor women. A quick story...my alpha son held a door open for a woman at work. She took offense and told him she could cite him for sexual something or other for treating her as if she couldn't open her own door. Mike said, "Yeah, you probably could, but I was raised by a woman who taught me to repect others. I'd hold the door open for a man, woman, child or dog because it's a simple act of respect. Frankly, I'm more scared of Mom getting upset with me for not living up to her teaching than I am of your filing a complaint." The woman glared, digesting what he said and then apologized. Go figure.

Alana Lorens said...

It seems there's room for both the BDSM stories and the romances with strong males who want a strong woman to be their partner. I'd just hate to see all of us start drafting our novels in the 50 Shades direction just because that franchise turned out to be successful. I have to say that some of my "sweet" romances sell better than the rest. Clearly there are readers who want an alternative.

Maddy said...

I think it was more of an 'overnight internet sensation' rather than anything specifically about how readers want their heroes.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Alana, I so agree. I don't want to copycat any writer--successful or not. I enjoy coming up with different characters who have an unique journey to their HEA.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I hope you're right, Maddy. My heroes adore the women I put in their paths, sure they may pluck their nerves, but they would never become verbally or physically abusive. Just as there is no abuse in a healthy BDSM committed relationship. There's power play in all relationships, but it should be tempered with caring and respect.

Susan Macatee said...

I find nothing heroic in that type of man, Vonnie. My heroes work with the heroines to solve whatever dilemma they find themselves in and often the heroine has to rescue the hero.

Jill James said...

I think we walk a thin line in fiction and in life with what someone else may see as abuse, especially verbal abuse. There is a difference between. "You can't go out tonight" and "You can't go out at night and be the driver because you can't see worth crap in the dark and shouldn't be driving." The first was my father-in-law, who believed only 'bad' women went out at night. The second is my husband who truly worries if I try to drive at night. Night-vision, zilch.

In fiction, this is where show, don't tell comes in. Clenched fist, angry face - jerk. Furrowed brow, worried look - concerned guy.

Angel Nicholas said...

Goodness, Vonnie! You've taken the bull by the horns with this topic. Good for you. :)

There is a distinct difference between an Alpha hero and an abusive hero, regardless of whether it's a BDSM D/s story or traditional romance. A submissive female doesn't want a Dominant who's controlling to the point of mowing over her wants, needs and desires. Submissive does not and should not equal doormat. If the relationship isn't mutually satisfying, why would she stay? If she does, it isn't healthy. She isn't in a healthy place and the author who writes such a novel is doing the BDSM community and romance in general a huge disservice.

I also have to politely disagree on The Reluctant Dom being a good BDSM novel. There are numerous issues within that story that I take issue with. I won't bore you with them all, but in particular stand out. The very fact that he's reluctant, as was her husband initially, springs red flags. BDSM is not a replacement for therapy, which the heroine very clearly needed. Plus, there's this premise: "She isn't a pain slut. The pain is something she NEEDS psychologically, not merely to get off." (My paraphrase.) It makes it appear you must have a higher purpose behind your "kink" to make it acceptable, which is NOT a message anyone in that community is going to support.

I agree that a hero, no matter how Alpha, powerful and manly, needs to have a sincere foundation of caring and love for the heroine. If that's in place, there's no walking all over her or disregarding her opinion. Teaching women otherwise sets a dangerous precedent.

Tiffany N. York said...

I think Vivien hit the nail on the head and explains why FSOG was so popular. I've heard many a woman express exactly those thoughts. Maybe because nowadays women are so much more in control, working full-time, raising kids, managing a household, etc., and imo the men today are less...let's just say they don't seem to take on the level of responsibility that men used to.

Alpha heros have always been around in romance, esp. Harlequin, and yes, they're sometimes cruel and only do a 360 during the last 10 pgs. Maybe some women like that?

The female libido is complicated indeed, and we rely heavily on fantasy to stir it. If a domineering (even mean) alpha does it for some women, I think that's all right. The romance reader always knew where to look for stories of this nature. What concerns me is all these stories going mainstream and younger readers being impressionable and thinking, "I can change this wounded, abusive man with my love."

As you so correctly stated, Vonnie, we older women sadly know the outcome of that statement, and it ain't a HEA!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Well put, Jill. Showing does explain a lot, does't it. After my mini-stroke, Calvin insisted on knowing where I was going...which Kroegers, which mall. I took offense, thinking I'm 64 years old, I can go where I want. When he explained he needed to know in case he had to reach me should I have another mini-stroke, I understood his demands were concern-based, not control-based. Can you tell I have a problem with being controlled...LOL...yikes, I am sooo putting myself out there today.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Angel, you express yourself so well. There really is a vast difference between alpha and abusive as far as meaning goes, but often a fine line in reality. Sadly women have found that out and lived to regret their choices.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, I agree, Tiffany. I was set back on my heels after readin Vivien's comments. She made me pause and think things through. I can see where that need to escape to where the heroine is taken care of can hold great appeal. Sometimes one gets tired of being SuperWoman. Which is why mutual respect and caring are so important to a healthy relationship.

Joanne Stewart said...

Okay, since it was brought up, I would like to add a bit...I recommended the book because the characters treated each other with respect. And we're in a discussion where we're talking about exactly that. It didn't matter to me "why" they were choosing to live that lifestyle, for reasons that aren't relevant to this conversation. What mattered was how they treated each other.

Mary Ricksen said...

Well said Vonnie! I have often thought about that. Since I am not the type to want a man who tries to tell me what to do. I'd rather there be a bit of unalpha in my life and so in my stories.
You are a true talent Vonnie. Nice to see it bloom...

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

So true, Joanne. I've read a couple best selling romances lately by new talent and have run across heroes who did not treat their women in a heroic manner. I understand "acting out" by a wounded soul--male or female, but I also feel any adult should have the strength to temper their rages so as not to wound the other person, whether verbally or physically. As a grandma with a 19-year old granddaughter, I worry she'll read books like this and think this is how true love should be...after all, it's a published romance, so it's gotta be how women think. While she's intelligent and all things good, she's still rather naive about men. I want her and others like her to read stories of hope and healthy relationships. Well-seasoned women like me can evaluate these elements because we've lived through so much and seen so much. Young women have not had the benefit of our experience. I don't want Eleni to think it's ever okay for a man to call her a bitch or a c_nt. IMHO, that's not love, that's verbal abuse.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Mary. Your compliments are always welcome...lol. I've kinda been on a rant today. I don't ever want a woman to go through what I once lived with, so this whole subject is a hot button for me.

Alison Henderson said...

I have absolutely no interest in BDSM - not my cup of tea at all - but everyone has a right to their own fantasies. What worries me is your main point, the apparent trend of domineering (not dominant) alpha heroes in romance fiction. I also wonder if it might not be our age. Many women in our generation have been through a lot of ups and downs in life and come out on top. We did not get there by being weak, stupid, or submissive. I like my heroines strong and feisty with strong heroes who understand and bring out the best in them.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I'm more inclined to agree with you, Alison. We, who have been through it all, marched and picketed for women's rights are more sensitive to having them trampled by anyone.

Kathryn Knight said...

Good, thought-provoking post, Vonnie. I prefer heroes (in my writing and reading) whose protectiveness never extends to violent tendencies...with women, anyway!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I so agree, Kathryn. Thanks for your comment. We've had a wide range of thoughts to share today. How wonderful!!!

Lynne Marshall said...

Disclaimer* I am not judging anything - just stating my feelings about the topic. I am not making a "this is right" or "This is wrong" comment.
That being said:
Erotic romance is a different breed from mainstream romance. People (the average readers) need to understand that BDSM isn't mainstream. There are those who are thrilled by it and those who want to read about their fantasy in a safe place - in a book - and not actually experience it in real life.

The point of many of the books is to turn people on. Right?

I personally can't help but think of dominance and submission as something that would make me giggle, yet others find it more stimulating than anything. (btw, I've felt that way my whole life - some have the BDSM gene and others don't, if guess)

Obviously, from 50 shades success, there are a lot of people either into it or curious about it.
As for me, I don't read it and I don't write it. I prefer relationship stories where the couples have issues to work through, their love shines through, oh, and they have sex without handcuffs and ropes, and find happiness together.
But I'm one of those old broads. Maybe I'm out of touch with the new "romance" market. Maybe my book sales prove that the trend is heading in hotter and kinkier heroes.
Who knows?

LaVerne Clark said...

What a wonderful blog topic and comments everyone! Very thought provoking. I've enjoyed reading them all.
I've never read the FSoG series and don't plan to, even though a huge number of my friends have and loved them. Probably because I too had been in an abusive relationship. Even though I was young, I was lucky enough to see the signs that the abuse was escalating from verbal/mental towards physical. Those memories of his controlling behaviour affected me for many years. I'm so lucky to have my then boyfriend (now husband) in my life to help me through and to heal. He is definitely an alpha himself, but of the caring, soft-centered kind that I hope my heroes are.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for chimming in, Lynne. We've had a lot of discussions today, much of it eye-opening.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

You see, LaVerne, you come from a knowlegable background of how abuse can cause deep scars. Granted, BDSM is not abusive to willing participants. But that's not the issue of our topic today. Our topic is can a verbally, emotionally or physically abusive male--or woman--be worthy of the hero or heroine status? Are some of the romance writers crossing the line to unhealthy relationships? Thanks for your input, hon.

Angela Adams said...

Vonnie, I have two words to say -- "great post!"

Debra Jupe said...

I'm not a fan, but like LaVerne, I've experienced abuse. I don't enjoy reading about it, even though the participants are willing. If the entire book is written where the "hero" is constantly abusive to the heroine then it's just that--abuse and that's not a healthy view of a relationship.

Lilly Gayle said...

Wow! What a thought-provoking post. I like alpha and beta males. Depends on the story. But I hate alpha-assholes. And so many books with the rich man-poor woman setup involves an over-the-top butt wipe for a hero. Maybe I'm too independent, but I don't like men ordering for me or telling me what to do or what to like. Can we say controlling asshole just one "no" away from being abusive? I do like confidence in a man, but I think the younger generation confuses confidence with controlling. Maybe the generation in between that pushed men into getting in touch with their feminine side is to blame. Maybe they went too far one way and are now swinging too far the other way. Then again, I can remember when rape scenarios were hot for a while. Flame and the Flower or Wolf and the Dove....can't remember which. Then there was that whole General Hospital Luke and Laura thing. They even had a rape theme song. WHAT? But hey, back then, they tried to justify it by saying it wasn't rape if they really, secretly loved each other. Geez! Let's hope this is just some crazy fad too. lol!

Climbing down off my soapbox now, Vonnie. lol!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

My dear Angela. Your are always so supportive of me and I love ya ta bits. Thanks for stopping in.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Debra.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Lilly, you phrased your opinions quite well. Confident is good. Controlling is not. Thanks for stopping by!

Lynne Marshall said...

Vonnie - relating to La Verne's comments and your response. Hopefully, readers will put an end to that kind of Hero by not buying those books. They may at first, mistakenly picking them up, but once they get wind of that brand of hero - maybe they'll run to the hills when the next book by that author comes out.

Just a thought.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I hope it's that easy, Lynne. The book the lady at the restaurant complained of is published by Berkley/Penguin and is #120 in Kindle. I can barely break the 40,000 mark. Makes one wonder what the heck is happening...

Sandra Dailey said...

Hi Vonnie. I know I'm late, but I really wanted to add my two cents. I think a lot of people have blurred the line between erotic romance and erotica. Personally, I'm getting tired of the billionaire bad boys who have to dominate and the women who are compelled to submit. And, to be honest, I found 50 shades a total bore. Couldn't make myself invest in the other two.
I like my H&H to be equally strong, but in their own ways. A good believable relationship requires give and take on both sides. That's what I try to put across in my stories. But, I am a dinosaur.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

You're not nearly the dinosaur I am. I just got my Medicare card!!! I enjoy the relationship building, the push and pull as they come to grips with feelings they weren't expecting or might scare them.

You are so right. What was once erotica is seeping into erotic romance. What can be romantic about a woman and four guys? Titilation is not romance, neither is shocking behavior for shock's sake.

Charlotte Copper said...

Its a fine line out there, and different strokes for different folks, but I have to admit I discouraged my three teenage daughters from reading Fifty Shades & similar books. I want them to experience a "normal" relationship before they decide what works for them. I put normal in quotes so as not to offend anyone. We all know what the general populace thinks of as normal, and that is what I'm refering to. As many commenters said, there is a difference between BDSM and abuse, but I'm not sure that my teenage daughters would recognize the subleties at this stage of their emotional experiences. My eldest daughter has defined her normal as lesbian, and I'm glad she found what works for her, but I want the girls to discover what works for them on their own (well, actually with a significant other - but you know what I mean.)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Charlotte, thanks for chimming in. You expressed a point aI was trying to make regarding my granddaughter. I don't want her to think all good men are controlling and demanding or that verbal abuse is okay. I want her to discover on her own that some are and some aren't hero-worthy. And in my opinion a hero is someone who stands up for what's right and lives up to his obligations to family, job and country. He knows how to treat his lady with respect, change a diaper and do the dishes. LOL I commend your daughter for her strength in stating her preferences to you--AND you for your total love and acceptance. She is blessed to have that. I'm so saddened by those who don't. Again, thanks for stopping by.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Good discussion, everyone. You know me, I'm always looking at the positive spin. One of the reasons we're having this discussion is because we are free to read the books we want to read...and because all kinds of books have been published (largely because of the digital revolution, self-pubbing, etc.). I consider us lucky. Much like music is a preference, so are books. As a former high school teacher, having observed thousands of readers, preference is key...and I trust the reader to make judgments on what appeals to him/her. I tried to expose students to a wide range of fiction/nonfiction, so they were aware of what was out there, but in the end, they'll pick what they prefer to read...and I respect their choices. Trends in storylines/topics/writing style, have always come and gone. Readers are reapers...they'll separate the wheat from the chaff, I'm sure of it.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Rolynn. They're always appreciated. I had no idea when I wrote this blog, it would generate such interest. I've had over 220 hits for this post. Who knew???

Cara Bristol said...

I'm not familiar with the book in question (or haven't figured out which one it is anyway). Erotic fantasy encompasses a lot of different things. What is a turn-on to one person is a turn-off to another. I don't find name-calling or hair pulling a turn-on. But some people do. Domestic discipline is another genre that some people like while others don't. Different strokes for different folks.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think it's kind of a counter cultural reaction to the decades of weak males form the hippies to grunge to trendsers. A lot of women are - starving - for a male with a backbone.