FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE NEW GENTLEMAN AND THE ROMANTICIZING OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN LITERATURE
We were raised since little girls that we were dumb and hapless. Prince Charming had to save Snow White who got duped by the Wicked Queen. Prince Charming got around because he also saved Princess Aurora after she pricked her finger and fell into a deep sleep and Cinderella from her evil step mother. The world set us up to be Damsels in distress. Those are the women we aspired to be. I don’t know of one girl that wasn’t a princess at least one halloween. I have said that Walt Disney has ruined dating for me. In each of the movies there is a grand gesture: running around the kingdom with a loan shoe, fighting a dragon, kissing a girl to life. That is not real life. Real life rarely has grand gestures. To me holding a door or pulling out a chair is my grand gesture.
As I got older my taste in men changed. I no longer wanted a prince, I wanted a gentleman. I’m a book nerd. True story. That’s why I read and why I want to be a writer. I temporarily move from town to town; making friends with the characters and falling in love with the men. I have had hundreds of love affairs. I would rather be single and wait for Mr. Darcy than live in a half hearted real relationship that can never compare to Elizabeth and Darcy. However, the world of literary gentlemen has taken a sharp decline helping me lower my expectation of men. We’ve gone from men like Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Knightly to men like Christian Grey, Travis Maddox and Hardin Scott. While reading these books we become completely enthralled with the manly possessiveness that completely enchants our heroines. We sigh as they get into fights and claim what’s theirs. We want so badly to be in a relationship where we are so needed and wanted. I have a book twin and she and I were discussing the above mentioned works. We were talking about how much we love the take charge men of Christian Grey and Travis Maddox, until she brought up a good point. She said she would never want one in real life. A record scratched in my head. Come again? It sounded like you said you wouldn’t want one in real life. She explained her position that although that behavior reads well off the pages it does not compute to real life. The control and manipulation that is demonstrated by our new aged heroes is nothing short of domestic violence.
Domestic violence are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control another. Let that sink in a moment. It is assumed that domestic violence is always physically violent and that’s not the case. As a social worker I see cases all of the time where physical violence is not involved but the woman/or man feels so badly about themselves that they feel suicidal or they cannot afford groceries in their home because of the financial control that the other demonstrates. Domestic violence does not discriminate and occurs over all racial, religious, genders and socioeconomic statuses. Domestic violence is not an act of violence; it is an act of control. Violence may be used to gain control but it’s not violence for violence sake. Nearly 1 in 4 women will be the victim of domestic violence in her life time. An additional 3 million children will witness domestic violence. The facts are astounding. As a social worker I help these women and try to heal these children and the devastation that is left in their wake is irreparable.
I’m reading a book right now in which the boyfriend calls the girl a “whore” and trashes her room. She sleeps with him to calm him down. Honestly if it wasn’t for my book twin I don’t know if I would’ve thought twice about this scene, but when I take a step back I find it absolutely disgusting. We are sending the message that that kind of treatment is not only acceptable but desirable. I understand that reading is an escape and is fictional in nature, however these men exist in real life and we are romanticizing the control they wish to exert. To my fellow writers…let’s change our manly men from bar brawling, cavemen with rippling abs who wish to control our heroines to men who love, respect and support her into being the best version of herself, because there’s nothing hotter than that and I think in reality that’s what we all aspire to have.