Real Women Don’t Wear Grey
Quite a while ago, in my high school days as a matter of fact, a particular motion picture taught me something about the therapeutic value of art. I would love to credit a groundbreaking movie like Thelma and Louise or 9 to 5 with this valuable life lesson.
Instead I must give all the credit to RoboCop.
Yep, RoboCop. You see, I belonged to a group of high school friends who were decidedly diverse in our cinematic tastes. A standard movie night for our group might consist of Adventures in Babysitting, Lethal Weapon, The Legend of Billie Jean, The Lost Boys, and — yep — RoboCop.
In our junior year, one of our friends was tragically the victim of a violent rape at knife point. This brave young woman never talked much about what happened and didn’t even express anger at her attacker, but one night, during a viewing of the Peter Weller/Nancy Allen crime thriller, she made her feelings known.
The film features a scene in which a young woman is attacked by a violent street gang intent on raping her. The minute that the scene began I stared wide eyed at my friend as I worried that the image of an attempted rape would trigger her pain.
Then RoboCop came on the scene and blew away the rapists. And in that moment, my shy, quiet friend turned to me with a smile and stuck a triumphant fist in the air. I breathed a sigh of relief and returned the gesture.
Throughout my career as a columnist and fiction writer, I’ve always tried to give my readers lots of reasons to thrust their fists in the air and smile; and never has that been more the case than with my latest release, Real Women Don’t Wear Grey
As I’ve stated in previous columns, I am both frustrated and concerned by the recent rash of romance books that — although targeted at women — seem to revel in female degradation; featuring domineering, even brutal anti-heroes who physically and emotionally harm their partners. What happened to the days when heroines kicked ass, their heroes respected them, and the rapists and ruffians were actually the bad guys?
The phenomenon of a little book called Fifty Shades of Gray and similar titles is what happened. Although I as a feminist, a woman, an erotica author and a human being in general have been horrified by the success of these tales of stalking, rape and domestic violence masquerading as erotic romance, I know that the situation is far worse for others. Too many times in recent months, I have heard the stories of rape and domestic violence survivors being angered and even triggered by the concepts inherent in these books, and those who have tried to communicate their concerns have been ignored, blocked and otherwise shut down by their authors and fans.
My book Real Women Don’t Wear Grey features none of the characters or settings from FSOG or any other book. The heroine of my piece, Jacquie Dumont, is a tough female detective who has appeared in two of my previous novellas, Of Power and Passion and Sirens: Fortune Lost. Also appearing in all three pieces is her hero Trey, her gorgeous, sensitive blond secretary; a man who, aside from being painfully hot, is a kind man who treats Jacquie as his equal.
Joining these two characters, who have become favorites among my readers, is Jacquie’s sister Jenna, a sweet, sensitive young woman who makes her living as a fashion model. During a visit to Jacquie’s home in Florida, Jacquie realizes that something is going very wrong in Jenna’s relationship with her boyfriend, fashion designer Chad. Chad has left horrible marks and scars all over Jenna’s body; and although Jenna insists that the two are in a consensual bondage relationship, she admits that he sometimes ignores her safe words and causes her unwanted physical pain. He even tries to prevent her from visiting Jacquie, and threatens to track her to her sister’s home.
Jacquie vows to take him down; tracking him to the offices of his fashion empire, where she gives him a taste of his own medicine — and his own belt.
This actually marks the second women’s empowerment story I’ve released in conjunction with the Fourth of July holiday. My book Roman Candle: In Pursuit of Liberty concerned a spunky plus-sized Southern belle who leaves her abusive husband for a handsome, sensitive Italian artist. Oh, and she pelts the abusive husband with copious amounts of her signature hashbrown casserole.
It seems fitting to celebrate Independence Day with the release of stories that champion the cause of women’s liberation. And while I must say that writing Real Women has been therapeutic for me, I really wrote it for the women who have felt angered, hurt and triggered by the rash of violent, anti-woman erotica that has seemed to take hold of our culture.
To these women: I want you to know that someone in this industry does care about you, and that I’ll always be in your corner, with my fist raised high. Please enjoy Real Women Don’t Wear Grey!