I just finished a romance novel where the rape scene was even more explicit, longer and more detailed than the consensual lovemaking scene. And it’s just left me feeling sad and frustrated.
The author warned that the book contained an explicit rape scene in the description so it’s not like I got blindsided. I guess it’s just that the happy ending and the overall love story felt a little robbed by the sheer number of words dedicated to such a horrible experience.
How much detail is too much detail? How gritty and realistic do we want our stories to be? I’ve panned romance novels that literally torture the characters only to have them rebound and fall into bed in the next chapter. But this time around, the reading experience felt voyeristic, like I was complicit.
It’s not like there’s a formula for any of this. But the amount of time spent on detailing the heroine’s suffering just didn’t get redeemed by the rest of the novel. It feels like internalized misogyny, right? Like a special kind of hatred for women where the expression of her pain is more important than that of any pleasure.