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Monday, October 20, 2008

Days of Our Lives, Romance Novels and Rape

Days of Our Lives, Romance Novels and Rape

Sometimes it's strange how when you ask like a question, you get the answer in the weirdest way. I could never understand why so many were in favor of the pairing of Sami and EJ after the rape. It didn't make sense to me until the universe pointed out an old belief or behavior about women's sexuality.

It has been long believed that only whores or sluts enjoyed sex; good girls and women closed their eyes and pretended to like it because it was their duty as wives and it was the only way to fulfill their purpose in life, which is to birth children. Women were considered property that fathers sold, bartered or gave to the husband. It's only been the last 40 years that woman have had the ability to claim their power, yet the remnants of past beliefs still remain, which is why the subgenre of romance novel that involves women who are kidnapped and raped fall in love with their attacker continues to flourish. It also explains why on Days of our Lives, there is a following for EJamie.

Romance novels have very styled formats. Within two hundred pages, two people fall in love, over come obstacles and then live happily every after. The heroine is in danger. The hero comes to rescue her, thereby putting himself in danger. Throughout the perils, they fall in love. The good guys always win so after the villain is defeated the lovers live happy every after.

However, in this subgenre. There isn’t a hero. Instead, the woman is kidnapped by the villain, who awakens her inner passion by raping her. While the hero is trying to save the woman, she becomes enthralled with the villain, seeing only his good side, so that when she is rescued she remains with her capture because he is her true love. GMAFB!

No matter what you call it, sex is not only a natural part of life, but it can also be a very good time. Yet many woman are still ashamed of their sexuality. They cling to the notion that if they enjoy sex that their morals will be called into question. However, if they are forced, then they are not responsible for enjoying their guilty pleasure.

Rape is not romance, desire or passion; in fact, it is violence and control disguised as a sex act. There is nothing romantic or enticing about having your self-respect, dignity and your inner security ripped from you. The physical trauma may heal, but the emotional damage is life changing and frequently permanent. It is a degradation that many women never emotionally survive.

The Bureau of Justice defines rape as, “Rape - Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.” Of all the reporting countries, the U.S has the highest rape rate. According the FBI, every two minutes a woman is raped not only by strangers but acquaintances and family members. The National Women’s Study, Rape in America: A Report to the Nation found that 1 in 7 women will be raped by her husband. The website listed the following statistics.

One of the most startling aspects of sex crimes is how many go unreported. The most common reasons given by women for not reporting these crimes are the belief that it is a private or personal matter and the fear of reprisal from the assailant.

Approximately 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends, 35% by acquaintances, and 5% by other relatives. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994)

The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.

In 1994-1995, only 251,560 rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials -- less than one in every three. (National Crime Victimization Survey, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

An overwhelming majority of rape service agencies believe that public education about rape, and expanded counseling and advocacy services for rape victims, would be effective in increasing the willingness of victims to report rapes to the police. (Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center with Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center.)

According to the U.S. Department of Justice: (All statistics are taken from: Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

One of every four rapes take place in a public area or in a parking garage.

31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger.

68% of rapes occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At least 45% of rapists were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 29% of rapes, the offender used a weapon.

In 47% of rapes, the victim sustained injuries other than rape injuries.

75% of female rape victims require medical care after the attack.

My question is why would writers promote rape as romance when it is anything but? As a storyline it would be a great way to address the issue and create social awareness to both the devastation and the healing process. Not only promoting rape as romance socially irresponsible, but it also creatively discredits the writer. Why would women want to read or watch a TV show about another woman being raped, must less expecting her to fall in love with her rapist?

As long as women see themselves as second class citizens and powerless, they will not be able to claim their power as women or as individuals. Instead they will remain victim to the whims of the others, instead become mistresses of their own destinies. There are so many wonderful romances available that are based on real romance, suspense and drama, why would a woman read a book or watch a show that is written to degrade her and make her feel powerless?

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