• Eliza Chan

Feminism is dead

I randomly started a book yesterday because I had a vague recollection of the author’s name. At this stage I don’t want to reveal what book or author, but my preconceptions were of a YA fantasy romance genre.

I’m now halfway through the book and the protagonist has had a sexual relationship with all but one male character we’ve met so far. There’s been rape, full on sex, foreplay, mindmeld-style linking and everything tamer from flirtation to sympathy kissing and fondling of breasts. We are at about 7 men and counting.

It is disgusting. The protagonist is given some sort of sexual magic which gives the author a licence to make her a wanton whore. She’s is not sexually liberated, she just acquiesces to any nice guy that makes a pass at her. She does it just after she’s been raped, after she’s supposedly so ill from wounds that’s she’s about to faint, whilst on the run from bad guys she still manages to find time to stick her tongue down someone’s throat.

Don’t get me wrong. I think a well-placed erotic moment can be beautiful or essential to many plots (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for example, or Dragonflight). I also think a liberated character does portray many of the ethics of today’s society and can be done well. I do not however, expect to read non-nonsensical erotica in what I thought was a fantasy romance. I am a little old fashioned but my fantasy romances were always about character development and falling in love (Pern or Valdemar being my favourites). It’s bad enough that we have all of these contemporary programmes talking about teenage sex and sleeping with footballers to get famous, but my last haven, the fantasy novel has been tainted. Even the geek girls think they have to put out if a guy says something nice to them. Great.

On FB recently someone posted this link. And as flippant as it is, it’s also true. Buffy didn’t let anyone choose her path for her. She fought pre-destined futures, stuck by her friends and literally kicked ass. She was a protector, a hero and she went to college. Bella follows Edward around like a sappy puppy, wanting to do anything to be with him including turning into a vampire and giving up her life. She never makes her own decision Whatever happened to our feminist foremothers? Or good role models.

I like this idea.

It reminds me of enjo kosai in Japan. This is a phenomenon amongst city high school girls to find a sugar daddy. The older man, normally married, will pay for gifts such as designer items in return for conversation, dates and probably sexual favours. The girls think they have the power because they often don’t put out, and use their beauty and youth to get things for free. However let’s be honest, it’s the mature men with the money and knowledge that could blackmail a vulnerable girl into doing something they didn’t want.

Everything from access to pornography to this sort of fiction tells people that it’s not just okay to sleep around, but that women should be bending over backwards to get some action. It alarms me because I know so many female friends who have felt threatened or have actually experienced sexual abuse during their lives. And that’s what worries me about this book and this author. It’s all aimed at women and it is very popular with women according to sales figures and ongoing series. Are we doing this to ourselves through systematic peer pressure through every medium?

Is feminism truly dead? It feels like many women have decided being the good old fashioned housewife is an easier option, especially in this current economic climate. Better to bag a rich fish, or better still, just sleep with him and sell the photos to a tabloid newspaper. It’s better to be on benefits  and scamming the system. It’s better to have a sugar daddy to fund your designer obsession. Our society has made us superficial on so many levels. People no longer simply covet expensive things beyond their reach, they buy them on credit. How many people out there actually need an iPad? Most of them already have a laptop or PC as well as a smartphone. And yet a surprising amount of people have them. Our instant gratification culture has ruined us. Nothing is sacred. Not even ourselves.

#feminism #bella #enjokosai #fantasyromance #buffy #erotica #materialism

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