Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rape Culture in YA Romance

Lately, I have been very disturbed by the high number of YA romance books (especially in the paranormal genre) that center around obsessive, abusive and unhealthy relationships. Many readers describe this as being part of the current "rape culture."

Young women and girls are often fed stories with dubious male characters that mistreat their partners which are labeled and sold as "romance." Personally, I've had enough of these Stockholm Syndrome stories.

Haunt begins like any typical YA paranormal romance: girl meets freaky guy, girl thinks she's "falling in love" with creepy dude. The similarities end there. In Haunt, the main character actually begins to realize that these not-quite-right qualities in the guy are not healthy. The story develops into another type of romance and ends on a more positive note.

The book also deals with other situations many young women face such as sex, pregnancy and abstinence based on respect rather than religious reasons for those who are not religious but still choose to abstain. The main character is portrayed as neither strong nor weak, but on equal-footing with the guy she ends up with.

I wanted young women, who may have little or no experience with relationships, to be able to read about a heroine who chooses a positive relationship over a negative one.

For more in-depth reading about YA and rape culture, check out these articles:

Bad Romance (or, YA & Rape Culture)
Problem With Society in YA Books
Why YA Romance Needs to Change

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