What is with all the BDSM novels? You can’t search for a new romance without stumbling into a dungeon. Here’s what I think happened. EL James fan-fictionned Twilight as Fifty Shades of Grey reimagining the vampire as a Dominant. That sold a bajillion copies and now every romance writer is trying to follow in her stiletto Submissive footsteps.
If there were as many BDSM aficionados as portrayed in modern romance novels, there would be a dungeon on every corner like Starbucks. And every cop, DA, CEO, billionaire and Navy Seal would have a flogger as well as a tablet in his briefcase. Packing for a trip? Forget the power point presentation and make room for lube and anal plugs.
I get that this is the current trope. I get that it’s naughty. I get that people use novels to escape, but I can’t help wondering what all this says about the current gender status. Do women really want to be dominated in the bedroom and treated like a precious princess outside of it? Some of the authors explain that the woman or submissive really has all the power. I don’t have an issue with the sexy stuff. I have questions about the other stuff—being carried when we can walk. Being protected by our men. (Menage is usually a factor and typically more than one guy per gal.) But rarely are the women equal partners outside of the bedroom. We have to be coddled. Is that our real fantasy? Not immersing ourselves in pleasure but surrendering decisions and stress to a stronger personality?
At a time when gender lines are supposed to be less rigid and more women are moving into powerful positions, why do we harken back to olden times when men were cavemen and women were their playthings? I really don’t understand the appeal even as I appreciate the skill of writers like Lexi Blake and Sophie Oak and Maya Banks.
Also, why is it always a woman whose the sub? Why not a Domme? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate in empowerment?
I also wonder, with admitted bias, if it’s not easier to write these kinds of romance novels because they are not grounded in any recognizable reality. Nobody really works. Everybody recovers from a bullet wound in a day or so and there’s never any jealousy regardless of how many guys are involved in the polyamorous relationship. (Forget the sex. I think of the laundry and shudder.) The toys and the setting can distract from often iffy dialogue and cardboard thin characters. For me, it’s the same as Regency romances. You dress ’em up and rip a few bodices, add a semi-royal title or two and there you go.
Writing contemporary romances is tough. I have to set things in the real world which means stretch marks and traumas that linger while at the same time creating enough of a fantasy to lure in the reader. There are days I long for a ball gag.
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