She’s not a slut if she didn’t want to do it… at first.

by d

Oh darling, no, we mustn't! Not 'til you put a ring on it!

I was over at F’s earlier, and picked up a book I keep seeing around but haven’t yet bought. It was a romance by Judith McNaught, with one of those mild covers that doesn’t indicate anything vaguely erotic, unless you cought the castle thrusting up through the clouds. As I flipped the pages, my eye landed on tongues and other such things, and I found myself smack dab in the middle of a love scene. As we’re wont to do, I began reading it out loud in a melodramatic voice.

“What,” F demanded, “is so enjoyable about RAPE? All these love scenes are rapes!” (She has read the book.)

“Ah, but you see,” I explained, “it’s to avoid being a slut. She can’t want it. But if he rapes her and she enjoys it, then it’s ok, because she’s not a slut.”

F shook her head in disgust.

We’ve been over this before, of course. One reason why I read these books is out of curiosity–how do they depict the relationships between men and women? How do they portray sex? What values are they imparting?

I find the old rape-and-Stockholm romances to be disturbing and disgusting, so I chuck them as soon as it becomes clear that that’s where they’re headed. Thankfully, the genre shifted away in the 80s and 90s, and rape is completely out of fashio, (Stockholm syndrome maintains its appeal in a less brutal incarnation).

I just finished reading a book by Patricia Cabot, which I have already quoted from, because it amused me so. This quote, however, made me think. It comes from the very last scene, when the hero and heroine have finally declared their love for each other and all is right with the world. He is asking her to marry him.

“Say yes,” he whispered again.
“Yes,” she said, in a voice so laden with passion that she hardly recognized it as her own. And then she was kissing him as intrusively as he’d kissed her and almost as violently. She felt as if something deep inside of her had been released, something dark but lovely, something that suddenly made it all right for him to be dragging the old-fashioned dressing gown from her shoulders.

She has agreed to marry him, and now she feels free to make love to him with abandon. Funny, I thought she’d already been pretty wanton and enthusiastic the previous times they made love. Our heroine is a British Liberal (circa 1860), a progressive concerned with the oppression of women. She is a feminist, and she sees marriage as a way of chaining women, unless you manage to find yourself an amazing man who doesn’t go in for that garbage.

So why does this enlightened woman still feel a certain relief when the magic marriage is proffered? What about us, her 2010 counterparts?

I’m very interested to hear from those of you in seriously committed relationships. Was the sex different somehow after you decided this was a relationship for the long haul? Does an engagement make that big a difference?

2 Responses to “She’s not a slut if she didn’t want to do it… at first.”

  1. The only thing I can think of is that people mistakenly think that once they get engaged or get into a serious relationship that if they have sex there will be no throwing it back in your face that you are a slut, and that the guy will be there if you get pregnant and will step up on his own. While this does sometimes occur, it seems to me that the sort of situation where this ACTUALLY occurs is the exception, not the rule. :p

    As for the ending of that book when the unlikely-to-marry liberal woman gets engaged and suddenly feels free because of it and not worried about what she’s doing, its probably a “subtle” hint toward the idea that marriage itself is freeing and that anyone against it for themselves or anyone else is wrong. Either they are fooling themselves, they’re just young and stupid, or…well that’s about it.

    I hear it all the time from my family and friends. I choose not to marry. My family and friends often say, “Oh, well, you say that now,” and, “famous last words,” and, “Oh, you’ll see~” as if they have all suddenly become psychic and have seen the future and it involves me walking down the aisle.

    There seems to still be this idea that all a woman REALLY wants, no matter how much she denies it to herself or to others, is to get married, to settle down, and to have babies.

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