“This Is Not a Novel To Be Tossed Aside Lightly. It Should Be Thrown with Great Force”

We’ve all got them. Things which you read in books that make you want to fling them across the room, preferably while howling “WTF? WTAF?” as your friends and neighbours wonder if you’re actually being murdered this time.

I was reading this particular book on my phone, so instead I’m screaming “WTAF?” at the internet. It’s cheaper.

I’m not really talking about things that throw you out of the flow of the story, though we’ve all got those too. (Mine include improper use of noble titles, especially British ones– Barons and Baronets are different things, their children adopt different styles, and Debrett’s is here for you, which is a thing multiple friends of mine get thrown off by, and an improper understanding of the Quaker attitude to war and killing other people, which as far as I know is just me.)

I’m talking about plotlines where you put the book down going. “You’ve lost me, and my sympathy, and WTAF were you thinking? Were you thinking? WHY DID YOU DO THIS?”

(Content note: the remainder of this post discusses rape, specifically myths about false rape accusations, and sexual harassment.)

Yesterday, that was me and a sports romance in which the author chose to include a “Fake Rape Accusation” plotline. Because those are so common, obviously. And the author really had it in for the accuser. She had to be, before the accusation came up, established as a slutty gold-digger who was bad at her job, and was sexually harassing the man she accused. There could be no possibility, no scintilla of a chance, that she was telling the truth, and that the young athlete she was accusing had actually done it. Because it isn’t as if athletes rape women, deny it strenuously, and receive massive outpourings of popular support even after being found guilty, because why should a rapist have his life ruined? Rapists can be nice people too, you know. They don’t walk around with flashing signs over their heads. They don’t go around talking about raping people 24/7. And there’s no benefit to claiming you’ve been raped.

The plotline followed up with both POV characters wittering on about how terrible social media is, trying and convicting without evidence, and this poor young man, his life ruined by this dreadful woman– and, by that point, they’d lost me completely.  I’m not going to name the book, because life is too short, and I’m thinking more about a disturbing trend I’ve noticed in multiplebooks, where women get bashed for ambition, and courage, and ‘sluttiness’, and reporting that they have been sexually harassed, because everyone knows that Real Women just shut up, accept the dick pics with a smile, and get on with their day. And I’m really tired of reading it. I want to read about women who accept the experiences of other women, instead of buying into tired false narratives that break other women down to build themselves up.

Thoughts? Also, what are the things that throw youout of a novel?

* attributed to Dorothy Parker, Sid Zeff, and apparently a multitude of others.

(Note: Given the subject matter, comments are being moderated. Anyone who makes a comment going on and on about how false rape accusations are absolutely a serious problem, Oh those evil feminazis, ruining men’s lives, will not get it posted, because I have neither the time, nor the energy.)

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