There's a lot to celebrate about science fiction romance novels — apart from anything else, they're one of the fastest-growing areas of the genre, and they're getting a lot of people reading science fiction. But there's one trope in the genre that writer C.E. Kilgore finds really repulsive: "dubious consent."
Top image: Manuhell on Deviant Art.
Kilgore writes a must-read blog post about "dubious consent" in science fiction romance, and the observations therein can apply way beyond romance novels. Here's a crucial section:
What I will do, is turn the spot light on my own main genre, Science Fiction Romance, and bring to discussion a subject matter that I find even worse than poorly-handled rape in fiction. It's called Dubious Consent, and for some reason I haven't been able to figure out, it has become a commonly used trope in our genre. This makes me sad and a bit angry. I think we sci-fi romance writers are smarter than this. I think we can do better.
What is dubious consent, exactly? It's any situation in which one person (99% if the time, it's a woman) is taken advantage of by another (usually a hunky male alien), but the author justifies it by trying to blur the lines between rape and consensual sex. Let me give you the most common scenario: Hunky male alien (who's race has a lack of females for some reason) steals an Earth Woman. He then uses mental manipulation, drugs, alcohol, pheromones, some sort of required physical bonding, or other alien-contrived reason to get between the woman's legs. The author then explains how much the woman enjoyed it, how much pleasure the alien gave her, how big his super-amazing cock was and how she probably wouldn't have resisted anyway. Right?
Wrong. This is rape. Period. It's like slipping the Earthling a date-rape drug.
And predictably, after being basically roofied by the alien mojo, the woman always falls in love with the alien, and this is somehow the start of a healthy relationship. Read more over at Kilgore's site, for why this isn't really a good way to think about romance. So much no. [Tracing The Stars via Galaxy Express]