Seanan McGuire explains why you shouldn't expect every fantasy heroine to be raped

The other day, someone asked Seanan McGuire when the characters in her popular October Daye urban fantasy novels were going to get raped — because respect for the integrity of your own work, and pure realism demand it. McGuire's response to this idea is worth reading in full, but especially the part where she explains:

Rape in fiction can be a powerful and important thing. It can be used to make important statements, it can be used to drive important stories. I love Robin McKinley's Deerskin as much because of the discomfort it causes me as for the beauty it contains. There are authors I will always trust, or try to trust, and it's important to show uncomfortable things through fiction. I am not saying that no one should write about rape, ever.

But rape in fiction can also be a problematic and belittling thing, used to put cocky heroines in their places. When Janet goes to Caughterha despite being told not to, her punishment is rape by the eponymous Tam Lin. When a superheroine needs a deeper, edgier backstory, there's always some previously third-tier villain with a de-powering ray and an agenda waiting in the wings. I read a lot of horror, a lot of comics, and a lot of urban fantasy, and the one thing these three things have in common is rape. Lots and lots and lots of rape.

And I don't wanna write that.

I do not understand-I will not understand, I refuse to understand-why rape has to be on the table for every story with a female protagonist, or even a strong female supporting cast. Why it's so assumed that I'm being "unrealistic" when I say that none of my female characters are going to be raped. Why this "takes the tension out of the story." There is plenty of tension without me having to write about something that upsets both me and many of my readers, thanks.

The whole thing is well worth reading in its entirety. [Seanan McGuire]

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