Reflectors and Sexual Assault in Literature

Soooo, Reflectors has a sexual assault in it. For this reason alone, I’m not going to submit it for any publications but it’s going up on Wattpad instead. The act isn’t super white-dude-writer gratuitous, just enough to definitely count. And to definitely strike me out from several publications right off the bat and for good reason. I even plan to put a content warning for my Beta readers so they can have the choice to pass up on this one. This is why it’s good to have Wattpad as a backup, it is most likely going to take works that I can’t put anywhere else. Hurray, hurray. And no, I will not get nifty covers for my Wattpad works, you’re just going to have to deal with the plain ones I give you. Because they’re easy and my computer won’t try to attempt suicide. Eventually, I will attempt to bribe my more artistically inclined friends to make some but today is not that day. Neither is tomorrow. Nor next week.

Now, let’s talk sexual assault and literature.

Literature is rife with gender violence such as sexual assault and rape. Loaaaaaaded with it. Greek stories, African stories, Victorian stories etc etc, you’re gonna find it, even without looking. (If you’re an English major, you know this without doubt.) However, there is a difference between “Elliot Rodger and Seung Hui Cho co-wrote this” and “this is literature, which does reflect the human experience”. The difference is:

Was it necessary? (Did the character have to commit such an act?)

What point did it make to the story? (Was it to show what kind of person the character was?)

How detailed the act is described and in what way? (There’s a difference between wording a sexual assault like it’s a sexual assault vs. a romanticised act (the latter being more common of male writers))

In Reflectors, the sexual assault occurs because Robert, one of the main characters, did not want to tell his best friend, Aliez, the other main character, how he truly felt inside about liking her. Instead of just being honest with her, he stews in his emotions, which, thanks to modern society and toxic masculinity, is remarkably easy to do and can turn a person from good to sour. He is eventually divided into two people later in the story: his good side, and his nefarious side. The nefarious side is the one who commits the act because they felt “toyed with” by Aliez “friendzoning”* them and, thus, act on their darker urges.

The act strongly affects how Aliez treats Robert from then on. And Robert, when made whole again, learns what half of him has done and has to deal with it as well as face himself. It is important to the story and not used flippantly. The act isn’t written like I’m trying to put it up on Literotica. I acknowledge that the act definitely occurs but I’m not going to revel in it, because, ew. The story is told in third person, not first person so I don’t have to and whoo-boy, that’s a good thing.

I’m not going to have a slushpile of sexual assaults and rape in my stories but when they do occur, it’s going to be taken seriously and not thrown about wantonly. I really do dislike the rape tropes that are common in stories that involve women so expect stuff like this to be very few and far in between.

 

*Friendzoning does not exist. Building relationships with other humans does not work this way. Do not murder or sexually assault people because things don’t work out well romantically. Everyone gets rejected.

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