A Conversation About Violence Against Women in Fiction

I have numerous books in my queue waiting to be blogged. One is The Current by Tim Johnson. It is a story of two college aged women who are pulled from an icy river on the outskirts of a small town in Minnesota. One survives but the other freezes and drowns. It soon becomes clear that these women were targeted to be killed in a way that is reminiscent of another murder of a woman ten years earlier. The surviving woman begins to investigate on her own but soon finds that the killer is not finished yet.

Johnson writes well, his characters are well developed, the plotting is impeccable and you are kept guessing to the very end. This should be a book I enjoy, but I can’t.

I am finding these type of novels more and more problematic because crimes like these against women really happen. Johnson, of course, is not alone in using real crimes as fodder for their novels. Which is probably why I have several of these kinds of novels waiting in my queue to be blogged.

In this age of #MeToo, my interest in novels about women who are victims of assault, rape, kidnapping, abuse or murder is waning. Not only waning, but I feel a visceral disgust for them. I find it horrifying that what is supposed to be fiction is often ripped from the headlines and that women are disproportionately victims of these crimes both in reality and fiction. In their own way, I am beginning to see that these novels are part of the problem, because they seem to normalize portrayals of women as victims and in some pernicious way seem to indulge and give voice to the men (and it is always men) who do these horrific things.

I think we need to rethink what we are doing, even in fiction in this age of #MeToo. Both men and women should be alarmed at this tendency to portray men as misogynists who delight in hurting, controlling, raping and killing women and women should be disgusted that we are taught to fear men, to have to constantly look over our shoulders, to never feel safe, to have to question our own strength while seeing ourselves portrayed as victims of horrific crimes. Surely we are better that this? I certainly hope so!

Read in ebook format.





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1 Response to A Conversation About Violence Against Women in Fiction

  1. Sandra Miller says:

    Brenda, thank you for posting this. In this area of “fiction” there are books written by women about women who actually are about making a point about being our better selves. I can’t think of any at the moment other than Margaret Atwood, but they are prevalent in foreign works, especially coming out of the African and Afro-Carribean cultures.

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