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Check Out Which Of Your Favorite Fictional Literature Shows Women Sexual Abuse!

  • IWB Post
  •  June 22, 2015

Erika Johansen, author of The Invasion of the Tearling, presented a list of fictional novels which talk about all kind of sexually abusive relationships. In her review, she shows us how many hit movies that we have loved watching are actually promoting women sexual abuse!

Sexual assault is a traumatic experience for anyone. Furthermore, many victims who tell others about their assault must endure a “second assault” in the form of negative reactions, such as victim blaming and disbelief.

Though the gender of the abuser or the victim can never be defined, unfortunately, all these works have female victims.

Erika Johansen sarcastically says: I regret that all of them have male perpetrators and female victims; that is my fault, as my reading choices have not been broad enough. Abusers and victims come in all genders and persuasions, and I truly wish I had a more diverse list here.

We believe that these stories actually underline the gender dynamics and other problems prevailing in every society around the world. However, taking the approach of soft-focus to any problem will make it even worst.

In words of the writer: turning away will not help to solve these problems, and certainly will not keep them from turning up at one’s own door. Solutions will require an open and honest discussion, it will absolutely be an uncomfortable one, and literature will have a role to play.

Let’s have a look at these insightful readings.

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison


This remains one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. Pecola Breedlove is black, poor and female, and when she gets raped, her community can barely even bring itself to notice. Race, socioeconomic status, gender and gender identification, sexual orientation and other factors still make some people not only more likely, statistically speaking, to be sexually assaulted in the first place, but also less likely to be believed afterward. The Bluest Eye always reminds me that any fruitful discussion of sexual assault must include an honest examination of our institutionalized prejudices.

Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King


Dolores is a tough island woman stuck in a marriage to an abusive husband. She can take care of herself, but the situation becomes more complicated when she realizes that her husband has turned his abusive behavior on their teenage daughter. Like so many people, Dolores finds her options severely limited by poverty and circumstance, and King does an excellent job of showing just how trapped she really is. I like to recommend this book to people whenever I hear the phrase, “Why didn’t she just leave?”

River of Names – Dorothy Allison


In this short story, a woman has learned to keep quiet about the horrifying culture of violent abuse in which she grew up. She cannot discuss her childhood even with the woman she loves; for fear that a single word may tear their pleasant life apart. Many abused individuals find themselves in a prison of silence, but the damage has rarely been so well-chronicled as it is here.

The Color Purple – Alice Walker


I find this book unique for the close look it takes at the healing process. Celie has spent most of her life in the power of abusive men, and what she has endured is terrible. But whenever I think of The Color Purple, I always see, first and foremost, Celie and Albert sitting on the porch, sewing together and discussing old wounds. It’s a good reminder that people can grow and change, and that with effort, we can learn to be better than our past selves.

Lawns – Mona Simpson


Lawns is a rough read: an honest examination of ongoing parental abuse and a pattern of emotionally coercive behavior and guilt that is ruining a woman’s life. I tend to urge this story on anyone who still believes that rape demands an element of physical force; there are many forms of coercion out there, and physical violence is not always the most powerful.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson


This book, and its sequels, is worth reading for Lisbeth Salander alone; she’s an amazing character. But on a re-read, I’m also struck by the fact that even this incredibly resourceful young woman is placed in a vulnerable position by being under state guardianship, by being one of “society’s dregs”. Runaways, orphans, foster kids, the mentally ill… such populations are often forgotten in this discussion, but they are certainly at great risk because they may lack a firm support structure. Even the extraordinary Lisbeth is vulnerable…though not for long. Her revenge is unique.

Tunnel Vision – Sara Paretsky


Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski is my all-time favorite character: a private investigator whose sense of social justice invariably makes her fights for the underdog. In Tunnel Vision, fourteen year-old Emily Messenger accuses her well-respected father of rape, and is consequently put through the wringer: hushed, disbelieved, gas lighted and terrorized. This book is now more than twenty years old, but rape culture has not changed much in the interim, and Emily’s story still resonates for me in its accurate depiction of the ugly treatment rape victims often receive at the hands of authority.


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