Tuesday 17 July 2007

Sleeping Beauty continued

I so wanted to label this post - The Lost Prince - to keep up the fairytale theme but couldn't quite get the content to match up.

Anyhoo, in the comments to the Sleeping Beauty post Nicole mentioned she couldn't think of an Urban Fantasy male protagonist who had been raped, let only experienced the aftermath which seems to regularly occur to female UF protagonists.

I still can't think of a hero who has either received or had his powers triggered by a violent brutal act - rape, murder. There is one hero who I can think of who was raped and a few who come under being violated - but these are drifting away from urban fantasy and into paranormal romance.



Ukiah Oregon (Wen Spencer) is raped in Bitter Waters (#3). He's given an aphrodisiac which causes him to have sex with someone against his wishes. This has ongoing consequences which carry into Book #4.

Atticus Finch (Wen Spencer) is mind raped in Dog Warrior (#4) by the Dog Warriors, so they can determine whether or not he's a threat. It's clear that this is a violation.


Butch (J.R.Ward) is tortured by the Lessers and violated by the Omega in Lover Revealed. However, this is coming closer to paranormal romance and away from urban fantasy. The scene doesn't have the intensity of the above books or the ones mentioned in the Sleeping Beauty thread - plus much of the action takes place off-page.

Zsadist (J.R.Ward) is raped and tortured during flashbacks in Lover Awakened.


Zarek is repeatedly beaten throughout his life and stoned to death in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance with the Devil. Essentially he does gain his powers through this happening but I consider this more PR than UF.

So the heroes who have suffered are out there. But it's harder to find situations which directly parallel those of urban fantasy heroines, or which have the page length devoted to the scene. I think Zsadist is an exception (as regards page length) as obviously his past is what made him into what he is.


Naomi said...

Do you think this is because people would be less willing to read about a male hero being raped, or is it just easier to have a woman suffer that kind of attack?

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one incident of male rape in fiction and it's not even in a book. It was on the soap Hollyoaks a few years ago. Lol, I have no taste in TV at all...

I can't even think of an example from comic books and they're usually rife with such things.

Naomi said...

Oh wait, I just remembered ... although I haven't read any of the recent Anita Blake books, I've been told that a major male character in the series was raped, but not "on camera," so to speak. I'm not sure if that's true or not...

Anonymous said...

With Anita Blake, it's getting a little ridiculous the number of male characters that have been raped. Probably half the males have admitted to being raped at one point or another. I can't remember ever seeing it happen "on camera", though. And LKH doesn't really do anything with these revelations. My feeling is that if you're going to 'fess up to something like that, there should be some character/plot development coming from it.

Wasn't Jaime Fraser raped in Outlander? That's more straight fiction though.

LesleyW said...

Jepad - Yeah - the Jamie Fraser rape is one that comes to mind - though it's not urban fantasy. It is very powerfully written.

Another that is also not urban fantasy is Miles Vorkosigan's brother Mark, who was conditioned via physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Which eventually resulted in his personality fracturing.

Naomi - I think part of it may be because it's 'easier' to have a female character suffer that kind of attack. But I think that does male characters a disservice. I don't think less of Jamie Fraser or Ukiah Oregon. But Diana Gabaldon and Wen Spencer have a way of expressing emotion on the page that takes the reader with them.

Nicole said...

Hmmm, so the BDB books are the only ones you've mentioned in your post that I've read. And I can't believe that I didn't think about Z's rape when I commented before. I don't consider Butch's abuse in quite the same light, though... torture often has a different tone than sexual rape. For instance, there's usually a point to the torture. "We'll stop if you tell us this." Rape is often for the attacker's pleasure.

I did just think of a male protagonist who is raped, though it's more an epic fantasy: Vanyel in Mercedes Lackey's Magic's Price. It's at the end of the trilogy, though, not the beginning.

Naomi said...

I forgot about Vanyel. Mercedes Lackey does love to put her characters through the wringer. Lots of torture and abuse in the Heralds book, as far as I recall.

Jepad - It seems to me that every significant character in the Anita Blake series has some kind of sexual trauma in their past. I think it's a short cut to gain audience sympathy rather than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Naomi, that is probably LKH's intent, do gain symphathy for the characters. I worked for the first one or two, but then it started to stretch the bounds of credulity and it lost the emotional punch.

Anonymous said...

Not urban fantasy, but Anne Bishop's male characters (especially in the Black Jewels Trilogy) do frequently get raped. That'd a lot to do with the background of the tales, though.

Also another fantasy, Imriel of the recent Kushiel trilogy by Jacqueline Carey was raped as a child. That is also instrumental in shaping his personality.

I doubt romance would have a lot of raped heroes. I think maybe there is a certain expectation for heroes of romance novels, and being raped may be a violation of that expectation. Urban fantasy or fantasy, though, has different expectations and hence these cases may occur more often.

LesleyW said...

So I think when we look at the books - female characters seem to get attacked more often in Urban Fantasy than males. It's usually a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - Wraith, The Becoming, The Turning, Greywalker - or is a deliberate attempt to remove their power - The Scent of Shadows, Stray.

Male characters on the other hand seem to most often be raped as a form of torture (Lover Revealed, Lover Awakened, Imriel in the Kushiel Books - though he was also a child as well as male, the male character in The Mountain's Call whose name I can't remember) and more often in straight fantasy.

I'm not quite sure what that says about our attitudes as readers and writers.