Romanticised abuse | Sexual assault in DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING (novel)

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- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books, TV shows, or films.
- This blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller is a Young Adult pirate fantasy novel that I've been dying to read ever since it was published last year. I finally got a copy a few weeks ago, but my excitement evaporated almost the instant I started reading. It was disappointing in many ways; not least of which was its attitude towards two separate scenes of sexual assault.

The two scenes are too long to simply copy and paste into this post. So I'm summarising.

The problematic scenes in this book.

Scene #1

Alosa and her captives dock at a coastal port and the crew goes into a tavern. Alosa then steps outside, into the darkened street, and is accosted by a drunk member of the crew. He sexually assaults her and tries to rape her, before she manages to kill him. After she's killed him, Alosa looks up to find Riden, the ship's second mate and book's love interest, watching her. He admits he saw the entire incident.

Scene #2

Alosa is taken to Captain Drazen's room on board the ship where it's made very clear that his intentions are less than honourable. It's obvious knowledge - to the crew, to Riden, to Alosa - that Drazen plans to rape her. Before Alosa goes into his room, Riden begs her not to kill Drazen because whatever he might do to her, he's still his brother.

Romanticised incidents of abuse.

  • The scenes - especially the first one - are light-hearted. They are written lightly, and from Alosa's perspective they are treated with little consequence because she's capable enough to defend herself. 

Look, the book is a light-hearted book. It's not serious in the slightest. It's supposed to be a fun romp through the seas in the company of a feisty female pirate. But if the rest of the book is so light and fun, then when you write in a scene of sexual assault it's immediately out of place. Or at least, it should be. I think Levenseller makes a grievous mistake when she includes these two scenes of attempted rape because the scenes are not treated like serious, horrifying incidents because 1) They're basically plot points and 2) The writing style is flippant. 

They need to be handled seriously, but they aren't. I think that's inexcusable. 

  • Riden is supposed to be the swoony love interest. But his behaviour in both these scenes (when a woman is first sexually assaulted and then almost raped) is anything but swoony. Consider the first incident: Alosa is being pawed and assaulted by a drunken member of the ship's crew, and Riden stands there and watches it and does absolutely nothing. He does nothing because he knows Alosa can handle herself. He stands there and watches and does not do a single thing to stop it. 

Excuse me?

And then when Alosa notices Riden standing there, there's this exchange:  
Alosa: "How much did you see?" 
Riden: "All of it." ...... 
Riden: "I was in the middle of something back there when I heard a struggle going on outside. {He then tells she needs to go back to the ship, and he's willing to fight her to make her obey}. You've put me in quite the mood." 

He saw her get assaulted, saw her kill the guy, and flirts with "{SHE} PUT HIM IN QUITE THE MOOD"?

He adds further on in the scene: "I let you kill Sheck {the guy who attacked Alosa}. Because I couldn't do it myself." 

There is so much wrong with this scene! How is this guy someone you would want to be the hero of a story? How is his behaviour just glossed over?

Then just when you think it couldn't get worse: 

{As Alosa heads to Drazen's room} 

Riden: "But please, only use it {the knife} if you have to. He's still my brother. Don't kill him...Get free and get out of there if you can. That's the best I can do. The map for my brother and freedom for you. Please. Again I'll ask you, don't kill him." 

Your brother is going to attempt to rape the woman you claim to love BUT YOU DON'T WANT HER TO KILL HIM. 

Then Alosa replies: "What happens if Drazen overpowers me?" 
 Riden: "Oh are skilled, Alosa. No man could get the better of you..." 

This guy needs to be thrown to the sharks and even that would be too kind. 

Then when Alosa comes out of Drazen's room later... '"Did you kill him?" is the first thing he {Riden} asks me.'

I am appalled by Riden and I am horrified at the way Levenseller writes these scenes of sexual assault. They are nothing more than plot points, and Riden is supposed to be the wonderful love interest. There is everything wrong with that. 

← CRAZY HOUSE by James Patterson

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