Romanticised Abuse: Sexual Assault in "Daughter of the Pirate King"

Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
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- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: 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 to give you the context:
- 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 the Captain's - his name is Drazen - 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 have sex with her. He 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.

My problems with both these scenes combined: 

1: The scenes - especially the first one - are light-hearted. They are written lightly, and from Alosa's perspective they are of 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 fiesty, firey-tongued 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 in including these two scenes of attempted rape because the scenes are not trested 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. 

2: 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 or admirable. Think of 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?! Am I even reading this right?! 
Yes, yes I am. 

And then when Alosa sees Riden 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." 
OKAY EW GROSS. 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 THAT MY INARDS ARE SPEWING OUT OF MY MOUTH. How the heck is this guy someone you would want to be the hero of a story? How the heck is his behaviour just glossed over?! 

Then just when you think it couldn't get worse, we get to the second scene and Riden proves once again that he's more than worthy to be fish food. 
{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." 

Yeah Riden, your brother is going to attempt to rape the woman you claim to love BUT YOU DON'T WANT HER TO KILL HIM. Oh no

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

Yes Riden, because that's how we respond. 

OH MY GOSH. This guy needs to be thrown to the sharks and even that would be too kind. I have no words for how absolutely despicable he is. 

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, a means to an end, and Riden is supposed to be the swoony love interest. And there is everything wrong with that. 

← CRAZY HOUSE by James Patterson

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