• Home
  • Books
  • Dark romance authors: stop romanticizing abuse. (Op-Ed)
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Ja Cripsy

Dark romance authors: stop romanticizing abuse. (Op-Ed)

BookTok has devolved into an age where literature is ignored, and “spicy” dark romances are endlessly raved over and given a platform. While there is nothing wrong with romance novels, there is an inherent issue in dark romance books: they often depict abusive relationships in a positive, glorified, romanticized way. There is no literary value to the abuse, it is purely to be “spicy” pornographic content for young women.

Young women are the target audience for dark romance, women who are more likely to be influenced by the novel and the author’s endorsement of abuse as “sexy.” These novels have the potential to warp the brains of young women to believe that when their boyfriend hits them, it’s attractive when in reality it is toxic masculinity and abuse. I have hate-read (reading for the express purpose of leaving a bad review) several of the most popular dark romance novels that glorify abuse, and I can confidently say that they are not easy to read.

The male love interests in these novels are possessive and often resort to violence. Sexual violence is displayed as being attractive, even if it is non-consensual. These men are hypermasculine, dangerous, and enjoy hurting women. Through the means of kidnapping, torture, and manipulation, they convince the female main character that she deserves the abuse. Worse, they trick her into believing that she enjoys the abuse. Graphic sex scenes dominate most of the text. There is nothing wrong with being kinky, but it should always be consensual.

I read a werewolf romance book a few months ago where the female main character must sleep with the male werewolf, or he will die. She is pressured to have sex with a man she does not know, or he will literally become deceased. What kind of message does that send to young women? Certainly not a good one.

The male love interests almost always seek to isolate the female lead, keeping her from her friends and family. In some cases, dark romances contain graphic rape scenes. He wants to own her, treat her as an object, and deny her free will. Yet, women on BookTok refer to them as their “book boyfriends” and eat this abuse up as sexy content.

I am begging dark romance authors to reevaluate the impact their books have on their readers. The least you can do is include trigger warnings so that survivors of abuse are not re-traumatized by your work. Please, stop romanticizing abuse. Physical, mental, and sexual abuse do not deserve to be glorified; you are not empowering women to explore their sexual freedom, you’re convincing them that men are allowed to treat them like objects.


Join Our Mailing List

Recent Articles

Hey! Are you enjoying NYCTastemakers? Make sure to join our mailing list for NYCTM and never miss the chance to read all of our articles!