This post will probably be disjointed.  I’ve been sick with pneumonia and trying to hide it, and am very tired, and now very angry.

Last night Melissa Gorga’s book, Love Italian Style: The Secrets of my Hot and Happy Marriage, was brought to my attention. I do not watch the show she’s on since I don’t bother with cable, and even if I did, Real Housewives of New Jersey isn’t the kind of show I’d watch anyway.

Against my better judgement, and because I thought the article I read was making up their excerpts, I obtained a copy of the book.  Now I must destroy my beloved iPad Mini.

“Men, I know you think your woman isn’t the type who wants to be taken. But trust me, she is. Every girl wants to get her hair pulled once in a while. If your wife says “no,” turn her around, and rip her clothes off. She wants to be dominated.

Women don’t realize how easy men are. Just give us what we want.”

Sometimes words fail me.  This is one of those times.  (The rest of this paragraph was written after I had more time to think)  Joe wrote that piece.  They do not understand how this is considered to be promotion of rape.  “If she says no, do it anyway because she really wants it.”  Joe apparently thinks criticism is funny, particularly regarding the “misogynistic” Jezebel review.  Horrifically he has stated that Melissa sometimes fights, but that he “always win[s].”  This is not in the context of safe, sane, and consensual power play is a BDSM relationship.  Oh no.  This is billed as THE way have a happy relationship, to the point that their sons are allowed to do what they want and their daughter is all but locked away from the world.

After a break of several minutes, I still can’t quite figure out how to phrase the rage I feel without resorting the the sort of expletives I try to keep from being part of my professional image.  Women have fought for several decades for the right to say NO within a marriage, yet here is a woman advocating spousal rape.

“I supposed I could get angry back him for getting the bulk end of his problems. But then again, that’s what a spouse is for. You get to release your stress on someone you trust, who you know won’t hold it against you.”

This is no different than Ana convincing herself she could tolerate Christian’s abuse of her because he “needed” an outlet.

“If I snap at him or get angry- he gets really angry and hurls abuse at me. He broke the baby’s highchair once and threw a chair across the restaurant.”

I’ve got nothing I can add to that other than if that is his tempter in public, what is going on behind closed doors?  In Freed, Christian tossed a table upon learning his wife was pregnant.

“I decided I’d dump my single friends because Joe doesn’t like it. He thinks they’re tempting me to cheat.”

Sound familiar?  Like a certain proscribed list dictated who a certain someone was allowed to see?

Why is this book causing an outcry when Fifty Shades espouses the same themes and yet is praised for how “romantic” it is?  When it happens to a real life person suddenly it’s not fun.  In a piece of fiction, it’s ideal, and we should all be so lucky, yet when it’s happening to a real living, breathing person…  Just let that be context for you.  An actual person is being hurt, and is clearly the victim of Stockholm Syndrome.  How is she different from Ana Steele-Grey?

While it would be easy to blame Melissa, she is clearly a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. I suspect that, in her mind, she IS protecting her daughter. What reason does she had to believe men are different than Joe? If her daughter only has men like that to look forward to, better to keep her locked away.

As someone who’s been in her shoes, including rape, I can attest to the fact that victims just don’t see it. From the outside it’s extremely clear. But not so much on the inside.

Rather than get angry at her, I think the anger needs to be placed on people like her husband who commit these crimes, and those among society who spout the virtues of relationships like this, such as every single defender of Fifty Shades.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time a real person has written a book promoting her abusive relationship as ideal.  Alisa Valdes wrote hers and called it The Feminist and the Cowboy, and it ultimately ended up being a book about abuse.   Thank goodness she finally saw some of the problems in her relationship and broke it off.  She’s lucky she’s safe.  When 1,500 women a year in the US are killed by their abusers, it’s risky to break up.  This just makes normalizing and idealizing these relationships that much worse.

I suppose we oughtn’t be surprised Snooki is a fan since no one in New Jersey can do wrong in her eyes (let’s see how long it is before my comment is deleted and I’m banned).  To her I’m mentally giving her a certain finger.  So far she seems to be the only well-known person who supports this book, and the Amazon reviews are largely unfavorable.  However the supporting reviews are alarming.  I will not quote them here, but they are available by clicking to the 5-star reviews.

Can someone please tell me why tens of millions around the world love and promote books that normalize the exact behavior that society does not celebrate happening to a flesh-and-bone human?  How is this not a mixed message to today’s young and impressionable people?

To be quite frank, Twilight was alarming when it came out.  Edward Cullen is an abusive character, and before Fifty Shades was released, those books were called out on this and declared to be dangerous.  I was so distraught throughout summer of last year that it inspired me to write a book in which an abuse victim gets out rather than have a young woman desire abuse.  Hence Sacred Blood was conceived.  Who would have thought we’d reach a point where Edward Cullen and his “I break into your house to watch you sleep” ways would be desirable by comparison to other “heroes”?  This is horrifying!  Edward is a tiny kitten compared to the some of these other guys.

I highly doubt Melissa’s book would have found a publisher if it weren’t for the light shone on Fifty Shades and the love and accolades poured onto Christian.  Books like Fifty Shades and the popularity around them not only help normalize abusive relationships like Melissa’s, but can make it harder to leave.  If tens of millions support non-consensual or coerced submission as being wonderful, how can she, a Stockholm victim, believe anything other than her relationship is to be envied?  And the saddest thing?  She isn’t alone, and the cycle is continuing even in her own family.

We, as authors AND readers, need to start pulling on the pendulum to swing it back.  We need to do our parts to end this trend of romanticizing abuse.  Authors, shun the trend and instead write books showing strong women who get out and get back on their own two feet, or of men who respect women.  Readers, start giving your money to books showing women and men who should be held up as ultimately positive role models.  Each individual person might not seen like a lot, but collectively we can change the time.  Through how we write and buy, we CAN say that abuse such as Melissa is living is not okay!  We CAN take back the belief that abuse is romantic!  But we each much do our part.