For the most part, better or worse, I will finish a book once I pick it up. I can count on one hand the number of times I prematurely put a novel down, vowing never to read it again. One was Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella but it was mainly because I loved the movie so much that, for me, it was hard to translate into a book (this has not happened since because I always love the book ten times more than the movie). I also stopped reading Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordan only 60 pages in because nothing was happening and it certainly wasn’t scaring me.
And, finally, tonight, I stopped reading The Washintonienne by Jessica Cutler and I vow never to pick it up again.
The basis of the book is slutty Jackie gets caught cheating on her fiancé so she moves from New York to DC. There she finds she can fuck guys for money (mainly rent money) or to get jobs (that man was rewarded with his own job). It wasn’t the sex that turned me away, even though having the main character get laid on ever other page was boring as fuck. It wasn’t even the non-existent plot or lack of character development that sent urges of throwing the book out the window dancing through my arms and fingers. No, it was the scent about one-third of the way through the book when Jackie is ass reaped and fails to acknowledge it as such.
The scene starts off when Jack and Dan, one of her “boyfriend” (read: fuck buddies), goes to the office late at night for a little action. When they find the senator’s office locked, Dan suggests his cubical. Jackie doesn’t like the idea and insists they leave, but Dan maneuvers her to his desk. Suddenly, he’s on top of her from behind and she is struggling to get free. Twice she tells him to stop but Dan “warns” her with, “‘Shhh…you don’t want this incident to end up on the front page of Roll Call, do you?’”*
The next line read from Jackie’s thoughts as narrator: “I stopped struggling.”
She continues to make excuses as to why they can’t have anal sex, yet Dan dismisses them, telling Jackie to “‘just relax.’”
It gets worse as Jackie complains that it will hurt her, as they don’t have any lube. Dan trumps her with, what sounds in my mind like a misogynistic comment, “‘I want it to hurt…I want you to feel every vein.’”
After the incident Jackie, instead of acknowledging the date rape as it was, plays it off as “giving [herself] over to a man…to find out how nasty he really was.” The truth of the scene, though, is she said no several times, verbally and nonverbally but Dan had his way anyway and he was completely in the wrong.
Rape scenes are one thing, when they are essential to the plot and forward the characterization of the protagonist. But when the scene is disguised from what it really is, it is not only a huge slap in the face of every female but also a swift kick to the groin for every rape victim. The messages the scene sends to women are many: we are powerless, we deserve to be treated this way, our opinions do not matter, we wanted it to happen, and rape isn’t really rape. Stop these messages from spreading. Don’t read the book and discourage your friends from ever buying or reading the book. Let authors of all kinds know that it is not okay to send these messages to women. No always means no.
*Quotes taken from pages 113-114 of the hardcover edition: ISBN 1401302009