Beautiful Bastard is a yet to be released book that began as a fanfic of Twilight. Originally called The Office — no not that one — it follows a young woman and her boss in an illicit workplace relationship. Written by Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs Venstra, the book will be published under the pen-name of Christina Lauren. It mimics Fifty Shades of Grey in that it appears to be terribly written and was picked up by a major publisher after it gained popularity online.
The book is about a young intern from Chicago, who we are introduced to as Miss Chloe Mills, and her asshole boss, Bennett Ryan. Mills has an internship at Ryan Media Group as part of her MBA program at Northwestern University. Too bad Ryan doesn’t care about Mills smarts.
Here are some of the best lines. And by best I mean worst:
"He had a face that any male model would kill for and the most incredible hair I’ve
"I was leaning over the table, gesturing toward a set of graphs, when it happened..."
"'Their timeline for the first milestone is a little ambi—' I stopped midsentence, my breath caught in my throat. His hand pressed gently into my lower back before sliding down, settling on the curve of my ass."
"I despised this man in a singularly sharp way, but my body was betraying me..."
Despite her apparent hatred of this man, her body gives into the way he perfectly rubs her lady areas. But don’t worry, she doesn’t give into what he wants, she only put his penis in her mouth for a second. Then she realized he was the "world's biggest asshole."
But enough snark.
There are actual issues with these books. The relationships in Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and now Beautiful Bastard, are all abusive. They successfully normalize and romanticize abuse , and that is a huge problem.
These passages highlight some of the abuse:
"His lips crushed mine, stopping my protest. He kissed me angrily, roughly, his other hand gripping tight around the back of my neck, making escape impossible. I shoved against his chest with all my strength, but he didn’t even seem to notice. His mouth was soft, despite the anger, his lips molding to mine in a warm, unfamiliar way. I grabbed at his face, trying to push it away, failing again. He seemed to notice this time, though, and it aggravated him. His lips forced mine open, and I could feel his hot breath in my mouth. Acting on instinct, I let my hands drop to my side, and shut down. I opened my eyes and didn’t fight, didn’t feel… just waited for him to stop."
"He grabs me suddenly and yanks me up against him, one hand at my back holding me to him and the other fisting in my hair.
"'You're one challenging woman,' He kisses me, forcing my lips apart with his tongue, taking no prisoners.
"'It's taking all my self-control not to fuck you on the hood of this car, just to show you that you're mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I'll buy you a fucking car,' he growls."
"Never been fucked like this before, have you? You wouldn’t be such a tease if you were being properly fucked."
Project Unbreakable began as a way for survivors of rape and abuse to take back the words their abusers said to them. It is very hard to read the submissions and not also see similarities with the excerpts above. Each of these books perpetuate rape myths. They encourage women to look past signs of abuse, to stay with abusive men because they can change. These books are works of fiction, but how many women and young girls will see them and look past the signs of abuse? I am not suggesting that people should be banned from reading them or anything like that, but surely these books highlight remaining unresolved issues of rape culture.
As February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, and with the these kinds of books not going away any time soon, it seems like it as good a time as any to discuss what behaviors make up healthy relationships.