Sexism in Chapters

It’s been a long time since I’ve really read anything new. I am notorious for being very picky about the things that I read. I’m known for reading the same series over and over again until I am sick of them (same with tv shows and movies as well). One place where I have been exposed to new stories, however, are choices apps on my phone. There are quite a few of them, and I couldn’t possible name every single one, but I have been recently reading stories on the app called ‘Chapters’.

Chapters, like the other apps, includes a series of stories where the reader plays the protagonist (usually female) and has the option to make choices that affect the storyline throughout. Some of the choices are free and others are paid (which is another story altogether). The issue is that these stories rely heavily on romance and eroticism to attract readers.

While I don’t have an issue with romance per say, I do find it to be a bit boring and predictable, especially when it’s the only plot. There usually is a small collection of paranormal stories on the apps, which is where I tend to gravitate until I read all of them or I get sick of the app.

The problem is that the romance that I’m seeing in a lot of these tends to be pretty toxic. In one story, the protagonist was kidnapped by the male lead, and then he spends the read of the time relentlessly flirting with her. Stockholme Syndrome anyone?

Honestly, this is one of the better ones, because the forced interaction is a necessity. It takes place in sort of an apocalyptic world (my observation, not necessarily what the author intended), and aside from the male lead’s relentless flirting, there has so far been no forced romance. The characters are essentially being forced to work together by the situation they are in, which I find to be more tolerable than the other stories I’ve found on the app.

In another, the protagonist is forced to go on a date with her stalker, even with making every possible choice to avoid this outcome. And yet, this is not the worst of the stories. In another story, the reader has no choice but to endure sex with her captor (I stopped reading as soon as things started to heat up).

My concern is that this is what young women and girls are being exposed to and taught that romance is. No wonder 50% of marriages end in divorce, and a majority of the rest are not happy. Our society has forgotten how relationships and sex are actually supposed to be, and that can be dangerous for women and girls.

Relationships should be built on mutual trust, respect, and affection, and while sex can be a part of that, it’s not about being drawn to one another and losing oneself in an animal frenzy with a man you barely know.

We need to have better examples of relationships and sexual encounters in literature and the media, otherwise, we as a society will continue to repeat the mistakes of the past and be completely out of touch about what a real relationship can be.

23 thoughts on “Sexism in Chapters

  1. I respectfully disagree. I think the arts should be free to represent just about anything. I’m thinking of David Bowie’s “Outside” CD where he talks about “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” and even more upsetting themes. I am not convinced that is it the role of the author or artist to be a moral teacher or exemplar for young people. Perhaps if the genre specfically is aimed at teens (i.e. Juvenile Fiction), well maybe. But even then, I think not representing certain realities of life can lead to repression, neurosis, etc.

      1. On movies, but 13 year old girls can watch up to PG13 rated movies without a parent, which is what most of the stories I am talking about are rated. Even if we managed to get the ratings higher to keep young, impressionable girls out of movies that glorify abuse, there are no such ratings on books. The books that glorify this–like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey which is based on Twilight are marketed to teenage girls. I don’t think parental involvement is the issue at all. I think it’s the way relationships are portrayed in general in the media. Abuse is glorified as being romantic, being the standard. Now, first, I am not saying that someone should go in and regulate artistic content–that is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that artists and content creators have a responsibility to think about how their content is affecting society, young girls in particular, and their views of relationships. That is all I am saying.

      2. Yeah I think I got that. My point is that if kids and parents *discussed* what they were consuming… parents might be able to unpack, caution or redirect their kids to better content…

        This assumes, of course, that parents are mature… which is a huge assumption. πŸ™‚

        The other side of the coin is that strange content can be cathartic to folks who have suffered in this way. That may be part of the attraction, in some instances.

      3. I agree that kids and parents discussing those kinds of stories is a good solution, however, I also agree that not all parents are mature. I don’t agree that the people who are watching the content though are the ones who have been through it. I would posit that the people who have gone through it are the ones who find it offensive. I didn’t personally go through it, but I grew up in a household where it went on, and I can tell you that Twilight is more of an offensive head trip than a cathartic experience. I would recommend looking up commentary on Twilight. My guess is that you’re going to find comments like mine where the person finds it to be offensive, bordering on dangerous, or you’re going to get teenage girls and young women talking about how romantic it is.

  2. I actually agree with you on several points. Especially what you said about sexuality. Funny how those sudden, passionate encounters we see on TV rarely if ever involve the all too important question(s) of contraception, STDs, and pregnancy. Priests and other celibates watching that must get a really distorted idea of what it is really like.

    Anyhow, this clearly is a specific area that you are up on whereas me, you have simply sparked an interest. I have heard about Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey because I do have lots of nieces and nephews and try to stay up on pop culture.

    But yeah, I haven’t read or seen either. The books and DVDs are in our public library and if I wasn’t Covid concerned, I would probably take some out.

    In general – and please understand that my thinking tends to go toward holism – I would argue that the *symbol* of the vampire can stand for a lot more than its mere face value.

    So in that sense, it might be cathartic. Let’s say a ‘Meadow Soprano’ reads this book and digs the dysfunction because it symbolizes, directly or indirectly, the weirdness she deals with on a daily basis. Maybe that symbolic connection could keep our ‘Meadow’ from suiciding. And ‘Meadow’ would not talk about it on web forums because the meaning for her is all too hot. So the ‘Meadows’ of this world might not show up in an analysis such as yours — i.e. this or that.

    Our world IMO is complex and often secretive. So maybe for some folks caught up in that kind of dark web, dark fiction could help. Something they can relate to.

    Again, I’m talking in generalities because I have not actually read or seen any of this stuff.

    But… generally speaking, I might have a point?

      1. Oh, I see. I was assuming your familiarity with the TV show The Sopranos and using the character ‘Meadow’ as a symbol for any young girl or woman caught in a situation like hers. It’s actually not the best symbol because ‘Meadow’ was more into ‘highbrow’ literature and ‘intellectual’ books (she went to university). But generally speaking I was speaking about kids in her kind of situation.

      2. I’m very surprised. It is often touted as one of the best TV shows of all time. I wasn’t into it when I was younger. But when my eyes began to open about the world around me, it became quite engaging… In proper measure, that is. It’s not exactly ‘light’ viewing.

      3. See, that’s exactly the reason I wouldn’t watch it. Just too dark for my tastes. TV, movies, books…they’re more of an escape for me. There’s enough darkness in the real world. Realistic darkness on tv is just too much for me.

      4. Right, I respect that. I think I used to think, “Ick, why would I want to watch that..? until those types of forces, so I believe, began to impact me and my career. So I wanted to better understand for my own benefit, or whatever you want to call it.

        I grew up incredibly naive. Then I went overboard for a while and saw corruption in everything – a pretty natural reaction to trauma – and now I feel I have a good balance. At age 59 !!!!!!!!!!!!! πŸ˜„

      5. Ha ha. Well, when I was a kid the Penguins were part of the NHL, and I knew all the teams. Also, Roberto Clemente, perhaps before your time, actually replied to my Mom who wrote him some fan mail. Roberto sent two signed cards to my brother and me, which back then was a big deal… especially since we were in Canada.

      6. Although I should correct myself to explain that I have heard of The Sopranos–the show just doesn’t hold any interest for me for the reasons I said in my last comment. I’m not familiar with the term ‘Meadow Soprano’.

  3. p.s. Silly me. There is a digital copy of Twilight at the library that I just looked at (Overdrive). Interesting. Almost more interior scene description than I think is necessary. But maybe not. Bella has just moved in with her father and is off to school.

    I also did a search for the word “vampire” throughout the whole book which helped me get the gist of it. Thanks!

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