Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Rant: Different Does Not Mean Wrong!

Taken By The Huntsman came into being because I had a dream after having a debate with an online friend. I'll leave the details of the dream to your imagination , but the debate was about the nature of consent and what should and should not be accepted by society. I'm of the opinion that any behavior (sexual or otherwise) that is engaged in by consenting adults (of any number or combination) that does not affect anyone other than the consenting adults involved should be accepted by society. My online friend disagreed strenuously, and insisted that there are societal standards that must be adhered to; even among consenting adults in private.

While I generally try to respect any and all points of view, whether or not I agree with them, I found my friend's stance to be disturbing on many levels. First, I believe that any attempt to regulate people's freedom to act in the manner in which they feel most comfortable is a very slippery slope. Obviously people need to be careful to avoid acting in ways that infringe on other people's freedoms (in other words, your freedom to swing your arm ends at my nose), but short of that I believe it is very important for people to be free to express themselves in whatever way they feel is true to themselves. Second, I believe any attempt to define morality in regards to personal behavior is arrogant in the extreme and will ultimately be unsuccessful. Just look at how successful prohibition was.

I set out to write a book that would entertain, and hopefully arouse, my readers, but also to start a discussion about right and wrong, and consensual contact vs. non-consensual contact. There are several plot lines in my story where the characters explore their feelings, and the reasons for them, about sex, crimes, punishment of criminals, societal structure and one's place in it, justice, revenge, and both romantic and platonic relationships. I had hoped to start a dialog about how our society treats people who don't always fit into a nice, neat little box for us.

Therefore, it shouldn't have surprised me, though it did, when one of the people who know my real identity (I know, so mysterious! ;-)) read my book and informed me they were offended because the relationship between the hero and the heroine glorifies rape! I probed a little to find out why the book gave them such an impression and I was informed that in their opinion, any time one partner is restrained by another during sex it is rape. The fact that my characters repeatedly communicated with each other and sought explicit consent for every sexual encounter and act was apparently irrelevant; restraint was involved and therefore it was an act of rape.

This person wasn't the only one who has read my book who expressed concern about some of the themes contained therein, but it was their bold declaration about a subject as serious as rape that stuck in my mind. I have to say, I did expect some judgment from others when I set out to write an erotic romance novel, that's why I chose to use a pen name, but it still surprises me to hear others make blanket statements like 'all sexual encounters that involve restraining one of the participants (even when it is done with their consent and for their pleasure) are rape.'

Really?!? Rape? Rape is a very serious crime, that should never be trivialized, and, honestly, I find the comparison between the mutually agreed to and enjoyed sexual activities engaged in by my characters and an act that, by its very nature, is non-consensual, demeaning, and traumatic to the victim to be insulting. Though the activities described in Taken By The Huntsman are certainly not activities that everyone would enjoy or agree to (can anyone name any activity other than breathing, eating some form of food, and drinking some type of liquid that everyone would agree to?), there are many people who do engage in them (and enjoy them) here on planet Earth (not just in Fairie), and the claim that what they are doing is wrong or immoral in some way (or criminal, dehumanizing, and cruel like rape) is both absurd and dangerous. Seeing how popular erotica has become gives me hope that people are willing to open their minds a bit to the possibilities life has to offer, and to the idea that different does not mean wrong, but some of the conversations I've had as a result of writing Taken By The Huntsman have shown me we still have quite a ways to go.

I sincerely believe that love, in all of its many and varied forms, is magical, and that if we, as a society, can truly embrace this concept many of the problems we now find insurmountable will disappear. Until then, I wish all of you luck in finding your own magical love, and hope you will fully embrace and explore your own passions and desires.

With love,

Mistral Dawn

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