Per last week's lengthy post on domestic violence and romance, author Foz Meadows has a truly excellent post up on the Book Smugglers site that deals with the fine line between heroes who are Bad Boys (TM) and heroes who are just plain abusive. Here's the bit that made me sit straight up and cheer:
The classic bad boy – the rebel – is defiant, confident, anarchic; a counteragent to the conformity, he breaks rules, laws and established social mores alike, both on principle and for the joy of it. Such danger as he poses to women is neither physical nor emotional (or at least, not emotionally toxic), but rather inherent in his ability to make them aware of their own sexuality in settings that would otherwise repress it, and to make them rebel in settings where modesty, obedience and chastity are heavily gendered virtues. Which isn’t to say that women take no risks in pursuing a classic bad boy: they might get their hearts broken, or encounter more dangerous situations than usual by dint of stepping beyond the safety of the familiar – and certainly, they risk their reputations. But they’re not exposed to possessive, violent jealousy; they’re not stalked, controlled or threatened.
No bad boy is a perfect saint: that’s key to their appeal. But whereas the classic bad boy allows women to escape from patriarchal control, new bad boys – abusers – reinforce it. Where rebels are too cool to show they care and so appear jaded or standoffish, abusers both show and mask their love through manipulation, stalking, aggression, threats and belittlement. And at some point in the not-too-distant past, the cultural default seems to have switched from the former to the latter.
It's a great piece. Read the whole thing!