Friday, June 28, 2013

No Sympathy: The Abuse of Men

Since we have left Facebook, we are making an effort to blog more often, and that includes me. So now when a subject that weighs on me comes up, I am to blog about it. 

Which brings me to today's topic. I am an editor for Evernight Publishing, an awesome romance publisher, and one I am quite proud to work for. But one thing that I am seeing in more manuscripts that cross my desk – and from what I have seen from various other publishers as well – is male abuse. No, not the abuse of women by men. The abuse of men by women. 

Let me give you an example. (And, no, of course this is not taken from any manuscript I edited! It is merely an example, similar to many I see.)

Terry was furious. How dare Chris hide out here, trying to get Terry to take time off work just to come out? Didn't Chris care that the whole business deal could fall through if they weren't both present for the signing? 

“Terry!” Chris opened the door with a brilliant smile. “I was hoping you would come!” 

“You brat!” Terry, well-trained in martial arts and full of a boiling temper, gave a single, well-placed punch to Chris' jaw. 

The light in Chris' eyes flickered, but the smile stayed pasted on. “Come on in.” 

Terry swept in, ignoring the swelling bruise on Chris' jaw. After all, she deserved it.

This is terrible, and we should speak up about this horrible abuse.

Horrible, isn't it? The abuse victim, with her terror and her easy acceptance of the blame her abuser dishes out. I have never seen an incident like the one above, where a man hits a woman. I have seen, and more than once, incidents where the woman hits a man, like this: 

Terry was furious. How dare Chris hide out here, trying to get Terry to take time off work just to come out? Didn't Chris care that the whole business deal could fall through if they weren't both present for the signing? 

“Terry!” Chris opened the door with a brilliant smile. “I was hoping you would come!” 

“You brat!” Terry, well-trained in martial arts and full of a boiling temper, gave a single, well-placed punch to Chris' jaw. 

The light in Chris' eyes flickered, but the smile stayed pasted on. “Come on in.” 

Terry swept in, ignoring the swelling bruise on Chris' jaw. After all, he deserved it.

LOL! Aww, it's just a cute lovers' spat!

Doesn't that change the tenor of the whole passage, making it a light, funny piece, suitable for a romance novel? Doesn't that make it just a funny exchange between a pair of bickering lovers? Apparently, everyone seems to think so. But, for the life of me, I cannot see why. Why is abuse of men by women amusing? Why is it not taken seriously? In the past, this same horrible disparity still held true, as, for instance, in France in the 18th century if a husband was found to be battered, he “was made to wear an outlandish outfit and ride backwards around the village on a donkey” (Steinmetz & Lucca 1988). This fits with the still-prevalent modern idea that women are always the passive victims, men the horrible aggressors. Who would dare have suggested, even in 18th century France, that a battered wife have ridicule added to her burden of abuse? 

Did you know that in 1990, the then-governor of Ohio, Richard Celeste, granted clemency to 25 women who were in prison for assault or murder, based on the “Battered Woman Syndrome” for defense. Clearly, no man could claim “Battered Woman Syndrome” as his defense. (See the NY Times for the report on the clemency.)

Furthermore, does no one see that this makes spousal abuse a capital crime, one in which the victim is allowed to serve as executioner? These women had already been found guilty by a court of law and were serving out sentences for assault or even murder. 

In the UK, recent data from the Home Office and the British Crime Survey show that 40% of domestic violence victims are men. Many groups claim that men are not believed when they report abuse, which is actually not as often as it occurs. Though that claim could be hard to substantiate, what is easy to prove is that there are 7,500 refuges for battered women in the UK. There are 60 for men. And, no, the men don't get to use the women's shelters. 

And there is anger about this issue, you know, anger that anyone would dare to suggest it exists. In 1986, Strauss & Gelles conducted a study on abuse of husbands by wives, and they were actually “criticized for presenting statistics on violence by wives” (Strauss & Gelles, 1986). Can you imagine the outcry if a study were criticized for presenting statistics on violence by husbands? Why is it all right for a woman to hit a man?

Duh?! (oh, and it should be "man", not "men")

I have tried to reason with the authors of the pieces in which I find this violence, and unfortunately, the response I receive is one of incredulity and disbelief. The authors contend that they don't view this as abuse, and they maintain that their readers will not, either.

Am I alone in thinking that when one partner hits another, causing bruises and swelling, then later knocks the same partner flat on the ground, threatens further violence, and when the injured party adjusts all behavior to take account of the physical violence likely to come as a result, that we have a case of classic domestic abuse? Why does this become all right when the violent party is the female, the abused party the male?

What would happen if a man hit back? He would be considered a bully and a brute. How dare he hit a girl? But what is he supposed to do then? Leave? Telling a battered wife to leave is easy; her actually doing it, not so much. The position of an abused male partner is even more dire. Remember the statistic above about shelters? If an abused wife can manage to, after the cycle of abuse is established, get away, there are many places to send her, and there is counseling and sympathy available. That is good; that is as it should be. But why is there not such a thing for a man? A man who manages to break away from an abuser is on his own and out of luck. If he were to tell anyone about his reasons for leaving, he would be mocked and ridiculed.

You got beat up by a woman? LOL! You suck!

My own husband is, of course, not a battered spouse. <3 I defy any woman on earth to love her husband more than I love mine. But just because my husband is safe, does not mean that other women's husbands are. So, for the sake of those who dare not speak up on their own behalf, I want to speak. (mrs)

Steinmetz, Suzanne K. and Lucca, Joseph S. "Husband Battering" in Handbook of Family Violence Van Hasselt, Vincent B. et al. editors, Plenum Press, New York 1988, p. 233-246

Straus, M.A. & Gelles, R.J. "Societal change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys" Journal of Marriage and the Family 48, po. 465-479, 1986

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When You're Married to a Genius...

What do you do when you're just some ordinary chump married to a genius? I've heard that people can get quite defensive or try to play a game of one-upmanship, as if your relationship were some kind of competition. You might feel a bit -- or a lot -- intimidated by so much genius settling down on her pillow next to you every night.

So I've been asking myself over the last few months: why am I not intimidated by my wife's genius? Why have I never been locked in that all-too-common struggle to prove my own worth? I still don't have a good answer, but I think it has to do with our complementary relationship. She tells me I bring things to the table that she doesn't have, and through me she sees and experiences the world in a new way. And she, of course, completes me in ways that only she could.

My trip-partner at work.

I look at my wife and marvel. She teaches 10th, 8th, 6th, and 1st grades to our daughters, so she's juggling chemistry, reflexive pronouns, least common multiples, and phonics. She can explain passages in the Aeneid to one kid and then turn around and cheerfully read Go, Dog, Go! to another. She edits for Evernight, writes some of the most interesting and hottest fiction out there right now, and can help me with my university research of Visual Syntactic Text Formatting.

It's as if she's a dual-wielding battle goddess, with edits in one hand and her own fiction in the other. No, no. Wait. It's mama-duties in one hand and wifely-loving in the other. No, no. It's teaching in one and academic research in the other. Actually, I think she just has six hands. I'll have to look her over later...

Anyway, I get confused after a while and can't keep up. I've stopped trying. It's never been a competition. It's about love. I love her in the best way I know how, and she loves me better than any woman has ever loved a man. Ever. I guess that comes with the big brain. They say the brain is the biggest sex organ, so smart girls do it better.

You can't see me, but I'm nodding vigorously right now.

"Getting lucky" doesn't do justice to what she does with me. But here's the question I have for all the ladies. My wife likes it rough. She loves the domination, the way I play with her like a lion. She's my kitten, helpless in my hands. Is this because she's super smart, so she needs to be able to lose control? She needs to be conquered?  Is this common among intelligent women, or is it a peculiarity of my wife's personality?

Smart girls do it better, and as my wife is the smartest woman I know, I've never seen a better wife, lover, mother, teacher, researcher, writer, or editor.

Sometimes I need a day alone with her among the flowers
to remind her how much I love her.

Did I mention that her baking is to die for and that she speaks Japanese and Italian in addition to her native English? What can I say?

She does it best. Everything.
(mr ad)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Under Orders

Doris O'Connor is one of the best writers whose manuscripts pass my editor's desk, so I'm thrilled to have her back on my blog today! Take it away, Doris! (ad)

Thanks so much for having me here today.

My newest release is an office based romance that started as flash on my blog. I find pictures incredibly inspiring and a number of my flashes have now morphed into longer stories. You can find the original Flash here.

It's a hot pic, which really got my muse going, and the story kept niggling at me, until I sat down to write it.

As per usual with me the story took a different slant to the one I was originally envisaging, when my hero revealed that he was in fact a vampire. A new breed of living, breathing vampire, who is Under Orders as much as Anna is in this story. Add to that the fact that Anna is the daughter of a slayer, and things get truly interesting, and very, very naughty, because these two cannot keep their hands of each other.

Well, let's face it, my characters never do, do they?


I had great fun writing this little tale, and I hope readers will enjoy it too.

Who ever heard of being ordered to wear vibrating panties to a business meeting? The visiting CEO may be sex-on-legs-gorgeous, but Anna knows a sexual harassment case when she sees it. No one is going to order her to entertain Jonathan Symmonds—no one but her own body it seems.

Jonathan proves a hard man to resist. When he reveals his secret identity, this daughter of a slayer ought to be running for the hills not play submissive to his dark side.

Will passion and a shared past be enough to keep them together, or is their bond doomed to end at the stake?

Be Warned: bondage, public exhibition


Clearly it had been way too long since Anna had last gotten laid if her body could respond to a complete stranger in this fashion of reckless abandonment.

He turned his attention back to the room, and Anna released the breath she’d been holding. Brian glared at her, and that uneasy feeling in her stomach returned. She squared her shoulders and stared him down, before Jonathan’s hand on her thigh pulled her attention back to him.

“I would like to thank Anna for her diligent attention to detail in drawing up these reports.” He shifted his hand higher during those few words, until he reached the top of her stocking. Digging one finger underneath he caressed the soft skin of her inner thigh, and Anna forced herself not to squirm and give the game away. “She has been most thorough, and the results will show once and for all who is responsible for this current … mishap.”

He smiled briefly, and looked toward Brian. The older man shrank in his seat. His Adam’s apple bobbed wildly as though he could barely hold onto his saliva. Beads of sweat broke out on his ruddy complexion, and Anna was half expecting the pencil he clutched to splinter under the strain of his white knuckled grip.

“I also feel the need to make it clear that Anna acted under direct orders from myself and her immediate superior.” He nodded toward Anna’s boss, and Leonard Peterson shifted to stand behind Brian, his expression as grave as she’d ever seen it.

“No one here should have any reason to hold the findings of this report against Anna.” Again he paused, and his penetrating gaze swept around the room until he seemed satisfied that he had everyone’s undivided attention. At the same time he shifted his hand higher up the inside of her thigh, until his knuckles brushed against the damp fabric covering her slit. Anna bit her lip to stop herself from moaning. The feather light touch seared her core, and her internal muscles clenched in need. The fabric grew wetter, and he was bound to notice. She risked a peek at his profile, and the slight elevation to his bottom lip told her that he knew exactly how turned on she was.

He took a deep breath and brushed his forefinger against her clit, pressing down just enough to make the little nubbin tingle in anticipation. That smirk of his deepened, when she couldn’t help her involuntary jump in response.

“Likewise no one in this room has anything to fear from these findings, unless they have not been acting in the company’s best interests. If you have indeed been mishandling funds then now would be a prudent time to own up to this fact.”

Again he paused, and Anna held her breath. He looked every inch the ruthless and dangerous business man he was reported to be. His harsh features had drawn tight, his high cheek bones accentuated under the artificial lighting that filled the room, despite the blaring sun outside the windows overlooking London’s skyline. He held himself perfectly still, the muscles bulging in tension under the light summer suit he wore. Only his finger moved in slow, measured circles, designed to drive Anna to the brink of insanity. She grasped hold of her armrests again, and coughed to hide her moan as that finger slipped under the elastic of her underwear and teased her entrance.

“I-I—” Brian shot out of his chair and looked as though he would have made a run for it, had Leonard not grabbed him by the suit lapels and pinned him against the wall. The door burst open, and two burly security guards took over and dragged Brian from the room. Anna was barely aware of the ensuing commotion, because Jonathan chose that moment to thrust two fingers knuckle deep inside her channel. Her pussy walls tightened around the digits, and Anna shut her eyes against the rising sensation deep within. There was something so deliciously naughty about the CEO finger-fucking her under the table.

The barely functioning rational side of her brain urged her to scream, to do something. He was taking liberties with her body that he had no right to take, but the other horny as hell part of her told that side to shut the fuck up, even as Jonathan added his thumb to her clit, pushing her closer and closer to release.

“Leonard, get Anna a glass of water. She is looking a little flushed.”

Her eyes flew open at the amused words, and she knew her cheeks must be as red as the roses in the vase across the room, when her boss stepped close enough to her to see exactly what was happening under the table. Jonathan did not release her. If anything he stepped up his assault, curling his fingers in such a way that he massaged her sweet spot deep inside.

Leonard cleared his throat repeatedly, and the water splashed over the side of the glass he was pouring for Anna, masking the wet sounds of Jonathan’s fingers thrusting in and out of her sopping cunt. She would leave a visible stain on her skirt and chair at this rate, but Anna could no more stop herself from climbing towards bliss than she could stop breathing. She dug her fingers into the arms of her chair and bit her lip so hard she drew blood, as her orgasm hit her with the full force of a speeding train. Irrespective of where she was, or perhaps because of it, waves of pleasure crashed over her, as her body shook in delicious aftershocks. Jonathan did not withdraw his fingers until the last of her shudders stopped, and when she opened her eyes it was to find the room empty, bar the three of them.

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Glutton for punishment would be a good description for Doris... at least that's what she hears on an almost daily basis when people find out that she has a brood of nine children, ranging from adult to toddler and lives happily in a far too small house, cluttered with children, pets, dust bunnies, and one very understanding and supportive husband. Domestic goddess she is not. 

There is always something better to do after all, like working on the latest manuscript and trying not to scare the locals even more than usual by talking out loud to the voices in her head. Her characters tend to be pretty insistent to get their stories told, and you will find Doris burning the midnight oil on a regular basis. Only time to get any peace and quiet and besides, sleep is for wimps.

She likes to spin sensual, sassy, and sexy tales involving alpha heroes to die for, and heroines who give as good as they get. From contemporary to paranormal, BDSM to F/F, and Ménage, haunting love stories are guaranteed.


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