1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How can I write this seduction scenario with this character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Aug 6, 2016.

    Well it's more of a failed seduction attempt. Basically my story is about a female serial rapist/killer type villain. The reason why she became the way she is, is because all her life, men have constantly rejected her, causing her to feel more and more shame growing up, causing involuntary celibacy, until she finally snaps and has violent urges towards them. She would be about in her 30s now I am imagining for my story. The story is set in a modern day American city setting, but haven't decided which city yet.

    However, I find the character difficult to write because in reality, it seems that it's very easy for women to get dates and not have to feel lonely, or ashamed with themselves. There is one woman who is a friend of my gf, and she not to be mean or anything, but she isn't as good looking, cause she has a deformation in her face, that is quite significant, and she doesn't dress that well or class or anything like that. But she gets guys all the time.

    I mean it seems to me, that a woman who had this problem of men rejecting her, would have to be really hideous to put it honestly. Like maybe Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight kind of hideous. But the problem with that is, is that I want the reader to view this character as a person who can somewhat blend in too.

    I wrote it so that it's told from the main character detective's point of view. And he is investigating a mysterious unknown villain and does not find out who she is till about halfway to two thirds through the story roughly.

    But the character it turns out to be is someone he knows from the case, who was right under his nose the whole time, and he was fooled, along with the reader. But how can I write it so that this villain, has to appear to be normal enough to fool the main character halfway or more into the story, but at the same time be undesirable to the point where she cannot get any dates or sex? If the character is suppose to be undesirable to almost all men, the detective would likely figure out who the suspect may be therefore, right?

    She also has a scene where she tries to seduce a male character and it fails. But how can I write it so that her efforts do not have an an effect on him, when basically she is going to dressed nice, and giving it her all?

    What do you think?
     
  2. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    I'd suggest her issue might be not that no men want to be with her, but that the men she thinks she deserves don't want to be with her. So a guy who for whatever reason she thinks is beneath her is maybe flirting with her, or even madly in love with her, but she's so focused on some Adonis (who she is never going to have) that she doesn't even notice the other guy exists. This could add up in her mind to complete rejection by all men. She'd "appear normal" to the main character because she's not attracted to him.

    I think this thread started by @Keelan Goldhallow and responded to by a lot of our male forum users probably answers this. Your character sounds like she would go about the attempted "seduction" in a really f*ed up way, which no amount of being 'dressed nice' is going to make up for.

    I'm not a huge fan of this story idea. It sounds like the horrifically common story of every rapist ever, or even - what have they taken to calling them lately? - "active shooters", but with a less common female offender.
    Isn't that exactly the story of some shooter mass-murdering arsehole from a year or two ago?

    I feel like you need to speak to some (more?) women about your story. There are a couple of things you say above that cause some concern about you writing this character.
     
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  3. theamorset
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  4. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. What exactly are the couple of things that cause concern? Was it because you say it's similar to a true story about a year or two ago? If so, I am not sure which story that is, and I did not base my story off of any true person or event.
     
  5. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    The real life thing I had in mind was Eliot Rodger. He claimed girls wouldn't give him the time time of day and had never had sex... so he shot some people.

    What bothered me was more along the lines of @theamorset's point about it perhaps being best to do more work on seeing the world from a woman's perspective before you write this character. I might have misunderstood what you were getting at, and this is only my opinion but...

    Here you seem to imply that 1) getting a date means you don't feel lonely or ashamed with yourself - tying a woman's worth to whether anyone is sexually interested in her and 2) that you therefore wouldn't know how to make a female character feel lonely or ashamed. There are entire industries that make billions every year making women feel this way and selling them illusory fixes for feeling this way. If you think a woman (dateless or not) could never feel intensely lonely or ashamed, that's odd.

    Maybe that's not what you meant, but that's how I read it. Speaking for the whole of womankind :bigwink: we never think, "Well, it could never get so bad that no-one would want to sleep with me, therefore I feel loved and awesome". That's not a thing anyone has thought ever.

    This - and again, I may be wildly misinterpreting you, in which case I apologise - came worryingly close to the notion of someone being "too ugly to rape" (an idea that I file under "misogynistic bullshit".) I know you were talking about her wanting consensual sex, but saying that someone is so unattractive that no-one would ever have sex with them under any circumstances feels like it adds power to the idea that a particular individual could not have been raped because they are unattractive. I couldn't in good conscience put something on paper that might reinforce such a belief in a reader.

    'This one woman - in a city of how many - is so ugly that she must be the twisted lonely bitch who is doing this'? That misogyny 101: she's unattractive to men: lynch her! Is this a 17th century witch trial? "She's unmarried, her her is tangled, she has bad skin: she's a witch! Burn her!" You cannot have your MC identify a woman as evil/guilty of a crime because she isn't pretty. That is fucked up.


    You could write this story and do it well. It plays around with some very powerful emotions/situations, and taking what is more commonly a male-perpetrated crime could allow you to explore it afresh, and even help a male reader understand the kind of danger women kind feel from people who get very intense about their attraction to them (potential stalkers, rapists, murderers). BUT you need to do some serious work on this female character. At the moment she's a walking parody of every negative and demeaning thing that has ever been thought about women as a group: when a woman gets angry about something, it's only because she's upset that she's too ugly to fuck.
     
  6. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    I think we need to be extremely careful when writing about such characters based on what a real life serial killer says about himself.

    Why? Mainly because I do not believe that what real-life serial killers say about why they did what they did.

    In fact, I think they all are entirely, completely wrong when they explain to people why they did what they did, and I think it rings false in a story if we 'borrow' such things from them, because it just does not hold up to examination.

    It's what the serial killer THINKS people want to hear, what he THINKS will win him sympathy, or at the very least, understanding, which may lead to something he can take advantage of down the road.

    When actually (well I believe anyway) that serial killers have absolutely no idea why they do what they do. And they are not the type of people who worry about why they do what they do, except for what sort of advantage talking about it might create for them.

    The exception of course, being the person who is actually psychotic due to a brain disease like schizophrenia.
     
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  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Perhaps serial killer is the wrong term to describe my villain. I used it because I read it is someone who kills more than one person, but perhaps I am not applying the term right, if this is the case. I am not a psychology expert of course, so I just came up with the villain and her motives out of my own imagination, without as much psychology experience to it. Do you think that the villain can be accepted in to most readers without applying true psychology according to the experts, or is my villain perhaps under a different category other than 'serial killer'?
     
  8. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    Really interesting questions.

    Technically, a 'serial killer' has to meet a strict definition as to when his crimes occur, how much time lapses between them, and how many crimes he commits. There are plenty of other 'official' terms for other killers - rage killers, impulsive killers, etc. But the stats for 'serial killer' are all for people who fit the 'formal definition' (unless it's a sloppy study).

    I'm not sure that most readers know or care about those definitions. 'Serial killer' has a certain cache and fascination today, thanks to TV and other media. Most of them do not fit the public idea of being brilliantly intelligent, wronged by some horrible past, etc. They simply do not think like other people. Something is missing.

    In the public's mind, the term 'serial killer' overlaps with 'sociopath', 'psychopath', etc. I'm not sure most ordinary folks have a clear idea of most psychological terms, or that they care. As long as a story follows their preconceived notions, they're content.

    But I think as a writer, you need to write from solid ground. Many people don't feel that way, by the way. I do.

    As I mentioned, I think that basing a story on what a serial killer says about himself, isn't solid ground, and you'll wind up 'painting yourself into a corner' you can't get out of. I think you already have. You've got a number of unsolvable dilemmas that you described in your first post on this thread.

    I'm going to way overstep my newbie status, however, and say that I believe you're missing the point. The problem with the story isn't that you use the term 'serial killer', but what your story proposes about the nature of women, even about one female character. All that was brought up by other posters who have more cojones than I do. But I do agree with them.

    A high percentage of your readers(and reviewers, and editors and others) will be women, even if you aim the story at a male audience and uphold male stereotypes (such as, she went crazy because she was rejected sexually, which frankly, is nothing more than a male stereotype with no solid ground under it), faithfully.

    I think you need to have a more believable structure.

    Let's face it. Women who are in your character's situation are a dime a dozen. Women are rejected all the time, told they're unattractive all the time, ignored all the time, spend years alone all the time. And they need not have a facial defect. All they need is a few extra pounds. That'll do it. And they don't all become serial killers, no matter how severely, or consistently, or brutally, they're rejected. A very high percentage of women have been raped, sexually abused, physically abused, emotionally abused or simply told they are inconsequential. They don't all become serial killers. In fact, almost no women become serial killers(or similar killers), no matter what is done to them.

    It's important to keep in mind that female serial killers(and all similar killers), are still, incredibly rare.

    The story can be helped, I think, by addressing that. That she was rejected, could be how she attempts to gain sympathy or other advantages, by playing into people's stereotypes. A person like her would have zero insight into why she did what she did in any case.

    She could be like she is because of a 'bad seed' sort of idea(she had a violent father, for example, or something simply is wrong in her).

    I think that the only way the other elements of your story work is if she's quite attractive, moves easily in the world as a likeable woman, and attempts to manipulate the detective, and fails. Why? Because of some incredible, unusual, rare aspect of him that is able to resist such manipulation. Experience? Being that way himself? There are a lot of possibilities.
     
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  9. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    This is a hangover from 'rape culture'. This story reinforces many of the rape culture concepts.

    And of course, the trouble is, this rape culture thing isn't true. It doesn't really exist. It's not how women think. It's not even how most young men think any more. Most young men no longer think clothing or behavior means a woman 'deserves' to be raped. Most young men would not admit to believing a husband cannot rape his wife.

    There are hangovers of it, of course. There are still people who fervently believe parts of the rape culture. They can be spotted in many places.

    In reality, rape is an extremely odd crime. On police shows, there's a constant parade of episodes in which rapists are romantically involved at some level, with their victims. They want the victim to say they enjoyed it, and so on. These are porn fantasies, not how things really are.

    Rapists are usually male. And they will, to not put too fine a point on it, rape anyone from 8 months to 89 years. Rape is not entirely 'not about sex', but it largely, not about normal sex. It is mostly about anger, about power. It's frequently about humiliation. It is frequently violent.

    Victims are It's often a reaction to seeing physical or sexual abuse or both, as a child. It becomes an expected and accepted part of the child's adult world. The child's barriers are destroyed.

    Estimates of rapes annually in America range from 300,000 to 1.3 million a year. Half of rapes go unreported. A woman's chance of being impregnated are higher than with consensual sex - almost double. Male rapists can sue for custody in 31 states. A woman's chance of being raped - 1 in 5. On a college campus, 1 in 4. Percentage of women in Alaska who have been sexually assaulted: 37%. In Connecticut, a mentally disabled individual must provide evidence of scratching and biting to prove they were raped.

    What about female killers who kill multiple people? There are only a handful in America's history.
     
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  10. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Well if feeling shame from rejection of men is not enough to make her snap to commit these types of crimes, what other motivations can I use, that would be better? Mainly the way my story goes, is that she is taking out her revenge on men, so whatever motivation she has to do it, should be routed in something about men she doesn't like. Is their any motivations that would be better for her that are routed in men, and what she thinks of them?
     
  11. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Hmmm... I've be trying not to react to this thread until I put my brain into gear.

    Has she reacted the way she has because she has an axe to grind with all men, or just one in particular? Personally, I think you are making this all more difficult for yourself than it needs to be. Trying to pass her off as someone who simply hates men is taking the easy way out, in imo. You'd be creating a stereotype, not a character. I'd be asking myself why she killed the first, (for e.g. was it even truly 'murder'.) ...after that, I'm not so sure the motivations for the next victims matter quite so much. After all, killing someone will change a person. Maybe, in the case of the first, she felt justified for whatever reason, but what if the next, and the next are committed simply because the actual act of murder felt good to her; made her feel alive, powerful. What if with each murder that feeling increased and her reasoning became biased, not by what she felt they had done to her, but because of the way hurting them made her feel?

    If you make it more about one individual, who just happens to be a woman, you'll get less of the potential aggro.
     
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  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. What is the difference between making it more about one individual compared to what I am doing though?
     
  13. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    You obviously don't have a good grip on how a woman thinks, (not that we all think the same but there are many common dominators) so by loosening your grip a little, you might just be able to pass yourself off. If you are going to use seduction and man hating as modus operandi and motive, you'd need to be writing very skillfully indeed to not get a lot of backs up. You don't want to lose half your prospective audience, and the way your idea was initially formulated, I suspect you'd lose many women readers and quite a few men.
     
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  14. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. However, when I wrote the character, I did not think of her a most women. I didn't really think of her as a woman. I thought of her as an evil villain, who happens to be in a woman's body. So what can I do to write it so that the audience feels the same way, that the character is not most women? How can I eliminate common denominators in the reader's mind?

    Like for random example, in The Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill and how he thinks is not how most men think. There are other villains who have different ways of thinking compared to a typical woman or a typical man.

    So I want to break the common denominators and remove commonality from the character's development, if that's the best thing to do? But you say I don't have a good grip on how a woman thinks. But since this is my character, do I have to assign the grip on how most women think when creating such a character?
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  15. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Work on making her motivations more believable. That's most important. Do you have a female you are close to you could use as a sounding board?
     
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  16. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the women I know have said that they do not find themselves relate-able to the characters problem and are not sure, they said. I was watching the movie I Saw the Devil (2010), and I found the villain in that movie to be similar to my female one in some ways. Basically he is a rapist/killer who tries to seduce a couple of women, but then when they reject him he rapes and kills them, and says to them that he feels it's not fair how other men get to have women like them but not him. So I kind of found the villain relate-able in that aspect.

    Is it just her motive that is not believable or is it her actions as well?
     
  17. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    That might be your problem right there, if you are taking inspiration from this movie, then trying to transpose similar motivations from the male character to your female one.

    With male serial killers there is, very often, a sexual component, at least the ones that make the headlines. That's not generally the case with female serial killers. With most female serial killers, the major components are financial gain and/or power. Female serial killers are more likely to strike out at those close to them; family members, people they come into regular contact with. Strangely, the nursing and care-giving occupations are well represented with some studies indicating as high a proportion as 40% of FSK coming from those specific professions. They are also less likely to be found out as quickly than their male counterparts, as their techniques tend towards insidiousness with poison being the primary method of dispatch.

    So, if we're talking 'norms' for female serial killers, your character is very atypical, which in itself might be ok if you have a good grip on what makes most women tick. But you are thinking with your male brain, and that will make it difficult to convince women readers that your character has substance beyond being a killing machine. Even if she's a muderer, we need to be able to relate to her thought processes, or at least understand how her twisted line of thinking has come to be.

    I hesitate to offer up Aileen Wuornos as an example as she too is atypical in many respects, (she shot her victims, for one thing) but she is well documented. It wouldn't take you to do too much research to realise that her actions were those of a profoundly damaged individual. Whilst sex may have been a factor, her motivations were more about what was taken (or perceived to have been taken) from her — she was heavily abused from a young age — as opposed to what was being witheld from her, which is the case with many other FSK. Unfortunately, she completely lost the plot so, despite their being a wealth of documentary evidence on her, her own thinking shows a clear lack of coherence. She claimed self-defense on the first killing, saying the victim had tried to rape her. He was a convicted rapist, so that might well have been true, but the next, and the next? Well, frankly, passing seven murders off as self-defence stretches indcredulity a little too far. In her mind, all men she considered abusive became legitimate targets... we can only surmise how and why this came to be given her background, as she quite clearly couldn't rationalise it herself when asked towards the end of her life. The lens with which she viewed her world had a big ol' crack it it.

    If I were writing your story, I'd be Googling 'female serial killers', looking for insights. There are loads of Youtube vids on the subject too.

    This strikes me as being being a bit like writing itself, sometimes you need to know the rules inside and out to know how to effectively break them. As your character is going against type in many respects, understanding why her actions are not the norm may be the key to unlocking her motivations.
     
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  18. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay, thanks. I wasn't taking inspiration from the movie, as I cam up with the idea before, and just the saw the movie recently. I thought the character was similar though. But what can I do to give my female character a sexual component in her crimes, and give it substance?

    I looked up Aileen Wuornos, but her motivations and MO are completely different from my character.

    I googled 'female serial rapist' instead of femal serial killer, in order to find ones with sexual components. There is not a lot out there though. I found one from the 90s but the articles just talk about the murders and court cases only, without really going into psychologically why she did it.

    However, how psychologically realistic, does a character such as this have to be? A lot of times writers will make things up in favor of the story, and deviate from realistic facts. So can I take artistic licence and have a character like this, who was created with more typically male villain traits, but at the same time, have it give her substance as well, for being different?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  19. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I've been thinking. How much have you written already, what tense is it in, and who is the main character/PoV of the piece?
     
  20. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Ah... forgive me, you've addressed this already. Yes... if your main character is the male detective, it doesn't much matter how you write the killer, as all of it is going to be filtered through the detective's lens. As a writer, that is so much easier than trying to get inside her head. I'd be checking up on procedures, finding out what the Police's preconceptions on killer's of this type are, just to ground the piece and give it a bit of realism. You can have her behave in whatever ways you please. What will be important will be what your detective makes of it all, and that will come through in his personality, thoughts and actions.
     
  21. 123456789
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    Food for thought. Pale Fire is about as esteemed a novel as you can get, and John Shade's (the poet) daughter, eventually kills herself from depression because she can not get a man, because she is unfortunately very ugly.
     
  22. theamorset
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    How realistic does she have to be? That's the same as asking how much of a success do you want the book to be.

    People who know the subject tend to throw others off of reading books by questioning their realism.

    And with fiction, of course, it's not EXACT realism that's wanted, but a very different sort of plausibility.

    This isn't really the same as 'realistic' or 'accurate'. It's a matter of creating a premise that doesn't extensively insult people and put them off reading.

    The basic idea of a woman who becomes a serial killer because she can't get laid - that's incredibly offensive. That you don't actually SEE how offensive it is, is mind-boggling.

    The premise has to not be insulting to 60% of your readers, 90 % of your reviewers, etc. That's the bottom line. You can pass off all sorts of pessimistic, dystopian fantasies, just not this one.

    For example, say I wrote a novel about high-heeled shoes causing schizophrenia. Unless it's a screamingly funny satire, it's going to fail. It's not plausible enough to be a premise and it's incredibly insulting, unless it's a satire, and about fraudulent studies and statistics. It may even fail as a satire.

    I wrote a story a while ago about Prehistoric gigantic mammals coming back to life. It started with someone cloning an ancient human. Then, because of financial speculation and greed, numerous other animals were cloned. Death by being eaten by giant mammals became normal. Yeah, it was allegorical.


    And again, for me, it's not about whether your ideas about criminals are accurate - I mean, that's a big problem of course, but for me it's not the worst problem.

    You want to make it about that, but for many who commented, that wasn't the problem at all. It was your assumptions about women.
     
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  23. theamorset
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    Yeah, I read the synopsis and decided not to buy it because the premise was so insulting...so...
     
  24. theamorset
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    I think it's important to recognize the difference between ''what Ilene Wournos says about herself and her crimes'' vs. ''what's really going on''. What serial killers say about themselves, and to an extent what most criminals say about why they do things - does not have anything to do with reality.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    The other huge, huge problem that I see with the story premise is the idea that a lack of sex will drive a person to be a psychopathic homicidal rapist. That, to me, is the most horrifying part of it, in large part because it tends to strongly suggest that people are "entitled" to sex, that people who decline to give sex to others on demand are doing those others an injury, and that rape is justifiable.
     

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