Romanticising Toxicity

With Colleen Hoover’s books entering controversies again and again, I thought it was time for me to hop on the train. It is often debated how her books romanticise toxic relationships.  The latest instance of this insensitivity was the decision to publish a colouring book based on It Ends With Us. Surprisingly while many fans were opposed to the idea, there were also fans who supported it and were even looking forward to its release.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is a book based on domestic violence. Still, it is marketed as a romantic love story. Adults reading the book might be able to understand her perspective. That is, even if the story ended with Ryle’s anger issues harming Lily, their relationship was romantic till he got out of control. However, this book becomes harmful to its target audience, the young adults, who might grow up normalising and accepting domestic abuse.

I am sure that despite being a fan of Atlas and Lily, there were times when you also hoped that Ryle and Lily’s relationship could have been successful. For Instance, Ryle banging on every door in the building to find Lily’s house seems romantic in the story. However, if someone follows in his footsteps in real life, he would definitely be a dangerous person to remain in contact with. Do we really want young impressionable readers to accept such behaviour as normal and enter potentially damaging relationships?

Surprisingly, there are many more romantic novels, especially erotic stories that romanticise and promote toxic alpha males. If you are a regular reader of the genre, you may have especially observed how it has made you accept extremely possessive special ones. There is a wide variety of novels in which when the female lead goes on a date with someone else, the male lead breaks into her room to wait for her. Following this, he corners her and unleashes his anger and frustration in a confession. Even though the books romanticise this stalker attempt to convince a girl, it is extremely dangerous for all girls. This red flag can easily be ignored by them if they start accepting it as normal and hence harm their future. 

This trend is further propagated by the wide number of reels on Bookstagram that showcase particular scenes and dialogues. I accept that I am also guilty of accepting such behaviour as appropriate. Most books based on billionaire male heroes, showcase how they use their monetary power to influence and manipulate their love interest’s life. Realistically speaking, it is an unacceptable manipulation tactic that must be seen as a major red flag.

The end question that emerges is that despite the toxic and problematic heroes, why do we continue to accept and love these stories? Are we as a society becoming increasingly accepting of demeaning or disturbing actions?

I am yet to find an answer for my acceptance but hope to hear your opinions on the same.

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