[cw: fictional sex talk, sexual coercion implied]
Randomly started thinking again about The Red Tent, a book I tried to read when I was younger. It takes place in [vaguely biblical setting] and it’s about these four sisters who are all married to the same guy and.
I didn’t like it.
I wanted to like it.
It wasn’t graphic at all with the sex (which it kept coming back to, with four marriages and consummation-of-marriages as plot points) but it was definitely a lot about sex in the beginning and worst of all was the subplot with [B], where she’s nervous about the eventual sex with Husbandguy and her sisters take pains to reassure her and convince her it’ll be fine (featuring: very awkward scene where a sister shows her two sheep having sex and is like “see, they’re okay” and this somehow works iirc???) and eventually B submits to sex with Husbandguy and he makes it quick and it’s fine and she’s fine.
And. It made me cringe, reading that part. Most of the book did, but especially that.
I should have been relieved, though! It was all fine in the end! She was fine with it! She didn’t suffer, she wasn’t traumatized, she wasn’t bothered. It was fine.
But it wasn’t fine for me to read because reading that made me realize how badly I wanted for someone to get to say no, and for that to be fine, to be allowed to get to say no and it to be fine. Instead, it wasn’t fine, it wasn’t allowed. And the book moved right along with other plots, and I felt the lack of space to grieve.