I agree. Just a few days ago, I was super angry about the whole romanticized abuse trend I’m seeing, but I realized (thanks to some people talking me through it), a) I personally have no real control over what anyone else writes, only what I read, b) people who write stories with themes I disagree with may themselves disagree with them, c) people cope with trauma in different ways, d) as a new author, I also wrote stories with problematic themes, because that was what I read about. I have more understanding as to why people might want to write books about horrible things like rape, abuse, etc. now. I still really dislike it, but I’ve accepted that I don’t have direct control over what other people write or what they think is sexy.
But I do want to talk about that last point, “I also wrote stories with problematic themes, because that was what I read about.” This is true; I totally did. My first “real” story featured a supposedly-strong heroine getting injured and then kissed against her will by the main male lead, who was described as “cocky,” “smirky,” and “handsome.” I personally really don’t like those types of boys. Even then, I never liked those types of boys. But all the books I had been reading at that point in my life featured a condescending bad boy, so that was what I wrote about, because at that point, I’d never seen anyone in the books I read refer to this type of person as anything negative, and I’d never seen another type of person (kind, respectful, etc.) be treated as a serious love interest to a main female character. I knew this wasn’t what I liked (shout out to budding baby Xeno who even at that point half knew she was hella asexual and anti-hot bad boy), but I thought that this was what everyone else liked, because I had never seen something marketed towards me telling me otherwise.
Of course, I had seen healthy adult relationships. My parents were a great role model for respectful love, as were many other adult couples in my life, as were many adult relationships on TV. But those weren’t about people my age, or people that I could really put myself into. Instead, I read about young teenage girls in YA fantasy and vampire books, and I can’t think of a single one where they didn’t end up with the (sometimes seriously abusive) hot, mysterious, controlling boy. Literally every single one. And when I wanted to make my own “grown-up” story, I based it off the closest thing I had, and so my character forced a girl with a broken ankle to kiss him. I knew this wasn’t a relationship that I wanted, and I knew it wasn’t right, but I did think it was just what people did anyway.
So, that’s my weird story. Now it’s time for a possible solution. And here it is: write stories that you like. Write stories romanticizing respect and consent. Write about characters escaping abusive situations. Write stories where the girl falls for a good person. Write stories where if someone hits a character, that character gets the heck out of there. Write stories where the girl gains power not from hooking up with a dangerous man, but by working her way up. Write stories about trust rather than possessiveness. Write them for the young girls on this site, and flood the market with them.
We as users don’t have the power to dictate what people are allowed to write on Wattpad, nor do I think we should, but as authors we do have the power to change how people see things, or at the very least give people an alternative view. People have changed writing trends before. I think we can change this one.