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Friday News: One woman’s encounter with an alpha male; flexible eink...

Feminism may have covered our eyes with its “dreary shroud of lies,” but nature knows the truth, which is that men and women are different. After that, the revelations come fast: “We are the vessel. They are the elixir and the funnel. We are the earth. They are the plough and seed. They give, we take. We open, they enter.” Valdes, like all womankind, was “programmed, sexually and emotionally, to get excited by a man who took charge.” Her first night at the ranch, Al Green on the radio, the “angels sang arias” and “the earth moved.” She would tell you more details about that night, but the cowboy has forbidden it.

He cheats on her, but Valdes shrugs this off because his attractiveness to the other sex is ultimately a turn on.  But after the book has been released, Valdes wrote on a now deleted blog post that her romance with the cowboy is not only over, but that Valdes suffered emotional and likely physical abuse at his hands.

Mostly he stuck to verbal abuse, with occasional physical threats, but there is at least one incident which she doesn’t call rape, but which sure sounds like something close to it. Finally, Valdes realized that “this man did not love me. He could not love anyone,” and she left him for good—though, obviously, something of the terror remains. She notes that writing the post puts her “in danger—real physical danger.”

He broke up with her because he doesn’t want her anymore. Perhaps he will be visiting the woman who beckoned him to join her in the shower. Valdes says that the second part of the story is being worked out in her mind as a sequel to her memoir. Slate Magazine

Valdes’ experience raises all kinds of questions, both moral and philosophical.  In a second follow up piece (warning rape triggers), Valdes admits that the story was “a handbook for women on how to fall in love with a manipulative, controlling, abusive narcissist.”   But Valdes’ emails speak of a woman in need of an emotional intervention.  Her last words to the Slate columnist?  That she and her new boyfriend are grateful to the cowboy who has “tamed” her and made her into a better woman.  Reading the cached and deleted blog post that includes passages like this, one has to wonder what exactly she needed tamed:

[spoiler]he glared, called me a mouthy cunt, told me to get to my side of the bed and not touch him, told me that he couldn’t stand the sight of me, told me that if I really wanted to impress him then I’d be a good girl and just shut the fuck up, and his finger poking me in the chest, and then wagged in my face, telling me that my biggest problem, the reason he would never marry me after all, was that I was a woman who just didn’t know when to shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up, and me saying I would, that I would be quiet, and turning my back to him so he wouldn’t hear me cry, and him feeling the bed shake anyway and yelling at me that I was pathetic, that if I wanted him to stay then I better stop fucking crying[/spoiler]

eink paper logic

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Julia Broadbooks
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 06:50:05

    You warned me. I read the hidden excerpt anyway. More fool me.

    Any guy talked like that to my daughters, I’m fairly sure my husband would hunt him down. Think I would too.

  2. Meri
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 07:14:43

    That’s some seriously disturbing stuff, even without the excerpts. I hope that one day Valdes realizes that these are not healthy relationships.

    I noticed that the Salon piece referred to her as a romance novelist (which I don’t believe she is), as though her fondness for domineering men is an extension of her genre writing; and the Slate article included this gem: A man who walks up behind her and presses into her with his big, strong … well, anyway, isn’t this, more or less, the premise of all great seductions, from Pride and Prejudice to The African Queen to Fifty Shades of Grey?: Girl bucks, they wrestle (the cowboy’s texts actually say: “Wanna wrestle?”), he lassoes her, she submits. Um, no, that’s not what all great literary relationships (or seductions) are about, and it’s certainly not what P&P is about. Obviously that’s not the worst thing about this situation, but it is unfortunate.

    One of my favorite blogs is written by a writer from NYC who fell in love with and married a cowboy, and her husband seems about the furthest thing from the man Valdes wrote about. But even without reading Rurally Screwed – it’s obvious that cowboy and “real man” should not be taken to mean controlling, abusive jerk.

  3. Lauren
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 07:50:41

    I have written three different paragraphs, and erased them all. I am at a total loss for words today.

    Reading about Alisa, and her romance with Steve, reminds me of Bella’s infatuation with Edward. (In Twilight, but do I really need to put that?). It was sickening enough to read that in a YA novel, geared at teen girls who would swoon, and which made me, as a mom, gag and then talk to my daughter about unhealthy relationships. To read about it in a adult relationship where the woman thinks that being called a c*nt is okay? And being told to shut the eff up? Her friends who were reading her chapters. and her editor shouldn’t have said “Hey! You’ve got a great piece of writing here!”, they should have said “Honey, seriously, please look at your life. There is a difference between alpha and asshole. You have the latter.”

    BTW, being married to a man who grew up on a ranch, and still lives the life, I have to add that they don’t eschew higher end clothing stores because they are proving a point that they are ‘real’, they buy their clothes at the same place that they buy feed, tack, and dewormer, because it saves time!

  4. Las
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 07:58:45

    I’m piecing it all together now, and hope to come up with a sequel to the memoir, sort of a “part two” to the fairy tale that is the first book.

    At the risk of sounding like I lack compassion–and I swear I’m putting this as delicately as I can–Valdes needs to take a long pause to make sure she’s actually learned anything before writing any kind of memoir/guide-to-life book again. Because it sure doesn’t sound like she’s figured anything out.

    It’s like when parents of toddlers speak authoritatively on how to raise children…how about waiting to see how your kids turn out as adults before you start running your mouth?

  5. Jane
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 08:01:38

    @Meri: Yes, I’ve tried and tried to recall what romance novels she has written but have come up blank.

  6. wikkidsexycool
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 08:39:03

    I really, really hate this byline: “Alisa Valdes on the real man who taught her how to be a woman.”

    That piece of *$%^ wasn’t a real man, and its a shame that in order to get more views the piece resorted to this, even its its meant to be sarcastic. After reading the article and more, I’d say I really hope Alisa gets to a good therapist. The more I read her afterthoughts, the more it looks as if she’s simply using her blog and interviews as a session anyway. But she may regret being so public about this. And I really hope all this isn’t being done just to make some sales, so I’ll just end with I hope someday, someway she finds her self worth doesn’t come from the arms of a lover, male or female.

    Added @Lauren “There’s a difference between being an alpha and an asshole.” Yes!!! Please, I’d really like to use this! Please :)

  7. Alix Nowarra
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 08:57:03


    Considering that Mr. Darcy likes Elisabeth because she stands up to him and talks back, yeah, definitely the wrong example. And African Queen??? They must have watched a different movie. Really bad examples because at least those two seem to make that men (real men??) like strong and opinionated women and that as a couple they have to meet in the middle.

    I think I read the blog you mentioned as well. She refers to him as the farmer, didn’t she? And yeah, very different to that sorry excuse of a human being.

  8. Meri
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:03:26

    I think she writes chick lit. And I don’t think that’s a genre that encourages abusive relationships, either.

    @Alix Nowarra: No, it must be a different blog, because on RS she refers to her husband by name. But I’m sure there is more than one blogger who is married to a nice-guy farmer/cowboy :)

    I haven’t seen The African Queen, but getting 2 out of 3 examples wrong really is impressive.

  9. Heidi Belleau
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:18:13

    This reminds me of fourth year uni when I took a creative writing class. The focus of the class was on short biofiction, so I was writing a story about my then-boyfriend using some of the techniques we were exploring. When it was my turn to bring in my piece for critique, my classmates gave me useful technical advice, but a lot of them also talked about how the relationship I was writing about (careful not to imply it was MY relationship even though it totally was) sounded really toxic and potentially emotionally abusive. At the time I kind of shrugged it off like “these people don’t know me” but I think it did plant some seeds of doubt in the way I had convinced myself it was totally fine and normal to live, or the relationship I “deserved”. This whole discussion makes me realize how lucky I am to have had my own experience play out the way it did.

    I wish someone along the way had said the same thing to this woman, but maybe they did. Ultimately you don’t really act on these advice and criticisms until you’re ready to. Sounds like she’s on her way, I only wish she didn’t have to do it in the public eye, with money and publishers and readers and literary critics and anti-feminists involved, and while being in another unhealthy relationship.

    Hopefully she finds some compassion from some corner, especially from herself, and moves on from this.

  10. Lynn S.
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:22:45

    The first thing that occurs to me with regards to Valdes is how much of this “memoir” is based in actuality.

  11. Alix Nowarra
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:31:17


    I hate that byline too. It states so very clearly that we poor women need a man to teach us how to be women. There’s so much wrong with that statement it’s mind-boggling.

  12. mari
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:50:17

    I am getting sick of memoirs that serve only to trash whatever people in the author’s life, the author blamed for her own fuck-upedness. Why do we automatically assume she is telling the truth? Do editors fact check these things? Considering some of the scandals surrounding these books, I am disinclined to take any of this for fact. If an author is going to accuse soneone in print mind you, of abuse, then I demand proof. And proof is not “because I said so and its in a memoir.” If he wrote a memoir about her, I thinkit would be a very different story.

  13. Isobel Carr
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:56:40

    Some people (not just women) don’t believe they deserve to be treated well. It’s sad. This woman needed (needs?) a therapist, not an abusive relationship. The “cowboy” in question sounds like the FURTHEST THING from a “real” man I can think of, and I find it horrific that this kind of behavior is seen by anyone as acceptable, let alone ideal.

    Also, holy clichés, Batman. Her writing is atrocious.

  14. Sarah
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:58:31

    Dude, what an ass. I do know some people that are into the whole name calling/slut shaming/possession/desegregation/objectification thing as a kink. But it is very controlled, both are involved with a abuse/SA/rape organization (especially the sub/slave/pet), also they are both are involved with a kink aware counselor and others in the community that keep an eye on everything . There are also rules, guidelines, and a contract in place of course. So it is a safe as possible ( one of Doms said “if I go to far, by accident or not, kick me in the balls and run away.)

    I myself enjoy reading about dark! characters ( yeah ,I’m from a fanfiction background, how’d you guess?) The more twisted, sociopathic/pychopathic they are the better. But the difference is that it’s fiction. I know that it is not real. A lot of people have these type of control fantasies/ have an interest in these type of people and it’s a safe place to explore that without someone coming to physical harm. Sometimes they get theirs in the end/sometimes they don’t, depending on my mood.

    I think that’s the key to teach people what my be considered hot/okay in theory, fantasy, and/or a controlled, safe environment does not always translate well and how to have healthy relationships.

  15. Heidi Belleau
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:58:33


    She wrote a memoir praising the man, not accusing him of abuse.

    I’m not touching the rest of your post, so let’s just start with that.

  16. Sunny
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:59:53

    Ugh, I forgot that you can’t read the comments on Slate — they’re worse than the spoilers, except they’re people genuinely endorsing these sorts of things happen to women.

    I think I need to go shower. I hope she’s able to heal and get some help, but encouraging people to read her “fairy tale” book is like encouraging people to read The Game as a real way to approach other human beings.

  17. Las
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 10:14:13

    @mari: Except that the memoir was about what a great guy the cowboy was, because she was that blind to his abuse.

    Try again.

  18. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 10:29:18

    To everyone claiming the Cowboy isn’t a “real man,” I want to say that if he identifies as male he’s most assuredly a “real man.”

    The proper response to bogus gender essentialism isn’t to refine the definition of “real,” it’s to reject entirely the concept of One True Way of being one gender or the other.

  19. mari
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 10:33:13

    @Las. Ok, I’ll try again. I would not assume that just because the author is fucked up enough to enjoy the abuse, that this is incontrevertable evidence it must be true. An accusation like this can life destroying, so yeah, if you are going to say a crime took place, name or imply the criminal and expose them to public condemnation, I think you should provide proof. But what do I know, memoir writers do this a lot. This writer sounds like a mess on so many levels….

  20. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 10:44:41

    @mari: I suppose it’s too much to think of a woman’s account of an event as “proof.” Only male narratives are valid, amirite?

  21. Meri
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 10:57:11

    I disagree completely with Mari’s comments so far in this thread and her dismissal of what appears to be a serious case of abuse. But as a general point, I do think that when dealing with criminal matters, it is best to have narratives corroborated by other evidence – regardless of the identity and gender of the person giving the account. Not because I think people make malicious false accusations (possible, but not probable), but because human memory and perception are not foolproof.

    The proper response to bogus gender essentialism isn’t to refine the definition of “real,” it’s to reject entirely the concept of One True Way of being one gender or the other.
    That’s a good point.

  22. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 11:10:39

    @Meri: Well, sure, but no one’s being formally accused of a crime here.

    All a memoir claims to be is one person’s account of their own life. Criticizing this author’s story of her relationship and claiming it shouldn’t be told because it makes her boyfriend look bad is just classic victim blaming. Women who report rape and/or abuse are always chided to think of the perpetrator’s reputation. Their need to speak about what happened to them is worth less than a man’s good name.

    It’s patriarchal BS and it needs calling out as such.

  23. Jane
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 11:23:40

    @Ridley: I’m uncomfortable with Valdes’ account as well and I’m not so sure it is patriarchal bullshit but justice bullshit. It’s not that I don’t think women shouldn’t report rapes but it doesn’t appear that Valdes has ever gone to the authorities. She has, instead, blogged about it in a highly public platform. She has posted his picture along with his name. Is it so hard to figure out who this person is based on his photo and the details that she gives in her book?

    It reminds me of the August Burroughs’ memoir and others wherein the memiorist gets to tell their story without a corresponding and equal way for the subjects to tell theirs. That this is a woman repeating a story of abuse makes it more murky and troublesome, but I’m not sure you can dismiss a person’s anxiousness and sense of unfairness with a “it’s patriarchy BS” wave and be done.

  24. Tina
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 11:28:01

    Gah! There is so much going on with that Valdes story I don’t even know how to begin to parse it

    – The idea of a “Real” man. What makes him “real”? The fact that he gave her an orgasm that basically wiped away years of purportedly long (and strongly) held feminist ideology in favor of being his “little woman”?

    -The authoritative tone that somehow her revelation of what makes a “real” man must mean it is one we must all consider.

    – Given the whole 50 Shades thing and how much the idea of a controlling man has become bound up in ecstatic sex has captured popular attention, how much of this is literal truth and how much is just shrewdly exaggerated for marketing? By all accounts she was a hardcore liberal feminist who even got a shout out from Gloria Steinem. In the excerpts of the memoir that I’ve read, she almost gleefully eschews all that. Her choice to reconsider her own political ideologies in the aftermath of glowing sex and her use of deliberately controversial and hyperbolic language (either a man is her newly defined version of a “Real Man’ or else he is just an “emasculated boy”) just strikes me as a very calculated. Woman has a book to sell after all.

    There just seems to be some cognitive dissonance between the allegations of abuse versus the almost self-satisfied revelatory tone she takes when writing about this.

  25. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 11:33:38

    @Jane: Be that as it may, how is it Valdes’ problem if people take her word as law and his reputation is damaged? Why should that prevent her from telling the story of her own life? Why does she owe discretion to someone who hurt her? Why is it okay to assume libel on her part but not abuse on his part?

  26. Jane
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 11:41:40

    @Ridley: I’m not quite sure what you mean by “how is it Valdes’ problem”. Given that she is the one that wrote the blog post accusing him of rape and emotional and verbal abuse, the reputational damage flows from her statements. Steve can certainly sue for defamation which would be one response. I believe that August Burroughs was sued and there was a settlement out of court.

    The problem with memoirs is that the people who come in contact with the author are not the ones who benefit from the memoir and do not have a say in how they are portrayed. The author determines the narrative.

    Your questions presume all things that Valdes says are true. they may be true, they may be exaggerated for effect, they may be made up out of whole cloth. We as readers do not know.

    As I said in my previous response, because this issue involves a woman’s account of rape and abuse and because rape is often underreported, a person’s right to tell the account of their own life without regard to harm to others is muddied.

    I suppose that is why we have defamation laws, but we all know that people can say scurrilous things about another without crossing over into defamation. One notorious site is well-known for this conglomeration of half-truths, mistruths, and obfuscations.

    As I said, questioning or criticizing a memoirists’ write to recount their story isn’t all patriarchal bullshit but involves real questions of personal privacy.

  27. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 11:57:19

    @Jane: I don’t assume everything she writes is true. I assume most memoirs are embellishments. But, I also assume that the threat of defamation and/or libel keeps outright fabrication at bay. What she’s doing isn’t uncheckable.

    I was under the impression that he remained unnamed, though. If she’s posted his full name and photo, that’s squickier. After all, my only problem with that site was that they posted my identifying info. They’re more than welcome to their opinion of me. I only object to being easily found IRL by whackadoos.

  28. MrsJoseph
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:01:17

    @Ridley: She posted a photo, his name and a video of him talking about being in relationships and why he “doesn’t need anyone.” If he starts getting hate mail in… let’s say 10.2 seconds – I won’t be surprised.

  29. Estara
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:10:33

    I really like Ree Drummond’s Black Heels to Tractor Wheels autobiographical story about how she fell in love with a real life rancher. I read it when it was serialized on her blog, about two years before she was offered a contract for it.

    Nowadays, of course, I think she’s better know for her Food Network series (she published the first cookbook before she was contacted to turn her blogposts into a novel and expand on them – the posts stopped at the wedding) and the website that made her popular in the first place .

    My point: If you go through the archives you will meet a working ranch family with four children and a husband who manages to be a ranching cowboy who loves his wife and accepts her with all the quirks she has. He adores his two eldest kids, too, who happen to be girls. Everyone works on the ranch so it’s just not a question of “girls can’t do it” – as loads of work-in-progress posts show.

    The memoir also doesn’t paint Ree as a shy flower, she’s pretty self-aware. The fact that she has a mentally challenged older brother may have to do with that. At the time of her love story with “Marlboro Man” (who doesn’t smoke, as far as I gather) the marriage between her parents was breaking down, so that gives the whole story another bittersweet aspect.

    I especially enjoyed the audiobook version, read by Ree herself.

    TL;DR: there are cowboys and women who have healthy relationships, so hopefully easily influenced women will come across Ree Drummond and get a bit of a balanced picture.

  30. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:11:04

    @MrsJoseph: And a video? That’s a bit much. It’s one thing to tell your own story, but quite another to make a unwitting celebrity of someone else. I thought she only called him “The Cowboy” and any damage to his reputation would be limited to who knew them IRL and could connect the dots.

  31. Las
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:24:17

    I assumed that he knew the video would be posted since he wasn’t filmed secretly–he was talking directly to the camera, as if he were being interviewed.

  32. Anne V
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:29:43

    @Ridley: His name and picture are in the NY Post on 12/23, from an interview with her. There are only ~2 million people in NM, about 550,000 in Albuquerque. The probable veracity of her accusations are churning through the gossip mills.

  33. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:29:48

    @Las: This sounds like an orchestrated troll the more I hear about it.

  34. Anne V
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:33:11

    The Post article is interesting – she’s apparently having bad times financially, and has had high-conflict relationships in workplaces. The reporter openly speculates that this is about stabilizing her financially.

  35. Las
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:39:27

    @Ridley: I was thinking she’s taking advantage of a bad experience, which is kind of what anyone who tells their story for money–even with proof!!!–is doing. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though.

    It doesn’t even surprise me that he’d be fine with it. I know of plenty of abusive men who are quite open about it.

  36. Tina
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:42:05


    …or love letters given how giddy she sometimes sounds.

  37. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:46:47

    @Las: Or he might not see a problem with his behavior and figures everyone will agree she had it coming, since she’s clearly emotionally unstable. Abusers purposely target the easily discredited, after all.

    The publisher and the media coverage, though, they’re definitely trolling. This is pure linkbait.

  38. meoskop
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:58:46

    I’m with the linkbait.

    I don’t know if she was abused. Certainly we used to get disclaimers on abuse narratives (9 1/2 weeks – she goes mental, O is rewritten as Return To The Chateau) that have fallen out of fashion. I don’t know that she wasn’t abused. I do know she has a credibility issue and probably enough personal turmoil that I feel publishing her book is exploitative. I’m not going to read it.

  39. MrsJoseph
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 13:23:04

    I think this is pure linkbait and Trolling at its finest. Cause – and lets be honest – no one changes that much about themselves over a little nooky. Even great nooky. And to thank an abuser for “taming” her?? No. I don’t think so. Either she’s full of it and is looking to cash in (and she’s talking about part 2 the week after release) or she is deceiving her self about how abused she really is/was.

  40. Robin/Janet
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 13:35:38

    Valdes (or Valdes-Rodriguez, as I’ve known of her), has a very complicated reputation. She wrote an infamous letter when resigning from the LA Times, and has been involved in a number of battles with other Chicana/Latina authors over the question of ethnic representation in fiction. Valdes has always hated being seen as a Chicana writer, and has fought against what she sees as racial differentiation. Here’s a rundown of some of the controversies she’s been involved in, mostly through her own words:

    All that said, I do not for one minute doubt that she was abused. Nor do I think she isn’t looking for financial gain from her memoir. She is pretty open about her life on her blog, so I think the memoir is very much in line with that. And she is savvy when it comes to commercial use of the personal. Not every victim fits into a nice little box of self-awareness & non-profit selflessness, in the same way that not all batterers are monsters in every aspect of their lives.

    And the reality is that domestic abuse happens to all sorts of women, and it generates shame in women, especially traditionally successful women who never think they could be abused. We’re closing in on one out of three women who have suffered some kind of domestic violence (emotional and/or physical), and there is absolutely no pattern among victims — they spent 25 years researching women to see if they could draw the “victim profile,” and came up empty. Once they starting looking at batterers, though, it wasn’t hard to put together a profile of common traits. An interesting lesson in how ingrained is the impulse to blame the victim for her own victimization.

    Still, I am concerned about the way she names and provides a video of the “cowboy,” and I’m also concerned at the media calling this “Romance,” and the editorial quotes on Amazon from the likes of Ree Drummond and Julie Leto, who referred to Valdes’s book as a “real life romance novel,” not to mention the downright offensive rec from Christina Hoff Sommers.

    We talk a lot about the “abusive alpha” or “alphahole” hero in Romance, and I think Valdes’s book highlights the line between a guy who may engage in power games, but who ultimately wants a strong female partner, and a guy who wants a woman to “submit” and embody the “feminine ideal” of passivity and deference to male authority. Not only do I think that’s a line worth talking about within the Romance genre, but I think it’s a line that may help us talk about the differences between power negotiations in romantic relationships and abusive relationships, in both romantic fiction and real life.

  41. Robin/Janet
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 13:44:20

    You can still find the cached post Valdes wrote about the “real story” — I won’t post the link here, because it contains the video of the cowboy, but if you google “the truth about the cowboy” and Valdes’s name, you can pull it up. Reading that (and it definitely contains rape and DV triggers), I don’t doubt for a second the abuse happened AND that Valdes wrote the book in part for commercial gain. If you know anything about Valdes, though, you know that she’s had some issues over the years (and she’s a long-time blogger, so you can read back through what is obviously a very complicated life she’s led). I am not going to say that I think these issues made her a victim, because, as I said, any woman can be battered, but I will say that I’m not surprised Valdes ended up in this situation. Saddened, but not shocked.

  42. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 13:49:00

    @Robin/Janet: Julie Leto seems determined to pick the wrong side in every controversy.

  43. Robin/Janet
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 13:55:48

    @Ridley: That was my exact thought when I saw her name and her quote. It’s interesting, too, because Valdes says that many people who’ve read the book recognized the relationship as abusive, even though Valdes could not see it at the time (apparently she wrote it pretty early on in their relationship).

  44. MrsJoseph
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 14:58:55

    I can’t find caches of her blog post anywhere. But the video is linked in a few articles. I…can’t see what’s so attractive about the cowboy. He’s not hot. And 73 y/o Patrick Stewart would get it first.

  45. wikkidsexycool
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 15:09:46

  46. pamelia
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 15:32:55

    “We talk a lot about the “abusive alpha” or “alphahole” hero in Romance, and I think Valdes’s book highlights the line between a guy who may engage in power games, but who ultimately wants a strong female partner, and a guy who wants a woman to “submit” and embody the “feminine ideal” of passivity and deference to male authority. Not only do I think that’s a line worth talking about within the Romance genre, but I think it’s a line that may help us talk about the differences between power negotiations in romantic relationships and abusive relationships, in both romantic fiction and real life.”
    @Robin/Janet: THIS. THIS. THIS. Thanks!

  47. MrsJoseph
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 15:37:52

    @wikkidsexycool: Thanks! Shes…disturbing me. It reminds me of the conversations I had with a friend that was in an abusive relationship.

  48. Sunita
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 18:58:54

    @Robin/Janet: I think the book as a text could be a great jumping-off point for this discussion. But Valdes has been such an unreliable narrator about so many things that there is no way I could accept her representation of anything (about her or other people) without independent confirmation. She has too long a history. In addition to the link you offered, here’s another one.

    ETA: Here’s the editor of’s account of the bisexuality debate referenced in my first link.

  49. Evangeline Holland
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 19:16:09

    @Robin/Janet: “We talk a lot about the “abusive alpha” or “alphahole” hero in Romance, and I think Valdes’s book highlights the line between a guy who may engage in power games, but who ultimately wants a strong female partner, and a guy who wants a woman to “submit” and embody the “feminine ideal” of passivity and deference to male authority. Not only do I think that’s a line worth talking about within the Romance genre, but I think it’s a line that may help us talk about the differences between power negotiations in romantic relationships and abusive relationships, in both romantic fiction and real life.”

    Yes yes yes!

    This is why we need WisCon for the romance genre. ;)

  50. Lazaraspaste
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 15:18:22

    When I saw this somewhere else (a friend posted the story on her Facebook page), I was all sorts of disturbed and blinded some of you with the link on Twitter. I’m glad Jane had already decided to make this a news item because, as Robin/Janet pointed out, I think the conversation about the line between power negotiations and abuse is incredibly important. In fact, I think one of the great things about Romance is that because it is about relationships it has the ability to address theses complex issues of power dynamics. What upsets me about something like Valdes’ memoir and the whole 50 Shades phenomenon is (aside from the obvious) that they are superficial narratives. They aren’t interested in dealing with the complexities of relationships, sexuality, or power. Which, I guess, would be fine if they weren’t making truth claims about heterosexual women’s experiences. If they weren’t saying that everything–beliefs, identity, ideology, integrity–is subordinate to the orgasm. As if the only thing that makes me a feminist is my failure to have been given a really mind-blowing climax by someone in a grey tie or cowboy hat.

    I could go on about the many, many ways I find this Valdes memoir and its circulating stories disturbing but I think everyone else said it better than I did already.

  51. DianeN
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 15:35:32

    Interestingly, Alisa is holding a livestream chat at 8 PM EST tonight because she wants to talk about the issues brought up by bloggers like Jane, and she wants participants to be able to look her in the face and see the truth in her eyes. In the post she says outright that the Cowboy never raped her, so I’m doubtful she’s going to listen to anyone who suggests that she was abused. (Like abuse has to include actual rape, or it’s not really abuse?) I suspect she’ll be saying “you just have to read the book” a lot.

  52. melvin polatnick
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 09:20:47

    The social life of an Alpha male is not complex, he sees each woman as self-centered and goal oriented. As one in demand the Alpha male fully controls the situation, he pays little and gets a lot. Most women are left in tears as the Alpha male moves on to fresh pastures, many times leaving behind an unsupported litter. The opposite is true for the wimp; he bears the burdens of the Alpha Male. Most unwed mothers find a wimp to help support themselves and the children of the Alpha male. Unfortunately 80% of men are wimps who would rather pay for the wanton pleasures of the Alpha Male than stay single and masturbate in their mother’s basement.

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