It's true: ducks have some of the largest penises, relative to size, in all of the animal kingdom. Some species of mallards have long, corkscrewed penises up to 18 inches long. Ducks are also one of the animals species known to engage in forced mating behavior (read: rape). These factors apparently make these birds ideal models for romance novel heroes, especially paranormal shapeshifter erotic romance.
Which is why Ellora's Cave has decided to unveil their new line of were-duck romance. Heather Trix, the new editor of this line, explains why ducks are the ideal model for romance heroes, not the raptors that have captured the popular imagination all these decades.
"Falcons, eagles and hawks--all these famous predatory birds--don't have penises. The males actually deposit semen using their cloaca, which is an all-purpose reproductive and waste tract. The birds quite literally rub their butts together against their mates and then ejaculate. For some of the male/male erotic series, that would probably work quite well, but really, the vast majority of our readers desire penetration. Lots and lots of penetration. Ducks are one of the few species of birds with actual penises. They're also one of the few species of birds who are into group sex--I'm not kidding when I say that many male ducks will often converge on a female, harrass her and pin her down and take turns violating her. Right now, that's just a hot hot hot market," wrote Ms. Trix in an e-mail exchange with us. "Ducks have unfairly been overlooked, so our new series tries to shine a light on these sexy fowl beasts."
Personally, I have mixed feelings about this new line of romance. On one hand, who am I to intrude on somebody's paranormal violent duckrape fantasy? On the other hand, I wonder what it is about the myth of forced sex that's wormed its way into the popular imagination, especially the romance reading mind. Rape is rarely about sexual desire per se; it's more often a sexualized means of expressing power, dominance and aggression. Historically, it's been linked to property rights: rape crimes were often tied to the idea that a woman's body and the sexual pleasure it afforded were valuable property, and unauthorized use constituted theft. This is part of the reason why the idea of rape in a marital context has only truly caught on in recent decades, and even now some countries still don't recognize it as sexual assault. Some cultures even explicitly tied the act to the deprivation of virginity in particular, which meant that there was no such thing as, say, the rape of a prostitute.
Somewhere along the way, however, rape for some reason became intimately connected with the idea of irresistible beauty. This sounds suspiciously like a weak excuse to place the blame on the women to me: "I couldn't help it, her skirt was too short and her body was too beautiful!" However, this myth has become part of our cultural fabric, and I think this is part of what informs the appeal of the rape scenario in romance novels. Of course the hero cannot resist the heroine! She may not be willing at first, but eventually, he shows her the light of his love--via repeated violations of her body. It's not his fault, of course. He's a jaded rake, but she stirs him in ways nobody else has been able to before.
But that's just my opinion, of course--I don't find rape scenarios particularly appealing, myself, and never have. The repeated rape scenes in romance novels were a big part of the reason why I avoided the genre for years and years, until the landscape of the industry changed. However, many other readers don't feel the same. A lot of them actively yearn for the return of forced seductions and outright rapes by extremely alpha heroes reminiscent of the romances written in the 70s and 80s. In that case, this new line by Ellora's Cave should be right up their alley.
Anyone want to share why they find rapes in romance appealing? I'd love to hear from you.