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The Golden Hawk by Frank Yerby- Uh,… isn’t that rape?

May 17, 2022

The novel The Golden Hawk by Frank Yerby was okay, but I think the main character was a rapist. I mean, he didn’t think of himself as a rapist. He was never actually described as a rapist. But what he does in the novel would be considered rape by today’s standards.

Several scenes go like this: Male protagonist approaches woman. Woman says no. Male protagonist forcefully kisses woman. Woman struggles and says no. Male protagonist gets really forceful (holding her tight, tearing off her clothes). Woman finally relents and likes it a lot.

This approach might work for really attractive men with lots of money and power and alcohol (and more powerful substances/drugs). But for normal guys (or ugly guys with no money, power, or status), this approach is a disaster and would probably be called rape or attempted rape. It makes me wonder how much rape happened before I was born. I mean, if things are bad now, they had to have been really messed up before I was born.

I don’t even want to contemplate how much rape there used to be. At least, according to popular fiction of the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, there had to be lots of rape going on. But it wasn’t called rape.

The cover blurb calls this type of behavior ‘lust’:

THE BESTSELLING EPIC OF PIRACY AND LUST ON THE LAWLESS SPANISH MAIN

In this case, ‘lust’ could be replaced with ‘rape’ and attempted ‘rape.’ I think a more accurate blurb would have been:

THE BESTSELLING EPIC OF PIRACY AND RAPE ON THE LAWLESS SPANISH MAIN

I’m no saint, but if a woman ever told me no, I’d back off. When I was dating, I tried to avoid being in a position where a woman told me no in the first place. I’d look for non-verbal signals. Did she voluntarily stand close to me? That was often a good sign. Did she flinch if I casually moved closer? That wouldn’t be so good. Did she have older brothers threatening to beat the crap out of me if I ever looked at her again? That was an automatic turn off.

The women in The Golden Hawk aren’t necessarily weak. Early in the novel, one major female character even shoots the male protagonist while he’s making a ‘lustful’ advance. Instead of contemplating the error of his ways, he spends the entire novel trying to hunt this woman down and seduce/rape her. I don’t want to belabor a point, but if a woman ever shot me while I made a lustful advance, I’d deduce that she wasn’t into me.

This 1966 paperback copy of The Golden Hawk proclaims that it was a bestseller. I think my dad read this book decades ago because I remember seeing Frank Yerby books, along with books by James Michener and Harold Robbins, around the house when I was a kid. My dad also liked Horatio Hornblower books (I don’t remember the author’s name) and Isaac Asimov, but I don’t think there was any lust/rape in those books. If you liked lust/rape, you’d read Frank Yerby and Harold Robbins.

Other than the rape (if you can ignore it), this was a very uneven novel. Some scenes were written well, with great dialogue, fast moving action, and reasonable descriptions/exposition. Then a great scene would be followed by a poorly written scene accompanied by unrealistic plot armor, crappy dialogue, and actions that didn’t make sense.

And then there’d be an attempted rape, usually followed by actual rape, except the woman ended up liking it, but it was still rape.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe women like to have men force themselves. Maybe I’ve allowed myself to fall for today’s wimpy social constructs. Maybe the pre-1960s had it right. Maybe. But I’ll let somebody else test it out for me today. I don’t want to go to prison.

Pirate… Adventurer… RAPIST!!!!!!
6 Comments
  1. It still happens in books. That’s why I hated Bernhard Schlink’s “The Reader” so much. It is essentially a story about an adult woman sexually abusing a male minor, and the author does not only within the text completely casually pass over the point as if it was nothing, he has also shown in interviews his total incapacity to even perceive the problem. He claims his was a story about love, not about abuse – but it is essentially Lolita with gender-swapping!

    • Bah! You know how it is; some people think it’s okay if a woman does it. Honestly, though, I’m not familiar with The Reader (and I’m not a fan of Lolita either).

  2. Not just books, I cringe when I see old James Bond movies.

  3. Thank you for pointing out another way rape culture has been socially accepted (for lack of a better way to put it) in media. No wonder so many have this idea that a “No” means yes. It doesn’t. And when there’s no mutual consent, it’s rape, sexual assault. You’re not wrong. Women aren’t lining up to be forced to have sex. And it’s about time, the media reflect that a woman must fully consent. I have a friend who actually asked me if women dress provocatively to attract men. While some women appreciate a glance or a bit more at a V neck dress, they aren’t broadcasting or asking for anything more — even the ones at the Met Gala and the Oscars who wear so little! Thank you again for your post.

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