Excusing Coercive Control in Popular Young Adult Fantasy Texts
Keywords:young adult, coercive control, romance, feminism, postfeminism
This article utilises a feminist lens to conduct close textual analysis of A Curse So Dark and Lonely and the Cursebreaker series (Kemmerer 2019) and The Cruel Prince and the Folk of the Air series (Black 2018-2019) to demonstrate how elements of coercive control are excused and minimised in the narratives. By highlighting the postfeminist sensibility evident in these young adult fantasy novels, this article argues that female protagonists are characterised in contradictory ways. They are both ‘empowered’ and subjugated, yet this is diminished by a rhetoric of choice and agency. As female protagonists, Jude and Harper each possess physical strength, intelligence and humour which positions them as agential and empowered. Yet, at the core of their romantic and sexual relationships they are both victims of coercive control. While the novels ostensibly present strong female protagonists, implied girl readers are positioned to excuse the removal of agency, manipulation, and even physical violence towards these postfeminist heroines.
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