by Alexandra Sokoloff
I have had a lot going on this week, what with a new book in my Huntress Moon thriller series out and, oh yes – getting married!
Please. Spare me. These aren’t secrets. These are facts of rape culture. These entitled, predatory men have been blatant about their misogyny and abuse, and have been enabled and supported by frightening numbers of people. Even so, much of my social media this week has revolved around the #MeToo campaign – focusing awareness on sexual harassment and sexual assault – YET AGAIN – in the wake of the “exposure” of a pretty universally known “secret” that producer Harvey Weinstein is a serial sexual predator. Hmm, who does that remind me of?
And that has to STOP.
So this week I’ve been posting some of my #MeToo incidents on my Facebook page, including one incident that just took place at Bouchercon in Toronto, which has generated some interesting discussion.
As authors, we have the power to change social atrocities like rape culture.
I wrote the Huntress Moon series because I am sick to death of women and children being raped, tortured, mutilated and murdered for entertainment. I’m not too happy about it happening in real life, either.
The fact is, one reason novels and film and TV so often depict women as victims is that it’s the stark reality. Since the beginning of time, women haven’t been the predators — we’re the prey. But after all those millennia of women being victims of the most heinous crimes out there wouldn’t you think that someone would finally say: “Enough”? And maybe even strike back?
Well, that’s a story, isn’t it? And it’s a story that needs to be told now, more than ever. The premise is a way to explore the third rail of crime: the inherent, entrenched, misogyny of the system.
And this series is a way for me to explore solutions. I am not writing fantasies about clever serial killers. I’m writing from real-life psychology and pathology, using real-life examples and profiling, to counter some of the absolutely ridiculous and false portrayals of this pathology that we see in film and television and books.
Serial killers are NOT criminal masterminds. They do NOT have artistic or poetic bents. They are serial rapists who have graduated to murder. It’s a facet of the male pattern violence that we are seeing revealed in the #MeToo stories and lists from millions of women and teenagers in the past few weeks. Mass shooters – that’s also male pattern violence, with domestic abuse being a key indicator of the type of man who commits this particular atrocity.
You read the #MeToo stories – much less live them! – and the totality of it seems overwhelming.
However, there are solutions. There are practical and actually very obvious ways to change this horrific culture of rape and predation. I’ve spent years now, researching and interviewing experts about real psychology, real systemic failures, and real solutions. I’ve written all of that into the Huntress series, enacted by characters who readers really care about.
One of the keys to understanding male violence is that it is not universal. It is a percentage of repeat offenders who commit these crimes (whether identified or not) over and over and over again. We need to be very clear on this point. The problem is not all men. The problem is a percentage of repeat offenders.
To underscore this point, in the Huntress series, my FBI investigators are mostly men, gay and straight, different races – with one key woman on the team and lots of female leads from various social and legal and religious services. I wanted to depict the kind of men I know, that I have always known, that I personally have always been easily able to identify and not randomly lump in with criminals. I wanted to depict their struggle with the overwhelming force of entrenched rape culture, and their difficult fight to work within the system to change it. I wanted the situation of their hunt for this unusual, very female killer to force them to grapple with extremely real life, practical, workable solutions to changing the system.
I cover different facets of different legal and societal systems in each of the books. And in the new one, Hunger Moon, which comes out next week, I have Special Agent Roarke and his team working toward a very explicit, law-enforcement based, multi-pronged approach to identifying and convicting serial sexual predators.
If we all, male and female, binary and non-binary, LGBTQ, people of every race and variation thereof, could come to understand that we need to deal with this segment of repeat offenders, we could change this. We could.
It is not overwhelming, when we take a breath and break it down. And commit to doing better for everyone. Women, men – and especially, especially children.
But we need to know the facts. We need to know where the systemic failures have been. And we need to keep speaking out against EVERY predator. Always.
Don’t give up. There is a way forward. Si se puede. We can do this.
This really is a series that needs to be read in order, so Thomas & Mercer has put the first four books in the series ON SALE for $1.99 US, 99p UK, and 1.49 AU.