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London - Martin Amis has been accused of “glorifying sexual violence” after he said women secretly love being “ravished” by men.
The writer claimed that English novels from the 18th century catered for “female fantasies” because the heroines only ever had sex if they had been drugged.
He says women friends have told him it was a “good fantasy” to have because “if you enjoy it it’s not your fault”.
His comments were immediately seized on by critics, who accused him of perpetuating the myth that women enjoy such encounters.
They also said he was contributing to a culture in which sexual violence was seen as normal.
Amis, 64, who was nominated for the Bad Sex award in 2012 for a section in his novel The Pregnant Widow, made his comments in an interview for the BBC4 show Martin Amis’s England.
Discussing the development of the English novel since the 18th century, he said: “In that formative period of the English novel, the only way that a heroine can have sex is by being drugged and that ties in with fantasies, female fantasies of being ravished.
“I talked to women about this and they said, it is a good fantasy, especially when you’re young, because if you enjoy it, it’s not your fault.”
Amis said in later novels, women of the lower classes and decadent society ladies are allowed to have sex, but heroines are not.
He said the only exception is Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, adding: “It’s perfectly clear that she is far and away the most sexual of Jane Austen’s heroines.”
Clinical psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said she was “horrified” by the writer’s remarks.
“I find these kind of comments soul-destroying, as a woman and as a mother,” she said. “This is the kind of thing you see in porn all the time. Women are depicted as objects at the whim of men’s desires.
“Men are brought up not to take no for an answer when it comes to sex.
“They are encouraged to think that if they push harder, women will enjoy their advances. Martin Amis’s comments just reinforce that view. He makes sexual violence seem normal, even desirable. It is sending out an awful message, not least to young men.”
A spokesperson for Rape Crisis said: “If the implication is that women enjoy being raped, that’s of course incredibly unhelpful myth-peddling and potentially not just offensive but distressing to the large numbers of sexual violence survivors who’ll inevitably read the Radio Times interview.”
Several of Amis’s own novels – including The Pregnant Widow and his 1973 book The Rachel Papers – have been criticised for lurid sex scenes, which are mainly written from a male point of view.
In 2012, the author admitted that he thought women were better at writing about sex than men, because men often felt inadequate about their own performance. At the time, he said: “I’d say the reason why women write better about sex – which is almost impossible to write about and no one has done it very well, ever – is that as a novelist you are in a God-like relation to what you create. You are omnipotent and the question of potency is embarrassing for men.”
Amis is married to American heiress and writer Isabel Fonseca, who is his second wife. He has credited her with finally bringing an end to his womanising ways, and the pair have two teenage children together, Fernanda and Clio.
In June 2011, Amis moved to New York with his family to be closer to her parents as well as his best friend, the writer Christopher Hitchens, who has since died of cancer.
They now live in the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn. - Daily Mail