I’ve still got the bottle of whiskey and basket of Ragecaps (™). Let’s keep it going.
How else does a novel’s MMC act? What else does he do?
What else does the MMC say? What does the text tell us?
Where are the discrepancies with his words and his behavior? Does he tell the FMC something, and then do other things? Does his narrative voice tell us as readers one thing, while he tells the FMC something different?
Does he give us variations on:
“I would never do that!”
What about when the MMC says one thing, but then does just the opposite? It’s that thing again about “I’d never do anything to hurt you, baby!” even as he’s actively doing things that cause her pain. If he says “I’d never hurt you!” while he’s hurting her? He’s a lying asshole. For example, when a certain supposed-Dom declares, “I won’t do anything without your consent,” which is then followed by “Fuck the paperwork” as he does whatever he wants without her consent, in a physical place where she can’t escape him, with the express purpose of overwhelming her.
Or when he keeps telling her, “I just need you to explain/communicate with me why ___!” when she’s done it several times already.
Or when he bails on normal BDSM aftercare, but then claims “I’d never leave you if you were really upset/hurt” even though she was clearly, obviously, totally really upset. And even though a responsible Dom would stick around and make sure even if she wasn’t, because THAT IS HOW REAL BDSM WORKS.
Or when he acts all hurty feewings and says to her, and I quote, “You’d think I’d coerce you into something you don’t want to do, and then pretend that I have a legal hold over you?” WHEN THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE JUST FUCKING DID RIGHT THERE ON THE PAGE, SO THEN PRETENDING HE’D NEVER EVER EVER DO THAT IS DISHONEST AS FUCK.
Other examples from assorted “romantic” scenarios that make the MMC sound like a complete, abusive, lying, manipulative dickhead asshole?
- “I respect you too much to…”
- “I’m not going to hurt you. You can trust me.”
- “Do you think I’d really lie to you to get you here? You think that little of me?”
- “Why are you so angry-” “I’m not angry,” I snap at her, clenching my fists.
- “Look, you’re making me feel like the bad guy here!”
Sorry, no. He doesn’t get to demand that she feel a certain way in reaction to him. He doesn’t get to demand that she trust him. If the MMC says that he’d never do ___ to the FMC, but we, and she, have seen him do it to others, the implications are not “Yay, he DOES love/respect me too much to ___, not like those other sucky whores and stupid people!” If the MMC says to the FMC, “You can tell me. I won’t get angry” and then he does get angry, or if he has gotten angry before, the “I won’t get angry” is manipulative and disingenuous. If he tries to turn it on her, to make her feel bad, or like it’s her fault for thinking ___ in response to how he has already behaved, or how he’s acting in the scene, he is an asshole.
He can say A all he wants, but if he then does B, that reflects on his character. His shitty, awful, abusive, not-romantic or -heroic character.
Another version of this MMC Gaslighting is when he just admits the crap outright, as if that makes it okay, and he doesn’t have to think about it or change it because he admitted it, all right? What more do you want?! You’re the one who has the real problem, then!
“Yeah, I totally do that!”
- I’m a selfish asshole, just like my old man always told me.
- He knew it was wrong, but….
- “I want her here, and now. ‘Oh, to hell with it,’ I mutter, and I instinctively grab her, crushing her delectable body to mine.”
- “Hello there, Ms. Collins,” I drawl. “Please just call me Ginny,” she says. “Everyone calls me Ginny.” My grin widens, and I ignore the pointed look she gives me. “Whatever you say, Miz-z-z Collins.”
- Yes. I am overbearing. Yes, I always get what I want. It is one of the privileges of being a peer of the realm.
Saying he’s “honest enough to admit it” or “at least he’s self-aware!” doesn’t make it okay or give a pass if the behavior never changes. This isn’t some cute, quirky, darling thing he does. This is bullshit.
It gets even more psychotic if the MMC does the tortured hero schtick about “I’m so dark and haunted, how can she possibly love awful ol’ me?” because he’s so aware of his deep, dark, tormenting flaws. But, instead of doing anything about the flaws, instead he then continually punishes the FMC through his actions for loving him because he’s sooooo bad. “I’m a burnt-out husk of a man. How can someone as pure as her love someone like me? I must push her away and reject her for her own good and safety, and shame her for the transgression of loving one such as me! Woe betide her!”
Plus, if she continues to love and pursue him while he does this to her, then this isn’t a romance or a love story, it’s Stella and Stanley Kowalski, it’s Dorothea and Edward Casaubon, it’s Othello and Desdemona, it’s- Hell, it’s Captain Ahab and the white whale.
Then there is…
Bait and switch about him doing that
Oh, silly FMC, the issue isn’t THIS. You aren’t here for THIS. As the MMC will explain to you (or fuck you into believing), the issue is really THAT. You want THAT answer! PS: Shiny thing! Firm abs! Hard cock! Gifts! I know what really matters to you!
We’ve seen multiple variations of these diversion tactic scenarios:
- FMC: “You just stalked me!”
- MMC: “My company does not produce that kind of technology”
- FMC: “Why did you do that? How could you do such a thing to me!”
- MMC: “Why didn’t you stop me? Why didn’t you say no?”
- MMC: “I told you to stay away from me! I told you I was no good!”
- FMC: “I just can’t keep on like this. It’s too much. You are too much.”
- MMC: “I’m not the one who makes you feel hurt or sad. You are a strong, smart woman. You are in control of your own feelings, you know.”
- FMC: “You were with your ex? You left me after our argument and went running to her?”
- MMC: “What choice did I have? I had nowhere else to go! You left me and I was hurting!”
- FMC: “How much did you pay my father to broker this marriage deal? How much did you buy me for?”
- MMC: “Do not concern yourself with matters that are between men, sweetling.”
- FMC: “Why did you get mad at me for ___?”
- MMC: “I was protecting your honor! He might have raped you! I could tell he wanted to!”
- FMC: “You did it again.”
- MMC: “Did what?”
- FMC: “Ordered for me without asking what I wanted, or what I was hungry for. I’ve told you before I don’t like it!”
- MMC: “I don’t see what the problem is, though,” he says, frowning with puzzlement. “I ordered you the veal. It’s the most expensive dish on the menu. And I ordered the souffle we shared on our first date.”
- FMC: “I am an adult woman who can decide what I want to eat and when I want to eat it!”
- MMC: “If you are an adult woman, then why must you continue to fight me about buying the Bed & Breakfast without my lawyers’ consultation?”
- MMC: “Stay away from me! I’m not for you!” Then I touch her tender cheek and, before I can stop myself, kiss her.
- FMC: “That is not acceptable, Your Grace! You cannot just appear at my family’s home this way!”
- MMC: He gave her a crooked smile. “I am a moth, and you are the flame,” he said. “I am empty without you. ”
- MMC: “Hey, baby, you said before that you wanted to know ___”
- FMC: “How dare you treat me this way! You cannot keep me here in this place, palace or not, against my will!”
- MMC: “You are my wife. I promised before God and our families to love and cherish you. I promised that all my worldly goods are yours.” “Of course I can. I said I would move heaven and earth for you, my beauty.”
How loudly can we scream “THAT IS NOT THE POINT” or “THAT WAS NOT WHAT SHE ASKED YOU, MMC!”?!
There are all sorts of fucked-up head games an MMC plays with the FMC, things that we’re told are cute or romantic or empowering or intimate. Or even things that go unscrutinized. But they all demonstrate his selfishness, or that he’s still awful and abusive, or that the MC is not communicating with each other and have no real intimacy other than fucking.
It sounds all nice and stuff when the MMC earnestly proclaims “You’re everything I want you to be, I love you just as you are.” But if he then spends most of the story getting angry at the FMC for not being what he wants or expects her to be, or who he assumes she is, or like other women, or if he doesn’t actually know/acknowledge/see who and what she is, then that is a real problem. If everyone acknowledges that the MMC is “damaged and broken,” even if he’s in therapy or wants to be better, that doesn’t mean a good goddamn if his behavior never changes.
He can tell the FMC “I want you to be sexually empowered, darling,” “You’re in charge,” and “Tell me what you want” for pages and pages of the story’s text. But if he then makes her feel bad for her sexual desires or acts, if he manipulates her or mocks her or rejects her when she actually does demonstrate sexual desire or autonomy, then he doesn’t want her sexually empowered and she’s not in charge.
And he’s an asshole.
Another thing to explore is what happens in the text when the MMC gets caught being an asshole? What happens when someone, especially the FMC, says “Stop being an asshole?” Does he show actual remorse, or is he just embarrassed? Is he just angry that she isn’t fucking him? Or that he has been made to consider something other than his dick?
These mixed messages are as gross and abusive as anything.
Does the MMC bait-and-switch about the FMC herself?
Are the things he allegedly finds so wonderful, so charming, so intriguing the same things he complains about, or punishes her for? If he keeps insisting that he loves her because she is so headstrong, then he can’t also get pissed off at her when she is headstrong. If he is always praising her for how “unworldly” she is, for not being like those other gold-digging sluts and whores, then he can’t get pissed off if she refuses to accept his gifts of a designer wardrobe and expensive jewels. Does he claim he loves her “refreshing candor,” but then get angry or defensive if she’s honest with him about her feelings, her fears?
He can’t say “I love that you are a strong woman,” and then berate her when she does things that are the actions of a strong woman. He can’t claim to love ___, and then constantly do things to try to change or undermine or punish her for being ___.
Look deeper. Does the MMC only tell the FMC he loves her when they’re arguing, or when he’s trying to get her to do something? Is he only “vulnerable” or “tender” in these circumstances? If she’s about ready to walk, or has reached a breaking point, does the MMC then suddenly “show his gentler side” to her?
Because that is manipulative as fuck.
Too many times in genre Romance, things that are supposed to be sexy or empowering or romantic or feminist or traditional end up looking like something else in the text. Maybe it’s because they’re overdone,“sloppy shorthand” as I call it. Maybe they’d be okay in a different context. Maybe there’s just the tiniest bit of the thing that could be changed and it might work.
Maybe some people, like a certain author, are careless, or irresponsible, or lazy, or just unwilling for whatever reason to think about a text, and instead make ridiculous, faulty claims that are as bait-and-switchy as their asshole MMCs.
Things that are supposed to be sexy but actually show something else
Even something like the timing of an act can send the wrong message. Example: the MC has just reunited after a traumatic separation. Do they immediately fall into each other’s arms and start tearing at clothing? Let’s say she just escaped a kidnapper-rapist or had been assaulted. Still sexy to immediately start fucking? Because the FMC might need a few hours and a bath, at least, before the MMC passionately fucks her because he thought he’d never see her again… unless she is clearly in that emotional and physical space, too.
But certain MMC behavior that shows up repeatedly can often be pretty obviously not-sexy, no matter how much you want it to be sexy.
Manipulation is not sexy. Coercion is not sexy. It is not strong and passionate and loving, no matter how much you want to pretend it is, or claim it isn’t actually what it really is.
- “It’s impossible to stay away from you”
- “Say yes. Please. Make me the happiest man alive.”
- “Have some more wine.”
- “I could make you ___ if I wanted.”
- “I can’t persuade you to stay?” he breathes between kisses. “…What about now?”
- “Are you angry? Then why don’t you take it out on me in the bedroom, baby?”
- “‘Ah, Lady Isobel, I know just where and how we can solve our differences,’ the prince whispered, his eyes darkening with lust as he held out a hand to her.”
- “‘I took the liberty of calling your work and telling them you wouldn’t be in for a few days,’ he says, holding up a key to the presidential suite.”
- She’s at my mercy. There’s no escape now, and I grin wolfishly. “I told you I don’t play fair,” I remind her.
- “Don’t argue with me. I’m going to take you, here and now. And you’re going to like it.”
- “Don’t overthink this, baby. I know you want it, too.”
If he grabs her and threatens, “If you don’t obey me, I will fuck you on this table in front of everyone,” that is not sexy if you think about it for even ONE SECOND. I mean, is he going to fuck her in front of, say, his parents? Business associates? The London ton? Her family? He wants to see other people see him fuck her? Seriously? Why?! If we’re meant to read this as a real threat, something of which he is capable, then not only is it not sexy, it’s psychopathic.
Or perhaps the MMC says to the FMC, “You like this. I can tell. You’re wet.” But unless she’s already indicated to him 100% “I love this” during their encounter, he can STFU. The fact that her vagina has gotten wet is not proof that she likes anything. Or him.
Or, if they marry, and the MMC always calls her “Mrs. His Surname” because they are married and she is his wife and married married married blah blah. No. SHE HAS HER OWN IDENTITY. Unless they are a couple in the eighteenth century, there is no reason for him to constantly call her “Mrs. His Name” and frame marriage as his ownership of her. In a contemporary, this might work if they both take each other’s names and call each other by their new, married monikers, but otherwise, JFC, ARE YOU TWELVE?!
Or let’s say the MMC runs his hands over the FMC’s body, or even tries to cop a feel in public, and murmurs in her ear “Be proud of your body. You’re beautiful and desireable.” Awesome, right? Sexy? Well, not if she’s uncomfortable with public gropings. Not when the text also features scenes where he demands to know “WHY ARE YOU WEARING THAT?” or “I’m not going to let you go out there in a skirt that short!” or “He is looking at what is mine! I’ll kill him! *punch*” (Also, the whole “I command you to feel ___ about yourself!” is not sweet and romantic and sexy.)
If you want to incorporate one of these tropes, like the anger- or hate-fucks, or him whisking her away to an exotic location for a weekend fuck-fest, you need to frame it in something not-creepy.
- “‘You told me once that you always dreamed of being surprised with a fantasy weekend,’ he says, holding up a key to the presidential suite. ‘Will this weekend do?’”
- “So we have an agreement?” he asked her as she handed him the envelope with the signed contract. She nodded, a smile hovering on her lips. With that, he took her arm, and drew her towards the open door of the club’s main dungeon. “Then,” he said, “I’m going to take you, here and now. And you’re going to like it.”
- “Enough, Philip,” Isobel snapped. “I will not acquiesce on this matter. It is not for further discussion.”
“No?” Prince Philip said, putting down his glass of claret
“No.” But then a spark of mischief lit her eyes. “It shall be one of the many insurmountable differences between us, Your Royal Highness.”
“Ah, is that so? Well. It is fortunate, Lady Isobel, I know where we have differences that are decidedly not insurmountable,” the prince whispered, his eyes darkening with lust as he held out a hand to her.
Isobel laughed. “Quite mountable, in fact,” she teased him. But her breathing had grown more rapid. She placed her hand in his, and let him pull her toward the bed.
There are a number of supposed-to-be-sexy-but-are-actually- creepy/gross/assault/manipulation/abuse things the MMC can do, things that the text can end up either on purpose or accidentally condoning.
Like if the MMC wanders into the room naked with the express purpose of shocking the FMC, with whom no sexual/intimate relationship has been established, that is threatening, and in some states, might rightfully be considered sexual assault. But does the text (or FMC) excuse it because the MMC is hot? Has a huge dick? Is hard because he wants to fuck her, and that’s so awesome and flattering?
If he taunts her about sexual things (see “humor”) or with sexual things before they’ve established that it is something she wants, too, of if he does it while simultaneously warning her away from him, that’s a sign he’s an asshole. Especially if he outright communicates in the text that he’s doing it, even in part, to manipulate her or keep her off balance, to “disarm” her. But does the text (or FMC) excuse it as “banter,” or a sign that he is so sophisticated while the FMC is “innocent”?
Does he take pictures of her without her knowledge or permission? Does he pilfer her personal items, especially if he has something she’s looking for, and/or is sentimental? (Sorry, Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls, this is when my hatred for you blazed into a full-blown inferno.) Does he look through her closet and drawers to sniff her clothing, or sneak a pair of her undies? Does the MMC enter the FMC’s room when she’s asleep or passed out or in a coma, to sit and stare at her? Does he kiss her or touch her when she is not awake to consent? Do any of these things happen before they’ve establish intimacy or a relationship?
Does the text (or FMC) excuse it as romantic, passionate, cute, hot, sexy, and a sign of true love? Does the text (or FMC) suggest that she shouldn’t be upset or offended or pissed about it, because he did it impulsively?
But wait, there’s more!
Things that are supposed to be kind/caring/generous but actually show other things
Mostly, it shows that the FMC is powerless, subordinate, objectified, helpless, a fucktoy, and/or in danger. Or, at the very least, that this is how the MMC perceives her.
So let’s say the MMC tells the FMC things like “You’re so special to me. Like a dainty doll, a precious child, a priceless work of art. I worship you.” The MMC thinks something like “He was used to other women hating him, running from him. But when Grace did it, it cut him to the quick more than all the others combined.”
What are the implications?
Maybe some of these things are supposed to be generous and chivalrous, but more often than not, they just come across as sexist, immature and controlling. We’re supposed to think it’s so sweet that he’s done ___ for HER or because of HER, his feelings/desire for HER. But it’s creepy, wrong, and often illegal if these acts are based on anything that involves the MMC finding out and accessing personal information about her that she hasn’t given him, or doing things that he should ask permission for (or things that she has already told him not to do). Things like…
- Calling her parents to introduce himself
- Surprising her at work to take her out to lunch
- Wrangling an invitation to an event where he knows she will be
- Gaining access to her bedroom to leave a bouquet and a handwritten dinner invitation on her bed
- Installing security in her residence
- Following her to make sure she got home safely
- Surprising her with a trip… but no one else knows where she’s going or with whom
- Taking away her glass of wine
- Interrupting her wedding to someone else in order to declare love for her
Or, oh, you know….
Things like tracking her phone and car. Taking her back to his hotel when she’s unconscious. Depositing money in her bank account… and knowing her bank account info in the first place. Upgrading her flight, and buying the seat next to her lest a MAN sit in it. Buying the company where she works. Hiring detectives to follow her during the five days of a break-up. Standing outside her apartment every day. Replacing her car. Hiring bodyguards to follow her, and giving them a list of people, including her own friends, who she is not allowed to see. Calling her father to tell him they’re getting married. Hiring a gynecologist to make personal house calls, to put her on specific birth control, announcing her body is “my body, too.”
(A fun game: go over all of those scenarios in the FSOG books and count how many of them include Ana expressly saying “No,” sometimes more than once, that he goes ahead and does anyway. And we’re supposed to think it’s romaaaaaantic, and Christian is so gentlemanly for doing these things!)
It’s worse when the MMC “chivalrously” won’t let the FMC do things she wants to do, things she has every right to do. Things like paying for a meal, going home, or going on a trip. Driving herself somewhere, or earning that promotion or new job herself, without his input.
If the MMC insists on “protecting” her by shadowing her every move, it usually comes across as him treating her like she’s going to trip off a freeway overpass or eat her own face (or, more likely, end up with a dozen other dicks in her) without his big, strong, Alpha-male manly help.
The text, the author, the fans, and even the MMC himself will rationalize this as an act of great concern. “But he loves her!” “She needs someone to look after her, take care of her, watch over her.”
She is an adult woman.
Furthermore, who says the MMC has any right or ability to look after her, take care of her? If the MMC claims, “She’s put herself at risk, and I am afraid for her safety” re: the FMC negotiating elements of day-to-day life, that is not sweet. That is not even genuine protection.
In fact, with all the times we-the-readers are told that he “cares about her!” “is concerned!” “cares about her safety!” more often than not the MMC’s actions show what he really cares about is who she’s fucking, if some other guy is looking at her or talking to her, or that she’s not thinking about him. That her life is not centered on him, all the time, that he, and his cock, is not a constant presence for her.
Or it’s him doing dangerous things to her, actually putting her in more danger.
Unless he knows for sure of a nefarious plan to kidnap her or that a bomb is under her car or he is actually employed as her bodyguard, this isn’t the MMC’s call to make. Loving someone means that, yeah, you worry that they might be in an accident, or someone might hurt them, but it does not give you the right to dictate how and where they live their life on a practical level.
If he does the same things w/out concern for his own “safety!1!” in living daily life, it’s a double-asshole move.
It is also not sweet, generous, or romantic if there is a power-struggle built into the MMC’s compliments. Sometimes the MMC delivers compliments that are backhanded insults or threats: “She was so sweet, so tender. So trusting and innocent.” “She looked stunning tonight. Eric could hardly reconcile this poised, feminine beauty with the disheveled, dirty tomboy galloping her horse through the woods.” The MMC compliments her physical attributes, with either unspoken implications or outright statements about how much he physically desires her. But one of my biggest head-splitting ragers is when the MMC compliments the FMC, usually because she is so “unworldly,” and then berates her for “not taking a compliment.” Compliments like these are often control tactics; the idea is that male approval and desire is what matters, that the FMC should respond in approved-of ways no matter how it makes her feel. That the MMC’s opinion should matter to her, and is what should matter the most.
Or look at the thing with ‘spensive gifts and surprises and treats some more, and the ways that things like this are supposed to be acts of loving generosity, sweetness, passion… but actually demonstrate other things.
First, there is a decided social discrimination thing. When the MMC insists “Why aren’t you wearing diamonds and designer dresses?” or “I want you in fine silks and expensive couture,” “You deserve the best,” he’s suggesting this pathetic creature won’t fit in his world, no matter what he says about how he loves her just the way she is, unless she is first made over with the appropriate trophy-wife wardrobe and accessories. Even if she has expressed no desire for such things. Even if she has expressed disdain for or discomfort with such things. She must change for him, not the other way around. (Conversely, if a story has a “He must be made over to fit into her world” or “She wants to make him over” element, it’s usually shown to be wrong, and that she, and everyone in her world, should accept him as he is. She’s usually vilified for attempting such a thing, in fact.)
The new wardrobes and expensive gifts are rarely anything unique or quirky or different or targeted at the FMC’s personal tastes: it’s all the same designer gowns, sheaths, high heels, name brands, diamonds, the same “stylish” haircuts and highlights and blowouts and “touches” of makeup. The FMC is turned into something generic, mainstream, and completely lacking in imagination. There is rarely anything in these expensive makeover-gifts that reflects her personally.
But even more, these gifts and things, the things that readers will defensively insist are “what every woman wants!” come packed with assumptions… and one of those assumptions is, indeed, that this is what every woman wants, whether it’s a FMC or a reader.
What if it isn’t?
When the MMC tells the FMC, “I want to give you the world,” “I want to give you everything, my darling, I want to lay the world at your feet,” is that what she actually wants? From him? What does that mean? Is it something he can actually do?
(Chances are, unless he is an astronaut, he probably can’t. However, that might be a fun twist!)
When he says “You deserve the best,” why is the assumption that it means she deserves a super-spendy luxury shopping spree, a RHW-kind of wardrobe with designer apparel and famous shoes and handbags? Expensive champagne and fancy meals? A top-of-the-line car? A thoroughbred horse? A necklace of Persian turquoises? By “she deserves the best,” maybe, instead, that means she deserves his honesty? His respect? The space to live her own life? Support in parenting their children? His attention and kindness? Why is it instead the manipulation of commodities, of him buying her?
Even public marriage proposals can be assholey-control-manipulation, especially if there is any doubt she might say anything other than yes, or has said she is a private person, or does not like being the center of attention. But look at this big ring! All these flowers! He went through so much trouble to stage this! If you say no, you’re a bitch! Isn’t this what all women want?
So look at the MMC’s actions. Do the negatives of the surprises and expensive gifts outweigh the positives? Do they create an unfair balance? Do they put her at risk? Do they send certain messages to the people around the MC?
If they do, then the MMC is not sweet and generous and romantic. He’s an asshole.
Many of these “generous,” “sweet,” “romantic” things are either rationalized by or framed within the MMC’s sexy, passionate, sensitive, romantic assertion to the FMC:
“I know you better than anyone.”
He took away her glass of wine, sensing she’d had too much to drink, because he knows her better than anyone. He bought her that ridiculously expensive silk gown because it matches her eyes and shows her body to perfection and he knew she wouldn’t be able to resist it even though she rejected it initially, because he knows her better than anyone. He wants to protect her from harm because he loves her, and no one knows her better than he does. He has decided they will move to the smaller family estate Cheshire and he knows she will be happy there no matter what she said before, because he knows her better than anyone. He sticks his cock in her even when she’s said no because he knows she really wants it, since he knows her better than anyone.
WELL, EVEN IF YOU DO, FUCKSTICK, YOU DON’T RULE OVER HER. YOU DON’T GET TO MAKE HER DECISIONS.
All of this behavior on the part of the MMC doesn’t actually show him being generous, or loving, or sweet to the FMC. It shows he doesn’t trust her judgement, doesn’t respect her, that he thinks he has more rights over her than she does. His assumption is that she can’t or won’t take care of herself unless he does it for her, or monitors her. And unless he has seen evidence to the contrary (which would also make things fucked up), he has no right to do these things. That is wrong. No.
Christian Grey apologists start protesting “But he was hurt as a child, so-” No. It does not matter if the MMC was a POW, or abused, or raped, or in a bad previous relationship, or grew up with a family of gorillas in the jungle. HE DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT. (In fact, in FSOG, what he does often makes her less safe.) Even the dom-iest Master in a 24/7 TPE does not have the right to do certain things, or have complete control over every element of someone else’s life. I mean, what the actual fuck? “I’m sorry, my Dom has decided I don’t need to undergo cancer treatment, because it will make my hair fall out, and Master loves my hair.” “My Owner and I have a contract, so he will now punish me because you saved my life via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and I am not allowed to have physical contact with another without his permission.”
It does not matter if the MMC is a Mage-Admiral-burn survivor-animal protection society founder-Aries/Scorpio Rising.
HE. DOES. NOT. HAVE. THE. RIGHT.
He can be concerned about her safety and be worried as much as he wants…but he has no right to restrict or control her actions because of it. Or for any reason. I don’t care if he’s a Holocaust survivor, a former chattel slave, or a world leader. He does not have this right in a contemporary work, and if he does legally in a historical work, you will have to scrutinize it and make it a plot point. Unless you are writing about a mythical figure or a deity or a supernatural creature or a specific place and era in which the man had this kind of control over a woman, and you are willing to engage that and scrutinize it as a plot point, it is not sweet and kind and loving and adorable and passionate.
It is just the MMC being a complete asshole.
A quick footnote about the “kind, sweet gestures”: when others tell the MMC to do or give or provide something for or to the FMC. It might be a plot point that the MMC dashes off to surprise her at the family’s big Memorial Day picnic at the lake because her mother said he should, or if his best friend says he should go sit at a table in the FMC’s section at the restaurant so he can ask her out on a date. Sometimes friends get in on the act, helping contrive a surprise or get the two of them together to meet or talk.
And it’s meant to be “awww, everyone’s rooting for them!” But actually, it can be yet another example of what the FMC actually wants and needs being discounted. Does she want his attention? To be in this relationship? Has she demonstrated it? I mean, readers assume she does, because Romance, but it has to actually be clear. Otherwise, the MMC’s advances can come off as creepy.
Emily needs another break. The full-blown ragers have led to quite a case of the vapors, darlings, and all the hot toddies in the world can’t fix it.
Part Three is up next.