A Ramble: Possessiveness vs Protectiveness in Fiction

Ramble: crazy unorganized  jumbled thoughts

Discussion: Organized thoughts

This is a ramble… you’ve been warned.

Well here’s something that most of us can agree on: We hate abusive males, we hate abusive females, we hate abusive people. More and more people are starting to neglect books and series that contains these types of characters.

However, what constitutes an abusive character. Physical abuse and rape are the obvious contenders. But mental abuse and possessiveness (which are also different types of abuse) is a little harder to detect, at least from my personal experience. And even in those two types of abuses, possessiveness seems to be the most popular and the hardest to detect. Why? Well, I think it has

Why? Well, I think it has to do with people, including myself, attempting to figure out the difference between possessiveness and protection.

Definition of Possessiveness: demanding someone’s total attention and love.

Definition of Protectiveness: having the quality or function of protecting.

These two definitions are clearly different yet when it comes to fiction, I have trouble telling difference.

Let’s play out some scenarios

A guy is keeping a girl from battle because he’s scared that she’s going to get hurt, he tells her “no no you must stay you will die, I can’t lose you” she continues to say “no no let me fight stop worrying about me” soon he locks her up in a room because he thinks that it will “protect.” 

Here’s another scenario

A girl and a guy are in a romantic relationship. However, an admirer approaches the girl and starts to flirt with her. The guy, although is jealous, knows something about the admirer…he’s a skilled manipulator who seeks to kill the girl’s father. But if the guy tells this to the girl, they would both be killed by the father of the admirer. The boy tells the girl, you can’t see him ever again he’s dangerous. The boy makes it his goal for the girl to never see the admirer again by always being with her. At a ball, the admirer asks the girl to dance and she has to say yes out of politeness. She dances with him and looking in his eyes, she starts to fall in love with him. They are about to kiss but then the boyfriend pushes the guy away and both the girl and guy starts to fight. The boy tells her the secrets that admirer processes but at the end she still loves him. The boy yells at her, asking why she portrayed him, at the end of the conversation he says “why did you betray me, you’re supposed to be mine.”

Note: I am not a writer or skilled storyteller and I don’t plan to be

Are both of theses scenarios show signs of protectiveness or possessiveness?

In scenario one, the boy tries to keep the girl from entering a bloodbath and so he locks her up. In this case, it’s the bloodbath vs. him.

In scenario two, the boy tries to keep the girl (who is also his girlfriend) from marrying a guy who would kill her father.

I created two scenarios that make this ramble even more complicated. In the first scenario one, the boy wants to keep the girl from dying…he’s protecting her. However, some might interpret this as possessiveness because he said “I can’t lose you” (like you can’t lose a toy) and even went great lengths to locking her up (isolating her from freedom and having the ability to pursue anything else which basically makes her a prisoner ) In scenario two, I think it’s possessiveness.

In scenario two, it’s even more confusing. Yes, the admirer was dangerous and the girl was about to cheat on the boy. The boy was only trying to protect the girl from danger. The boy loved the girl so he was heartbroken. However, one thing in the story made it seemed to lean towards the possessive side. “You’re supposed to be mine” This statement means that the girl is his and nobody else. He demands her love and attention to only her.  BUT THEN I thought “Couples always tell each other that I’m yours and you’re mine. Hell, there’s even valentines candy that says “Be Mine” WHY IS THIS SO COMPLICATED?

I remember reading Consequences by Aleatha Romig. I thought it was obvious that the male in that book showed possessiveness (even rape never happened before). The girl in the book had to give permission to do anything, and she could never leave the property.

But I think that’s too much of an obvious example

Twilight. Let’s talk about Twilight. Although well-loved or at least was well-loved, many people believed that Edward was extremely possessive towards Bella.  Edward stalked her and was easily jealous of Jacob for just breathing the same air as Bella. He had his sister stalk her when he couldn’t and forbade Bella from even seeing Jacob (EXTREMELY POSSESSIVE).

Although it’s obvious now, why wasn’t it as obvious in the beginning? Was it because most of us were 4th grade-highschoolers and so we thought that it was cute when guys watched us sleeping? Was it our hormones. Lack of education?

We loved their relationship, we wanted more of it.

During my time in middle school, I’ve read books like twilight. I loved them and I kept on devouring them. I was in love with these books. Thinking about it, I was in love with possessiveness.

Now, in college, I’ve become the liberal, feminist animal lover of my family. Every book I read, if I see signs of possessiveness, I write in my book and make a note about it. I did that in the beginning of 2016. Almost every book I read (not including philosophy books I read for class) had a mark.

I’m tired and perhaps I’m only overthinking myself. Maybe it all has to do with people’s interpretation, interests and/or desires. I did not come to a conclusion about this topic and perhaps I will never and that is why this is a ramble.

If you made it to the end of this ramble, thank you so much you deserve great things in this world.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Is it easy for you to tell? What are some fictional examples that you can think of that it’s difficult to decide if a character is possessive or just trying to protect another character?

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2 thoughts on “A Ramble: Possessiveness vs Protectiveness in Fiction

  1. This is a great post. It is alarming how we as a society have come to romanticize possessiveness and emotional abuse. We think that just because the guy isn’t punching her in the face that everything is alright, not realizing that there are different types of abuse. Great job with this.

    1. Thank you! I’m just tired of seeing characters (mostly women but I’ve read male too) being transformed into “objects” rather than people. And the worst part is that mental abuse is sometimes harder to detect and so people develop a dysfunctional mentality on relationships.

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