Hello. So I've never read ToG (though I plan to one of these days) but I know bits and pieces about that series. But there's a question that I've been wanting to know the answer to: Is Rowan abusive? I see Rowan hate here and there, and, uh, the condemnation of Rowaelin shippers that sounds like something along the lines of "y'all disgusting for shipping Aelin with an abuser"
Hello! Okay so I don’t think you’ll be able to make up your mind for yourself on this until you read the series (which you should totally do, it’s really good as far as I’m concerned) so all I can give you is my personal view of the matter. But that’s all I can do anyway so MOVING ON.
The short, sweet and simple answer to this is: No. No, I do not think that Rowaelin is abusive. In any way shape or form. At any point.
You said that you knew certain things about the series but I’m also aware you haven’t read it so I’m going to keep the longer answer as brief as possible so as to avoid spoiling you. If you’re concerned about it/don’t mind spoilers/whatever I have written a much longer analysis on Rowaelin in comparison to Feylin (which it got compared to a lot as “proof” it was abusive) here.
Essentially I understand the basis of where the ‘evidence’ for Rowaelin being abusive comes from. But when you actually look at the relationship in context of their dynamic and what’s happening at the time of whatever incident we’re referring to happens it’s blatantly not. There is no power imbalance in the relationship. There is no manipulation. There is no controlling behaviour either through physical aggression or emotional warping. The relationship is balanced, equal, healthy and positive for both of them as far as I’m concerned.
Initially, Rowan is assigned to Aelin as her trainer. Something Aelin fully consents to and has the ability to walk away from freely with absolutely no repercussions should she choose; a fact that she’s aware of as well. All of the things people complain about she had the ability to walk away from the moment she wanted to and Rowan wouldn’t have been able to stop her and wouldn’t have done anything to punish her for that in any way shape or form; this is important to note.
During the course of this there are a couple of physical altercations that people like taking out of context to suit their arguments. However the narrative never glorifies them; they’re never romanticised in any way shape or form; excuses are never made for them and there is nothing manipulative or controlling in the way they play out. They’re just things that happen when you’re training someone in the way that Rowan is training Aelin.
The few other issues that people like to pick holes in get appropriately called out by the narrative and handled. This is not Feylin; where Tamlin’s abusive behaviour is romanticised and excused until Feyre understands what’s happening. And Rowan is not Tamlin who keeps going with these behaviours despite the negative effect that they have on the other person. Rowan’s unacceptable behaviour is called out, handled by the narrative and he changes as he and Aelin come to know and care for each other.
Almost all of the “issues” that people have with Rowaelin are early incidents from the first book where they didn’t know each other, were not currently in any kind of relationship with one another and makes it therefore unfair and unreasonable to use that as ‘evidence’ for a relationship that doesn’t actually come to be for a full other book and several months to state that it’s abusive.
Rowaelin for me is something I ship personally and am really quite fond of. I think it’s beautiful built up and written and I think it’s incredibly healthy and positive for both of them. I think it’s a story of healing; of changing and growing; of survival and of living, of trust and understanding and having faith in another person. It’s a story about raising your eyes from darkness to see the light before you after a long time trapped.
In short I think it’s a really wonderful relationship and the accusations of abuse sadden and, frankly, disgust me. They’re baseless, unfounded complaints to fan the flame of a ship war and I’m sorry that they’ve reached someone like yourself who hasn’t even read the books and hasn’t had a chance to form your own opinions on this ship without being bombarded with a barrage of guilt-tripping at the idea of them being positive. Anyway. That was a little long-winded and quite irritatingly vague in places I’m aware but I hope it helped?