Okay so like, seeing the way that reylo is shipped made me realize something.
A vast, vast majority of the reylo blogs I see are 15/16/17 year old girls, and I can’t actually say I’ve seen any that aren’t that specific demographic. What that says to me is that the issue with Reylo isn’t teenage girls romanticising abuse, it’s with the way that romance is sold to young girls.
I consumed a lot of “girl” media when I was younger, I read so many YA romance novels. And I know that a lot of people are aware of this because of all the jokes about “brooding YA love interests” but it’s really obvious the way it bleeds over in the fact that young girls, when presented with this angry, abusive character, automatically interpret him as a love interest. They hear the “I can take whatever I want line” and there are so many similar lines that have been painted to them as swoon-worthy. Young girls are taught to see the anger and aggressiveness characters like Kylo display as attractive qualities- especially when combined with his conflicted nature, which shows them he’s in some way “redeemable.” The “save the angry misunderstood loner from himself” narrative is sold to teenage girls so frequently that it’s almost impossible not to look at the way Kylo talks to Rey and see dozens of books I read when I was a kid.
Everyone remembers Twilight, how young girls were crazy over it and thought Edward was the boy of their dreams despite him stalking and manipulating and abusing Bella, because he was painted as such a romantic, misunderstood character. It was obvious with Twilight, because it became so endemic and everyone read it, but how many adults can say they’ve read a romance novel targeted at teenage girls in the past five, ten years? Because, let me tell you, Twilight is not alone in painting abuse as love, it’s just a very famous (and, admittedly, somewhat extreme) example.
Even ignoring the whole possibly-incest part of reylo, which is an equally nasty aspect in and of itself but not something I feel I can or should talk about, the biggest problem I see with Reylo is that the writers wrote him in a way that was most likely meant to be scary and abusive and threatening, and young girls are interpreting that as romantic, and the issue I see with that isn’t the shippers themselves, for the most part, but the kinds of things that society paints as romantic to young girls. So, yes, absolutely call out reylo for its myriad problems, but remember also that a lot of shippers are going to excuse those problems cause they’re young and this kind of cruelty is what’s been sold to them as romance for a long time.