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August 15, 2013 1:08 PM   Subscribe

"So, here's the thing. If someone forces you to do something sexual, then it's not your fault. You don't have to feel guilty or ashamed for doing something "dirty" or taboo, or for being with someone villainous or forbidden, or for being a sexual creature or having sex in the first place. This is one reason people (including me) write noncon-themed stories—to overcome or bypass or interrogate that guilt or shame through a fictional character we may or may not identify with." -- Force Me, Please talks about non-consensual sex scenes and their appeal (or not) in erotic and fan fiction. (nsfw)
posted by MartinWisse (37 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
If someone forces you to do something sexual, then it's not your fault.

On the other hand, if you're doing something sexual entirely of your own free will with a consenting adult human partner(s), then the notion of "fault" shouldn't even enter into it.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the things I like best about fandom is the standard warnings for non-con or dub-con, and I find myself wishing sometimes that standard media would do the same. These tropes are such a big part of the background in most media (note the examples in the first link, starting with children's cartoons) that I wonder what the world would be like if they were only used with at least enough thought to be able to identify them.

I don't mean to say that I think that these are awful things in fiction, even if they're not always to my taste -- just that I'm happier when they're not used without even noticing that's what you're putting in your stories.

Fanfiction and discussion of fanfiction are some of the best (and most entertaining) ways we have of pulling out all the things that otherwise just slide past in the cultural firehose.
posted by asperity at 2:03 PM on August 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fanfiction and discussion of fanfiction are some of the best (and most entertaining) ways we have of pulling out all the things that otherwise just slide past in the cultural firehose.

Way back when, Ellen Fremedon wrote something I rarely pass up a chance to link to:
But in fandom, we've all got this agreement to just suspend shame. I mean, a lot of what we write is masturbation material-- not all of it, and not for everyone, but. A lot of it is, and we all know it, and so we can't really pretend that we're only trying to write for our readers' most rarefied sensibilities, you know? We all know right where the Id Vortex is, and we have this agreement to approach it with caution, but without any shame at all. (At least in matters of content. Grammar has displaced sex as a locus of shame. Discuss.)

And so we've got all these shameless fantasies being thrown out into the fannish ether, being read and discussed, and the next thing you know, we've got genres. We've got narrative traditions. We have enough volume and history for these things to develop a whole critical vocabulary.

We have a toolbox for writing this sort of thing really, really well, for making these 3 A.M. fantasies work as story and work as literature without having to draw back from the Id Vortex to do it.
There's a lot to unpack there, including the remarkably prescient idea (seeded in 2004!) that fan-fiction is some sort of Black Mesa Research Facility for what professional fiction will look like in a few years. But that one line - "Grammar has displaced sex as a locus of shame" - is so great. But I think you're right: whatever your tastes happen to be that the terminology and critical vocabulary of the fanfic world could really stand to be widely deployed in the world, because they're hugely useful.
posted by mhoye at 2:27 PM on August 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


On the other hand, if you're doing something sexual entirely of your own free will with a consenting adult human partner(s), then the notion of "fault" shouldn't even enter into it.

Ideally, no! But the world we live in tends to be other than ideal and I posit that it's much easier to fantasize accordingly than to convince the world to stop slut-shaming you.
posted by clavicle at 2:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm with clavicle. Also, a hangup that you know is irrational — and that you don't take into account when you're making deliberate rational decisions — can still be distracting enough that it makes it harder to get off. It's like having the sun in your eyes, or Objects In Mirror being Closer Than They Appear. You can tune it our or correct for it or look past it or whatever, but it's not effortless.

(That said, for me personally, the idea that non-con is hot because it makes it Not Your Fault has never really resonated. I'm sure that's the source of the appeal for some people. But for me, the appeal comes from the stuff she's talking about a few paragraphs further down in the first link — strength and resilience are hot, and non-con scenarios are one way to show off those qualities in a character, though obviously not the only way.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:38 PM on August 15, 2013


The Id Vortex is such a wonderful, useful concept, and the things it holds are difficult to address in a way that makes much sense outside of fiction. It contains all the motivations we have a hard time describing, all the needs we want fulfilled in some way that may not be possible or advisable outside of fiction. Sex isn't the only thing that lives in there, not by a long shot, but it's probably the most vocal.
posted by asperity at 3:06 PM on August 15, 2013


I love that we have this vocabulary to talk about these things in fiction, and that the Id Vortex can provide insight into everything from the compelling nature of taboo and the ongoing desire to watch people pick out curtains.
posted by The Whelk at 3:38 PM on August 15, 2013


The issue I have with non-con, and to a certain extent a lot of the 'reasons' for Capital S Submission, is that it tries to do social commentary but stops right at the 'well, I'm orgasming, so it's gotta be good' point.

The more troubling concept of people being guilty or ashamed of sex is addressed through this lens and then, because they're getting pleasure, the insinuation is that the 'problem' is fixed. It came up for me a lot when Secretary came out - yes it's good that she isn't cutting, is having sex, but none of this addresses or fixes the underlying issues. Because 'having sex' is apparently the pinnacle of any attempt to not feel shame about sex. It's like a bandaid, not healing.

And for me, it's deeply upsetting I guess, on an emotional level, that this is where a lot of the sex positive work seems to stop. Yay kinks! Don't get therapy about your kinks, that's kink-shaming! Even though the kink has sprung from shame and is enabled by shame and is effectively some hellish perpetual motion machine running on pure distilled shame! But it's HOT!

The thing is though, I get it. I really really do. I just don't think indulging it helps me or people in general. I don't think 'interrogating and exploring it' actually helps me at all with enjoying sex. Yes, I get aroused, but that's not actually helping me with shame, y'know?
posted by geek anachronism at 3:41 PM on August 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I love the Id Vortex idea too-- I'm not in its sex camp, at least not generally, but am in the emotional porn camp, and the idea of throwing away shame in favor of direct stimulation of the parts of your brain that want to be stimulated is a good one. I'm one of those people who, when they seek out fanfiction, generally goes for what now seems to be called "hurt/comfort" fic, and for this reason I feel like I can kind of get what the people who use fanfiction involving rape as catharsis are doing, because for much of my adolescence I sought out angsty fanfiction with stuff like dying-in-your-beloved's-arms narratives and having-someone-die-and-being-comforted narratives and in retrospect that was a sort of bloodletting for my depression.

I still think of writing that way, and the reason most of my writing is good for me to create but utterly unpublishable is that I learned to write in the Id Vortex and can crank out novel after novel that feeds directly into the parts that tickle my brain. The characters will talk endlessly about their feelings, get hurt and be nursed back to health, go to elaborate banquets, get put in philosophical and personal dilemmas (preferably at the same time), get hurt and nursed back to health some more, have those "you can't sleep either" conversations the night before Something Big But Ultimately Unimportant Because Seriously The Only Reason You're All Here Is To Read The Emotional Conversations, and cooking scenes (and I'm pretty sure cooking scenes are to me what curtain picking out is to The Whelk). Sometimes there'll be other people's Id Vortex stuff in there, like sex scenes or whatever, but honestly that's always just because sometimes Talking About Feelings scenes need a climax (one way or another).
posted by NoraReed at 4:02 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


These are such thoughtful comments. I agree geek anachronism that sex can't be where the process stops: 'I got off so everything is fine'. I think Secretary is a very good example of what the goal isn't, because the end is so dull. That can't be the model..

I have a feeling that overcoming shame (for example) means constantly revisiting sex, the experience constantly changing: not becoming safe, but transforming. I think - gosh hard to put into words - sex becomes less rigid and repetitive, the formula for satisfaction stops being so formulaic, becomes more diffuse and involves more of the personality. Which really is a process which never ends.
posted by communicator at 4:15 PM on August 15, 2013


Yay kinks! Don't get therapy about your kinks, that's kink-shaming! Even though the kink has sprung from shame and is enabled by shame and is effectively some hellish perpetual motion machine running on pure distilled shame! But it's HOT!

I really really do. I just don't think indulging it helps me or people in general.

Please understand how witheringly belittling this is to someone like me who doesn't have non-kinked sexuality. This is not the spice I add to my love life. This is not the thing that is being "indulged" in. This is not even anything any therapist can fix (Exodus being about the best modern mental health has to offer people other than chemical castration).

That being said, the characterization that my sexuality is some sort of shame powered dynamo is, in itself, irksome. Secretary is a fictional movie, often criticized even by kinky people that BDSM is not a replacement for self harm. Just like love is not a replacement for any number of the things it's supposed to do in popular fiction including revive the dead.
posted by Phalene at 4:38 PM on August 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


There aren't any new concepts in these articles for me, but then, I am older than your average bear.

I do appreciate the warnings in the fanfic world because I prefer not to read any non-con, am very cautious about dub-con (sex pollen though - funny!), and stay far away from mpreg (no offense men, I just don't want to read about your ass babies.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:19 PM on August 15, 2013


The issue I have with non-con, and to a certain extent a lot of the 'reasons' for Capital S Submission, is that it tries to do social commentary but stops right at the 'well, I'm orgasming, so it's gotta be good' point.

This search for the 'why' of things is silly to me though.

Have you ever thought of why we purposefully trigger the fear response with horror films? This actually seems abnormal to me since I've never enjoyed horror films. Have you ever though about why we laugh? I mean really? There's no rational reason for benign violations (funny things) to make us feel good, but they do, so we pursue comedy even though it's basically a meaningless bodily reaction.

The second the thing is actually abnormal though, like playing around with power or pain, then we instantly have to start talking about the 'why' and the 'why' is always assumed to be something wrong in the mental space.
posted by john-a-dreams at 6:27 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


That being said, the characterization that my sexuality is some sort of shame powered dynamo is, in itself, irksome.

If language frames thought, as the argument goes, I think that there's a lot of merit to having a set of terminologies that people can employ to discuss these things frankly, whether that's with ourselves in our own heads or with others. I mean, just the definition of something as a "kink" is problematic, but saying something is "problematic" is really just uselessly handwavy, when we're talking about coming to terms with the inside of your own head. "I got off so everything is fine" is the least interesting possibility here - "I got off so now I have two problems" is where the action is, so to speak, and the language of the fanfic community seems to me like a more powerful, honest way of exploring that space.

Also, I can't decide if "The Shame Dynamo" is a great or awful name for a supervillain.
posted by mhoye at 7:03 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The issue I have with non-con, and to a certain extent a lot of the 'reasons' for Capital S Submission, is that it tries to do social commentary but stops right at the 'well, I'm orgasming, so it's gotta be good' point.

I personally take a FUCKTON of exception to this characterization, as well as the assumption that "Capital S Submission" is some sort of problem that needs to be solved. In fact, I think it's crazy reductive to boil all of this down to "shame" as if something as complex and nuanced as human sexuality can be boiled down one emotion or phenomenon.

But let's assume for a second that you're right, and it is a problem that needs to be solved: how do you suggest people go about doing so? You mention therapy - what sort of therapy? And what should be the goal of therapy? Some sort of "healthier" fantasies? What would those fantasies be? Who gets to decide what's healthy and what's not?

These are not rhetorical questions, by the way.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 8:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


the essence of class and fanciness: "But let's assume for a second that you're right, and it is a problem that needs to be solved: how do you suggest people go about doing so? You mention therapy - what sort of therapy? And what should be the goal of therapy? Some sort of "healthier" fantasies? What would those fantasies be? Who gets to decide what's healthy and what's not? "

Okay, I obviously didn't make this clear. I am kinky, have been since I can remember. Spent a really really long time wallowing in rape fantasies and noncon porn and whatnot. It was unhealthy for me. It's obviously not the same for everyone but I dislike the 'I've always been like this' as a reason that my discomfort is kinkshaming. That somehow I'm proselytising for a list of what is healthy and what isn't list that everyone sticks to.

I'm not. I'm just uncomfortable when people talk about being SO into non-con without examining how they are positively conditioning themselves to respond to rape stimuli (yes, the interest was already there, power and BDSM and rope and tied up ponies in your childhood etc) but anyone who does mention their discomfort/dislike is kinkshaming. Shame can be healthy, it can be unhealthy, it's a process to ensure some sort of social cohesion.

Therapy made me happier with myself, gave me the tools to be mindful. From that I could tease out exactly what was attracting me to noncon and address that instead of the cycle of read-orgasm-shame. The thing is, kink-acceptance is all about removing the shame part of the spiral, not addressing the context, because there is that fear of shame. I'm still kinky, I just reconditioned myself to stop using noncon as a crutch, and to stop supporting what I judge as unsafe practices.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:13 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah, OK, thank you so much for clarifying, and I apologize for getting all fighty. I think we're mostly in agreement (I'm a bit iffy on the value of shame here, but I think I see what you're getting at), and to be honest, my experience is somewhat similar to yours.

I've shared some of your discomfort with the sex-positive community's sometimes-kneejerk refusal to look at the cultural/social context of this stuff. But a lot of us kinksters actually have spent way too much time examining this stuff, which is also not helpful - there's a diminishing margin of returns.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 10:33 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


instead of the cycle of read-orgasm-shame.

I don't have a cycle of read/orgasm/shame and most of the people I know into kinks that way are not doing that. The ones that are are generally under the impression that their kinks are actively harming someone or make them bad people.

On a fundmental level I can't take my sexuality seriously enough to be ashamed about it- I'm rubbing a nerve rich area while thinking about silly fiction. I've been sexually assualted (after developing my kinks, mind you) and I can constructively say that if there was one thing going on when it happened, it was not someone else's non-con fantasy.

You still sound a lot like someone talking about how the "gay lifestyle" was ruining their life. Which really has to do with your level of shame and not your fantasies. Now maybe your choices have brought you greater peace, but it sounds like your problem was the shame, not the fantasies. When people get mad at you it's because you're providing a non-useful solution to something that is not actually a problem for many people, much like most gay people don't want to be therapied.

In fact my biggest concern is that my sexuality won't be weaponized against me if I am raped (clearly she likes it rough!) because of the failure to make the distinction between fantasy by people who don't have the fantasies. Or that I will be treated like a monster who should be ashamed.
posted by Phalene at 6:25 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another great metafilter thread.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:23 AM on August 16, 2013


Phalene, I highly agree with you. However I'm wondering if you meant to write my biggest concern is that my sexuality will be weaponized against me if I am raped (clearly she likes it rough!) because of the failure to make the distinction between reality and fantasy by people who don't have the fantasies.

(Sorry, I'm trying to make sure I'm not putting words in your mouth, not just nitpicking.)
posted by saveyoursanity at 8:46 AM on August 16, 2013


I guess I would also add, more to the point, even if therapy could change my personality, why would I want that?

My 'kinks' came into fruition in a climate where the earliest attraction I had to this stuff was kids fiction. Like, you know, kids picture books showing a medieval castle with the little knight in the dungeon. Or Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Or when Queen Beryl in Sailor Moon had Tuxedo mask enchanted to love her. You don't need to grow up in leftie commune to know locking someone in a dungeon is bad and there's no such thing as a love spell. And in any case if my pornography is basically fan fiction of fairy tales and highly simplified history books for kids- you could even end rape today and (if those media kinked me) we would still be producing kinky buggers.

Being kink aware is valuable because of precisely the tagging of porn people were talking about- it gives us the ability to disassociate our sexual particulars with what is normal an acceptable. If I didn't know I was kinky, imagine if I was trying to seek relationship dynamics in real life that naturally duplicated my fantasies without negotiation? It's like me LARPing versus actually hacking someone apart with a sword.
posted by Phalene at 8:48 AM on August 16, 2013


As someone who was "born kinky" I find it troubling that people would get off about the idea of rape without being troubled by it.

Sadism, even in fantasy, should probably be something we reflect on and feel troubled by. That it's instinctual doesn't make it awesome, and I too find it troubling that I'm shamed or considered ill within my sexuality for daring to ask WHY THE FUCK people get off about rape.

I've been raped, and I know what non-con fantasies are like-- and I don't think people who find rape fantasies troubling should be ashamed for finding rape fantasies troubling or that if they just "erase the shame" it can all work out.

I tried "embrasing" such fantasies but it doesn't work for me because ultimately I think it's really shitty to get off on the idea of people getting raped even if the person is me. For me, that means there is suffering involved even within the fantasy and I find that suffering troubling. If it weren't being imagined AS suffering, why imagine it at all?

I think it's cool to have open discussions about this, but I find it shaming and regressive, and oppresive to label people who think rape fantasies are morally problematic as innately "repressed" and in need of embracing savoring the joys of imagining rape more.

I'm not interesting in cultivating my inner taste buds in the directions of feeling joy about the presence of rape even in my fantasies. I don't think that's because I'm repressed, I think it's because it's normal to feel complex emotions about the existance of rape, including arousal, sorrow, rage, horror, and disgust. Because rape is fucking horrible and if the only emotion you feel about imagining it happening is arousal-- I think it's legitimate to wonder if that's a "good" thing or not.

I don't think people should be shamed for their instincts, including arousal over rape (and I know what it's like to feel arousal DURING rape as well. I can assure you this does not make rape enjoyable for most anyone and if anything increases the horror and trauma involved by lightyears for many)------ so instincts-- sure. Being understanding is one thing. But cultivating and inner fantasy life that revolves around the celebration of rape?

Who wouldn't be troubled about that? Why should people feel like they are bad or repressed for, you know, wondering if feeding the beast in such a way is really the most enlightened approach? I'm a fan of harm reduction, and I don't think increasing shame for people with kink issues is beneficial, but asking questions, or questioning the dogma that is the current "enlightened" way of understanding kink is something I consider perfectly legitimate and not something for questioners to be ashamed of anymore than people should be shamed for having such instincts to begin with.
posted by xarnop at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sadism, even in fantasy, should probably be something we reflect on and feel troubled by.

I actually do this in real life too, you know. And no, it's not something I need to "reflect on". I refused to be embarrassed and shamed by having an affinity for the big eyes whimpering face of a distressed human because there are plenty of humans who want to make a big eyed whimpering face at me. In the safe parameters of consensual kink.

You are shaming me. You are telling me that my kinks are coming from a bad place. I didn't cultivate my internal taste buds this way. You and geek anachronism need to stop, right this instant, assuming I did anything to end up kinky or "develop" my kink, unless you want to mean playing war with twelve year old boys or doing text based cyber with boys and then trying tying people up and playing with sadomasochism under safe parameters.

Why, xarnop, are you persisting in believing that I need to troubled and shamed about my sexuality? I am trying really hard to have patience with you but you are actually hurting me. More so than a random sadist wanking in privacy. You are like a person saying to hate the sin, not the sinner when you talk about a gay person.

I refute your terrible attempt to shame me. I refuse it. And your attempts to make this into "oh I don't think you should be shamed... but you are wrong for not having shame!" are revolting. They make me feel unsafe. People like you, kinky or not, make me worry if I will be able to keep custody of future children, if my mental health will be called into question and all the other symptoms of knowing that people want you shamed.

I am seriously distressed by how you are treating me to the point that I'd better take a walk for a while.
posted by Phalene at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am sorry you are distressed that I personally believe I have a right to believe rape fantasies are a troubling aspect of many human's psyche's.

Since homosexuality doesn't revolve around a desire to imagine harm in another person, I believe there are distinctions between the two. I don't think people should be shamed for their instincts, or for needing to imaging kinky scenarios to get off. I think I should have the right to think if someone needs to imagine they or someone else are in pain to get off, it should be ok to find that troubling.

So... you're sort of shaming me for my emotions about kink as well. These are hard conversations and I'm sorry it's hard for you. I'm in favor of various perspectives being shared including mine and yours.

I don't think there's anything wrong with someone for thinking it's a bad thing that many humans need to imagine they are harming/or being harmed in order to have a hot sex life. I think it would be more ideal if truly hot sex were possible without imagining a bunch of pain involved for one or more people.

But I also don't like to cultivate a taste for violence in movies, media, or elsewhere, or in my sexuality. I don't think there is a "right way" to handle having sadistic/masochistic arousal patterns, but as these are patterns that are involved in the occurance of actual rape- I think understanding the mechanisms behind these urges has a pretty large contextual value.

I was raped by a man who had already been watching non-con porn-- I feel like if you're exploring that part of yourself it's something that should be considered very carefully and there is no way to hand wave that some of the conversations about this topic may be hard for people from many different perspectives on it.
posted by xarnop at 10:32 AM on August 16, 2013


I'll put it another way- an individual might deal with their fantasy sadism/masochism in whatever personal way- but in the context of understanding the human psyche and the origins of violence and rape-- there are some hard questions that should be asked by at least someone about what brings these kinds of urges up in adults or children and whether that is really a beneficial thing for society as a whole and the various ways specific individuals may be affected by that.
posted by xarnop at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2013


Xarnop, Nobody shames me for theorizing why people get off that way- I even provided examples of early, pre-sexual stuff I fixated on in this thread. The problem is that you are saying we (as in plural) should be troubled.

"Sadism, even in fantasy, should probably be something we reflect on and feel troubled by."

The "we" you are talking about here is too inclusive without clarification. If you mean we should examine the ideas behind kink- nothing is sacred. I have six or seven blog posts poking on that subject alone alongside all the porn and daily dom life posts- part of my active participation in the kink community. Which again, acting like talking about the roots of kink is a novel idea, is a mis-characterization about kinksters. We talk about it until it's practically a fetish in its own right.

But, it is better to structure inquiry carefully- implying that kinky people are "broken" is like implying gay people are "broken", for example. And, when you discuss these things, you also want to make sure you're not biasing things, for example like if you looked into why gay people were gay without considering why straight people were straight. And, you want to be mindful of a history of concern trolling to help poor perverts while essentially trying to shut them down.

For an example: I have a hard time watching movies with faceless mooks dying and not wincing, perhaps because being faceless does not equal dehumanized for me. I don't say "we should be troubled by faceless mooks". I an say "I'm troubled by it", just like a person is entitled to be grossed out by gay sex, or think children are better raised by mothers than fathers. Where you began to shame is where you made it inclusive. And essentially you're asking me to tolerate your intolerance globally instead of simply accepting you are squicked and want to know what makes the clock tick.

I want to know what makes the clock tick too, but I don't approach it from a premise that something is inherently bad/shameful and that kinksters are not accepting therapy to the degree they should.

Heck, in this thread, despite there being loads and loads of real kinky people on metafilter, we were trying to use Secretary to discuss a BDSM relationship and non-con fantasies. Secretary is neither real, nor about non-con, except in the really abstract "can this person consent to BDSM at all?" sense.
posted by Phalene at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's where people who say "sadism is NOT troubling" interfere with ME. Should I be put in therapy because I think it IS?

Long before I was raped there was a guy masturbating to non-con fantasies. THAT AFFECTS ME.

How do rape fantasies work into becoming realities? YES I think people should be concerned about that. That is my opinion and you're free to disagree with it, but I think things that can lead to rape should be public concerns.

Children molest each other all the time because even non-abused children can have dom tendencies. I feel understanding about that because children just have instincts and can't examine them very well and haven't developed a good grasp of what consent means. Many adults haven't figured that out well either. I think when I say "concerned" I mean just that, concerned, but what you hear is "AND ANYONE WHOSE EVER HAD SUCH FANTASIES SHOULD BE SHAMED" which is not something I've said. Creating a culture that celebrates rape fantasy promotion in media and other outlets - and resists any concerns about that as "kink shaming" however is something I think it's valid for me to want our entire culture to be concerned about.
posted by xarnop at 1:39 PM on August 16, 2013


Actually Xarnop, every time I was sexually assaulted this wasn't someone's non-con fantasy. They thought they had my consent. So characterizing all rapists as people with non-consent fantasies is inaccurate. They're not doms just because they are rapists. Many of them are delusional to the degree of damage they're doing, to the point of thinking they have enthusiastic consent.
posted by Phalene at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


We all of us , whatever gender you're practicing, get loaded down with a bunch of nonsense to deal with via religion, patriarchy, and every piece of media ever. No matter how perfectly vanilla the sex I'm having, or imagining fictional characters having, it is still happening in a world that runs on inequality, on socializing each gender to perform different roles, and divvying out power and status in a way that means every time I do the dishes I worry a little that I'm slipping into the unpaid caretaker role that has been the fate of like about every woman on earth ever.
The only good thing I ever got out of this was some really sexy porn that runs on power imbalances, and I think that finding pleasure in a set of tropes that were meant to frighten and devalue is a profoundly revolutionary act.
posted by velebita at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I should point out that the FPP is about text-based fiction, which, if I'm not mistaken, is more likely to be written with the intent that the reader identify with the victimized party than otherwise. The inner lives and thoughts of the participants matter and are visible to the reader in a way that would probably be impossible with photo/video pornography. I'm not sure that text and visual imagery are all that comparable here.
posted by asperity at 1:57 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rape fantasies are pretty common, and I'm not looking to shame people about them. The context that creates them is more concerning to me than the fantasies themselves which are a product of the environments that create them. I do think the environments that create a sense that arousal can only be involved with force/pain/submission are problematic to many people, and not in the interests of a lot of people such as geek anachronism (from what I can tell)- and myself. I don't enjoy sensing people are fantasizing about sexually harming me or living in a world where I can be surrounded by that and not allowed to state it affects me lest I be "intolerant". I don't enjoy feeling like deep down many people feel aroused thinking about me being harmed and whether that is "fantasy" or not gets kind of debatable. I've had people tell me they find ACTUAL sexual abuse I've been through arousing, which on the one hand, is just them being honest and on the other hand, I damn well think I have a right to be hurt by that and the variables/culture that helps create such instincts in people.

There's a lot of complexities involved and I like to see more discussions of consent, fantasy, kink etc. I just think it becomes really unfair when people who say anything about potential downsides related to how kinky arousal patterns have affected them-- or their experience of being in a reality that celebrates arousal about sexual violence--- also gets intolerant.

There's room for diverse opinions about such a complex topic.
posted by xarnop at 2:10 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Phalene: "You still sound a lot like someone talking about how the "gay lifestyle" was ruining their life. Which really has to do with your level of shame and not your fantasies. Now maybe your choices have brought you greater peace, but it sounds like your problem was the shame, not the fantasies. When people get mad at you it's because you're providing a non-useful solution to something that is not actually a problem for many people, much like most gay people don't want to be therapied."

Please do not frame MY experience of kink, and continuing experience of kink, as antigay. It's reductive, ridiculous and highly offensive.

No, what was making my sex life unsatisfying to me was the fact that the only place and people I could talk to about my sexual fantasies were so incredibly anti-shame that they did things, much like you, to tell me that somehow, in some way, rape fantasies are perfectly healthy and I'm shaming the by feeling shame myself. In spite of how I felt. In spite of how things like the porn industry (and many friends' individual porn usage) has escalated to involve deeply problematic, unsafe, misogynist and harmful acts. I was very specifically talking about people who DO find their fantasies problematic and that the pro-kink community seems to think "it's all fine, healthy and normal" is a substitute for actually examining what it happening.

You're fine with rape fantasies, good for you. You don't have the read-orgasm-shame cycle, good for you. I'm not talking about you then. I am not some weird fucking loner here, who has issues with sexualising noncon material that nobody else has. And I simply feel the need to point out that not only can you have issues with your own personal usage of the material, there's a option other than "HARDWIRED!" and continuing to go through that cycle.

And I think there is absolutely a place for discussing the ways sexualising rape and noncon affects society and individuals. Because, like it or not, it's highly gendered in wider media, and does contribute to rapists thinking that they have consent, or that this is what consent looks like, this is how sex works. It's not the same as kink, or noncon, but it's under the same umbrella.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:23 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this is a really hard subject for a lot of people, and definitely takes some time to think through.

Are there men who get off on non-con fantasies because they want to think about hurting women? Probably, if I'm being honest. But are there women who get off on them as well, not imagining harm? Yes, there are. Should I say these things shouldn't exist? They should only be available to women? We should shame everyone who likes them?

These are fantasies. I don't think these are things people want in the real world. And I think many people who enjoy that would be horrified by the idea of real rape. I think it's important to remember that people aren't fantasizing about what rape is like, they're fantasizing about losing control, about being made to do the things they want to do so that they bear no responsibility for them. A world without consequences.

Does it have to be one or the other? Does it have to be all shame or no deep thinking? Can't we find a middle ground?
posted by corb at 2:16 AM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are there men who get off on non-con fantasies because they want to think about hurting women?

Hey, more to the point, I'm a female sadist. This is not just a M/f thing and if the accusation of escalated misogyny applies to doms or tops, it applies to me that I should be increasingly more sadistic towards men.

One more time on the therapy/shame/examining kink thing.

Blogs like: http://www.notjustbitchy.com/ are a valid part of the subculture/scene discourse. (So is mine, but selfies are not okay). They talk about things like sexism in kink. So does Pervocracy. Despite the accusations, none of us have been silenced by a overwhelming chorus. Did people argue with us? Yes! But for example, when I go on my soap box about how I feel that the extreme gendering in femdom, people are going to tell me I'm wrong and that they need the word 'dominatrix' because for them their kink is really gendered and they need a contextual reference to gender in their kink to get off. And they won't be wrong that that's their kink. I also make effort not to shame people.

What we don't do is tell people to go to therapy to 'cure' them. We certainly tell people to go to therapy all the time if they are in emotional pain, or have trouble with reality, etc...

But I really don't think the 'porn escalation' point is fair either. First of all not everyone escalates. Secondly, you're talking about one particular kind of BDSM in one particular gender configuration. And it really seems like you are objecting to other people's masturbatory material without separating fiction from reality. All of the male doms I know occupy the same spectrum of sexism that all of the male subs I know do, or all of the apparently vanilla men. Or all the femsubs, or the vanilla women. And frankly, in the past "porn escalation" has been used on vanilla men, that if we let them look at naked ladies, pretty soon they will only be able to get off to sodomy and spanking, and isn't that terrible?

If you are finding yourself obsessing over your kinks, experiencing extreme distress after indulging in them, etc... therapy is the best place for you. But not because you're kinky- because you have evidence of things that are not right in your head that would be just as true if when you looked at vanilla porn you felt incredible guilt. You are like a gay person who can't handle being gay- we can't cure you of it- psychiatry can't show any sort of reliable remission rate. If a gay person is that sort of aforementioned shame dynamo, again, therapy is the best place. But we don't expect them to do anything other than lose the shame bit.

So when the argument stops with "well, at the end of the day that's me kink!" it's because you are basically doing "no kink for you!" as the only step beyond that. Not because you can't examine kink to bit and create your own porn based on your own comfort level, and discuss with people about separating different aspects so nobody is setting the standards (for example the aforementioned habit of labeling things dub or non, while media in the past did not) for normal. It's fine to say that you don't want any misogyny in your fictional femsub because it doesn't have a place in your sex life. I don't want misogyny in my femdom and would refuse to say, do someone with a strapon unless they were capable if discourse that indicated they understood that being penetrated wasn't inherently submissive.... even if it could mean that personally to them.

But if you can't understand why a blanket suggestion about therapy for kinks is being met with copious crying and cranky yelling, you are not really considering the background under which kink has to exist. On the one hand, sexism in real life is awful, on the other hand it's within recent decades that fucking someone in bondage in your porn wouldn't get you slapped with an obscenity charge for daring to do something 40% of people have tried.
posted by Phalene at 7:16 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes but you're recommending blanket therapy for anyone who has a different opinion about the use of rape fantasies to get off than you do. I'm just not sure you see how exactly patronizing you're being as well (and it's common in pro-kink communities so I know you aren't just making up this line of thinking) but I think the line of thinking you're promoting about people who ALSO DON'T WANT TO BE TOLD THEY NEED THERAPY for not liking rape fantasies or thinking there are moral or ethical problems with using them for entertainment and pleasure purpose can be harmful as well-- and can also pressure people into cultivate more kinky fantasies than they even want to when maybe their discomfort should be respected instead of forcing them to be more comfortable with a line of fantasy play they don't WANT to be comfortable with?

It's a major problem in kink communities where any opinion that explores downsides of kink, or pathologies associated with kink, or that maybe there is something kind of messed up about how common it is fora species to think rape is hot and great to get off? We're not even allowed to think that's a little messed up? There was probably a lot of rape that went into the creation of the humans we are today-- and that is messed up, and if some of our urges are related to that, why do I need therapy to tell me I'm not allowed to think that's sort of a messed up aspect of our species that many of us imagine rape scenes and think "that's hot" instead of "that's freaking horrific"?

Therapy around sexuality can be creepy any direction because each individual has such different needs and therapies can have a totally different end goal than what the client wants-- and when it comes to coaching or guiding someone with sex I think it has the potential to get a special kind of creepy. (But that's also because I know a lot of "healer" types, who are creepy as shit and I'd never want them in my sexual business). So I sympathize with where you're coming from with suggesting therapy is not something that turns people with a kinky fantasy life into being overjoyed with vanilla sex. But you're making the assumption that kink is set in stone and etched into everyone's sexuality in some sort of permanent inflexible way and that there isn't room for some people to cultivate the kind of sex life and fantasy life they want that might not involve much actual kink at all even if they know they could go that way. For SOME relishing rape fantasies or being kinky is their ideal, but not for everyone.

I really think there are arguments to be made on all sides of this, I'm just really tired of how "pro-kink" commentary tends to really silence perfectly valid questions about whether this is a healthy thing or a sign something is amiss with our societies/inner lives/species as a whole.

There's no way to allow an open question about the positive or negatives of kink that won't offend people or make them feel invalidated- which sucks- but some times you can learn something from the hard conversations too, you know?
posted by xarnop at 3:15 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phalene: "If you are finding yourself obsessing over your kinks, experiencing extreme distress after indulging in them, etc... therapy is the best place for you. But not because you're kinky- because you have evidence of things that are not right in your head that would be just as true if when you looked at vanilla porn you felt incredible guilt. "

You're not really getting what I'm saying. I didn't get therapy for my kinks - I got therapy because I was emotionally fucked up. Therapy gave me the tools to be mindful about what was happening, instead of the pro-kink version where I simply (somehow) stop being ashamed of being aroused by noncon. Mindfulness meant I could actually examine what was going on and make a decision to do something healthy for me.

And seriously, why is it in every fucking one of these conversations I have to list my kink credentials? Seriously? At what point have I said I am no longer kinky, or that for some reason not engaging in noncon porn is the end of kink as we know it?

I am specifically addressing the idea that a: liking noncon is hardwired and unable to be changed, and b: feeling shame about it is unhealthy therefore the shame should be treated (rather than the liking noncon bit). Be as kinky as you fucking want, but don't tell me that noncon is specifically hardwired and unable to be changed AND that shame is the problem.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:44 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was in fourth grade the religious school I attended taught a rudimentary sex-ed class, and I read ahead in the book until I found where they admitted the possibility of masturbation, which they called 'touching yourself down there ' and went on to say 'most people feel guilty afterwords, and Jesus doesn't like it when you come to Him with shame in your heart.' They left it at that, which was too bad for them because after considering the fact that I just felt great afterwords I went on my merry way and never worried about it again.

The way it was supposed to work was to plant the seed of shame as something everyone has, which gets reinforced by countless other signals (mostly directed at women) about how your body should look and act. This stuff is so insidious and pervasive and infuriating that it'll get your hackles right up if you notice it elsewhere, even on the outskirts of a really great discussion of a subject I find fascinating.

One of my favorite things about fanfiction culture is that we are writing completely shameless porn and then writing academic examinations of why we wrote that porn. Porn before this was something indulged in, but never criticized-because it's too stupid, because it's degrading, because it's unimportant in some fuzzy way that mostly has to do with sexism. I love the fact that the culture of (largely) female-written porn is bringing with it a critical discourse of its own practices. Cause this stuff is important. And if we keep working on it maybe ten years from now we start making porn that's straight up art.

I think what we have to worry about is whether this kind of porn is harming anyone, beyond their ability to just, you know, not read it if they don't like it. Is the existence of non-con perpetuating rape-culture? I think it might exist in the same way that, for example, marginalized groups of people will reclaim a racial slur or derogatory term and use it in group as a way of undercutting that word's power over them. It's maybe not the best strategy, but whatever works, right?
posted by velebita at 10:40 AM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


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