Dub-Con, Non-Con in Fiction

I’ve been underemployed for a couple of months, so in between writing a lot, I’m reading a lot. I’ve gone from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Abigail Barnette, Jasper Fforde to Celeste Ng, Madeleine L’Engle to Lilah Pace to Patricia Highsmith to Atul Gawande, and then, I guess because it kept appearing as a suggestion in my Amazon account, I read Hostage by Annika Martin and Skye Warren.

Then I read The Pawn by Skye Warren.

Then I read The Knight by Skye Warren.

My rich fantasy life includes a lot of bondage and pain in my sex, along with a possibly-unhealthy amount of (consensual) coercion, and a decent amount of humiliation. I love dark, twisted romance.

But Hostage (Spoilers ahead) starts with a 16-year-old being kidnapped by a man who thinks frequently about raping her and/or killing her. It escalates from there, with him penetrating her with his fingers, and even though the actual penile penetration doesn’t happen until she’s 18, and is therefore, somehow, “legal” his seduction and coercion started much earlier, on a girl so young she still referred to her father as “Daddy.” On a girl so sheltered she barely knew how to drive and had only been kissed a few times.

And the entire time, it’s written as this hot, elicit affair, and she’s clearly smitten with him, and I’m thinking — wait. This is rape. This is criminal, in more ways than one.

I go back to the reviews. 278 five-star reviews. 278 people read this and not only had no problem with the molestation, but also gave it a star rating that I reserve for books by Jane Austen, Barbara Kingsolver, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I finished the book, I did. But I’m still wondering if downloading it at all has put me on some kind of Watchlist. I’m still baffled by the authors treatment of this subject matter.

Like I said, I like dark sex, and I have to admit, however squickish it was, the sex was good. So I read The Pawn. (More spoilers, if you care)This character is, at least, technically an adult, but once again, emphasis is put on her virginity, on how young and pure she is. The entire plot hinges on the auctioning of her virginity, and even though she goes into it somewhat willingly, it’s pure desperation that drives her to this point (although the necessity of her doing so is a very thin premise). And when the auction ends, and the victor claims his virgin, there’s no doubt that this is not how she wants to lose her virginity, that this is not a situation she wants to be in.

And I guess I kept reading because — okay, dammit, yes, some of the sex was pretty hot. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking – this is not what this girl signed up for. This is not what she wanted. She had no idea what she was getting in to. And we’re supposed to fall for it, right along with her, because this Alpha male who’s despoiling her is secretly looking out for her, secretly has her best interests at heart.

News flash, writers: No matter how Alpha the male, no matter how many orgasms the unwilling female has, the only word for this kind of sex is rape.

Want to see hot, consensual non-consent, with great writing and even a storyline to back it up? Read The Boss by Abigail Barnette to see how a real Alpha male can treat a woman with respect while still giving her the kinky sex of her dreams. Read Asking For It by Lilah Pace for the absolute hottest consensual rape fantasy sex you will ever read.

 

The sex is hotter, I promise you. And even better? You’re not left with that queasy felony feeling in your mouth afterwards.

 

 

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50 Shades of No, Thank You

I’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey. When the book first came out, I was intrigued, but refused to read it because it was so popular that I figured it couldn’t be that great. Not that it’s such a terrific litmus test, I did the same thing with Harry Potter, and when I finally caved and read ALL SEVEN BOOKS IN THREE WEEKS last summer, I realized that maybe not everything that’s popular is horrible. Like bacon. Bacon is popular and AWESOME. But then, I’m also pretty particular about my bacon. It has to be nitrate free, humanely raised, – well I’m getting off topic. Anyway. I decided that I didn’t want to spend any money on 50 Shades of Grey, but that I would read it when it was free.

Then I started seeing “50 Shades Starter Kits” in some of my favorite sex toy stores. And I was equal parts disgusted and understanding – you have to market to your audience, and it’s really just good strategy to capitalize on the popularity of that title, no matter how crappy it is.

THEN THEY MADE A FUCKING MOVIE.

I remember going to one of my favorite movie theatres the weekend it opened. It’s a theatre that I go to, even though tickets there cost a bit more, because they have great sound, they don’t play commercials, they do cool indie stuff, and they have good food and beer. And 50 Shades of Grey was playing on two screens. Hordes of people were there to see 50 Shades of Grey. It wasn’t the usual crowd I see when I go to that movie theatre. Since no one I know who actually engages in what I would consider BDSM play (I’m talking beyond vanilla people who use handcuffs or play at spanking once in a while) would go to see this movie, I kept looking at all of these vanilla people wondering why the fuck they were going to see this movie. Because if you’re not kinky, what’s in it for you? What is tantalizing or appealing about it? The nudity? The excessive display of wealth? And if you are kinky, aren’t you just cringing the entire time at how wrong it is? Because according to everything I’d heard about it, E.L. James knows jack about kink. But still, I thought, “ok, when this movie shows up on HBO or Showtime, and I don’t have to pay to see it, I’ll watch it.”

And then I saw THIS and THIS. (And mad thanks to the amazing Laci Green for reading and parsing it for me, because now I don’t have to.) But after watching those, I no longer had any interest in supporting this book/movie/enterprise.

And then #AskELJames happened on Twitter, and I couldn’t avert my eyes. Some of my faves:

“AskELJames, How much money does a partner need to earn for them to be ‘romantic’ instead of abusive? Asking for a friend.”

“AskELJames I have a lot of respect for you actually, you’ve proven that you can succeed without having any talent. It’s remarkable.”

“AskELJames
what do you hate more?
a) good literature
b) consent
c) women
d) healthy relationships
e) all of the above”

There’s a part of me that thinks, hey, she was just writing some fanfic! It’s fantasy. I’ve sure as hell read some erotica that blurred the lines of consent. Do we have to pick on her so much? Did she have any idea that it would get this big?

But then I stumbled upon some actual quotes from the book. Let me give some credit here. Here are some from Digital Spy that are horrible or creepy or both. Then there are the remixed posters from the sixth siren that really bring the abuse home.

So. Yeah. I’m going to stick to my original plan and eschew everything popular. Excuse me, I need to go stand in the shower.