Monday, March 28, 2016

Captive Audience: Writing Dubious Consent Fantasy

I originally went into this intending to write about consensual non-consent (CNC) in fantasy, or rather, in the fantasy romance/erotica that I write, but then I realized that I don't actually write CNC fiction. See, the key word in consensual non-consent is the "consensual" bit, and explicit consent is largely absent from my romance, particularly the pieces I have published here on the blog.

There are a number of reasons for this, but I suppose the most prominent is that I have a force fetish. That's what I like. That's what I fantasize about, and my number one rule for writing fantasies for this blog is that if I'm not into it, there's no point in writing it. I'm actually fairly surprised that I haven't gotten any backlash for the distinct lack of consent, in fact, the deliberate rejection of it, in Unmasked. I'm super happy that it's been so well-received, but I truly expected some negative feedback on the consent front.

While perusing the smut on Amazon Kindle, I came across the term "dubious consent" for some erotica that has similar elements to mine. I kind of like the term. It fits. There's no explicit consent in Unmasked, but so far, there's not really any denial of consent on Conna's part. Not to say that won't happen in the future. It will, but I'm sure if you've read any of it, you know how that's going to go.

I think there's a way to write non-consent erotica in a way that doesn't make everyone uncomfortable. I think I've struck that balance with Unmasked. It makes sense for the story in a way that enthusiastic consent never would. At least, not at this point in the narrative.

You see, I have a great love of the captive fantasy. It is the foundation of nearly all of my romance endeavors. It's the perfect framework for the non-consent fetish. It is a situation, much like non-consensual slavery, where consent makes no sense as a concept. Rodrick does not ask for consent because he doesn't need it. Constantina is literally his property. He doesn't need her consent. It doesn't fit his character nor the context of the story.

I think perhaps the genre is also a key element to making non-consent feel right for a story. If you place the story in a time or place that doesn't center around the philosophy of enthusiastic consent, then non-consent doesn't appear to be so uncomfortable. For instance, setting the story in a fantasy world where you can build your own culture with its own rules makes it a lot easier to include otherwise socially unacceptable concepts.

Where this both works and doesn't work is Gor. I know, I know, a lot of people don't like Gor, but it does contain a great deal of non-consent. This works in part because of the framework of slavery. You don't expect chattel slaves to have consent. It makes sense for the culture in which the story exists. Where it doesn't work is the inclusion of Tarl and the concept of the "Earth morality." Equality, liberty, abhorence for slavery, and appreciation for powerful females are concepts that are introduced through the character of Tarl. Because we know these concepts exist in this world, it is harder to accept the morality of Gor and the fact that Tarl rejects our prized ideals for this seemingly barbaric philosophy.

I think the modern morality and setting is also why a lot of Fifty Shades of Grey just does not work for me. Because the story takes place in the modern world where consent is such a huge part of BDSM, things that Christian does come across as super skeevy. Things I would readily accept in a story that takes place in another setting, say the middle ages or some fantasy world, make me angry in this narrative because I expect the characters to hold a modern worldview that I would not expect of other characters.

Creating the right characters has a large impact on making this fantasy work as well, at least, for me. I try to create characters whose actions make sense for the situation and the story. Rodrick, while forceful, is not cruel. He takes what he believes is his right to take, but there is an affection there as well. Nothing he does is out of malice and he truly desires for Constantina to derive pleasure from their dynamic.

Constantina behaves in a way that makes sense for a captive. She's not a wholly docile character. She resists, however small those rebellions may be. She is confused about her new experiences and about whether she should be enjoying these things in this situation. There is an inner conflict there that I think is essential to a character that is confronted with something they are taught to resist but where compliance is not an unpleasant task. Constantina mentions that being delivered into Rodrick's hands is simply trading one cage for another, but her captivity with Rodrick allows for a previously unknown freedom. This is the difference between the somewhat abusive captivity she comes from
and the rule of Rodrick.

I don't think I'm alone in the love of the captive fantasy. I definitely plan to continue to write it. It's the basis of most of my personal fantasies and it's really fun to write. I hope my readers will continue to follow me on these adventures of captives and slaves because they make me happy. Sure, they don't follow any of those fancy acronyms you see in the lifestyle today, but, perhaps, that's what makes them interesting. There's a little bit of forbidden fruit that tastes oh so delicious.

Wicked Wednesday


22 comments:

  1. You have a very interesting perspective on your writing. I don't think I've ever read one of your stories, but I definitely will.

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    1. Awesome! I always love new readers. I hope you enjoy my work!

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  2. I love the Unmasked series and can't wait for it to continue so I can read more. I don't mind the fact that there's no explicit consent in it and like you, I like the term 'dubious consent'. :)

    Rebel xox

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    1. Yeah, I want to get back into the rhythm of writing it. Now that I'm on nights at work, I think I'll have more time to crank stuff out and maybe get ahead again like I was for the first 13 parts or so.

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  3. I think you're right in that the setting makes a difference. Although I do like dubious consent and consensual non-consent anyway :)
    I'm liking the story and looking forward to reading more of it. :)

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    1. I enjoy them both as well. I'm just a little biased because I favor fantasy and historical romance. I think dubious consent can work in a modern setting if you create the right framework for it. Captive situations, for instance. lol

      Yay! I like knowing the people like my story. It's awesome to know that other people besides me enjoy it.

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  4. This is a really interesting piece about writing on these kind of themes. I think you have a very good point about how taking them out of modern day context gives greater room for the lack of consent and clearly frames it in a fantasy situation.

    Mollyxxx

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    1. I honestly wish I could find more non consent stuff. Honestly you find it more in vanilla historical romance than anywhere else. Even my medieval spanking smut has the trappings of modern domestic discipline culture where the man often gets consent first and that has always struck me as really odd for the setting.

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  5. When I first began writing erotica, I experimented with a lot of taboo subgenres--and I realized that there is always an audience. We have to write what turns us on, and the best work comes from that place of honesty.

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    1. I guess I would have to agree on that after wandering through the self-published BDSM selections on Kindle Unlimited. lol

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  6. This is an excellent post. I think you're right about non consent being easier to handle in genres other than contemporary, which is a pain for me, because contemporary is what I like to write. With FSOG, the skeeviness is largely due to the coupling of a lack of active consent with a romance plot, I think - if you do contemporary non consent I don't think you can also have an HEA

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    1. I think perhaps an HEA is perhaps possible in contemporary non consent if handled correctly. I don't think it would be as well-received as a different setting, however, because you're likely going to get a lot of Stockholm accusations. Not that that can't be hot. I mean, I totally love Beauty and the Beast. lol

      I think also part of the FSOG problem is the fact that Christian makes a big deal out of consent and the contract and then never actually gets it. Also that whole stealing her fucking car blows my mind.

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  7. Excellent post. I personally enjoy fantasy non consent stories but I much prefer them to be set in a contemporary setting. Sadly, as you say that doesn't make it easy to either write nor find to read.

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    1. I tend to find that most stories like this in a contemporary setting tend to be involve paranormal elements, such as shapeshifters and vampires.

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  8. Great post and you are right a historical setting is so much easier than mondern day settings for "dubious consent".

    Velvet x

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    1. It also helps that historical romance was my first experience with romance novels and I am thus biased towards those. lol

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  9. I have a similar non-consent fetish, for me it comes from reading so much Kathleen E. Woodiwiss in my youth. Her historical romances are full of non-consent scenes. The key point there was that the two players always ended up "falling in love" so it was almost like consent-after-the-fact. So the scenarios were hot but partly becuase I knew the romance tropes and knew that they'd get together in the end. Really interesting topic, thank you for writing about it! - MariaSibylla

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    1. You might enjoy Johanna Lindsey's Viking Trilogy, Fires of Winter, Hearts Aflame, and Surrender My Love. They have those elements as well.

      I'll have to check out Woodwiss's stuff.

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  10. I think you would enjoy reading my wife's books if you haven't already, she writes like that. {Kathy}

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  11. I'm so glad I came across this blog post. This is exactly the sort of erotica that I write, and intend to publish in the near future. I do sometimes feel like I'm alone in enjoying this type of erotica, and even wrong for writing it. Attempts at asking for advice on the critiquing websites I'm a member of have led me to getting a lot of confused responses, and strong suggestions that I won't find much of a market for that sort of fiction. So thank you for this post, so I know I'm not alone.

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