TRIGGER WARNING This post contains information about sexual assault, rape and rape fantasy, which may be triggering.
‘No,’ I said. ‘Not now. This isn’t playing. You’re for real because you’re sick. You’re a cold, twisted bastard and you’re scaring me. And I’m for real because I’m scared. I want to leave.’
He carried on pumping his cock. ‘Are you saying no, you don’t want me to fuck you?’
‘Yes,’ I breathed. ‘I am.’
‘And are you saying no, you don’t want me to force you?’
Kristina Lloyd, Asking for Trouble
I remember the first time I saw someone tweet ‘I want someone to rape me.’ It was in context, insofar as the person who tweeted it regularly wrote about dark fantasies and non-consent, but it bothered me. Even in context, you couldn’t guarantee someone would make the distinction between fantasy and reality; when the tweet was out there on someone’s timeline, with no context at all, it seemed risky, irresponsible even. You didn’t admit to stuff like that unless you were absolutely certain who your audience were.
Rape fantasy is top of my fantasy list in the sense that it’s rare for me to masturbate to orgasm without imagining being forced into sex, sex with a stranger, or more often than not, a combination of the two. As I teenager, I frequented the non-consent/reluctance section of Literotica. I find it hard to lay my hands on erotic fiction that’s dark enough for my tastes (more on that later) – Asking for Trouble is very much the kind of thing I’m into, to the point where I lend it to partners in order to explain my kinks, but I don’t think a mainstream erotica publisher would touch it if it was being pitched today.
I’ve never been sexually abused/assaulted in real life and I recognise that I’m incredibly fortunate in that regard. I’ve also come a long way in my understanding of the impact that reading about rape or non-consent can have on people who have experienced those things – years ago, I bought Asking for Trouble as a gift for a friend who lent it to her friend, who had been sexually assaulted, without having read it first. These days I’m not sure I’d buy it for/lend it to anyone without warning them about the nature of the sex first. I’m entirely pro trigger-warnings. But here’s the thing, I think trigger warnings are a good thing for literature because they allow people to evaluate the content without having to read it but from a purely selfish point of view, there’s something else potentially great about them: they allow authors to take more risks. In theory.
I say in theory, because unless you self-publish (and even then, I imagine rape might be a problematic keyword on Amazon), I can’t see publishers wanting to print rape scenes that are not explicitly fantasy. That’s one problem. The other, I think, is making rape work in a narrative. There’s some good rape fantasy writing out there – Sweet Danger by Violet Blue contains several great stories on the theme – but 75%+ of the time, it follows the same pattern. The main character is forced into sex, sex they do not consent to, but end up enjoying. So far, so good. Except at the end, we almost always find out one of two things: either the character’s ‘rapist’ is actually her partner, or someone else she knows and has previously consented to/expressed a desire to be raped by. It’s rape fantasy in the truest sense.
I’ve had trouble piecing together the next bit in my head, so bear with me. Obviously, rape and rape fantasy are not the same thing. No one actually wants to be raped. But because almost all stories about non-consent now take the format detailed above, I can no longer suspend my disbelief sufficiently to believe that the FMC hasn’t consented to what’s happening at some point previously, which will be revealed later in the story. The whole thing is an entirely consensual set up. Which kind of takes the edge off. For me, anyway.
So, what do I want from rape fantasy in erotica? I’m not entirely sure I know. Not actual rape, obviously. But something darker, something scarier, than a well-thought out arrangement between an established couple. Rape fantasy gone wrong interests me (and turns me on, often), but when I’m writing it myself I still feel obliged to stop short of actual penetration, for fear of crossing some unspoken boundary.
Is there an answer? Are there good examples of what I’m looking for (in erotica or mainstream fiction), that I just haven’t come across yet? And if this is your kink or s subject on which you enjoy writing, how do you get round the issues above. I’d be interested to know, so, as always, comments are more than welcome.