There are several genres of erotica that I basically refuse to write in. Anything with vampires and/or werewolves is right out. I mean, not unless you’re going to do something really cool and interesting with them. Much the same goes for anything too vanilla or straight-laced. Don’t get me wrong I have a soft spot in my heart for a classic romance story, but it’s not enough to capture my imagination so far as writing goes. Dinosaur porn can just shit right off.
Another thing that doesn’t sit very happily with my writing is the genre of “dubious consent”. This, along with “pseudo incest” is a sort of fig leaf to make something more acceptable. A common example of this in action is in translations of some Mangas and Animes where difference in publishing law means the prefix “step-” slips into descriptions of family members, making the ensuing abuse of a position of trust more palatable? I guess? Maybe?!?!????? Or not really at all.
Dubious consent is typically written from the perspective of the person who is not initiating the encounter. The reason for this is that the writer can then paint a very clear picture that the protagonist actually is enjoying what is happening and does want it to happen, even if explicit verbal consent isn’t sought or obtained. I find such writing generally clunky and uncomfortable, not necessarily just because of what it is, but of what it’s trying so desperately hard not to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel that rape is something that shouldn’t be discussed in fiction, but I very much feel that all things should be given their appropriate weight. Although this of course this also depends on context. For example a murder is a horrible thing… unless you’re writing a darkly humorous tale in which case it can be dealt with flippantly. But rape does not sit happily with me in an erotic context. That’s why I will, at least in my contemporary fiction, always put an emphasis on ongoing enthusiastic consent.
Except it’s not so simple as that.
Stepping down off the soap box there’s a very real problem with my stance on consent in fiction; the problem being human nature. There have been numerous times in my life where I’ve been torn apart inside between wanting and not wanting things. Parties where I wanted to talk to people and at the same time leap out of a window and run for the horizon, theme parks where I wanted to go on the big scary ride, whilst wondering if the swan boat ride was more my kind of pace. You see one of the fun ideas that can be explored when writing about BDSM is the idea of power exchange. The idea of giving control to somebody else. Taking away the stress of queueing for the big scary ride because it’s not a choice anymore. It’s a fascinating dynamic and one that sits pretty close to the heart of my erotic imagination.
But my goodness doesn’t that sound similar to “dub-con”?