February 16, 2015

50 Shades is well known for its issues with consent, informed consent, and coercion. I haven’t dabbled much into it, but I haven’t heard any reasons not to call it rapey.

My question, though, is whether there’s any problem with rape fantasies. I’ve certainly had periods where the main thing that gets me off is rape erotica – whether it’s porn or Nifty (if there’s a God, Nifty is probably from Her). Even mass-produced fantasy like a paperback novel or a film that doesn’t even bother to be NC17 is still just a fantasy and not reality.

Do you think there’s a safe zone to allow for rape fantasies without encouraging rape, domestic violence, or unhealthy relationships?

The thing about a rape fantasy is that it is a fantasy. A fantasy rape scene can be played out by role players who wish to act out that scene, for whatever reason, including (so I hear from those who have used this method) recovery from an actual rape. No matter what, though, the rape fantasy scene must always be a fantasy role-play scene. This means that the person who is submitting in the fantasy must give informed, knowledgeable consent before the scene begins or is played out. It also means that the submitting partner has an “out” if the scene becomes something they are no longer comfortable being a part of; usually a safe-word or safe-signal to their dominate partner or partners in the scene. Some very experienced and knowledgeable players may forego the safe word or signal if they’ve been playing with each other long enough to be able to read each other’s body language and have a trust deep enough to not violate each other a psychologically damaging way. I would not recommend this for beginners, however.

The difference between the scene I’m describing, and what I’ve read in and about 50 Shades is that the main female character does not have control at any point in the scenes. The dominate male partner does not give her an “out” nor does he give her the experience of building trust with him to insure that he does not damage her. Fictional characters can withstand this form of assault and abuse without damage, real people cannot. This is one of the reason it’s so important that people who are interested in the BDSM Life do not interpret 50 Shades as a depiction of reality or any sort of manual, and instead recognize it for what it is.

I have seen some wonderful presentations by fantasy role-play rapers and rapees who were happy to share their experience and expertise in these role-play scenarios. Without fail, each one of them describes the pre-negotiation and safe-signals they use. One couple I know uses “alternating body parts” to signal that it is safe to continue. If he grabs her arms or upper body and she struggles against him with her feet, the scene continues. If she struggles with her arms or upper body, he lets her go. If he grabs her feet and she struggles with her arms and upper body, he continues. If she struggles with her feet, he lets her go. By pre-negotiating these signals in advance, he is effectively requesting consent each time, and she is granting it, but their consent negotiation takes place within the framework of the scene. Once the scene begins, she can yell “No” “Stop” and “Please don’t” until she’s blue in the face and tears stream down her cheeks, and nothing she does will change his behavior, unless she says his middle name. This particular couple likes to play rough with each other and if he gets kicked in the shin (or somewhere else) while playing his role, it’s part of the game.

Any BDSM scene has the potential to stir up unintended emotional or psychological issues on the part of either partner, however rape fantasy role-play is one of the most dangerous mine fields we play in, and informed consent is key. It’s also key for the top in the scene who may need to know about any baggage that is being brought into the scene by either partner. A top may think that the scene is really hot, then get into it and suddenly be transported into a headspace that they didn’t expect and find themselves dealing with psychological trauma. So be careful, be mindful, and get consent. The major problem that most people have with 50 Shades is that the main character was not doing those things. He gained consent through manipulation, emotional blackmail, or retrospectively. (“I know I put my penis in you without permission, but you orgasmed like 20 times. Do you have any regrets?” “No” “So I get clemency for the rape then?” “Yes, I love you so much!”) This is a dangerous precedent for men to learn and women to accept. The book even shows another example of another man trying the same tactic and being ostracized for it. (“No no!” “Come on, you know you want it” “No I don’t!” “Just one kiss!” “I hate you so much Jac-, I mean Jose.”) In reality, Ana’s reaction to Jose was correct, and is the same reaction she should have given to Christian when he did the same exact thing. But I digress.

Non-consent can be hot in fantasy with fictional characters who will never suffer the emotional, mental and psychological repercussions of that event. In reality, non-consent can be role-played safely and hotly, but only after consent was achieved willingly and knowingly in advance, and when that consent can be withdrawn without consequences.

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