Safe, sane and consensual. In the Kink world outside of book fantasies, this is how we are supposed to play. What about within the confines of our fiction? Here, after all, we explore the insides of our heads, and those are not always safe or sane. Our Erotica doesn’t have to be. Or does it?
There’s been some trouble lately with certain subjects in Erotica, self-published with a certain company, although this may be occurring to some degree with other companies as well. I’m not going to name the company, because I publish with them. I’m not going to name the authors, because I haven’t asked their permission. I don’t think I need to do either to make my point.
Nonconsensual sex is a sanitized phrase for rape. We haven’t touched on this subject, for many reasons. Previously, none of them would have been ‘fear of censorship’. Rape is a scary word for a scarier concept, but we have freedom of speech in this country, and freedom of the press. Go ahead and laugh, I realize both of these have been severely abused of late. Get it all out. I’ll wait.
I’ve been reading a good deal within my genre for research, and through other incarnations of myself have become acquainted with a few of the authors I’ve been reading. Therein lies our tale, and my concern.
In a recently published anthology was a story that I felt crossed the line of safety and sanity. It eroticized rape, and broke boundaries like I’d break a nail. Granted. Would I censor it? Hell, no. Maybe a trigger warning should be included, maybe. But this is inside our heads, harming no one.
Rape fantasies are common, aren’t they? According to Psychology Today, forty to sixty percent of women have such fantasies. I maintain that the vast majority of these fantasies have more to do with submission than any desire to be raped. The recent popularity of BDSM themed Erotica would seem to bear me out.
Regardless, it was a story, perhaps not to my taste, but then I am more in touch with my inner submissive than many women. If you’ve read Switch It ON, you know my inner submissive will talk your damn ear off. Many, many stories don’t appeal to me, in and out of the steamier section of the e-bookstore. I’m certain their authors are traumatized. Ha ha.
The troubling part is that the retailer censored it, and seems now to be subjecting all of the authors who published in the “offending” book to heightened scrutiny, even to the point of making their work unavailable. While it appears that this has been sorted out, it concerns me.
There are some dark themes in BDSM literature. During my research, I’ve read stories that upset me. I’ve read about relationships that appear to me to be the result of Stockholm Syndrome. I’ve seen photos that made me cry. I, like Mistress Madeline, have more issues than the New York Times, and like her, cry easily. I am not, however, afraid of the dark. A good portion of my soul lives there still, and is perfectly at home.
Switch It UP has travelled down some of the darker paths through the woods. We’ll meet some wolves that really need a comeuppance from the Woodcutter. I address child sexual abuse, violation of consent, and, yes, rape. All of these appear off-screen, and none of them are romanticized or eroticized in any way. However, the recent censorship gives me grave concerns. Will my work be blackballed because of its honesty, as happened to an author among those referenced whom I hold in high regard because of her failure to sugarcoat, her commitment to truth and authenticity?
Those rape fantasies seem to imply that the truth might be different from what anyone supposes. Authors leave readers free to explore those areas that ring true to them. Publishers and retailers seem to feel readers need protecting. What do you think? Do you need Grandma to hold your hand, or do you want to walk through the dark woods, and let the wolves beware?