In many ways, I’m a classic liberal: I don’t believe in censorship, even of works I feel are reprehensible. I think fiction, and well-written non-fiction, can be cathartic, and that catharsis is a good thing.
Most of us have some sort of negative desire: something that, if fulfilled, would harm us or others. For most people, I suspect these are far more ordinary bad things.
I read four posts the other day that are all, in their own ways, on related difficult subjects:
An editor of BDSM fiction talks about the effect it’s had on her love life. There are some cues here that someone not familiar with the culture of BDSM might miss, e.g., warning signs like, “You are what we call a natural sub.”
When 50 Shades of Grey exploded in 2012, I was editing erotic romance novels five days a week in a cramped pink building in South Austin. 50 Shades made “BDSM” the most marketable term in the romance/erotica industry, and it made my already uncomfortable job a living hell.
I’ve read some books that, frankly, seem more like grooming someone for conditioned violence, and Jennifer agrees:
And books like 50 Shades set a dangerous precedent for would-be subs: one where hyper-femininity is demanded and safe words are for the weak. I understand why, upon reading these books, some people become adamant that D/s is just an excuse for violence against women.
It depresses me. BDSM (which, for what it’s worth, isn’t my thing) is a very large umbrella that doesn’t necessarily involve bondage, discipline, sadism, or masochism. Yet the fiction in the genre tends to the farther end of the genre, and quite a bit of it, like 50 Shades, is abuse masquerading as BDSM. Another relevant post on this subject is Jenny Trout’s commentary about 50 Shades and abusive relationships.
Moving on to the second post, there are people who have rape fantasies and slave fantasies. There is fiction that caters to those market segements—but the marketing of same may well be problematic.
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine non-problematic marketing for the content in question, but it doesn’t quite hit my squick button the way one particular category does: breeder stories.
Someone who enjoys same discusses it.
This fourth post might seem like an outlier—and, frankly, it is. However, it discusses a really important topic: what if people’s fantasies tend toward real non-consent (rather than fantasy non-consent), and yet the people who have said fantasies don’t want to harm anyone?
It turns out that we have little infrastructure in place for people who are pre-offenders.
Quoting Elizabeth Letourneau, founding director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins University.
We say we’re really concerned about sex offending and we really don’t want children to be sexually offended and we don’t want adults to be raped, but we don’t do anything to prevent it. We put most of our energy into criminal justice, which means that the offense has already happened and often many offenses have already happened.
That seems backwards, doesn’t it?
It’s important to have means of escape, means of dealing with difficult fantasies that are so integral to various people’s lives. It’s also important to provide necessary support to both would-be offenders and people who’ve been victims.