For a while now I’ve been pondering the phenomenon of rape or dubious consent fantasies in erotic fiction. How can women – especially women who self-identify as feminists – not only have rape fantasies but actually write about and share them? It’s a timely topic, too, what with the continued debate at the national level about what constitutes consent and some men struggling to wrap their minds around the concept of rape. A recent post on Dear Author offers an interesting perspective on the issue of rape fantasy (and why some men might compare being raped to losing a job), but I wanted to get the perspective of someone who actually writes rape fantasy. Who better to ask than my esteemed colleague Christina Harding, whose monster erotica series Underneath the Gargoyle contains dubious consent? When I first read the following guest post, I was surprised by the conclusion. I asked Christina about it, and here is a snippet of our conversation:
JG: I’ve never heard anyone say that reading rape fantasy will lead men to rape and that’s why we shouldn’t write it. (I’ve definitely heard a similar argument against gun violence on TV/in movies/in video games, but never about rape.) I’ve been thinking more along the lines of, “Rape is a horrible, traumatic experience that no woman wants to experience in reality, so why do we have fantasies about it?”
CH: I’m surprised you have “never heard anyone say that reading rape fantasy will lead men to rape and that’s why we shouldn’t write it.” I’ve had multiple authors who I respect tell me this is why they don’t write the rape fantasy. I’ve had readers try to track down my email (which is why it isn’t posted on my blog) to tell me this.
Dang! I had no idea. But this is why it’s so helpful to learn about other people’s experiences and perspectives, no? Read on to find out how Christina, who considers herself a feminist, thinks about rape fantasy in erotic fiction.
I am a self-proclaimed feminist. I believe that women deserve equal pay as men for equal work and that a marriage should be an equal partnership between two people. I believe that women can achieve great physical prowess, and men can be loving and nurturing. I believe that gender roles are defined by society, not biology, and so society (or rather, people) can choose in what light they want to view gender roles.
However, there have been many nights where I’ve woken up from dreams where I was so aroused that I was soaking wet. These were dreams of getting gang raped. Or forced to have sex with the most unattractive people I know. Or dreams in which I was a slave getting whipped and raped by my master. One can argue that dreams represent our darkest fantasies that we won’t let ourselves acknowledge while awake.
The rape fantasy, or what is called “dubious consent” in the world of erotica, could be considered the antithesis of feminism. It has been a bit of a grapple for me to figure out how to rationalize these two opposing interests.
Monster erotica ignited my sexual awakening, and so I hope my Underneath the Gargoyle series will help others by spreading the fire and arousing deep desires.
Christina Harding is a pseudonym. She is the author of Underneath the Gargoyle, a paranormal erotic series. She also blogs at www.christinahardingerotica.blogspot.com and tweets @tinaerotica. Christina is happily married and enjoys reading sexy stories with her husband.