Before I even begin to talk about this, I should say what it is.
Because dubious consent, or dub con for short, is likely to have people running about pulling out hair and screaming that the world is ending. And there are very good reasons for this.
Mostly it’s because they mess up the line between fiction and reality.
Dubious consent is a term that refers to erotic fiction and only fiction.
It simply cannot exist in real life – because in real life dubious consent is rape. I’ve seen arguments that to and fro about it, possibly referring to real events between adults, but no, legally, if there’s any doubt about consent, it is rape.
You can argue until the cows come home, until Hell freezes over and the cops drag you away to prison, but if you don’t know if there is consent, it’s rape.
In real life, you can’t know what someone is thinking. But in fiction we can hear both sides. We can see inside the heads of the characters.
In fiction, dubious consent is where one person in some way, forces another to have sex, and though there are signs that they do not want to have sex, to some degree, inside their mind they are both aroused and desiring it. That’s it, pure and simple.
So, dusting off my hands, having put that idea aside, I will go on.
Dub con is a peculiar offspring of romance novels.
Who reads romances? Women.
It’s well-known that many women have rape fantasies. Note the fantasies word there. Like many fantasies we don’t actually want them to happen to us.
Readers of these dub con stories don’t want to be raped by some stranger and are likely to implant their stilettos into the skull of anyone who gets that notion. Or make them suck on a Taser. Either is good.
There are examples of this sub-genre going back decades. Ye Olde Bodice rippers were based around capture fantasies where alpha man drags away his women and convinces her to be his mate. Did she ask to be kidnapped?
Did she then put in a request for sex with said kidnapper. No. Ripping of said bodice was often done to an unwilling damsel but even so, the reader always knew that she did really want the hero. There was much lusting under the heaving bodices and bosoms and much fun was had by all.
Readers may not have read the same sexual details that erotic romances have now but they certainly got a thrill. Which is why they sold so well – in their millions.
Even movies had a go at dub con, among them was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Watered down, but still this was capture fantasy and as such it dithered about in dub con territory.
To those who adore this genre, the mechanics of dub con stories are well-worn in their minds. Like Westerns or Thrillers there are ingredients that have to be there. To begin with there’s an unwilling heroine and a man who wants her.
They have sex, a lot…hopefully. At the end they generally fall in love, though that’s negotiable. Yeah, that’s about it really. Plonk that into any setting you like.
One of the best things about stories is that we get to explore ideas and scenarios that we find thrilling and yet don’t want to have happen to us.
Unlike many other fantasies dub con gets a lot of bad press. People see it as a step away from advocating rape. Is this gender discrimination? Why can’t women act out their fantasies via books?
There are books where the heroes kill hundreds of the enemy, assassinate targets, including the President of any country you like to name, or even commit serial murder, and yet these are rarely condemned.
And what about zombie apocalypse books? If you fantasize about those, my god, you must be really sick.
If you’re currently hopping up and down screaming that we should burn those too, please wait in a queue for the next article about those genres. I’m sure this article will gather more than enough of the hop up and down while screaming types.
Despite what I’ve said above, there are people out there who will say dub con fiction makes rape culture more mainstream. To them I say, go read a book, just not these ones. Read a book that you like. Because books should be full of perversion and fun and education and whatever crap people like to read.
They are one of the few methods of mass communication that will only come alive in your head if you let them in.
Don’t like them? Don’t read the words.
If you’re curious, yes, I do write dub con stories, as in my Pierced Hearts series, of which the second is due out late August, though I mostly write erotic romance with BDSM themes. BDSM is always consensual.
Cari Silverwood writes the way the world should be - dangerous and sexy with bullets piercing the darkness and lovers wrenched close by ropes. When you need escape, when you need that rough lover to bring you to your knees, here you will find stories to singe your fingers.
The taste of adventure, the tang of BDSM, the burn of fantasy run wild. Brace yourselves, if you dare to read.
And... in this real world, she has a lovely family in Australia, with the prerequisite teenager who dwells in the dark bedroom catacombs… a husband who raises eyebrows when he catches glimpses of what she writes, and a furry menagerie of other animals barking, meowing, and swimming about the place.
For more info on where to find her, you can check out the following:
What are your thoughts on dub con in bdsm fiction? Harmless fantasies being played out? Or do you think that it promotes rape?
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