a small lesson on consent for mm writers
December 18, 2015
Insofar as I can deal with rape as a part of fiction (I have no desire to get into a discussion of artistic merits or whatever), the thing I can”t deal with is when characters are raped but the narrative does not frame it this way.
What I mean by this, is that the sexual encounter has a violation of consent, but the writer (and thus the characters) apparently fail to understand that what just happened was non-consensual sex (ie, rape). I”m also not talking about the whole ‘dub-con” thing, since at least the people who are writing it (and thus put labels on it to warn ppl) understand that there is something going on in these situations.
(tw: for descriptions of rape in the rest of this post)
Example 1: people who are sleeping cannot consent to sex. If I had a nickel for everytime I”ve heard the “I woke him up with a blowjob” situation in an mm book, I”d probably be able to buy tits without assistance.
This? Is rape. Again: Sleeping (unconsious) people cannot consent to sex.
Example 2: Barebacking someone after you”ve agreed to have sex with a condom is also rape.
(And I don”t want to hear the excuses “they were super passionate and caught up in the moment!”. anal sex generally requires some level of preparation. If your characters are taking the time to stretch and lube? They clearly are being intentional enough that ‘forgetting” a condom in the heat of passion is pretty unbelievable.)
Example 3: The whole ‘a six pack of beer is all that separates a straight man from a gay one”. If one of your characters is drunk and the other not so much? A lot of books with this situation will have the drunk one persistently coming on to the not drunk one. Still…. not consensual, as it happens. A decent (but not foolproof) guideline is that if a person is inebriated enough that they aren”t allowed to legally drive? Their judgement is impaired enough not to be able to consent.1 And I hope it is… obvious that if one character intentionally gets another inebriated for the purpose of sex? Um… this is what we call ‘date rape”.
Example 4: BDSM. Please note that blanket consent does not exist. A lot of mm writers enjoy infusing their sexual scenes with implicit or explicit sub/dom play. Look. Its important that all sex is negotiated. A lot of mm writers have this heteronormative idea in their head that top=dom and bottom=sub. Not the case. Consenting to bottom is not also consent to sub.
Please do note what I”m communicating here: if you present non-consensual sex as unproblematic/consensual, you are contributing to rape culture. I”m not talking about cases in fiction where the character understands their experience as rape. I”m talking about the normalization of rape as a ‘sexy” thing with no apparent awareness that what just happened was, indeed, rape.
- With this one, there is some... wiggle room? If both are drunk. No wiggle room, however, if one partner"s judgement is significantly impaired and the other"s is not. ↩