Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Pleasures of Dubious Consent

You know, in real life I hate to be forced to do anything. Hate, hate, HATE it. I can't stand to be pressured against my will or manipulated into doing something. But when it comes to sex and bedroom matters--oh my god. FORCE ME. Make me be bad. Tear me down and make me do things I don't want to do.

Ah, the pleasures of dubious consent.

I started writing this book lately. I haven't even publicized the title on my blog yet, because I wasn't sure it was going to work out, but the last few days something clicked and the story has taken off. To be more specific it's taken off in a direction I hadn't originally planned--it's become a storyline based on dubious consent. Before, it wasn't working, but now, with the dubious consent, it's caught fire.

The truth is, I love dubious consent, both in my bedroom and in my erotic fiction. It has the force-and-peril factor of nonconsent, without as much of the ickiness. With dubious consent, you can always read and say, well, she kind of wants it...while squirming at the same time. For me, the idea of a male forcing his attentions on me,bending me to his will even though I resist, is a powerful fantasy. How sexy, for a man to want you so much that he traps or seduces you into doing things you had no intention of doing. It's even better if he taunts you afterward and makes you admit you wanted it all along. The power play aspect of it thrills me, and so does the domination factor, if it's written right.

The reason I originally started writing my own BDSM stories was because I couldn't find erotic fiction that hit that dubcon sweet spot for me. I didn't like the roughness and depressing violence of true nonconsent erotica, but the romantic BDSM stuff felt too soft and saccharine for me. I wanted something in the with an edge of danger. I wrote Mercy and Comfort Object, two books with a good helping of antagonistic love and dubious consent. After that, I backed off the dubcon until Cirque du Minuit, because I learned through feedback and reviews that...well...dubious consent makes some readers hopping mad.

I think I struggled so hard with this current work in progress because part of me dreads that reader outcry. As many of you know, I'm a very mild and self-conscious person. I don't want to piss people off or be controversial. Scathing reviews slaughter me. At the same time, I know I have readers who are very much like me. They want romance, but that harder edge too. They want to be made uncomfortable by a little too much force, a little too much boundary-bulldozing on the dominant's part, on the page anyway.

One of the really great things about erotica is that we can explore those fantasies and impulses that turn us on but that we don't necessarily want to experience in reality. It's the ultimate safe sex. So where do you stand on dubious consent? Love it? Hate it? Do you find it hot or disturbing in the context of erotic romance?


  1. I like dubious con books in a lot of situations, but I think it’s getting harder to find an audience for them as mainstream romance writers flock to BDSM books!
    But rape fantasies are common for a reason!

  2. I know, I do have concerns about scandalizing the soft-kink set, which I think is the largest subset of BDSM readers. Hopefully word of mouth and reviews get most books to the right readers.

  3. Here's a question: is erotic mind control dubious consent, or nonconsent?

    It's a niche whose fans tend to *really* love it, but I've been wondering about that question. (That, of course, is what I write. You can see about a zillion examples at or check out my books on Amazon or the Erotic Mind Control Books and More Listmania lists I maintain there.)

    On the one hand, it should be pretty obvious that hey, MIND CONTROL. All consent is artificial. On the other hand, while there is what we call "'pathic" mind control erotica (short for "sociopathic" or "psychopathic," i.e. the controller only uses control to prevent escape, not to make the controlled enjoy what's happening) most of it is "'mantic." (Short for "romantic" and you get the idea.) Most of mine is firmly on the 'mantic side - my controllers want the controlled to enjoy themselves and afterward, they would usually say that they did... because they were made to. So what level of consent is that? Thoughts?

  4. Love, love, love dubious consent, and you do it SO right -- please keep going!

  5. I like dubious consent and I find it hot! I am vanilla in life (trying to add a bit of flavour though!) but my mind is kinky and I like my boundaries being tested and pushed especially in the books that I read. The more I explore this genre the more I am attracted to dubious consent and the less fluffy mainstream style of erotic literature. And you do it very well!!!

  6. I only started reading erotic romances last year, but I love a huge variety of it, including what many would call light BDSM to Dark, intense Dubious consent, even a few books of non con that I have read. Congrats on the WIP!

  7. I'm going to echo what Basia, Robin and Cathy are saying. Please don't change what you do based on reviews (not saying you do, but you know what I mean). The 50 SoG type of sugar-kink readers have made things a little trickier for BDSM writers even as the potential reader pool has greatly expanded. I completely understand where you're coming from vis-a-vis wanting to avoid ticking off new readers.

    I read Mercy a few years ago, and loved it - there was really nothing out there quite like it. You nailed that middle ground perfectly between non-con and consensual BDSM. I haven't read Comfort Object yet, but I just bought it and added it to Mt TBR:)

    Looking forward to reading the finished product of your current WIP!