consensual nonconsent

5 Aug

Rape fantasies… another difficult topic.

This is a topic very near and dear to my heart because I am obsessed with sexual consent and communication.  I have spent over a year dedicated to thinking, writing, and speaking about how consent works, why it’s difficult, and how to encourage our communities to do it.  I’m also a big rape fetishist.  And I don’t see a conflict.

Let me explain.


I’ve known for as long as I’ve had desire, it’s been wrapped up in fantasies of nonconsent.  I’ve had dreams of being tied up (and of tying people up) and being made to do things against my will.  I have very little sex that doesn’t involve at least some form of power exchange.  I love the feeling of being caught, like there’s no way out, the feeling that there are other pressures beyond my control that trap me, making it impossible for me to resist my play partners’ sexual advances.  Even more than that, I love resisting the advances of my lovers and feeling physically (and mentally) powerless to stop them.  I love the look of fear in the eyes of my submissive play partners as it sinks in that there’s no way out.  I love feeling so much power and control over another person that it scares me a little.  I love screaming “No!” at the top of my lungs.  I love hearing my play partners scream “No!” at the top of their lungs (especially if we’re somewhere echoey).  But I ONLY enjoy these things within the context of consensual play.

I hope I am never the victim of rape, but it could happen.  I’ve had some of my softer sexual boundaries crossed, and I imagine I will probably have more crossed in the future, but I do not ever wish to be actually raped.  I also never want to actually cross someone’s hard sexual limits.  I take the time (usually an hour, but I have spent days planning more intense scenes) to negotiate before playing with power.  I want to be absolutely sure that we have the same goals for our play and that we have at least a bit of an understanding of what sex, rough play, pain, and rape mean to everyone involved.  Rape and rape-play may look the same to an onlooker (in fact, without seeing the negotiation and establishment of a safeword, it can look exactly like rape) but since both parties actually want to do what they’re doing makes it completely different.

With real rape, there is intentional physical and emotional harm done to the person being taken advantage of.  Fantasies and rape role-play are done for the mutual benefit of everyone involved AND there are steps taken to reduce possible harm.

The tricky part is that even though consensual fantasy role-play is designed to prevent harm, it can sometimes still happen.  There are issues, big issues, that our society has around sex and rape.  Even in the context of consensual play, very ugly things can surface.  A bottom can be triggered and go silent, unable to safeword even though they want to.  A top can get wrapped up in the energy of the scene and miss key signals from their bottom.  It’s also important to note that the same sexual myths and power plays that create rape-supportive culture are at work in consensual rape-play scenes.  Global, societal, and interpersonal power struggles don’t just disappear because there was a negotiation beforehand.

So why bother?  Why is it worth the risk of getting hurt?

Well, besides having REALLY hot sex (if it’s your thing) playing scary games can sometimes be very healing.  Sometimes, visiting something scary on your own terms in a relatively safe environment can be INCREDIBLY empowering.  In my head, it’s like repelling over to the edge of a cliff and staring down at the ground miles below you.  Looking at danger that closely forces your to find the steely strong immutable parts of yourself (however small).  Finding that strength, even if it’s REALLY fucking scary, is a real trip.  Taking that kind of trip when it’s of your own choosing (and when you have a safety harness) is totally different than having it happen to you in real life when you don’t want it to happen.  Revisiting a cliff after a fall can be absolutely mortifying.  But sometimes, if you want to, you can get back the strength that was lost when you fell.

Taking the responsibility to take someone on a trip like that is also very empowering.  Even at my scariest, this kind of play always makes me feel like I’m building trust with my play partners, sometimes even more than I would from years of friendship.

It may seem odd, being empowered by pretending to be powerless and building trust by playing the monster, but it works for me.

It’s a scary and sometimes risky kind of play, but I feel I have become a better person (and a better partner) by playing with these things than I would have if I only had vanilla sex.

I also feel that I’ve learned a lot about how power, privilege, and sex interact to create rape-supportive culture by playing with rape-play in by sex life.  The time I’ve taken to be aware of my own land minds concerning sex and power have made me more aware of how they were put there in the first place.  I’m more aware of how my actions can implant/support the same crap in other people’s minds.  As an activist, I feel an incredible sense of duty to stop rape however I can.  If I am going to learn how by being a fetishist, then so be it.

let the learning begin

3 Responses to “consensual nonconsent”

  1. Jared August 5, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    Could ya elaborate on how power and privilege create rape-supportive culture and how you came to knowledge with rape-play in sex life? Rape-play at its heart has consent and the fantasy of non-consent. So I’m wondering how you got non-consensual norms from consensual play.

    Doing that sort of play myself rather than freeing my actions turns a magnifying glass on them. As man especially it has shown common masculine postures and acts of seduction are really kind of scary. I mean how common is it in romance movies for the romantic interest to be lied to, separated from friends and family, sometimes borderline stalked, shows of strength or power, actions to slowly encroach on personal space, and non-negotiated touching. Yet all of it is deemed ok in the name of romance or love. Person to person it varies what is fine and what is not, but the nature of it being acceptable to do all of these in the name your own self-interest. That’s blatant power and privilege that can be attributed to a rape-culture.

    Of course you gotta look at it from the other side as well. What about the folks that want this sort of thing? It seems to me that you need the power to say yes if you want the power to say no both in play and in seriousness.

    Rape-play walks the line on how our culture views sex and rape. Rape is both fought against yet ignored. Rape-play and the idea of these acts being found consensual and pleasurable flies in the face of the blanket term that “RAPE IS BAD!” and instead shows how very specific things are bad. The invisible power difference that exists in sex and gender for example.

  2. oliver Hyde August 9, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    that does create a bit of a logic circle, learning about rape culture by playing with rape culture… but it’s hard to say exactly where it all started. I mean, It’s really hard to learn about your culture while you’re in it.

    Parts of it were from being told from a very young age (mostly by my mother) that all men constantly want sex and will go to any lengths to get it. Part of it was being coached by other girls at school about to dress to get boys but not be a “slut”.

    I learned about the finer intricacies of rape-supportive culture and consent in college through women’s studies courses and through books on consent within the context of BDSM. The women’s studies side helped me better understand how female sexuality is tied to power (which I won’t talk about too much here but will likely spend many posts on) and the BDSM side helped me see how it’s possible to play with the submissive side of your sexuality without it meaning you are less powerful or important as a person (again, will write more on this later).

    playing with it in my sex life helped me understand how all this wraps up and makes mine (and my play partners’) personal sex lives interesting…. and complicated.

    as to where my personal kink for eroticized domination and rape play started, I don’t know. maybe I will figure it out later, but for now it’s as much a mystery to me as why I like strap-on blow jobs.

    I’ve also noticed a weird thing with eroticized domination being called “romance” (especially lately with Twilight). The problem is that sexual dominance (in particular, male-dominant/female-submissive) is incredibly normalized but sexual dominance/submission role play with negotiation and consent is taboo. It’s incredibly normalized to blindly sexualize dominance, but it’s somehow not ok to intentionally play with it.

    It’s actually one of the reasons why I feel so compelled to make al this personal shit about my sex life public. I want there to be more examples of sexual negotiation and conscious/consensual kink.


  1. feminist blow jobs « sex, power, and privilege - August 10, 2010

    […] consensual nonconsent […]

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