Exploring Kinks: #2 Noncon
This is post is about noncon aka non-consensual aka rape in fantasy, and let’s throw a bit of dubcon in there just to cover all our bases with this topic. I’ve already written a post on just dubious consent, but for this one I really want to focus on that really controversial topic, noncon.
For starters, setting the parameters. This is fantasy. More specifically, this is erotic fantasy where the intent is to create a sexually stimulating experience for the reader by having your characters go through an experience of noncon. I will not automatically refer to this as rape because I feel rape is not a fantasy term. I don’t think there is anything arousing about rape in real life. When writing noncon fiction, I do not write it with the intent for people to go out and force someone into sex. I am well aware that many fantasies can only be enjoyable because of the safety that fantasy allows—basically, the disconnect from reality.
So, how can the fantasy of noncon, which is emulating rape, be considered arousing to a person that doesn’t find actual rape arousing in the slightest? Honestly, I’m not a hundred percent certain. I can’t tell you why, all I can do is illustrate that it happens, a lot of people experience it, and it’s perfectly natural. I intend to dissect this topic to help people understand why this is a very common fantasy, and to help pull back the shame, anger, and confusion around it. I can’t explain arousal, just show the mechanism for it. Understanding is the first step to accepting, and believe me, we all fit better in our own bodies and lives when we learn to accept the weird shit in our heads. Fantasies shouldn’t be judged, no matter how freaky they may seem to some.
Right, so to stress; when I write noncon, the intention is to arouse my readers. Not all writers necessarily intend to do the same, or they do intend but fall short, or they’re going for a different wiring of arousal that just sparks with a different group. They might arouse on a physical response but still repulse on a mental—which could also be the intent. There are a lot of subtle variances to this fantasy and depending on the level depends on the intended result.
There’s actually a lot of censorship of noncon, to the point that most major sellers of ebooks won’t accept it. Especially if the noncon is written with the intent to arouse or glorify the act. This could also dictate if the writer of the noncon is willing to try to create an arousing scene when looking to sell their book on these particular sites. My answer is, of course, to not put noncon where it’s not welcome. Your audience might be smaller because of this, but you’re not stepping on toes and you don’t risk having your work and/or profile banned from the larger sites. Establishing a mailing list for you to reach your readers can help in these cases.
Dom vs Sub
I’m going to use two terms to make things simple and help put things in perspective as we go through this topic.
Dom: The dominant, sexually aggressive character. This character could also be multiple people and/or a mindless animal or machine, alien, etc. The Dom is usually a prop in a lot of ways that makes things happen, unless the fantasy is for those that want the dominant perspective. Then it’s through his/her eyes.
Sub: The forced submissive. S/he comes in all shapes and sizes. Our ‘victimized’ character. Depending on perspective depends on if the sub is a prop for the dom to exploit, versus seeing everything through the sub’s experience.
Why use these terms? To help people remember that this is a fantasy. An intentional fantasy born in a mind that desires to witness/experience a forced sexual encounter from one or both of those perspectives.
Let me remind you, no one is getting hurt in real life. No one is advocating that this behavior is acceptable in real life. If you were to ever come across a sex ad where you have a person looking for an experience of a noncon type, as an informed, responsible, consenting adult, you would understand that these people would be literally constructing a scene with rules and boundaries before anything even began. Multiple conversations, blood tests, and just a feeling out of if the players in the scene were even emotionally capable of handling the level they would ask for would all be figured out before anyone agreed to anything. In fantasy, those boundaries are already established by the creative mind constructing everything. Just because you’re not privy to that part doesn’t mean it’s not there.
A breakdown of noncon
I have to say, there are so many levels to this topic, it’s hard to know where to begin. I’m going to try to break down some of those levels and expand from there.
Noncon is a battle of wills, wants, and desires with an ending that has only one visible victor. Sexual, emotional, mental, and financial power based conflicts can all be noncon. What that conflict is, how it expresses itself, and the final end result all varies depending on the fantasy. I’m going to give some levels here, trying to draw some vague but fair boundaries to give an idea of just how different one part of the noncon spectrum is to another part.
1) Light noncon
Ex. A stolen kiss, maybe the Sub’s arm held and the Dom refuses to release.
These are physical/sexual manifestations of light noncon on a person’s direct body. You see this one a lot in old movies. Your swooning starlet argues with your roguish Dom who then roughly pulls her in for a kiss while she beats on his chest to stop. Usually, of course, ending with her melting, which would then move it more into a dubcon experience. As small an act as this might seem, this is noncon. The Sub didn’t want that kiss, s/he fought, maybe s/he wasn’t melting but instead losing strength or found fighting not to be of use so is just waiting it out until it ends and s/he can escape.
Ex. Dom demands the Sub says s/he’s a slut, the Sub doing it because s/he doesn’t want to make waves. Dom tells Sub to lift up shirt or Dom won’t give back Sub’s wallet.
Mental/emotional noncon can be just as easy to misinterpret at a light level. This could be something along the lines of sexual harassment in the workplace or teasing that the Sub really doesn’t find to be teasing. It’s about the Dom making the Sub do something that s/he doesn’t want to do through pressure that doesn’t necessarily involve their direct body, even though the end result may be of the body. Just because your Sub submits to the demand doesn’t mean it’s not noncon. A lot of noncon actually features the Sub giving in as a way to cope/survive while inwardly still upset.
2) Medium noncon
Ex. Dom corners Sub with body, refusing to let s/he go until Sub says, does, gives something in return.
You’re going to find that the escalation of these scenarios is based mostly on the level of imbalance that is shown. When a Sub’s ability to move freely is taken away, be it because of physical restraint or mental/emotional/financial manipulation, the scene is more hardcore for it. This is about forcing power over another human being and on a physical level, it’s usually the most impactful. Manipulations of the mental/emotional/financial are still impactful, but these usually result with the Sub being allowed to come to terms with the experience about to happen, softening some of the extremeness of the immediate scene.
3) Medium hard noncon
Ex. Dom corners Sub with body and then touches Sub in a sexual manner. No penetration.
Escalation again is very intense. You went from the Sub feeling like they had a way out if they could just play into the rules the Dom had set in the previous example, to being trapped and at the mercy of the Dom. It’s now up to the Dom to dictate the boundaries of the encounter. There is still the possibility of fight/escape because no restraints are being used, but depending on the difference of physical strength between the Sub and Dom, this might not matter much. There’s also the idea the Sub could talk their way out, or mentally submit to what could happen, allowing them to have that coping strategy of freedom.
4) Hard noncon
Ex. Dom overpowers Sub completely either with body or accessories like rope. Penetration.
Once any kind of penetration occurs against a Sub’s will—fingers, items, to full out sex, you’ve pretty much reached the top levels of escalation for noncon. The domination of the body along with the mental repercussions for the Sub are going to be big. That said, it is still not the domination of the mind, which is another level.
5) Harder noncon
Ex. The Sub is not allowed to leave over a period of time. The experience is repeated.
One scene turns into many, the limits of the Sub is tested not just on a physical level but on a mental/emotional level as their experience of their place in the world is changed. These types of fics are intense. They’re about the Sub’s ability to survive/cope/transform. It really is about breaking a person down to their primal level. For a non-sexual version that was pretty mainstream, I immediately think of V for Vendetta.
6) Hardcore noncon
Ex. Not choosing to leave the Dom.
Probably the most mentally disturbing for some. Repeated experience inflicted on the Sub, and the Sub returns to it or chooses not to leave when the opportunity is given. This is when you see the will broken down, or the Sub so detached from reality that they feel staying with the Dom is somehow safer or right. In the battle of wills, this is the Dom defeating the Sub, their will completely placed on the Sub until s/he doesn’t remember anything else.
7) Violent noncon
Violence can potentially happen at any point during a noncon encounter and it depends on the writer if that is what embodies the experience of the scene. It could be as light as a wrist held too tight, to a slap, to a punch, or the Dom whipping the Sub for pain or for pleasure. Once violence hits a point most people would consider brutal, it completely colors the entire experience.
8) BDSM and Dubcon
You can take any category of the above and have it be dubcon with the right factors. This includes violence. Dubious consent is about the Sub actually wanting the experience even if they don’t vocalize it. If a Sub wants the experience but is struggling internally, it’s dubcon. Sometimes it could just be referred to as BDSM if the Sub genuinely wants the experience and does vocalize it (likely before when setting up a scene and not during the actual experience.)
The two views of noncon
So, on top of the levels I’ve outlined above, there are also two different perspectives when it comes to these scenes. Depending on the writer, you may only see one, or you’ll jump between both of them.
I’ll be honest, I see a lot more of the Sub’s perspective with noncon. I think most writers that write these sorts of scenes want to experience the Sub’s perspective of being forced into submitting. Or, on the flip side, weird as this may seem, they might just feel more comfortable writing the Sub’s perspective. Given the way in real life a committer of these types of acts is vilified (rightly so) it might just be too uncomfortable for some writers to try and get into the Dom’s skin because of that inability to distinguish fantasy from real life.
From the Sub’s perspective, you are experiencing more than just the physical act being inflicted but the mental/emotional turmoil. Depending on how far things go, you might watch your Sub break down, find coping strategies, justifications, internal struggles of desire vs anger, humiliation, disgrace, disassociation, etc. Depending on the writer, your sub might pick themselves up the next day like nothing happened (I see this a lot with rape used as a plot device and not noncon) or your Sub might go through nothing at all after because the writer just wanted to experience the scene, not the aftermath. It varies.
Seriously, I don’t think I’ve stumbled across any noncon from this perspective, although I write a lot of dubcon switching to this view to push the sexual tension. I don’t actually read a lot of noncon. It’s the kind of stuff I would need to trust the writer first through their other works because I really don’t need to be scarred by reading something brutally violent. Maybe this is naive on my part to assume all noncon is of a violent nature, but I have PTSD so I feel it’s better to be safe than triggered.
That said, the Dom’s perspective is about taking power from the Sub and getting aroused by the act. It could be arousal from sexually dominating the Sub, or physically/mentally/emotionally. It’s not cut and dry and the arousal they feel might not be sexual in nature. It’s usually a very sexual perspective in a noncon scene because the Dom is the force driving the sexual encounter. S/he is the one desiring the end result while your Sub struggles against it. The Dom’s quest for satisfaction despite the will of the Sub can be extremely intense to experience. Their emotional/mental changes won’t exist the same way the Sub’s does, unless it’s the type of story where you have your characters forced into a noncon setting and then they grow to love each other later. You see this with some slavery/servant fiction where the Sub is already dominated in their life because of their relationship to the Dom but still a romance grows.
Things that are standard and vary in noncon
Really, there are a lot of things that very in these scenarios. I think the only standard definitive would be the power struggle. The power struggle between the Sub and Dom and the power struggle within the Sub on how much to give to survive and cope without losing who s/he is.
Pleasure, pain, affection, desire, orgasm, fear, capture, submitting, fighting, violence, emotions, tears, hope, bondage, humiliation—The possible experiences are endless and it really depends on the writer.
For my own writing, I keep violence light to null, focus on the pleasure vs shame, humiliation, anger, helplessness, and always have orgasms in the scene usually along with tears and submitting. I look at my noncon as just a more extreme version of my dubcon because, ideally, I want my characters to have a changing experience, usually with pleasure tempering the more uncomfortable emotions occurring. There’s usually a level of connection and affection between the Sub and Dom for added emotional security, and I like to switch perspectives to help build that. But that’s me. There are a million noncon fics out there and they all vary.
Noncon serves a purpose.
So, as you read through the above, you might have had some reactions to things. Somethings might have seemed appealing, some repulsive, whatever. The important thing to realize when it comes to noncon is, as it is with dubcon, the writer of the piece is likely writing it because they have an affinity to seeing this sort of scene. Either they’re aroused by the idea of the sexual/physical domination or they’re aroused by the mental/emotional domination. Maybe it’s all or they just like one aspect. Maybe they really have a thing for the blood spray of violence. Or they could be writing it because it’s popular and they want the readers. Just remember, what’s happening in the scene is a fantasy for that writer or reader, not necessarily for the character in the actual scene.
I know, weird, right? That’s one of the funny things about noncon. It’s not necessarily about the characters wants at all, but about the reader’s reactions to the characters interactions. But this is a constant in erotica, just one that people don’t always differentiate. The characters are acting out the writer’s fantasy, not their own. They’re not real people no matter how well someone might write them. They’re literally props being used for the reader’s enjoyment and sometimes the writer is not kind to their props. Sure, the Dom might be using the Sub for sex, but it’s only because your kinky writer wanted it to happen that way.
So where does it all go wrong for people? When they start thinking that a noncon fantasy means it’s perpetuating rape culture, suggesting the behavior is acceptable in real life, degrading the foundation of society, or indistinguishable from rape in real life. People can’t always, for whatever reason, see noncon as a fantasy.
Noncon can be extremely intense, especially with the right writer at the reigns. It can feel real, drag you into a Sub’s psyche and watch it all go crazy. It can be disturbing for a reader. It can be arousing when they might not want to feel aroused. It’s hard to not have a big reaction to noncon, be it positive, negative, or both at the same time. It’s that reaction alone that makes so many people drawn to noncon in the first place.
We experience power struggles on a daily basis. From family and friend relationships, to workplace, to society roles. Some of those relationships can be far from satisfying for whatever reason. You know what’s almost always satisfying? Fantasy. What does your perfect boyfriend/girlfriend look and act like? Probably a lot different from your real one. What about your ideal sexual experience?
How many women in porn are portrayed as mindless, sex-crazed bimbos? It’s not necessarily because men find that to be relationship material (although some may) so much as, it serves the purpose of a sexual fantasy. If you don’t like that fantasy, it probably wasn’t written for you. Unfortunately, some people don’t see that, they see a call for a women’s right movement instead where they want to ban the things they disagree with and shame those that enjoy it. When you start demanding people edit and censor their fantasies, you’re basically asking them to change their total psyche, all just so you can feel comfortable. It’s a really selfish, unrealistic thing to ask of anyone and another really big example of someone pushing their will on another person.
Alright, I hope that helped explain some stuff. Noncon can be a damn explosive topic but I think I managed not to hit any mines with this blog post. Power struggles are big in sexual fantasies and noncon is the most significant power struggle out there. Fantasizing about it doesn’t make you weird or messed up. If anything, you only have to worry about getting messed up when you start denying the things that arouse you and allow yourself to be shamed for it. Life is so much better when you’re shameless (even if sexy fantasies do some damn nice things with shame. ^^ )