noracharles: (Default)
[personal profile] noracharles
When fictional characters are fictionally raped in a fic, it is a shared fantasy between writer and reader, a game of make-believe where we are entertained by the emotions the fantasy situation provokes in us, whether that be horror (who doesn't like a good, safe, cosy fright?), catharsis (sometimes the best way of dealing with situations that affect us deeply is at a remove), arousal (what more relaxed and escapable game of power-exchange than engaging only by fictional proxy?), humor or anything else.

The labels "noncon", "dubcon", "rape fantasy", "graphic descriptions of sexual assault" etc. are a uni-directional way for writer and reader to negotiate consent. Even if fiction is only a fantasy, fantasies can be powerful, even overwhelming. The writer has a great influence on the thoughts and emotions of the reader through their words, potentially suggesting things the reader would not have imagined on their own; at the same time, the writer does not have control of the fantasy scenario, because how any potential reader will interpret their words, what associations they will make, how their imagination will build on them, is unknowable. The fic is static one-way communication, and the writer has no way of halting the telling of it, of altering the flow, of responding to the reader's possible distress.

Therefore accurate, nuanced content labels are useful. Any reader is within their rights to read an unlabeled fic, of course, but many do prefer to have some idea of what they are getting into beforehand.

Now then: a rape fic is a consensually shared fantasy between writer and reader for their mutual entertainment. The only real people involved in a fic are the writer and the reader. The act of voluntarily reading a fic, labelled or unlabelled, is an act on consenting to share in a fantasy. Some writers and readers prefer to negotiate consent as well as possible beforehand through accurate content labels.

What is the labelling of any rape fic with simply "rape", with the explicit or implicit rejection of all nuanced fannish jargon for different types of content?

A definition of opaque jargon like "dubcon" is clearly useful, but erasing all nuance in content labels is a withholding of information. It does not make the reader's decision of whether to consent to sharing the fantasy safer or easier.

What is the moral condemnation of the imaginary events in the fic had they happened in real life?

The writer in no way commited the acts described by imagining them or writing them down, and the reader in no way commits the acts described about by imagining them or reading them. Both writer and reader consent to the risk of emotional harm by engaging in the fantasy, and both can withdraw their participation at any time. The writing and reading of rape fic is not rape.

If imaginary description of rape are presented as descriptions of something that is not rape because it is "romantic love", "the natural way of things" or otherwise normative behavior, it can contribute to the normalization of rape in our culture, but labelling the content of fic accurately will present fictional rape as fictional rape regardless of how unreliable or subtle the narration might be.

If there is no rape, and there is no furthering of rape culture, and the only act commited is an act of fantasizing, what is being condemned? If the perpetrators of rape are imaginary, and the only real people involved are the writer and the reader, and the writer is the one doing the condemning, who is being condemned?

In conclusion, if you're so concerned about consent, give me the information I need to decide whether to read your rape fic, stop trying to control my fantasy life with shaming, and fucking own that you write rape fic. It's not criminological research into real life assault for the purpose of prevention, it's a fantasy you thought up and shared for entertainment.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-08 07:16 pm (UTC)
verasteine: Steve looking up (H50 Steve looking up)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
This. Some days, I don't want to read shady consent fic of any kind. Some days it's triggery. Some days it isn't. And sometimes I actively look for it. Yes, our culture at large is involved in it, and it's a sign of rape culture that it exists in large swatches, but... fannish jargon is precisely to communicate what is in there, and what isn't, and lets the reader decide for themselves, something our culture at large doesn't do.

Can I ask what prompted this?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-08 07:31 pm (UTC)
verasteine: Steve (Default)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
"Morally explicit"? What does that even mean? Mind you, this reminds me of the not-uncommon content label, "noncon (but not rape)".

I'm with you on this one; censorship serves no purpose in this regard, except possibly to silence voices that are pushing against rape culture by writing about rape. Which seriously misses the point altogether.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-08 07:53 pm (UTC)
verasteine: Steve (Default)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
Ah, yes, okay, that makes sense. As a phrase, that is, not as a content header.

I've seen it used as noncon that is non-penetrative, and indeed a variety on dubcon. Someone on my flist once pointed out dubcon is an invention of narrow POV in writing, and like you say, the nuance is what makes the difference.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-08 08:17 pm (UTC)
verasteine: Steve (Default)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
Yeah, I had the same reaction. At the same time, the meaning of the word "rape" is different between jurisdiction, legalese/non-legalese, and indeed other languages. So I'm not always comfortable with it.

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Nora Charles

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