Thursday, February 18, 2010

Of Monsters and Men

Star Belly Beneath My Bed by Lisa Evans. See more at her blog, Firefluff.

When considering new fiction, I often think about the nature of the world in which the story is to be set. I'm compelled by the idea of worlds where erotic corporal punishment is a commonly accepted part of daily life, but I find it hard to justify these worlds, in part due to the mistreatment of humanity in our own world. Stories that serve many of us as arousing fantasies can too easily be found as the living nightmares of those for whom suffering is not a luxury.

Man's inhumanity to man can be a terrible stumbling block when trying to write spanking erotica. Morally, I believe that corporal punishment is unjust and inhumane and that non-consensual domination of another person's body or mind is the gravest of wrongs. In my own fantasies, however, those morals become quite blurred. That is why I latch on to the ideas of worlds so different from ours, such as the lands of myth and fairy tales, in my writing. In these worlds, I can play with sex and pain without feeling like a moral failure.

When I found the illustrations of Lisa Evans, one of which is pictured above, I was immediately drawn in by them. I showed a friend a picture called The Keepers' Tea Party and said, simply, "I want to live there." For two days straight, I've pulled up her blog whenever I've had a free moment, staring longingly into the worlds she depicts. I want that to be the reaction when my stories are read. I want the reader to long, to desperately, heart-achingly long, to be in that world, either as the inflictor of pain and punishment or as the recipient. I don't want to show you a monster that makes you afraid or uncomfortable. I want to show you a monster and for you to say, "I want that monster under my bed."

1 comment:

  1. The Keepers Tea Party is now my desktop wallpaper. It is beautiful.

    I hear you re moral discomfort - I think that's why I prefer to situate my fantasies in either fantastical or historical settings, too. Not that historical settings don't represent real suffering that happened to real people, and which is very similar to things happening to real people right now in other countries, but it allows a distance. And at least I don't romanticise the past - if anything my fantasies up the level of grit and horror.

    I think that this kind of fantasy is a way of confronting and processing the reality of suffering in a way that helps us cope with it. Some people make jokes about things that they are uncomfortable with; others don't think about it; others eroticise it. You can't live in the full awareness and grief of all the horrible things that have ever happened - it would be miserable and you'd go mad. I guess my point is that I don't think eroticising something trivialises it. If anything, the opposite: I sometimes wonder if my historical kink is ancestral memory, or chronologically displaced empathy, or some such.

    Anyway, I understand your guilt just as I believe, intellectually, it is not necessary. But it's the kind of thing where one of the things that makes it okay is worrying about it, so. If the result of your discomfort is beautiful, eerie spanking fairytales set in dream landscapes, it is definitely worth it.


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