So, here’s a question I asked elsewhere, and it’s one that troubles me greatly:
Q. If you modify a person (using genetics, chemicals, mind control, whatever) so that their desire for sex overrides any thought of denial, that no matter what is done to them the pleasure will outweigh the pain and humiliation,… can sex with such a person ever be consensual?
Victim of self
Q. If you should encounter a person who is in such a state of sexual need – you are aware that this state is abnormal and perhaps temporary, but you are not responsible for it – should you deny their hunger and leave them unfulfilled, or use them for mutual satisfaction?
I’m thinking, for example, of Max in Dark Angel whose cat-DNA caused her to go into heat from time to time, and her desperate need for sex would lead to encounters that left her acutely embarrassed once the mood passed.
I’m thinking also of Suzie and the Monsters: in this world, when vampires consume a large amount of blood – and especially if they feed to the point of death – this fuels an intense sexual hunger. Suzie says at one point:
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve killed and ended up fucking everything and anything in a desperate need for sexual satisfaction, and woken up later screaming with self-loathing.
It’s one of the rare moments where I let a protagonist lose mental control. I dislike intensely stories where the protagonists spend a large proportion of the time without the free will to make clear decisions. (Extended dream sequences are even more annoying.) The point of a story is for the protagonist to act, to make decisions that have consequences.
In both cases, it should be clear that both Max and Suzie are victims of their own nature. The hunger-fueled sex may be fantastic, but the return to reality can be traumatic.
Here is yet a postscript
I find it intriguing that, for someone who writes so often about non-consensual sex, I am so sensitive to it in the stories I read. In Suzie and the Monsters, Suzie is both transgressor and victim, both monstrous and heroic, and (ideally) both despised and loved by readers. Themes of consent echo in my Alyth and Slave-Girl series too.
Such scenarios may be both erotic and counter-erotic. In Alyth’s erotic dream, for example, Tina’s actions were sexual assault, plain and simple. Both girls enjoyed themselves, but readers will, I dare say react in very different ways to that.
Annie Oakfield writes erotica very well, but Caught affected me very badly – not, oddly enough, the explicitly dubious-consent sex but rather Lucy’s reactions to later non-consensual intrusion.
And maybe that’s the key here. What’s critical for me is how people react to the loss of consent.