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  • Writer's pictureGrow Some Labia

When Is Rape Culture Totally Hot?

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

When women write misogynist kink for women. Because, like, pirate rape empowerment or something.

What if someone, under a pseudonym, wrote a kink lit trilogy about a beautiful teenage virgin from a warm and loving home who is raped while unconscious and taken away by the rapist, with the reluctant permission of her parents, to a place far away where she is forced to be naked at all times, is strung up for a man’s pleasure over his bed, is spanked until she technically should have no ass left, is trained to be a slave and sexual plaything for, like, everybody, is beaten and tortured, and pretty much horribly mistreated 24×7 until her spirit is broken and she learns to like it? Then engages in increasingly weirder and abusive sexual adventures consensually — because looking to be brutalized more is apparently the only form of consent Our Heroine possesses in this quartetverse — because she was ‘awakened’ to how ‘boring’ her life had been before she was ‘rescued’ by a Prince who relieved her from the terrible, burdensome bonds of loving parents and personal safety?

What if you learned that the mystery kink lit author was a man — especially an unpopular man — say, sex crime-probed U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, or Alex Jones, or maybe schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo?

Betcha people would be screaming blue murder over the positive depiction of ‘hate-fucking’ and misogyny and violent imagery of sexual assaults on a woman and how just this sort of thing contributes to rape culture.

Now what if you learned that it wasn’t Roosh who’d written it, or Bernardo, not even a screaming incel, but instead good ol’ vampire queen Anne Rice? (a/k/a A.N. Roquelare in 1982). And that it was written not for men but for women?

Beauty and the Stockholm Syndrome

I happened across a New York Times story from 2012 about how Rice’s hardcore kink lit BDSM Sleeping Beauty trilogy was re-issued to capitalize on the 50 Shades of Grey popularity (which made ‘mommy porn’ a household word. Who knew housewives could be so kinky?)

One of the comments in the sidebar, though, written by a man, made me stop and think:

So– I need to get this straight — men are pigs because they read and watch porn where women are dominated and sexually degraded (everybody knows this). But we now know that it is admirable for women to express themselves by reading “erotica… about being overwhelmed by a pirate, [because] that’s her right.”


Um….good point. Uh, conflicting messages about rape culture, ladies?

I’ve read the first Beauty book, borrowed from a kinky friend, out of curiosity. By page 57 I was quite certain even the most dedicated spanking fetishists must surely be tired of all the damn spanking. I didn’t even think I’d likely finish the book, not because it was alternately offensive, horrifying and boring (boy oh boy did everyone have a thing for spanking) but because I’d vowed never to read another Anne Rice book until she’d learned about the Mysteries of the Plot Line, which were, IMO, missing in action in her first two vampire novels.

I stuck with this one because even though its plot line was thinner than a Condé Nast fashion model’s breakfast, it nevertheless existed. Needless to say, I didn’t read the next two books, which I understand involve a move from spanking to sticking everything you can think of up southern regional orifices.

Still, the whole time, I was keenly aware that I was reading porn for chicks. And that if it had been written by a man it would be held up as a classic example of What’s Wrong With Men And Misogyny. But…wow. I can see where men — a decent man, by the tone of the commenter — can be confused by the conflicting messages here. Violent porn is bad when men write and read it, but empowering when women do it?

The thing is, even if I don’t understand what’s erotic about stringing a naked woman up by her ankles and wrists in the garden and smearing her ladyparts with honey to attract insects, I get that there are people who do. In the olden days I’d have guessed the prime suspects were, ‘men who virulently hate women,’ but now I know there are, apparently, empowered women who find this erotic. At least in fantasy, which is what the Beauty trilogy is. And I do understand the attraction of fantasies, even violent fantasies — because you, the star and producer, have complete control over what’s happening, even if your fantasy is that you have no control. No sane person wants to be in a real situation like that without full control — that’s why BDSM culture has safe words and rules and clearly delineated discussions about consent and permission. Beat me, hurt me, but hold on a minute, Wankel rotary engine, I need a breather. And no, you may not insert an egg beater up my hoo-ha, but yes, the spatula is just fine. Aunt Jemima me, baby!!!

Maybe Anne Rice can ‘splain…

We should ask the question the NY Times commenter asked — why are men pigs if they seek violent kink lit, but women are empowered when they do? I’m not condemning BDSM/kink lit or culture — whatever floats your boat in a free society, baby, and as long as you go about your somewhat risky business in as safe a manner as possible, which BDSM culture does, have at it. But consider what Anne Rice wrote on her blog about her re-release:

It has to be remembered that within the frame of a sadomasochistic fantasy like the Beauty trilogy, the readers are invited to identify with and enjoy the predicament of the slaves. The books aren’t about literal cruelty; they’re about surrender, the fun of imagining you have no choice but to enjoy sex. Beauty’s slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating. This is all part of the framework.

Now imagine Matt Gaetz saying that. Or saying he identified with the Prince or other Master, and that ‘Beauty’s slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating.’ Oh yeah. Or Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Jeffrey Epstein, any other misogynist man you love to hate, or even Ghislaine Maxwell. So how come Anne Rice gets a free pass?

Standing outside kink culture, I don’t see any difference between the Beauty book I read, and the violent, humiliating, degrading and dehumanizing porn lit and imagery certain men are flagellated for consuming. Is Rice’s “erotica” more socially acceptable because it’s equal-opportunity abusive? Not just man on woman violence, but woman on man, woman on woman and man on man?

50 Shades of WTF

Since I’m a woman who tolerates zero male control in a partner, I seriously don’t get the appeal of 50 Shades of Grey, but hey, I guess for women who like masochism and bondage and submission and especially nailing a filthy rich guy it’s awesome. (Mommy, where do stereotypes come from?)

Beat me, hurt me, make me read badly-written erotica. Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr

There’s certainly a double standard going on, and I’m just as confused as the NY Times commenter. Let’s just say it out loud: ‘Erotica’ like Rice’s Beauty series (Ugh, she wrote a fourth one) is contributing to rape culture, an idea that will not sit well at all with the kink community and many feminists (some of which, I suspect, are privately as disturbed by the 50 Shades and Beauty popularity as I am).

Let me make something perfectly clear: The kink/BDSM community doesn’t offend me. Violent, degrading, humiliating porn does. Regardless of who writes it and consumes it.

Remember the olden days, when women helped pioneer rape culture with bodice-ripping romance novels? I’ve read only a few, they’re not my cuppa, but I always wondered about the rapes women enjoyed complete with orgasms.

Is porn desensitizing men to violence against women?

Can she truly give consent in this situation?

Read it and then consider the following questions. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

  • If violent porn as described in the article contributes to rape culture by making violence against women seem more acceptable, then doesn’t Rice’s Beautyverse also contribute by making it seem like that’s what women really want, and does it ‘train’ some to be willing to accept that treatment?

  • If the Beauty books are just ‘harmless fantasy’, then isn’t violent porn by men and for men as well? After all, as the writer notes, we can watch an action film without wanting to shoot up a mall, right?

  • What about the 50 Shades of Grey series? I haven’t read any of the books myself, or seen the movies, but others argue they glorify rape.

  • If you ask, “Why the hell would a normal, sane man want to watch a woman being choked nearly to death?” why then would you not ask, “What normal, sane woman would want to read about a teenage virgin getting raped in her sleep?” We condemn that up one side and down the other when high school football jocks do it to a drunk, passed-out teenage girl.

Maybe the question now is, is violent, misogynist kink chick lit desensitizing women to violence against women?

Serious question.

Okay, but just remember the safe word is “Mr. Rogers”.




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