Rape And Forced Orgasms: How Far Is Too Far?

BDSMBesides being one myself, I’m a fan of writers. It can be a frustrating, lonely, difficult aspiration and I admire anyone who’s actually jumped in and taken fingers to keyboard to bang out the characters in her head who refuse to pipe down. For those reasons and more, I salute my writing sisters and don’t believe in story smackdowns. However, that said, I recently read a book, labled a “romance” that stretched the boundaries of romance so much that it begs me to question: how far is too far?

I won’t mention the name of the book or the author, but here’s the jist of the plot: a woman who self-identifies as a sub is looking for her perfect dom. She’s new to the BDSM world and is about to embark on a first-time relationship with who she thinks is a great guy. He’s experienced and knows that in order for the relationship to work, they need to establish boundaries and explore what each one wants and doesn’t. Our sub heroine gets impatient with her slow mover and decides to play with another dashing dom whom she just happens to meet in a park. As it turns out, their meeting was no coincidence. The new dom had been stalking her and she’s his next victim.

Turns out that dashing dom is actually a sadistic serial killer. He kidnaps and brutally  tortures women, along the way teaching them the ultimate lesson in submission. Because, you see, as he’s torturing his victims, he’s also turning them on! So much so that their treacherous bodies forever hover on the verge of orgasm from the bite of the dom’s nipple clamps, the lashing sting of his whip, and the cuts from his serrated knife. His “mastery of their flesh” brings them to the brink time and again, yet he forbids the release they so desperately crave. If they succumb to temptation and climax, he kills them. And of course, they always, reluctantly, succumb. They’re supposedly so turned on they can’t help it.

The thing I find so disturbing about this premise is how far beyond a pleasurable BDSM relationship it goes. We’re not talking about arousing a partner with tantalizing spanks and whips, or even some waxy hot drips from a candle. This is torture, plain and simple. “Dried blood stained her swollen lower lip where sharp teeth had bitten through tender flesh.” A girl in one scene is hanging on a cross, angry red welts covering her body, swollen lip, nipples screwed tight on a “nipple tree.” Later the heroine finds herself in much the same situation. The nipple clamps are comprised of a “vicious set of sharp teeth,” so much so that her “screams strangled in her ravaged throat” and when the second clamp is applied she passes out from the pain. Yet despite the agonizing torture, she’s so aroused that she’s nanoseconds away from screaming out her release.

In my view, rape and forced orgasms are not OK, they’re not sexy, and they sure as hell aren’t romantic. But if you want to find it, it’s categorized as a “romance.” The romance part of this book, by the way, is between the heroine and her slow-moving dom and makes a chameo appearance at the story’s end.

Despite what it may sound like, this is not a criticism of the author. She’s written the story she wanted to tell and there are readers who will like it. The point I want to raise is whether this story truly belongs in the “romance” category. Yes, there’s a romantic tie-in at the end between the first dom and the heroine. In fact, interwoven throughout the story is the dom’s search for her once he realizes she’s missing. But is that enough to classify it as a “romance”? Are we misleading readers by including these types of stories within the genre?

I’d love to hear what you think. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!

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