The Fella and I have been binge-watching ‘Sons of Anarchy’ lately. I’m enjoying it very much, the plot twists are clever and the characters are complex. It’s violent and pretty fucking harsh in places, and that’s what triggered this blog post.
Without going into detail that might reveal spoilers, there are some scenes of nonconsensual sexual activity, quite graphically depicted. Gratuitously, one might say, considering that this is fiction and not documentary; what is the necessity to portray for entertainment the awful things that people might do to each other? Perhaps it’s for titillation – and this is where the title of this post comes in for me.
Because, I have a major CNC kink. I fantasise about being kidnapped, ambushed, gangbanged, smacked around, humiliated and treated in ways which would be abusive if they were done without prior negotiation, agreement, safewords and trust. I love strugglefucking. I enjoy being overpowered and forced into compliance by chosen and trusted playmates. I’m also the survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse (untangling those two aspects of myself took several years of therapy, I can tell you).
So when I see these scenes on the screen, part of me recoils in fear and horror….while another part of me starts constructing fantasies about it happening to me; fantasies which make me yearn for threats and slaps, choking and rough fucking.
A little voice says to me that I shouldn’t be getting off on these awful, graphic scenes; that without informed, freely-given consent, violence is wrong and damaging, that I’m a terrible person for the guilty thrill they induce in me.
And then I remember that these are actors, paid and willing to portray these words and actions, and so while it may not look consensual; there is in fact consent a layer below the screen action. Because they don’t believe that what they are doing is anything more than a job, they are in the entertainment business and merely following a script as convincingly as they can. So, while it would be awful of me to perve over these scenes if they were real and I was reading about them in the news or seeing them in a documentary, in this case I am merely responding to the entertainment content in an unusual (perhaps?) way. That looks an awful lot like sophistry when I lay it out like that. Is it?
I don’t know whether graphic violence on TV really does encourage or trigger violence in real life. Studies say yes and studies say no, depending on who’s doing (or paying for) them. I strongly believe that without robust education about consent, respect and boundaries; that there could be an adverse influence from what is shown for entertainment, on how ‘normal’ behaviour is perceived and enacted – and that’s not an issue of problematic content itself but of the society it reflects.
I’m still ambivalent about my reactions to this material – perhaps that’s how I know I’m not a monster. Or maybe I am a monster; albeit a fairly harmless and nonthreatening one. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite, trying to rationalise my dark desires with abstractions, or possibly I’m just over-thinking the whole thing, because if they’re all just pretending and no-one really came to harm, what’s the problem?
I won’t stop watching though – I want to know what happens next in the story.
And the next time I have a wank, I’ll probably be thinking of something very similar.