As a comment for my last blogpost, In the Desert, Lily wrote: 'When I first read this, I immediately wanted to respond that if I were there (or if I were continuing the writing) I would be plotting her rescue'. This made me think. The first thing I want to say is that I react in exactly the same way. I find it hard to write cruel stories because I do want people to be happy. On the other hand, what makes a story or a fantasy interesting is the tension, the excitement and passion.
I want the slavery to be gruesome, the whipping to be painful and the undressing quite shocking. It is not that I strive to create a sensation in the reader (although I don't mind), it is what I want to read myself, what I want to write about. Not that I am always true to this, sometimes I get caught up in some conversation or want to write about sweetness and kindness and then there is not much tension.
Leaving my inconsistencies aside, what I wanted to get to was that I can see that I am in denial when it comes to fantasies, and writing about them. The tension in a scene where you are tied to a whipping post, or kneeling in a room where you are going to be caned, lies in the difference between the gruesomeness and terror that is there and the arousal you still feel.
This is no news for you, I know that, and many of you, I gather, have no problems with this. You know and embrace that thrill, that arousal and perhaps even see it as the main ingredient.
When I think of myself I can see that that I have a quite complicated view on this. On the one hand, I know well that the very reason to write and read about dropped knickers and smacked bottoms is because we find it arousing and exciting. Still I struggle a lot with the gruesomeness of it all. I tend to write about the negative side of it or use neutral terms, maybe to emphasise the tension between the outer harshness and the inner excitement. But this is also an expression of my own ambiguity.
I do feel ashamed of feeling excited about stories where women are treated badly by men, stories that contain abuse and cruelty. Still it is what I want, what I get excited about and want to write.
My point is, and this is a very personal point, that I am so caught up in this tension and the guilt I feel for writing about it, that I miss the very obvious. The truth is that when I stand in front of the guests of the manor house, slipping off my last item of clothing, preparing for a truly vicious horsewhip, I feel excited. I have to hide it but the main sensation is delight, although mixed with fear and dread. And it is damned sexy to be tied naked to some tree, having to be rescued by a hero, feeling completely vulnerable and exposed. What I feel when I climb the stairs to the platform of the slave market, to be displayed naked for all prospective buyers is arousal.
You know this. I know that and maybe you will find me unbelievably naïve to have to blog about it, but there is a difference between understanding something intellectually and even accepting it, and really knowing it in your heart and sometimes it is the most obvious that you do your best to deny.