Non Means No!

Warning: This post is mostly a rant and talks about the prevalence of rape in fandom works and canon pieces, along with some disturbing trends that I have noticed over the years. If such discussions are not for you for whatever reason, you should not read this post. Thank you.

There are many fandom-related things that can easily drive me into a rage: people telling other people to kill themselves for their opinions, art thieves, people who post spoilers without warnings… But in the world of fan work creation, one thing reigns supreme in my kingdom of rage. This thing is a tag, a tag that needs to rot in the deepest pits of Hell. This tag is called Non-Con.

If you have read my Fandom Glossary, you know what Non-Con is. Non-Con, short for non-consensual sex, a pretty way of saying “Rape” without actually saying it. It’s a category of smut that, more often than not, involves forceful, non-consensual sex that eventually turns romantic and/or pleasurable, or a non-consensual sex scene that is much more sexualized than it should be.

Know what I like to call that? RAPE! That’s what I like to call that!

This is part of a very disturbing trend I’ve seen in the realm of fiction, a trend that romanticizes characters who force themselves on others, making them seem “tortured” or “dangerous” in a way that is oh-so-sexy. Worse still, the act itself is romanticized and shown as an ultimately pleasurable experience for the victims.

I first discovered this in my high school years, when I was just learning that gay pairings actually existed in the world of fiction. I was a huge anime fan at the time, so I naturally started seeking out Yaoi anime. I checked out some of the big names in the Yaoi-verse, such as Junjou Romantica and Kirepapa. The more I watched, the more disturbed I got.

You see, there was a common trend in these series. The “seme” or more dominant partner in any of these situations had a tendency to force himself on the submissive “uke” character. Sometimes, this meant major coercion. Other times, it meant statements like “If you don’t say anything, I’m gonna take you.” Other times, it was a full-blown assault while the uke vocally protested the entire time. All of these times were wrong and horrible!

I looked up common trends of Yaoi, and found out that rape is a common staple of many Yaoi works. The act of forcing his partner into having sex is meant to show the “uncontrollable passion and love” that the seme has.

Here’s a thought: If you love someone that much, why not try respecting them and waiting until they’re totally ready to have sex? How about that?!

As I grew older, I continued seeing this trend popping up, especially in supposedly-romantic settings. Remember how popular Fifty Shades of Grey was when it first came out? I know people who have said that Christian Grey, a person who raped his partner, emotionally abused her, and put a tracker on her freaking phone, is the ideal man for them.

We’re already familiar with the trope of the romantic, tortured bad boy. It seems that this obsession is taking a much darker and dangerous turn, one where even rape itself is being redefined.

Back to the Non-Con tag. The very fact that this tag exists infuriates me. It implies that what is happening in the story or art piece in question is somehow different from rape, when it isn’t. It tries to soften and sugarcoat a word that is too ugly for the erotic scenario the author is trying to create.

The scary thing is that it’s working! Most works tagged as Rape pieces, actually depict rape as what it is: horrifying, traumatic, and scarring for the victim. Meanwhile, Non-Con works show an eroticized rape scene, followed by some angst, then usually a romantic or sexual conclusion.

Now, I know that rape fantasy is a thing. Some people do get off reading smut of that nature. I get that, but couldn’t we perhaps make a Rape Fantasy tag instead? At least then, it’s being honest about what it is rather than restating a horrible term in a less horrible way.

What really gets me are people who tag their works as Non-Con pieces, and don’t add trigger warnings concerning rape. Anyone not familiar with what Non-Con means is certainly in for a nasty surprise. I may or may not be speaking from experience here.

Bottom line: Non-Con is a tag that needs to die. Also, what we see as rape and how rape is depicted in fiction, particularly romantic fiction, needs to be heavily looked at. Remember, there are people out there who have been convinced that Christian Grey is the ideal man. There are people who think that acts of forced sex are actually physical declarations of uncontrollable love. Worst of all, there are people who either won’t ask for help or won’t think they need to help someone because of this growing mindset. Think about that the next time you’re browsing the M-rated section of AO3.

This has been a full-blown fandom rant from Solora Goldsun. Thank you for listening.

Peace out.

Five Annoying Fanfiction Trends

I truly believe that certain tropes have their place in the world of fiction and fanfiction. Some, however, need to be burnt in a fire until nothing remains. Here’s a list of five ridiculously annoying things that I regularly see in fanfiction. Why am I wasting time ranting about things I hate? Well, you’re here, aren’t you? That must mean that you care about what I have to say on some level. And who doesn’t love a good rant? Anyway, here we go.

#1- Middle School Smut: Yeah, I like reading the occasional smut or lemon fic. I think everyone has delved into the M-rated side of a fandom at least once. If you haven’t yet, I guarantee that you will in the future.

When you do, you’ll quickly become familiar with the annoying activity of sifting through fics that look as if they were written by a twelve year old girl whose only knowledge of sex comes from American Sex Ed. Middle School Smut gets its name because I am convinced that the people who wrote them are at middle school-age or lower. If they aren’t, then may there be no mercy for the education system that failed them so drastically.

How else does one explain the god-awful grammar, repetitive sentences, and ultra-vague references to the actual parts involved? Oh, and let’s not forget the little hat filled with generic sex-phrases for the character to shout out during the actual act. If I had a dollar for every “I’m cumming!” “Oh yeah!” or “Fuck me harder, baby!” I’ve read, I could probably buy my own brothel, where I could then commission the workers to write something worth reading!

Here’s a wild thought: It’s actually possible to write a sexual situation in a way that is entertaining to read! Try keeping the characters in character. Have them say things that they would actually say in these situations. Most of all, proofread. For the love of god, proofread!

#2- The Mary-Sue Love Interest: I generally don’t read OC fics. When I want to read a fanfiction, I want to read about the canon characters in different situations. If I wanted original characters, I would read a book. However, there are cases where a fic featuring OCs will catch my attention, making me invested in what happens to them.

A Mary-Sue Love Interest fic is not one of them.

These are the fics that are centered around an OC whose only purpose is to be a love interest for a canon character. They were made to compliment the character in every way, and are completely perfect in the eyes of that character. Alternatively, they could be fighting with the character in question constantly, but there’s just something between them that cannot be denied. (Barf.)

Look, if you’re going to make an OC, that’s fine. If you want to make that OC a love interest for a canon character, fine. But please make them a character first and a love interest second. And give them flaws outside of the obligatory quirky ones that you’ll find in basically every YA novel ever written. Hint: An obvious supermodel who doesn’t think she’s pretty isn’t a flawed character. She’s an airhead.

#3- Bait and Switch: This is when you draw someone in with one kind of plotline, build up to a certain resolution, and then snatch said resolution away from the reader. It’s a plot where, at the end, you can see a clear picture in your mind of the writer giving you the middle finger.

Imagine a fic where your OTP confesses their feelings. They share a kiss and hold each other as the sun sets and then BAM! One of the characters wakes up for the whole thing to be a dream and their love to be dead.

Alternatively, imagine a gritty, dark fic that is building to a lot of angsty goodness. The characters are fighting for their lives and aren’t sure if they’ll ever see the light of day again when suddenly lightning strikes their enemies, the sun comes out, and everything is kittens and rainbows.

Now, it’s possible to do a tone shift or plot twist well. Just don’t do it at the very end of the fic. All you’ll manage to do is royally tick off your readers and make it so that they don’t trust you.

#4- Drama for Drama’s Sake: This is annoying in romance novels, and it’s just as annoying in fanfiction. When two characters go for ages without talking to each other, or someone is angry for long periods of time, or things grow tenser than the clenched fists of a fan waiting for their OTP to kiss, there’d better be a damned good reason! Otherwise, I’ll get annoyed and stop reading altogether.

When people are stuck in an argument over something minor, such as a misunderstanding involving one person being in a compromising position with another, it makes me doubt whether or not the characters involved are even intelligent. This also occurs when one character is so distraught over something, they leave for years and don’t come back because their emotions just can’t bear it and the other character pines after them until they finally come back, still broken by the tiny incident that happened years before.

Oh my god, shut up! Any sane person would have moved on by this point. Unless the character in question is canonically insane, there’s no reason for them to be acting in this way. There are plenty of situations that can cause drama, such as a traumatic experience, outside forces disapproving of a relationship, etc.

Now, I’m not trying to belittle people who react in a certain manner to smaller stimuli. However, it is possible to write such scenarios in a believable, not-overblown way.

For example, imagine a character having a meltdown over an upcoming exam. You could show the character going through a panic attack, being comforted by a friend, and going through several awful scenarios in their head. You can have them lash out in a way that makes sense for that character, and then apologize once they’re calm.

However, if you have that character snap and do something uncharacteristically mean and overblown, causing a friendship to be broken for months, we have a problem.

There’s enough drama in the world without injecting more of it into a situation that will be made stupid and unbelievable by it.

#5- Over-the-Top Embarrassment: Ever read a fic where a character is way too shy to be considered in character, ridiculously clumsy, and perpetually mortified by every tiny mistake they make? So have I. It sucks! Few things annoy me more than character tension drawn from one character dwelling endlessly over a minor slip of the tongue.

Now, if you’re specifically writing a fic where you are giving one of the characters anxiety issues, that’s fine. Just make sure to say so in the description, and don’t try to make the situation comedic. If it’s normal for the character in question to be easily embarrassed, that’s also fine.

I’m mostly talking about fics that are trying to create comedy or romantic tension based on one character’s goofy inability to function in society. A classic example is having Character A accidentally spill coffee on Character B. Instead of apologizing or getting over it, Character A runs away. Moreover, every encounter after that is tainted by Character A freaking out over whether or not Character B hates them, even if Character B clearly forgives them for the accident and has moved on!

Again, unless you’re specifically giving the character in question anxiety, this is a stupid and cheap way to draw out an already-boring plotline.
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So, yeah. This was sort of a writing advice thing, but more of a rant. I’ll probably come up with more lists like this in the future. Remember, knowing what you do and don’t like to read is a great way to figure out what you should and should not write. If you hate something, odds are good that your readers would hate it as well. If you’re going through your fic and find yourself getting incredibly annoyed with something, change it. Remember, it’s your fic and only you can take the initiative to improve it and improve your own skills by extension.

Peace out!