Smexy is happy to have author, Anna Zabo here to talk about:
Positive Consent in BDSM Romance (or really, any romance)
One of the things I do strongly believe in is the need for positive consent, not just in BDSM romances, but in all romances. I do think we are seeing more instances of positive consent in romance, regardless of subgenre, but the idea of writing with positive consent needs to expand father.
I believe showing consent is vital in BDSM romance, and that consent goes beyond safewords and such. It should be in every part of the relationship between the love interests and or partners
So what is positive consent? Simply put, it’s one partner sincerity asking first, and the other saying yes. Not just not saying no—but making it clear that yes, this is something they want. It’s negotiation, but it’s also asking without coercion and asking when both partners are not impaired. It’s also checking in with a partner to make sure they still want what’s happening. Because in BDSM, any partner can say no. They can stop a scene. Either the Dom or the sub.
Now, this doesn’t mean that characters can’t roll-play dubious or non-consensual situations in romances that include kink! But partners (and the reader) need to know that it’s consensual. I also like to show (and enjoy seeing as a reader) when a partner during a scene subtly checks in with the other partner just to reaffirm consent. It echoes what should happen in real life.
I do think writing enthusiastic and repeated consent can help in situations where one character holds some kind of power over the other character, outside of BDSM, such as in office romances where you have an employee/boss type element. It allows an author to show that the character absolutely is consenting to everything and isn’t just saying yes because the other character has the upper hand in the situation.
And you know there’s something sexy about being asked to voice desires. Do you want that kiss, that touch? To be bound, to be fucked? Flogged? And there’s something sexy about hearing the answers, too. Yes, yes, yes yes!
Of course, novels are fiction and readers often get into the minds of all the characters, so authors can easily show that both partners want what their doing in the characters thoughts. But people are often first exposed to kink through fiction, so showing verbal positive consent shows that there should be verbal positive consent!
I have a pet peeve about Doms being shown to be mind-readers who automatically know what their subs want just because they are The Dom and KNOW what subs want. Submissives aren’t plug and play. They’re people who all have different wants and needs, and those absolutely must be known and respected.
The caveat to this would be in a paranormal romance since you could actually have a Dom who telepathic. Things are a little different then! But telepathy and paranormal influence over another character can also bring up interesting issues of consent. Yes, maybe the partner wants that, but do they want it right now, and does the Dom have the right to be peering into the sub’s mind to find that out? Those are questions that an author needs to think about too.
Fiction, at least contemporary, does mirror real life to some extent, and more and more people are embracing positive consent outside of BDSM. Does that person you just met at your friend’s house really want a hug? You should ask first. And not hug them if they say no. Why not ask for a kiss or if your partner wants to be kissed in real life? And—of course—stop if the other person says no or demurs. We’ve all heard that no means no, but hearing yes and saying yes is a much a better way to express wants and desires. If it’s not yes, assume no or not right now.
So have the hero ask the heroine if they want to be kissed even in a non kinky romance, because it’s better in real life to be asked for a kiss than to wind up with a tongue you don’t want down your throat.
One of the other things I’d like to see more of in all romance is authors showing that a character consenting is capable of consent at the time they do, and if they aren’t that their partner backs the hell off. Please no more asking for (and getting) sex or play from someone drunk or drugged up or otherwise not capable of saying YES with a clear mind. That’s not sexy at all. It’s rape and abuse.
That’s ultimately why positive consent in romance—its CONSENT.
Series: Twisted Wishes #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date (Ebook): April 9, 2018
Length (Print & Ebook): 104,000 words or ~295 pages
Subgenre: contemporary romance; m/m romance
Includes: Rockstars, BDSM, Angst, Pansexual/bisexual, Aromantic
There’s no resisting the thrum of temptation in this male/male rock-star romance from genre-favorite author Anna Zabo!
Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.
Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.
Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.
Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks.They can be easily plied with coffee.
Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
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