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Drawing a Line in the Squick

You know squick. We all do. It’s the thing that makes us go “ew.” The little bit that’s just out of our comfort zone. The deep down gut reaction that makes us go, “dude, that’s wrong.” As a fanfiction writer that writes a wide variety of pairings, situations, and kinks, and reads an even wider selection, you find yourself constantly running up against your squicks. And a lot of the time, you find yourself practically playing a hypocrite, allowing one kink while saying to another "no way in hell." These are my squicks, my kinks, what I will and will not write, and why.

Let me say, first off, that in fanfiction, no one actually gets hurt. Your kinks are your kinks, and if I don’t like your kinks, I will just pass them by and leave them to those who prefer reading them. This is not a judgment on anyone but myself, but I am interesting in hearing your opinions and where you've drawn your own lines. Read on, and lemme know what you think…

Now, getting down to business, I write I lot of hardcore stuff. Porn, to be frank, though usually laced with a good dose of plot. And I write, a lot, in the Supernatural and Heroes fandoms, which is chock full of a lot of the most basic squicks you can imagine. Incest is perhaps the first one.

The first incestuous pairing I ever read was Nathan and Peter Petrelli, brothers from Heroes. There is an astounding amount of very close brotherly touching and declarations of love between these two on screen, particularly in the first season. The fact that they were/are lovers practically became canon in the fandom. I had people tell me about the brotherly touching going on in Supernatural well before Heroes came along, but really, no one trumps the Petrellis when it comes to bad family touching.

Incest, in the real world, bad squick. Incest on TV, amongst two sexy men, doing it consensually, with the added barrier that I know deep down they’re unrelated actors, is kind of hot. That’s why I cheerfully ‘ship Nathan/Peter and Sam/Dean of Supernatural.

Now, there’s other incest that I just can’t handle. I won’t write it, and I rarely read it. Parent/child incest seriously squicks me out. I just can’t handle Noah/Claire, Nathan/Claire, Arthur/Peter (or any other combination of Ma and Pa Petrelli and their sons), and in a sort of tangential vein, Peter/Claire. This, I feel, violates a deep trust bond, and true consent can never be given, because of the unequal power status that exists between parent and child, which I why I can’t write it.

The second big squick I can’t handle if RPF, or Real Person Fic. Instead of having a Sam/Dean story, one would have a Jared/Jensen story, for example. This, I cannot do. I absolutely cannot read it or write it. To me, I see it as a sort of personal violation of the individual, a paparazzi-like invasion of privacy. I can guess some people write RPF so they can have the pretty visuals of the actors without the added plot, history, complications, or relationships from the shows, but I can’t handle it. This is a big brick wall in my mind.

A third big squick is mpreg, or male pregnancy. When dealing with a slash relationship, there will occasionally be a time when someone decides there should be a kid in the picture, because they want to make their favorite pairing go through all the emotional difficulties and twists and turns that come with having a child. (Or all the funny things that can happen, if the tone is humorous.) I cannot even read mpreg, nor will I write it.

I can’t handle mpreg for several reasons. One is bad science. I know, I know, my favorite fandoms are full of bad science, superpowers, and magic, but no one ever seems to come up with a really, honestly, good reason why a man should end up pregnant. I know that many of the authors of said stories are more interested in the emotions than the science of it, but to me if the whole premise of the thing falls through, the story falls through as well.

The second is… well, these stories, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, feature a slash relationship. Two men. Males. If I wanted to read a story about pregnancy, I’d go read a het story. Having a child can be a wonderful, intimate, trying time for a couple, but this is just not something that happens in a male/male relationship, in my mind. Forcing a sort of gender-bending on the couple to make this happen seems to be like forcing a square peg in a round hole.

I know someone might be desperate to see what Sylar and Mohinder’s baby might look like, but man… I can’t handle it. If I wanted to read about the pathos or intimacy of making a family in a male/male relationship, it’d be really interesting to read about the guys trying to adopt, or looking for a surrogate mother, or something of the sort. But reading about Mohinder’s cravings or Sylar’s sore ankles? Not my bag.

There are some other kinks I can’t handle, like watersports or scat. While I don’t mind bloodplay or cum-marking, the former two are a little too strange for me. I don’t find anything particularly intimate about piss, and the degradation that comes with scat I can’t handle. Using human waste on someone, in my mind, goes right beyond trust and deep into… well, I don’t even know, but it’s not just not my bag, it’s not even on the same flight. I’m on this other flight. Over there. You guys have your flight, and I have mine.

There are other kinks I handle often, ones where I’m probably also on my own flight, while the other people are in an entirely different airport. For example, I do noncon, or, to put less technical term on it, rape. Non-consensual sex. In the real world, it’s bad, it’s a horrible, horrible thing. People who do it in real life should have the most extreme punishments allowable.

But in fiction, particularly fanfiction, the use of noncon or dubcon (dubious consent) is used to force a particular emotional state. It can force the victim to a broken state where they can learn to accept love and comfort from another, or drive them into a deep angsting state for extreme emotional fics. The aggressor can also be changed dramatically by these events. Both kinds of things are so extreme that they can touch off whole new relationships, character arcs, and plot transformations.

I tend to look at noncon/dubcon fics, particularly those that are less of a PWP, as the Death card in Tarot. The Death card, far from being an indication of impending loss of life, is meant to symbolize a transformation. A well-crafted noncon/dubcon fic can effect a dramatic and interesting transformation on the characters or plot. That’s why I read and write such stories.

In an even more extreme vein, I have written snuff and death fics. The few snuff fics I’ve written I’ve actually had the victim be capable of regeneration (the victim was Peter Petrelli in both fics), so perhaps that doesn’t count quite as much. But though I don’t have any straight-up death fics posted currently (I have old pieces on my hard drive, however), it is something I’m willing to write or read.

No one wants to see their favorite character die, but actual death can provoke a strong reaction and a complete change of a character trajectory. When someone is no longer in the picture, a restraining or motivating part of a character’s life actively disappears, and you can move the character into entirely new realms. A death or snuff fic can also be a powerful transformational piece, if handled with care.

BDSM is also something I will write or read. In cases of bondage, domination/submission, or sado/masochism, there is a great deal of trust. The recipient, or sub, in the relationship must be able to completely trust his or her partner, as their life may literally be in their partner’s hands. I see BDSM-type stories as a way to explore trust issues within relationships. Trust given or broken can affect how the characters interact both with each other and the outside world.

So, these are my lines in the squick. This is where I tread, and where I dare not. So tell me, where do you draw your line, and why?

Comments

eclecticmuse
Apr. 26th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
Hey--just a random LJer passing through your journal (just read your Matt/Daphne piece *fans self*) and came across this. Let me just say: your newsletter, let me subscribe to it.

I'm probably a lot more prudish in my squicks than you are but they are mostly the same. Top on my list is RPF. I WILL NOT READ IT. I don't know ... it just seems like such an invasion of the actors' personal lives. I know that if I were an actor and I came across RPF of myself with a colleague, I would probably be filled with RAEG. Or possibly go on a talk show and talk shit about it, a la Friday Night Project and David Tennant concerning Doctor Who porn.

After that would probably be incest and stuff like scat. (Ew. Just ew.) Like you, incest of the same-generation variety would probably not bother me as much, but parent-child is just wrong. In spite of that though, I too am a hypocrite and have my exceptions--one of my guilty pleasure ships is Snape/Hermione from Harry Potter.

I actually do not like slash that much and I cannot quite put my finger on why. I think it probably has to do with my first forays into online fandom and fanfiction, which was through Harry Potter, and the resultant onslaught of Harry/Draco porn. IMHO that pairing is just SO OOC that I think it put me off slash as a whole. Plus it's just not my cup of tea. I'm not a homophobe; I'd just rather read het.

I like PWP, smut, and fluff just as much as the next person but sometimes I just want to read a good old fashioned action/drama ensemble piece. Those seem hard to find sometimes.

Anyway, that's it from me, just a random interloper passing through and waving. I really liked your thoughts here!
jaune_chat
Apr. 26th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC)
I hear you on Draco/Harry. Uh... no. Not my bag. I don't do any kind of Harry Potter fanfic at all. I still mentally see all of them as kids, and I didn't dig the romance angle of the books even that much, so fanwanking hardcore stuff of any stripe just doesn't do anything for me.

Though I do understand about not wanting anything to do with one squick... except for this one thing... My line, it gerrymanders. ;-)

I used to not be into slash, until I found The Sith Academy. It's mostly humorous stories (frickin' hilarious stories), but there's a secondary archive that has Maul/Obi-Wan slash. It has both humor and sex built into multiple authors' stories, and after a lot of exposure, I began to see the hotness. After that I was thoroughly corrupted.

Action/adventure is always good. My first really long story (War and Peace In Mind, which is set in the Sky High fandom) was basically a long drama with action/adventure elements. The hard thing about writing it is that you don't always know where to stop. With hardcore NC-17 stories, you basically already know how it's supposed to end, with orgasms. It makes the story faster and easier to write (if you're a unrepentant perv like moi) because you have a built-in story structure.

Ensemble pieces require so more forethought, more plotting, more balancing, and more of everything that I think it scares some people off. I'm currently slowly writing a Firefly/Heroes crossover story based on the pilot of the Firefly series (but with Heroes as the crew members). It's only a PG-13 rating, but it's very time-consuming and difficult to put on paper. It requires intense cognition on multiple levels, rewatching both shows, and paying a lot of attention to the new canon I'm creating.

Hmm, that rambled a bit. Oh well.

I'm glad you dropped by, and I'm pleased you like "New Kind of Normal." Please do come back some time! :-)

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