Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Line of Consent

By Teresa Noelle Roberts (Guest Blogger)

Maybe you’ve caught some of the buzz recently about romance novels and feminism. My most recent release, Knowing the Ropes, was used as an example in this ongoing discussion, and I’m proud of that. I’ve read a lot of romances over the years, and I have to agree that some of them are problematic from a feminist point of view. I’m not talking about the dubious consent fantasies I see played out in some of them. Sexual fantasies aren’t always politically correct. Hell, sex itself isn’t necessarily politically correct. And that’s fine. The way I see it, as long as everyone involved is of age and consenting to the activities, have fun—even if they involve pain, power play, humiliation, age-play, consensual non-consent or other practices that make many people uncomfortable. Even if they involve clown suits or the end products of digestion, which make me uncomfortable, and I’m pretty damn open-minded when it comes to sex.

The key word is consent. My emphasis on informed consent in Knowing the Ropes is probably why it was used in talking about BDSM and feminism in romance novels. My heroine, Selene, is a domestic violence counselor who happens to be kinky. She’s working to reconcile her sexuality with her professional passion, and consent proves to be the answer to that dilemma. Nick, the hero, is a dom I created after reading a few too many fictional doms (and alpha male heroes who were almost pathologically dominant, if not strictly speaking practicing BDSM or D/s) who blurred the line of consent* with abandon that can be hot in fiction, but would be dangerous, not to mention illegal, in real life. In contrast, I wanted Nick to be the kind of dominant partner I’d want a younger, less experienced friend to meet. A good human being who happens to be kinky. A dom who talks things through when necessary, who knows the difference between hurt and harm, and who understands that informed consent is critical to kink. In contrast, Nick’s ex Natalie finds herself with a dom who pushes her far beyond her limits (which are basically “don’t do anything likely to kill me”—she’s an extreme player) and beyond the bounds of harm. I think of consent as basic human decency. It shouldn’t have to be a feminist issue, just something that sane people take for granted as a base line for sexual interactions.

The fact that it needs to be an issue is part of why I’m a feminist.

Who writes erotica and romance, much of it kinky.

Teresa Noelle Roberts writes erotica and romance—“doing what comes (super)naturally.” She loves slightly writing more than gardening, but can’t survive without either. Learn more at or follow her on Twitter, where she’s @TeresNoeRoberts

Knowing the Ropes

They’ve got the sex factor in spades. But can love survive the “ex” factor?
Selene has harbored kinky, submissive fantasies most of her life, but her experience as a domestic abuse counselor leaves her leery of giving up that much control. Case in point: the ex-fiancé she didn’t love quite enough to test the limits of trust.

At a BDSM meet and greet, she sets out to learn how far is too far. Nick seems like the ideal dom to show her the ins and outs of ropes, floggers, and paddles—with no commitment clause.

After losing a sub he loved too much, Selene’s country girl common sense and smoking sensuality is like a dream that Nick never dared to have—a perfect blend of kink and long-term domestic bliss.

Yet it’s tough to figure out just how far they can push their limits when they’ve both agreed to a no-strings affair. Especially when an ex needs Nick’s muscle and Selene’s newly discovered skills to get out of a dangerous situation. And it may be too late for love to survive all the things they’re afraid to say.

Warning: Sexy, kinky, geeky dominant guy. Smart submissive woman. Crazy ex. A little experimentation between girlfriends. And lots and lots of kinky sex.

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Mesmerized, Selene reached around and started to unzip her dress. He reached behind her, caught her wrists. “Oh, I’m glad you’re as eager as I am, but we need to talk a little more—with our clothes on. Things we should have talked about before, really, but dammit, woman, you make it hard to think.” Another devouring kiss, and then he steered her toward the couch.

“Pull up your skirt before you sit,” he added, almost as an afterthought. “Being naked would distract us both too much—but a little distraction will keep you honest.”

And then he proceeded to ask her a series of no-holds-barred questions that made her squirm on the leather couch in a combination of embarrassment and lust.

After they’d gone over her experiences (fairly varied in the vanilla area, but limited in the kink department to light, playful spankings and a few experiments with silk-scarf bondage) and the things that were absolutely off-limits (she asked about his absolutely nots as well and was relieved to hear they agreed on the things they’d never, ever want to do), the subject turned to her fantasies.

“What draws you to BDSM?” he asked.

“I’m not sure I can put it into words. There’s so much… It’s always been part of my fantasies, ever since I was little and made my brother’s GI Joe do unspecified evil things to my Barbie.”

That cracked him up, but once he stopped laughing, he encouraged her to go on.

“Part of it is the idea of giving up control. The couple of times I’ve been tied up were heavenly, even though the guy who did it to me was probably a bigger sub than I am. He was just doing it so I’d tie him up and have my wicked way with him the next night. I’d love to be restrained more, more severely.” And how. She was getting wetter simply talking about it, imagining Nick spread-eagling her on the bed or putting her into some of the exotic rope-bondage positions she’d drooled over while surfing the Net. “And I’d like to take that further, to give up mental control once in a while, to put myself into good hands and say, ‘You’re in charge now.’ To please you if that’s what you want, or to take what you give me, your choice.”

“How far are you willing to go with letting someone else make the decisions for you? How about…erotic dares, maybe? Like would you want to be told to have sex with someone else?”

“Maybe. Depending on the circumstances. Especially if it’s a woman. I’ve had my bi fantasies, and I’ve kissed women before. The idea turns me on, but it never seemed like the right time go further than kissing. So being ‘ordered’ to do it…might be hot, as long as it was something she’d do anyway.” She grinned and felt herself flushing.

“Consent’s definitely key, even if we’re all pretending we’re forcing you. How about erotic pain—my flogger or cane or paddle against your skin, alternating with caresses? Because I know I’d love to redden your ass before I bent you over and fucked you.”

The words touched her core like skilled fingers. She squirmed, the leather couch tantalizing on her ass, but she couldn’t form words to answer.

“I take it that’s a yes?”


Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Teresa,

Welcome to Beyond Romance!

The question of consent is key in the BDSM that I write. In fact, I find being "forced" to admit one's interest in being topped to be one of the more erotic aspects of dominance and submission - much more interesting than being subjected to indignities you didn't ask for

Good luck with the book!

lisekimhorton said...

I'm in absolute agreement, Teresa on your points. I'm a feminist from the "good old days" (70's, not Seneca Falls) and kinky and an author of BDSM romance. I, too, have read too much of the kinky tales that cross too many lines, mostly, I suspect because the author wasn't kinky herself, or didn't do the requisite homework to know (for example, a Dom who tied his sub up and gagged her and left her that way - all night, alone, in the dark) the safe, sane, consentual and respectful rules. Your excerpt was exceedingly hot and I'm now off to fire up my nook and become a Teresa Noelle Roberts customer! Thanks for expressing your point so succinctly.

Teresa Noelle Roberts said...

Thank you, Lise. I'll be looking for your books as well. Hope you enjoy my work.

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