Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Post: Tentacles and Consent: More likely than you think?

Consent. It's a touchy subject, one of those things that can make or break a story for a lot of people. Is that no really a no? Is that yes really a yes? There's a whole spectrum when it comes to consent.

When one thinks of tentacle sex, the images that come to mind are undoubtedly of some schoolgirl (or boy) being accosted by a tentacle monster, or perhaps the famous painting "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife", a Japanese painting depicting a woman with an octopus between her legs, pleasuring her. The schoolgirl/boy's situation isn't consensual, and is what most people expect out of tentacle erotica. But the fisherman's wife?

The painting and accompanying text suggest that, even as far back as the 1800s, there was interest in consensual tentacle sex.

Yes, most of the stuff put out in the last fifty years when it comes to tentacle erotica has been non-consensual, but it's important for my purposes today to acknowledge that the piece that is seen as the forerunner for modern tentacle erotica is actually completely consensual. (Don't believe me? Check out the translation. The woman's response begins with: "You hateful octopus! Your sucking at the mouth of my womb makes me gasp for breath! ...")

I think there's a lot more interest in consensual tentacle erotica than anyone thinks, particularly right now. I say this not only judging from fandoms like Homestuck, where there's a huge amount of consensual text and imagery output involving tentacles, but also from the submissions that I received for the All Wrapped Up anthology for Storm Moon Press. Only one of the submissions that made the final cut had non-consensual elements, but those non-con sections are actually not with the tentacled character at all (how's that for a switch)!

When I was talking with a few friends about the fact that the anthology was almost entirely consensual, they were surprised and pleased, so I think that the idea that the world wants to see more consensual tentacle sex is not far-fetched.

But why consensual, when the overwhelming representation of tentacle erotica is non-consensual?

Because I think a lot of people really like consent. It makes readers happy to see characters respecting boundaries, loving and enjoying one another's bodies without shame or pressure, communicating openly and honestly, and exploring their kinks in a healthy way. For many, the effect is a bit like eating a tub of ice cream, only without the massive calorie intake and health consequences.

Even people like myself, who read and love all flavors of dub-con and non-con, are able to love consensual stories just as much. In that way, consensual stuff reaches a wider audience than non-consensual material, and it's much easier to share it with your friends. (And perhaps family, if you're open like that.)

The last reason I can think of about why people like consent with their tentacles also involves what appeals to a person about tentacle sex in general, which I think boil down to two subject areas: sensation and xenophilia. I don't think very many people enjoy tentacle erotica simply because the majority of it is non-consensual; there's too many other things to like about tentacles for someone to focus simply on that aspect.

Neither sensation nor xenophilia are inherently non-consensual (in fact, part of the idea of xenophilia, of being accepting of one's lover's differentness, is actually inherently consensual) which lends credence to the idea that people don't enjoy tentacles simply because they often come equipped with consent issues.

I think that consent and tentacles are two things that we'll be seeing together more and more in erotica, and I am excited about seeing the places that authors can go, even without violating consent in their stories. Boundary-pushing is always a lot of fun, and sometimes it pushes boundaries more to maintain consent than to do the opposite.

There's a world of sensation out there just waiting to be tapped into when it comes to tentacle sex, and I'll be talking about it in my next post over at Bending the Bookshelf!

Thanks for having me here at Pants Off Reviews; I've always found this blog to be entertaining and sincere and can only hope I've lived up to that standard.

All Wrapped Up, Now available from Storm Moon Press for just $6.99! Order in paperback directly from SMP and get double the reader reward points toward free books!


  1. ...but what about the actual stories?

    1. The posts I am going to be making here at Pants Off Reviews, Bending the Bookshelf, and Book Wenches are all "reasons why tentacles could appeal to someone who doesn't normally read tentacles" type of posts. I'm saving the best for last; the final guest post (at Joyfully Jay) is about how the themes discussed in prior posts are represented by the stories in the anthology.

      I'm sorry to ask you to wait since it seems like you're excited about the anthology, but once the post at Joyfully Jay goes up you'll get more information about the stories, including small excerpts from each story that aren't on the SMP site :D


Go ahead and talk to me!