Someone else’s story: ‘Bending’ by Greta Christina

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Bending: Dirty kinky stories about pain, power, religion, unicorns and moreI want to talk about fantasy and issues around consent. This blog touches on both of these things. Everything in it is consensual, but if discussions around this upset you or make you uncomfortable, you might prefer not to read it.

Consent is utterly fundamental when you’re having sex. It’s so fundamental, so important, that the vast majority of people wouldn’t even need to hear that stated: you just know. As you know it’s wrong to punch a stranger, sneak meat into vegetarian lasagne, or throw a kitten into a lake.

However, despite knowing these things are wrong, we’re more than happy for them to happen in fiction. We’ll cheer when the baddie gets punched in an action film, smile when Tom gets hit by Jerry, or laugh along when David Mitchell suggests that Robert Webb should kill and eat a cat. We’re perfectly capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

‘Bending’ by Greta Christina

I was recently sent a copy of ‘Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More’ by Greta Christina. It’s a thoughtful, sordid, delicious shock of a book. She and I clearly have some very similar fantasies, and when I read it I was frequently torn between shouting “OH JESUS YES” and sneaking off the train for a quick wank in the toilets. They’re mostly BDSM-focused, and an excellent demonstration of just how much variety there is in even that one tiny slice of the sexual spectrum. If you like my blog, and the sort of things I write about, I’d be gobsmacked if you didn’t like at least a few of the stories in this book.

However, some of the stories deal with fantasies that involve non-consent. One or more of the fictional participants is being cajoled, bullied or forced into doing something sexual. They describe sort of activities – like a cat being served up for dinner – that we wouldn’t want to see in real life. But does that stop them being hot? Does that make them unethical? I don’t think so. And although I could waffle on about this until my feline steak goes cold, I couldn’t put it better than Greta Christina herself.

Here is an extract from the book’s introduction that she’s kindly allowed me to publish as part of her blog tour:

These are not nice stories.

These are not “erotica” — except in the sense that “erotica” has become the term of art in publishing for “dirty stories with some vaguely serious literary intent.” These are not tender stories about couples in love making love. (Except for the one that is.) These are not sweet, gentle, happy stories about unicorns fucking rainbows. (Except for the one about the unicorn fucking the rainbow.)

A lot of fucked-up shit happens in a lot of these stories. Stuff happens here that is borderline consensual. Stuff happens that is not at all consensual. Stuff happens in which people manipulate other people into doing sexual things they don’t want to do. Stuff happens in which people do sexual things they’re ashamed of. Stuff happens in these stories that, if they happened in real life, I would be appalled and enraged by.

Stuff happens here that excites me to think about when I whack off.

I apparently have a very fucked-up sexual imagination.

But there is also love in these stories. Some of them, anyway. There is the love of long-term couples; there is the love of newly-discovered lovers; there is the love of friends. There is affection — between lovers, between colleagues, between strangers encountered on the street. There is respect: for love, for desire, for scars, for the complicated places where love and desire and scars overlap.

Above all, there is respect for sex itself. I think — I hope — that this respect underlies every story in this book. Beneath the excitement and the fear, the pain and the shame, the helplessness and the hunger, the danger and the love… there is always the idea that sex matters.

Since most of these stories are kinky, and since some people reading this may not be super-familiar with kink, I want to take a moment to talk about kinky porn.

Some of these stories are about consensual sadomasochism. They’re about negotiated SM scenes between consenting adults, with safewords and limits and attention to safety. There’s conflict in the stories, and mis-steps, and bad decisions… but fundamentally, what happens within those stories is consenting. They are attempts to express, in fiction, some of the things that consensual sadomasochists do.

And some of these stories aren’t. Some of these stories are about force, and violation, and abuse of power. They are attempts to describe, not what consensual sadomasochists do, but some of the things we think about. They are attempts to describe some of the images that come into our minds when we masturbate, or have sex, or engage in consensual SM. They are attempts to describe some of the activities that some of us consensually act out with each other. They are fantasies.

And every single story in this book is consensual.

They’re consensual because they’re fiction. They’re consensual because they’re made-up. I consented to write them; you’re consenting to read them. If you don’t want to read this kind of thing, this isn’t the book for you. I encourage you to put it down, and read something else.

It’s funny. When it comes to things that aren’t sex, people seem to understand this distinction. People get that enjoying spy novels doesn’t mean you want to join the CIA; that enjoying murder mysteries doesn’t mean you want to kill people; that enjoying heist thrillers doesn’t mean you want to break into Fort Knox. People understand that it’s fun and exciting to imagine things we wouldn’t actually want to do — even things we think are immoral.

But for some reason, porn often gets held to a different standard. Depicting a fantasy of a sex act is often assumed to be an endorsement of that act. So let me spell it out: I do not endorse sexual force, abuse of power, rape, or any form of violation of sexual consent. I am vehemently opposed to them.

I am, however, unapologetic about the fact that I like to fantasize about them. If we have any freedom at all, it’s the freedom between our ears: the freedom to think about whatever we like. And that includes sex.

If this has intrigued you, do check out the book – available on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and eventually print and audiobook too.

And if this has enraged you, I’d genuinely love to know why. What makes sex different? I don’t want to live in a world where we can’t separate fantasy from reality. That means not just comedy, cartoons, and action films but sex as well.

6 Comments

  • It’s a fucking awesome book, isn’t it? I wanked so damned much reading the stories in it!

    xx Dee

  • Ay None says:

    It’s an odd thing. I don’t have rape fantasies. I don’t want to be raped, and I don’t want to read about people being raped. But in the bedroom, where consent has already been established and there’s a safe word in place for emergencies, then having a man I trust fight me and force me down and tie me up and fuck me? Oh hell, yes.

  • albiegf13 says:

    Why o why would I want to read anyone else’s, politically correct, sexual fantasies, when I have so many good ones of my own? Since when does the imagination have to be politically correct…? Sounds boring, lots of noise with few signals, you lost me on this one…

  • I loved this book too! It’s so rare I buy erotica but I would love some more like this.

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