Back in late June/early July, I received some questions from Gareth May, a frequent contributor to VICE whom I’ve spoken to several times before.

Gareth had some questions about “monster porn.” I thought they were very interesting and spent some time responding to his queries from a sociological standpoint. I don’t think the story ever saw the light of day though, so I thought I would share my full interaction with Gareth re monster porn and drawn erotica here.

Enjoy!

On Monster Porn & Drawn Erotica

Gareth says/asks:

A lot of the monster themed content online – particularly the animated toon/hentai content such as Kunoichi – Broken Princess – pivots on non-consensual sex which later becomes consensual. In this, monster toon/hentai porn seems diametrically opposed to the majority of mainstream live-action porn (which, although often depicting women as the sub rarely reenacts rape) – should we be aware that porn of this kind could give young men and women the wrong impression of sexual consent and damage the way in which people view the adult industry as a whole? i.e. is there a responsibility when producing this kind of porn or does the fantastical element – and the use of animation – eliminate such concerns? (I recently watched your “Pioneers of Feminist Porn” at Mindbrowse.com. The question Royalle asked about rape fantasies seemed to tie in with my thoughts on Broken Princess – “how do I show this ‘rape fantasy’ without sending the wrong message to people and letting people think she really wants to be raped?” I would suggest that the creators of Broken Princess haven’t taken this question into account but do they have to in the same way live action producers do?)

In the same way that niche hardcore horror films (non-pornographic) and monster movies allow us to imagine being devoured/stalked/murdered/haunted etc (I’m thinking everything from Flowers of Flesh and Blood to The Human Centipede – indie movies pushing the boundaries of what is widely considered palatable) does monster porn of this kind (toon/hentai) allow (certain) adult producers to do a similar thing? Push the boundaries of what is widely considered acceptable in the adult industry at large and go to the edges of adult content? Is it therefore inevitable?

Personally, I find this kind of content perturbing (it’s probably the only ‘porn’ I’ve ever watched that’s tested my will to keep watching both recreationally and for ‘work’). I can’t help but think that the producers are male gaming fans who just want to see their favourite female gaming stars abused and used in as many ways as possible. I can almost get my head around *that notion but what I really struggle with is the ‘acceptance’ of these female characters at the end of the scene – the notion that they’ve rather enjoyed being raped. The imagery, the extremity of the cum shots, cock size etc I can understand as something erotic. But the psychology of the female character’s futility turning to fatalism I struggle with – what kind of person creates and watches this kind of ‘porn’? What fantasy are they playing out, if any? Should we be careful to judge the producers and viewers of content of this kind?

I had to bite my tongue in order to refrain from lecturing Gareth about sending me links to piracy-based tube sites when looking to illustrate his questions. (I removed all the links to those ends from his questions FYI)

Here’s what I had to say in response to his questions:

All adult content, from live action to animated to written, has the capacity to impact viewers in a range of ways – this is true of all media (IOW, just because it’s a cartoon doesn’t mean it gets a pass – cartoons can obviously have a range of impacts as well). The key question here then is: When a media form allows producers to create content and explore themes that are far beyond the outer limits of what is conventionally considered acceptable (even for porn), is that ok? The simple answer is yes. The more complex answer is yes, and…

In some ways, animated porn is even more clearly situated in the realm of fantasy than conventional porn, which regardless of theme or scenario still requires the participation of actual human performers. As such, considering animated porn inspiration for real life is an even bigger leap than incorporating “insights” from conventional porn into your actual day-to-day. Yet certainly people do both.

Further, because animated porn is not confined by the actual physical constraints of human bodies, it allows for the exploration of endless scenarios and themes – as wild as the imagination can conceive of. These scenarios/themes both came from somewhere (the producer’s mind, etc) and may very well have an impact on a viewer, all in spite of being *just* a cartoon.

As much as I respect the fact that extreme drawn/animated adult content may be unsettling to some, as is the notion you raise about actual people actually making this content for other actual people to actually watch (“Who does this stuff?!”), policing content on the grounds that it pushes boundaries in a way that may be unsettling for some – even most – is not an option, especially when we’re talking about this particular media form. The actualization of uncomfortable and/or unrealistic or impossible scenarios via animation is simply a rendering of a fantasy present in a person’s mind – and you can’t police a mind, especially when all that mind is really doing is drawing pictures. (That mind could also be writing books.)

The issue I think you’re wrestling with here boils down to the existence of this scope of fantasies in the first place – Why would someone make this kind of stuff if not for misogynistic, repressive, or frightening purposes? Not only does this touch on issues of personal comfort, it also gets into a tricky intersection between wider social inequalities and an individual’s psyche. Because fantasies of this nature don’t come from nowhere, however many people can be presented with the exact same social factors and not come out turned on by a rape-to-resignation-to-a-Stockholm-esque-love scenario for example. (I’m also ignoring the phenomenon of consensual non-consent, which is significant, and the complexities of rape fantasies, which become even more amorphous when rendered in a media form that’s more fantasy-based that conventional porn)

I think the way to unpack possible discomfort around this sort of content is to shift the “Why does this exist, and how is it harming us?” question to something more along the lines of “What are we doing in society to draw these moments of fantasy out in some producers/viewers?” Whether or not these fantasies need to be changed, both in of themselves and due to their potential impact on viewers, is a bit of a moot point.

What do you think?

monster porn drawn erotica 2

(pictured: two very different examples of drawn erotic via Google)

monster porn drawn erotica

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Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com

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