Nonconsensual Consent

There is a very particular set of dynamics that is among my favorites. It’s an entirely negative-dynamic set, and it is defined by three main things. First, the constrict is suffering. Second, the principal is being horrible and what they’re doing is absolutely wrong. Third, there is a context in which the constrict’s answer to the question ‘is this what you want?’ is ‘yes’, because they are gaining a benefit from the situation that, for them, is enough for this.

This set can be subdivided into three categories, each of which has its own defining factors:

1) The principal creates the choice

The set up for this is a situation in which the constrict has a choice between alternatives, and they pick an alternative that involves their suffering because the other alternatives are, to them, worse. (So, the benefit of their suffering is, ‘these other things do not happen’). It has two necessary parts. First, the principal has to know about this situation, and to either have set it up, or to be perpetuating it on purpose. Second, as defined by the overall dynamic-set, on the contrict’s side, “the other alternative is worse” is not enough. It has to be “I want this.”

Maybe the constrict is the captain of a ship that has encountered the principal’s more powerful ship, and the principal demands that the captain surrender themselves, or else they’ll open fire. Maybe the constrict is the principal’s ‘favorite prisoner’, and as long as the principal has them, they leave everyone else alone. And to the constrict it is “yes, if it preserves everyone else’s lives, I want to go to them”, “yes, if it means they’re not hurting anyone else, I want them to hurt me”.

2) The situation creates the choice

In this, the constrict also has a choice, and they also choose something that means they suffer. However, the situation was not caused or set up by the principal.

Maybe the constrict is a government agent posing as a slave to find out vital information about what the principal is doing. Maybe the constrict has a loyalty bond to the principal, so giving the principal what they want is their greatest desire, even if what the principal wants is their suffering. Maybe the constrict loves the principal in a way that makes any interaction with them better than no interaction at all.

The situation gives the constrict something they want – information to help bring down the principal, the principal’s happiness, the principal’s attention – and to the constrict, the suffering they endure for this is worth it.

3) The constrict creates the choice

In this, the benefit that the constrict is getting out of the situation is their suffering itself.

Maybe they feel very guilty about something, and feel that suffering is what they deserve or the only way they can atone. Maybe they’re suffering as a martyr for a cause, faith, or movement, and believe that the more martyrs suffer, the more honor/glory/blessing there is in it.

So, their own suffering is exactly what they want.

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A note about the title: When I sat down to write this post, I realized it needed a title, and that that title needed to be/would be the name for the dynamic. So I brainstormed names, and this is the one I came up with. In this way, I’m identifying it as a kind of inverse of consensual nonconsent. In consensual nonconsent, there is a surface ‘no’, but what is happening is actually consentual. Here there is a surface ‘yes’, but what is happening is actually absolutely nonconsensual.

I’d thought about the nonconsent while I was still brainstorming this post, and realized that was also an important defining factor. For case #1, it’s a straightforward one – case #1 is about threats, and coercion is not consent.

For the others, it can be a bit more complicated. The defining factor there is that the principal either doesn’t care about the constrict’s consent, or doesn’t want it. If the principal in the love example in case #2 enjoyed hurting people, but would never do it to someone unwilling, and the constrict who loved them said “I love you like this, so I am willing”, that would be different. If the principal in case #3 arranged everything with the suffering-desiring constrict, or had the magic power to detect people who wanted to suffer and then hurt only those people, that would be different. But those would be different dynamics, and that is not what’s happening in the dynamics of this set. Here, the principal doesn’t care, their desire is just the suffering, and that they happened to get a victim who is in some way willing doesn’t mitigate their actions at all.

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A Distinction in Dynamics

(This is an important distinction that I’ve been trying to figure out how to separate out for a while now. I have an intuitive feeling that it exists, but seeing exactly where the lines are is often rather hard. But I want to be able to refer to these in posts, and I like my latest version, so I’m putting it up).

 Sorting Narrative Power Dynamics

Type 1: Negative dynamics

These dynamics are about bad things. They are defined mainly by the fact that what the principal is doing is wrong. In general, they involve principals who know that what they’re doing is a negative thing for the constrict, and either don’t care about this, or like this. Dynamics of abuse, mistreatment of captives and prisoners, and non-consentual slavery are often good examples.

A lot of my writing has been about these.

Type 2: Positive Dynamics

These dynamics are are the consent-culture friendly ones, where what’s going on is a good and happy thing for everyone involved. Consensual D/s and power exchange relationships go here.

At first, I thought I would write that I’m new to these, but that’s not actually true. I’ve enjoyed and in fact created stories with them for years. I am, however, new to my explicit recognition of them, and they’re often very separate in my mind from other power dynamics (my liking of them is emotionally different, too) to the point that I often forget to consider them. For example, my ‘principal’ and ‘constrict’ terms don’t actually feel very correct to them.

I hope to write more about these in the future.

Type 3: Gray Dynamics

These, of course, are the ones left over, the ones in between. In means they’re not as simply-defined of a group – there’s at least three distinct groups inside here, and probably more that I’m not thinking of.

First are the dynamics of jagged edges. There are bad things here, wrong things, dysfunctional things, pain where there shouldn’t be. But it’s also what the people involved want/need, and there’s also good things, and within the worlds they live in, it’s probably the closest to the positive kind they can get. I call these ‘twisted dynamics’, usually, and they are very much a thing of mine.

Second are the dynamics where they’re also clearly bad, but it’s not because anyone within them is doing something wrong. These are the ones with participants who are understanding the same thing in different ways and not realizing it, etc. They also tend to be set in screwed up worlds, and they’re also twisted, but I don’t tend to like them very much. (This one is a bit odd to try to explain. Here is a story with it. In fact, this is the story that made me realize I needed to include this as a category).

Third are the dynamics where good people do bad things because they think they’re good. Where the principal genuinely believes that this is what is needed by/beneficial to the constrict, but they’re wrong. I don’t tend like these as a class, but I’ve definitely liked some examples – usually when this dynamic is not the main focus, but is among other things I like.

Some More Thoughts On Punishment

I have a punishment kink. I figured this out in an articulated manner not so long ago – from things in scening, and from things like reading scene ideas and my reaction changing from ‘hmm’ to ‘ooh!’ at bits about ‘and if they don’t do this, they get punished’ – but I’ve clearly had it for much longer.

I recently read a really interesting essay on a distinction in discipline (here). Basically it’s about guilt versus shame, which could also be termed as internal versus external – the distinction between the constrict feeling that they’ve done something wrong and wanting to be punished for it, and the principal feeling that the constrict has done something wrong and imposing the punishment.

This made me think of several things.

First, I come down very strongly on the guilt side. I really like guilt – when the author of the essay talks about “reluctant tops, and begging not to stop” there’s a part of my mind going ‘YES, please!’, and I giddily devoured the guilt-discipline stories linked in the essay.

In fact, I come down so strongly on the guilt side that I have a tendency not to notice the other side at all. To me, when the principal says things like ‘think about what you’ve done’, that’s not about them, that’s about the constrict’s guilt. And I completely didn’t think about this other side when writing my ‘Reasons for Punishment‘ post, and left it out. (I’ve now edited the post to add it).

Second, I think there are also punishment dynamics that involve neither of the things in the essay. One of them I’m also going to add to the ‘Reasons for Punishment’ post (I think in the essay the author grouped this one with shame, but I think it’s actually pretty different, though overlap is possible). Another two are the ones that are interesting to me.

As noted, I knew as soon as I saw this articulation in the essay that guilt-punishments are very much a thing for me. However, they are not my only thing. I also have a thing for punishment dynamics that are not about feelings at all.

First, there is administrative punishment, militaries, prisons. This is when the punishment is an official, formal thing to enforce the rules and the structure. There’s no trust that was violated for the principal to be upset about, and no one cares about how the constrict feels, as long as they get the message.

I very much enjoy this kind of dynamic. I like the formality and officialness of it. I like how it can be a standing threat. It can also actually be coupled with guilt – I have a story series that, I now come to think of, is based around exactly such a combination – but very often it isn’t. And I like that too.

Second, there is punishment used as torture. This is when the principal makes a ‘rule’ knowing the constrict won’t be able to keep it, so that when they hurt them more for breaking it, they get the bonus of pointing out the failure, of the constrict’s dread and doomed struggle and feelings of weakness and self-blame. And I like that too.

Creative Counting

For me, counting (while being hit with something, that is) is one of the kinks that is both an actionable kink, and a narrative kink for a somewhat more limited set of dynamics. Narratively, I like it both when the principal is counting and when the constrict is, actionably I’ve only tried the latter but suspect I would like the former too.

Basic counting is very straightforward – 1, 2, 3, etc – and is definitely something I enjoy. However, sometimes variations are fun and/or interesting too. So, here are a few that I’ve encountered:

  • Counting with an honorific. “One, ma’am, two, ma’am”, etc.
  • Saying thank you after each number.
  • Asking for the next one.
  • Counting in another language. For instance, in a story I read, someone in trouble in a Latin class had to count in Latin. Alternating languages would make for an interesting exercise in focus, also.
  • Repeating a phrase, either instead of the number, or together with it. Phrases about the punishment (“I must strive to be more respectful”), about the principal (“The Commander is always right”), and about the constrict (“I am a worthless fool”) are common. This can also be paired with an honorific.
  • Reciting people. In one story I read, the constrict had to name someone they’d hurt with their actions with every strike, making this an emotional exercise as well. In another story, the principal had a list of names, and read one before each strike.
  • Reciting poetry or something similar. This could either have to do with the punishment, the dynamic, etc, in which case it can serve a similar purpose as repeating a phrase while also requiting more focus, or not, in which case it is just a focus exercise.

Anyone know any other interesting ones?

Specific Narrative Kinks: Acting under a standing threat

What do I mean by this:

A standing threat is a threat that applies beyond the point when it is delivered. So, ‘stand up or I’ll shock you again’, or ‘give me the code or I’ll kill your brother’ is not a standing threat. ‘If you ever talk to any of the other prisoners, I’ll have you beaten’ is.

How does it appeal to me:

This is another instance where the constrict’s awareness is the important part of it for me. (In fact, this kink is similar to the non-tangible restraints kink in a lot of ways, but it has sufficient appeal specific to it that I wanted to talk about it separately). In this case, what I like is the constrict’s awareness of the threat while they are actually doing something else.

I have a character who is under standing threat to never lie to the principal, and is very actively aware of this any time they have a conversation, whatever the topic may be.

In a story I read, two characters are being allowed (by the governmentally powerful principal) to live their day to day lives as long as they don’t ‘step out of line’, so they have to be careful about this whatever they do.

Reading the second story also made me aware that I really like such a powerful standing threat, and that in such a case I really like the terror it brings. I like the idea of them constantly watching for surveillance, the fear anything that might have been an issue brings up. I like relevant harassment – an unexpected message that’s just ‘this is a reminder to not try anything’, etc.

In general, inner conflict involving the standing threat also really appeals. When there’s something the first constrict doesn’t want to tell the principal about, when the second two characters are in a situation they don’t like, but can’t fight it because that would be stepping out of line – I like that very much.

Overall, I just like the threat being there and the constrict knowing it, the weight it puts on their decisions and actions.

Actionable counterpart:

I’m not sure how well this could work actionably, since the thing that is appealing to me about it is within the mind of the constrict. But again, it would be very interesting to try.

Specific Narrative Kinks: Dozens

What do I mean by this:

I like unpleasant things being counted in dozens. Not when they’re going on (so not like 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12) but when they’re being talked about. ‘A few dozen times’, ‘a couple dozen lashes’, that kind of thing.

Why do I like it:

The first time I saw this used in a story, I noticed myself really liking it, and thought a bit about why. I recently saw it in another story, remembered its appeal, and thought about this again.

I think it’s because saying ‘a few dozen’ is the perfect middle ground between the impact of something being very bad, and the impact of an amount.

Something being very bad appeals to me. The constrict being hit with something (whether this be a whip or an agony beam) and the description of the agony or other horribleness of this, etc.

Amount also appeals to me – the constrict having to endure something as it just keeps going.

Low numbers – say ‘5 times’ – give the first but not the second. High numbers give the second but lose the impact of the first – ‘a few hundred times’ means there just can’t be that much focus on each individual one.

Dozens are the perfect middle ground. Twelve doesn’t seem like such a high number – I can count to twelve in a few seconds – so I can still keep the impact of each instance. But ‘a few dozen’ also makes the final number high enough for the appeal of duration to come in.

Meanwhile, the ‘few’ and the ‘couple’ also bring in understatement, which is yet another thing that appeals to me.

Actionable counterpart:

I haven’t tried anything with it yet. It might be harder to incorporate, because of how it specifically has to do with talking about something in a third person way, but it would be interesting to try.