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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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.