Sexual violence in fictional stories


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    What are your guys thoughts on sexual violence in fictional stories and why?

    @rahul-balaggan said in Sexual violence in stories:

    Side note a topic such as this can get out of hand very quickly, should it escalate to fast i will be locking it down immediately, please respect what others have to say and note that although this may be another's opinion on fictional literature it may not reflect their views on real life occurrences



  • I assume you are referring exclusively to Light Novels and not actual like autobiographical stories or even non-fiction stories that retell actual events.

    As for LNs i believe only Goblin Slayer has that

    and in Goblin Slayer i thought it is fiction, it plays into the story. and then i moved on.

    Side note a topic such as this can get out of hand very quickly, should it escalate to fast i will be locking it down immediately, please respect what others have to say and note that although this may be another's opinion on fictional literature it may not reflect their views on real life occurrences.


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    @rahul-balaggan i was just about to add the word fictional when you commented lol.


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    I can understand that some people shun such stories in general, but for me, it's a tool in a writer's toolbox – what is done with it is up to the writer.

    It can be used to good effect to make a villain irredeemable (Berserk, Basilisk), create a seriously broken character (Mardock Scramble), portray just how terrible the world is (Goblin Slayer LN), or to establish that a character is morally integer in contrast to others (Alderamin on the Sky, many War movies and multiple gritty Western).
    On the other hand, it also can be cheap fetish fuel. Many cheap B-horror movies are guilty of this this, and IMHO the Goblin Slayer manga is also partially in that territory.

    There are also various degrees in how detailed such a scene is depicted: From rather vague hinting of despicable actions in the Goblin Slayer LN, to a highly symbolic depiction (Belladonna of Sadness), to a mostly non-graphic portrayal (Now and Then, Here and There) to an outright revelry in the sexual action (fan fiction tends to suffer from this). The farther you slide on this scale, the more shocking it is for the reader/viewer, and a creator risks to loose some audience if he goes too far. But sometimes, an impactful shock is exactly what a story needs, and if sexual violence provides it, why not go for it?


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    The same as the thoughts on fictional literature in general.


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    It can be done, it has to be handled very carefully. In the right setting, with the right portrayal, it can be a very powerful tool. Abused, it can make the novel little more than fetishist smut.


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    I never liked it, doesn't matter how mature the theme is. Even in Smartphone LN when I read about that douchebag prince of Lihnea who used to put slave collars and rape people I was disgusted (frankly I wasn't expecting it in Smartphone LN of all places even though it wasn't descriptive). I don't know why but I don't like this theme in mature books (never have and never will)


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    @flarecde said in Sexual violence in fictional stories:

    It can be done, it has to be handled very carefully. In the right setting, with the right portrayal, it can be a very powerful tool. Abused, it can make the novel little more than fetishist smut.

    This

    It isn't something I look for, but depending how it is handled it isn't necessarily a deal breaker for me.


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    A few years back, the UN tried to have talks about whether member countries should impose more restrictions on sexual violence in media. Japan was one of the countries defending media.

    (This Forbes piece is an opinion on that defense by Japan, and you don't have to agree with the author's message of course)

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2016/03/03/japanese-response-to-un-proposed-ban-for-media-depicting-sexual-violence-is-cogent-and-sane/


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    @terrence said in Sexual violence in fictional stories:

    A few years back, the UN tried to have talks about whether member countries should impose more restrictions on sexual violence in media. Japan was one of the countries defending media.

    (This Forbes piece is an opinion on that defense by Japan, and you don't have to agree with the author's message of course)

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2016/03/03/japanese-response-to-un-proposed-ban-for-media-depicting-sexual-violence-is-cogent-and-sane/

    Wow, amazing that someone else has such a similar mindset. I didn't even realize until you posted that.

    Although in my case, it is more of a:

    "'What the hell is the point of protecting people in fiction when it doesn't protect people in reality?'. What would be next after that, banning things in history books because they would upset people due to sexual violence? Ok, toss out Ghengis Khan, WWII, Vietnam War, etc. from being taught. While we are at it, why not toss out all of history due to violence?"

    Personally, I hate people that can't differentiate the difference between fiction and reality. In my case, my worlds are kind of their own reality, but I very much so differentiate 'my worlds' from 'real life'. I think TWGOK said my feelings the best when the protagonist basically states that people who can't tell the difference between fiction and reality are scum.

    Now, that said, I think that the typical person would find even fictional depictions of sexual violence upsetting. However, I once again would argue that, while not always as vivid of a depiction, we do have historical dramas that are based on reality and are a way of showing what happened in the past. I believe that these are still a valid way to show people what happened in human history. They might not be completely accurate, but neither is history as it is written (if you look at actual history and taught history, they can sometimes differ to an extreme extent due to propaganda and covering up undesirable facts from being taught. In fact, sometimes it isn't apparently unless you look at history as it is taught by several different countries and notice that differences in history according to each or study history in-depth for a country and notice even small discrepancies.

    As such, I do believe that historical fiction is an important way to tell the past - sometimes it is even used as a way to get around the effective censorship that a country may have in place. I think that banning things, including sexual violence (which would probably only be the start), would only stifle methods for people to talk about important things without being attacked by the government and the citizens. Not necessarily the current government, as this would lead way for easier censorship in the future.


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    While my general preference for lighter stories means I don't particularly care for it in stories, I do agree that it can be powerful when used right--and that when used poorly, it comes off particularly awful.

    One danger to the use of sexual violence in stories is that it can be a lazy way to add drama or induce sympathy to a character or her backstory. I've seen this argument used against depictions of slavery in the thread for that, and I think the same considerations can apply here (both rape and slavery are about overriding a person's will, and both will induce knee-jerk reactions in most people). If the sexual violence can be replaced with something else (e.g. plain ol' violence) and it doesn't affect the rest of the story much, then one has to wonder what is the point of having it other than for that easy sympathy. If sexual violence is going to be in the story, I expect it to significantly affect characters' personalities, relationships, motives, and development storylines, or for the story itself to say something meaningful about sexual violence.

    On that note, one thing I've learned is that, in the real world, rape is oftentimes not actually a sexual act, but rather an act of power assertion expressed in sexual ways. So stories using rape are best when they highlight the perpetrator's desire for power and control, rather than trying to pass it off as just sexual frustration. On the other hand I'm not sure how I feel about something like, say, a fantasy humanoid race that "rapes" women for reproduction but not out of some intelligent show of dominance. That really is just straight up "sexual violence", and while it might be effective in highlighting the brutality of that race, it feels disassociated from actual rape because of the lack of that power element.

    Oh, and while the main portrayal of sexual violence is male on female, it definitely applies with any combination of genders and it's definitely annoying when, for example, female-on-male acts of this nature are passed off as "funny"...


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    @stardf29 I think that in some cases, it has basically become an expectation that certain races rape women for reproduction (not saying that this is a good thing, just to be clear). Tentacle monsters (including squid races), Goblins, and Orcs ('male' races) in particular. There are exceptions to this, but it seems that those three races in particular are those types of races. I think this has more to do with it being almost an established fact. Similarly, you somewhat often have Amazons (as in fantasy ones), Harpies, and Sirens ('female' races) raping men for reproduction, although it is rare in comparison and much less established (For some reason, females raping men seem much rarer in fiction and even when this sort of relationship between races is depicted, sometimes it is only attempted or falling in love instead of actual rape).

    You do have also cases of rape as torture (as seen in certain LNs) which would fall under dominance, which is actually quite realistic for fiction.

    I do agree that I find it a bit annoying when rape is portrayed as a joke or as fun. There are exceptions to the rape issue (I've pissed off people because of these exceptions), specifically statutory (which is why there are Romeo and Juliet laws - basically changing the penalty for this form of rape). There are other exceptions relating to this, but that will go way off topic.

    Exceptions aside, I do think that there is something wrong with anyone who uses rape as a joke. Even more so when they treat non-'male-on-female' rape as 'okay' on top of that.


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    @jaquobus said in Sexual violence in fictional stories:

    It can be used to good effect to make a villain irredeemable (Berserk, Basilisk), create a seriously broken character (Mardock Scramble), portray just how terrible the world is (Goblin Slayer LN), or to establish that a character is morally integer in contrast to others (Alderamin on the Sky, many War movies and multiple gritty Western).
    On the other hand, it also can be cheap fetish fuel.

    I think my thoughts are pretty much covered in Jaquobus's statement here. What value does it add to the story/characters? Does it diminish them in any way? What is the overall purpose of making it part of the story?

    Goblins killing people? Seen it all the time. Goblins killing people and raping women? Blood starts boiling. I don't think people would hate Griffith near as much if he had just let everyone die during the Eclipse. In fact, based on the recent storyline, people might even argue that killing off his comrades was worth the sacrifice because of the peace he has brought about. But Griffith chose to torture Guts and Casca by raping Casca in front of Guts, and that's why we hate him.


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    My main issue with sexual violence in fiction is two-fold. One, it's used very lazily, for easy angst rather than for any real reason.

    Secondly, a lot of times it feels very fetishy. You see this in RPG gaming circles too. In spite of the fact if you look it up, war rape (Note: an actual term) happens to men too and NOT rarely (LOOK at the modern day figures about the wars in Croatia), it's always a pretty girl who gets raped. Hmmm. Interesting that. :) People love to say 'realism' but 'realism' seems to be 'pretty girl gets raped'. It's rarely anyone else even /suggested/.


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    @dtta said in Sexual violence in fictional stories:

    My main issue with sexual violence in fiction is two-fold. One, it's used very lazily, for easy angst rather than for any real reason.

    I have a few thing to say about that. What do you mean by "used very lazily?" I ask this because there are so many words and terms that have been bastardized and pretty much lost its meaning (like "deconstruction"). I do not like (and try to avoid) to use words or language that have very loose meanings or can be interpreted in many ways so this is also why I ask what you mean by "lazy?"

    Do you mean of it could be replaced by something else with similar effect than it is lazy? If it is used as a shorthand to tell the audoence/readers something (like kneeling and clasping hands together is seen as prayer when the character should really be killing a goat or something for prayer)? Or if it adds nothing to the story?

    For my honest opinion, the idea of replacing something like sexual violence with something else to get the same result in the story I find absurd. If you start with censoring stuff like sexual violence, slavery, torture, genocide etc etc. Then where would you stop? Saying it needs to be replaced by something else means you are saying that it adds something to the story.

    Sexual violence as a shorthand can be done really really badly, just look as SAO for that, but it can be done well too. In Goblin Slayer the first chapter has the most sexual violence and it tells us everything we need to know about the world and about the goblins and is toned down for the remainder of the series (or feels toned down).

    Sexual violence that adds nothing? I do not really have anything to defend this. If it adds nothing to the story then it can be taken away with no change, heck maybe a good change if it detracts from the story (witch I believe you have to look really hard to find that or the story is just really awful to begin with).


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    @dtta I can think of at least one series as an example where it isn't necessarily just pretty girls that get raped. It was even a license suggestion, Kaifuku Jutsushi Yarinaoshi (Redo of Healer).

    I don't think that realism necessarily has to do with appearance so much. In anime and LNs, almost any important character has good appearance, even nobility. Even in Berserk, the important characters look good. That is just how things are portrayed.

    If you think about history, it is the same way. Nobility, no matter how horrible they looked, went out of their way to make sure that they were portrayed the way that they desired.

    Basically, realism depends on the world, in my opinion. If the world favors raping only men, then that is 'realistic' for that world. If the world favors raping only women, that is also that world's 'realistic' value. If there is no rape, same thing.

    In other words, I believe that consistency is really what 'Realism' is about. If the series is based in our world, then we would use our world's values to define 'realistic', but that is only if the series is in a world based on ours.

    Personally, I don't think that sexual violence in fiction is used very lazily as easy angst. I think that certain works of fiction uses sexual violence in a very lazy manner or as easy angst. That is like my generalization of humans are evil and horrible people that shouldn't be born in the first place. CERTAIN humans are evil, horrible, or murder others for fun.

    Redo of Healer, as an example, is very heavy on the sexual violence, but the story would change greatly without the sexual violence. It actually does talk about why the rape exists in the first place and it isn't just a 'oh hey, this is the backstory'. The MC is consistently involved and it is often mentioned that the MC's personality has been twisted by his past (including the events of the series) as well as many of those he meets.

    While I can't say that it is the most pleasant series to read (again, very heavy on the sexual violence and not exactly something most people would enjoy), I don't think that the violence is used lazily. As far as the fetishy part, it has men, women, and more being raped and tortured. And not necessarily beautiful characters (well, that part might depend on how you think about it

    ).

    If we are talking about our world, rape happens to both men and women. Both are under-reported due to how people think, but both values are rather high. If you include non-rape sexual violence, the number gets even higher for both genders. That isn't even including other gender identities.


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    Nah. I mean the typical 'Oh yeah, it's a war, they totally should rape the woman, that's REALISTIC!' you see quite often in various circles. You never see comments like that about it, and war rape - rape of combatants - is /really/ common, I'm not even talking about societal rape. And no, "In this world, female rape happens and male rape doesn't!" isn't an excuse. It's an authorial choice to emphasize one over the other, it's not like these worlds are 'real'. It's often fetishism, nothing more.

    And eh, we'll have to agree to disagree. Rape is often used lazily to laden down characters with angst for little reason, or as an easy 'out' for various plot points. There's a reason it's a meme in fanfic circles, but non-fanfic does it quite often too. I do note that it can be used correctly, but it's fairly rare due to various issues.

    I'm not even going to discuss Redo of Healer, as frankly, I have nothing positive to say about that work and I'd rather not piss people off. :)


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    @dtta I've literally seen stories built around one or the other (take JK Haru as an example. Male dominant society where it is acceptable for men to rape women, but where it is not acceptable for women to fight back or really do anything without a man to the point that even the women think that way (which is somewhat accurate if you look at certain cultures). Just like there are cultures where both sides are mistreated about equally, you have cultures where one may be mistreated more than the other.

    I think the issue is that a lot of authors are lazy whether or not they include rape and sexual violence and it just happens that it is especially noticeable when they end up using sexual violence.

    I've had quite a few clients complain about how their previous writer/ghostwriter was super lazy and did a horrible job, so I do have a reason for saying that.


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    @sinnoaria like how female drow can pretty do whatever they want to male drow. If you are a matron mother you can take one male as a concubine to have sex and get children from and just toss him aside for another male to do the same.


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    @sinnoaria said in Sexual violence in fictional stories:

    I think the issue is that a lot of authors are lazy whether or not they include rape and sexual violence and it just happens that it is especially noticeable when they end up using sexual violence.

    I think that is really what it comes down to. As it has been said, sexual violence is a tool for crafting fiction. It's a potentially powerful tool, but because it can be used for some easy, quick setups, lazy writers will reach for it without thinking if it really is the right tool for the job, or what will need to be used with it, and the resulting creation is weaker or uglier for it.

    (I'd argue the same can be said of using slavery in fiction. And also mind control, another "free will override" trope that I think also gets used lazily and I particularly dislike when used as such...)