Sexual violence in fictional stories
As it has been said, [anything can be] 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 tool for the job, or what will need to be used with it, and the resulting creation is weaker or uglier for it.
Seriously, though, it doesn't really matter what it is, if used poorly, the writing will suffer. Generally, when I start talking about a specific series as being 'good' or 'bad', I'm not talking about my personal taste, but about how well it is written, how much care they put into the story, etc.
Like how JK Haru, although not perfect, really takes advantage of the subject as compared to many other stories, completely immersing every event in the views of society (even showing how the viewpoint of society is a taught value, not one that people are born with).
Redo of Healer does take advantage of the subject matter, completely immersing the MC in the concept of revenge to the point that you want to hate the MC. It does it much more poorly than JK Haru, but still better than some other stories where the subject matter would have been just a tool to push the events along. I like that it shows us that the MC's views are twisted, but still logical and 'lawful' (as in he has a very strict code he follows).
Berserk takes advantage of the subject to show what certain characters are willing to do, as well as showing what the world is like.
Kite, Kite Liberator, Mezzo Forte, and Mezzo DSA (Note: two of these are 18+) also take advantage of the subject matter fairly well for being 18+ based (I believe Liberator and DSA weren't 18+).
Just like you have series that take advantage of their tools, you have many that do not.
You have many series that throw in a harem or fan service more for the sake of attracting people visually instead of as something that really matters.
Hell, I'd argue that MOST fan-service in anime are there more to attract audience members.
You have plenty of loli characters that are there more for the sake of having a loli character where the loli part is unnecessary and more to attract a certain niche of viewers.
You also have cases where the loli takes advantage of their size to do things that larger characters can't (and vice versa). As an example of loli's done right, take Dance in the Vampire Bund. The loli there has a legitimate reason for being a loli and is explained later in the story. There is a reason for the loli factor, but I won't spoil it.
Even rape and torture are often used more for the sake of attracting viewers than used for a reasonable purpose.
To me, if the whole purpose of using anything, including sexual violence, in the story is either as fan service or as a one-off plot device, it doesn't belong in the story. There are exceptions to the plot device part, but it especially annoys me when the plot device is practically a deus ex machina (unless it literally is).
I held off on this but as for sexual violence used for humour or to make a joke. I think it can be done, and done well. I think a good joke needs certain things to make you laugh. It needs some sort of contrast or change. Kind of like the expectation vs reality type of thing. Now for female on make rape, if the expectation is "Isn't it usually male on female" and it is supposed to be funny because it's female on male then it deserves any hate and anger it will get. As for a series that had sexual violence used for a joke, and done well, I think we just need to look at volume 5 of Konosuba.
@sinnoaria There is a really good examination of the first episode of Goblin Slayer and how the assault is handled differently between the anime and novel that illustrates you point.
You guys sure love these useless topics.
As far as I am concerned: If it's a fictional story, anything goes. Literally anything. Child abuse, rape, murder, torture, genocide, racism, emotional exploitation, psychological warfare, any sort of cruelty - and of course compassion or love - is acceptable in a story.
The question is: is this plot device being used by the author in a good way. To make a point, to make the reader think, to build up the foundation of the fantasy world the story is told in or simply to open a new branch in the story telling?
Or is it used in a bad way, to appeal to the existing fantasies of a niche group of people?
I say bad, because that is my opinion as to what constitutes a "bad way" here, but strictly speaking, both choices are equally valid. The thing is: No one forces you to continue to put up with it. If the story doesn't do it for you, you are free to stop at any point.
However, I've been surprised more than once here. Sometimes I've kept reading a book I thought was rather disappointing only to find that suddenly things that have irked me beautifully come together at a later point.
A story is in part what you make of it. If you feel uncomfortable reading a book, you should stop there for a second and reflect on that.
Why do you feel uncomfortable? What are your values that the book is violating? Maybe entertain the thought of imagining yourself in the different available perspectives in the situation at hand. A book can be much more than the story it tells, really. You just need to be open to imagination.
Of course, I have been left feeling utterly depressed more than once doing that. But I have also felt exhilarated, inspired. Sometimes it made me forge new moral values or even change existing ones. Fictional stories have in no small part contributed to my world views, simply by contemplating the actions of characters, their individual situations, circumstances and relationships.
In that sense, even a poorly written book can hold surprising value, which is why I rarely drop a novel series at all, and I can't remember ever stopping to read a book because of extreme content. If anything, I stop reading books if there is constant repetition.