Yesterday I got one of those sketchy emails where it says they have a video of you jerking off to porn, and they’re going to send it to your contacts if you don’t give them money. I laughed. I never watch porn unless I’m doing research for my book series. The series has a lot of sex, and I think sex is gross, thus the need for research.
Mostly, I hate porn. I’m not anti-porn as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. I just acknowledge that it’s not for me. I had a few traumatic experiences with porn as a child, so it mostly triggers my PTSD. I didn’t even know I had been affected by it until I got a job doing voice-over for porn commercials, and I would leave the studio shaking. I prefer the work of Adam Sandler or the Vanderpump Rules kids. (Not for jerking off, perverts! Just for entertainment.)
When I started writing THE LUPANARIUM, the type of porn that I found most useful to my book was Hentai, also known as anime porn. I prefer Hentai because it doesn’t involve real people, therefore it is more palatable to my particular sensitivities. Plus, Hentai is mostly all about rape, and so is my book. My book is told from the perspective of two enslaved prostitutes in Ancient Rome whose sexual experiences are far from consensual, so watching porn that depicted rape was apropos to my research. In Hentai, there are tons of stories about girls getting sex trafficked, girls getting gang raped, girls getting molested by uncles, teachers, and so on. In these stories, the men give no thought to the humanity of those they abuse to their perverse and violent pleasure. In some of these stories the victim even starts to enjoy what’s happening to her because, as I say in the first chapter of my book, “The crowd needed the victim to like it in the end otherwise they couldn’t live with themselves.”
The sex scenes in my book were inspired by Hentai but also by modern human trafficking. The book might take place in a fictional past, but it intentionally should remind the reader that not much has changed. I consider my book more allegorical than historical because I’m commenting more on the present day than the past. One of my main comments about the world of my book and the world today is that we live in a rape culture.
Marshall University’s Women’s Center defines rape culture as, “… an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused….” If you don’t think we live in a rape culture, ask all your female friends if they’ve ever been sexually assaulted. I bet most of them have experienced some kind of sexual abuse in their lives. Then ask them if their perpetrators thought they did anything wrong or faced any repercussions. I doubt very many if any at all. I would argue that many sexual assailants don’t view their victims as victims because assaulting women is so normalized. A friend of mine was being raped and started to cry. Her assailant stopped, confused by her reaction, and then proceeded to get angry with her for making him feel like a rapist. This is rape culture. Another friend told me about numerous times in her life when a person she was making out with got angry when she didn’t want to go further than smooching. And ANOTHER friend told me that when she confessed to her lover that she didn’t want to have anal sex because she was forcibly sodomized when she was younger, her lover replied, “You can’t rape the willing.” WTF?! I literally could go on and on and on. Rape culture is when sexual boundaries aren’t respected in a normalized everyday way.
THE LUPANARIUM reveals rape culture from the survivor’s perspective, giving them a voice and commenting, critiquing, and even mocking what is happening. In this way, the sex acts depicted in my book aren’t pornographic entertainment for the people purchasing the services of the sex slaves, but an acknowledgment that what they are doing is an abuse of power.
Here’s a great article about rape culture by Lara Witt from “Wear Your Voice” magazine:
What do you think of me doing reviews of Hentai? I could call it: Adele Leigh’s Hentai Corner. Let me know in the comments. And sign up with my mailing list if you’re super excited to hear more from me.
Kisses and cuts,