By Champagne and Benzedrine

We sex bloggers might think we’re an uninhibited bunch; but it’s a lie. We all self-censor ourselves, just in case one reader takes ‘offense’ at something we say, or accuses us of being ‘insensitive’ regarding another.

We hide behind the supposed anonymity of our Internet pseudonyms (my driver’s license doesn’t say ‘Champagne and Benzedrine’ in real life, for example) but end up defending the reputation of our online identities almost as vehemently as our real ones.

It’s only when you step beyond this virtual society we’ve manufactured for ourselves that we’re able to peer into the uncensored abyss of the human imagination; and it’s a pretty scary place to be.

I discovered that research online erotica. The Internet has allowed the posting and proliferation of sexually-explicit stories on a scale previously unheard of and it’s like a window into a world we might not want to admit exists.

The Alt.Sex.Stories Text Repository is probably the best known story site on the ‘net, and has over 1,000 authors contributing to it. That adds up to a collection of stories that run every gamut of sexual perversity you can think of.

And not all of that diversity is good.

Take stories involving underage characters, for example. That’s probably one of the most shocking, offensive and morally reprehensible aspects of human sexuality to pander to – yet the Internet is replete with stories about adults having sex with minors.

And while the proliferation of child pornography, or even images depicting underage characters in sexual situations, is thankfully illegal, the First Amendment actually protects the written word. Authors who write stories about the abuse of minors cannot be prosecuted for it (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition.)

The fact that erotic fiction archives feature so many stories about underage characters – written by both men and women – is terrifying. It suggests that there are pedophiles lurking behind the visage of even our most respectable friends and neighbors. It’s enough to make parents like myself vow to lock up our kids until they’re thirty-eight!

Another incredibly popular niche of anonymous erotica is the non-consensual genre; stories involving rape, torture, abuse and worse. Some of these stories are ‘bodice rippers’ or ‘forced seduction’ stories – no worse than you’d find in Mills and Boon. Others, however, run the gamet from disturbing to downright scary.

One of the strangest things about the popularity of non-consensual stories is the fact that a disproportionate number of them seem to be written by women. Ever since Nancy Friday chronicled women’s sexual fantasies back in the seventies, it’s been no secret that rape fantasies are popular – but some of the stories written anonymously by women are just downright disturbing. One involved a woman fantasizing about being shipwrecked on an island and then being first raped, then slowly spit-roasted and devoured by the natives.

Another female writer admitted: “I find the idea of being murdered so that someone can dine on the flesh of my inner thighs exciting.” She explained the appeal thus: “First, objectification; being treated as or made into something less than fully human (i.e. dead, lower in the food chain, used by others regardless of my consent/safety). Second, being appreciated; serving the appetites of others, literally.”

Other popular genres that are considered taboo include bestiality – which, again, seems to have a disproportionately high number of female authors. The most popular single genre for erotica – which seems to even outnumber ‘straight’ sex stories – involve incest and consensual sex between family members. ‘Mind Control’ stories are classified separately to non-consensual ones (which I find ironic, as both involve rape) and are largely written by male authors, in stark contrast to the more physically violent non-consensual tales written by women.

One of the most popular story collections on the Internet – The Kristen Archives – even has a section devoted specifically to ‘Putrid Stories’ which, she warns, are “nasty, horrible and disgusting.”

What’s disturbing to me is not so much that these stories are legal to post and read on the Internet – I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment and can happily tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

No, what really disturbs me is what it means. The popularity of these story begs the question: Just how many regular people are out there with these terrible things going on inside their imagination?

How many think these things, without necessarily writing about them?

They might watch porn, or talk dirty to their partners, but inside the secret compartment inside their head – where nobody else can ever catch you – is it this sick shit that’s getting them off?

But then again, perhaps the legal precedents inspired by the First Amendment should offer me some consolation. If the Internet’s proven that thousands, if not millions of Americans have utterly depraved imaginations, at least their dark desires never leave the confines of their brains (or, if they do, spill no further than a .doc file on a story archive.)

Some people argue that writing such stories is actually cathartic – the process of pouring them out actually helps keep those desires in check. It’s the people who keep such cravings bottled up that became the Jeffery Dahmers and Ted Bundys of our world – turning their sick fantasies into bloody realities.

That concept even became a successful legal defense back in 2003, when Ohio resident Brian Dalton’s 11-year-sentence was overturned in 2003. He’d been arrested and charged after his private diary was discovered, which chronicled a disgusting litany of sexual fantasies involving the abuse of children. However, the Ohio Appeals Court overturned that conviction, stating that despite having and writing about committing these acts, he’d never actually done so.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Raymond Vasvari, in his defence, argued: “However disturbing his ideas, in America, every person is entitled to record his thoughts without the fear of prison.”

So how do you feel about that?

I’m not sure. I’m stuck between my liberal beliefs and commitment to free speech and the parts of my mind that just think it’s wrong.

Ultimately, if my forays into Internet erotica have taught me anything, it’s that the human imagination is a much darker and scarier place then I’d ever thought possible – and that the next time you ask somebody ‘what turns you on?’ you’d probably be better off if they didn’t tell you the truth.

  • Elena

    I believe writting is a good way to be released from the thoughts in our head and as crazy and scary it is to read what’s in others dark corners of their minds I don’t think it should be censored. After all is just fiction in the end. It’s not hurting anyone and it is feeding the writers need to let go of a thought, a fantasy.

  • Sarahbear

    While I agree that some of these things are quite disturbing, I don’t see any sort of a difference in someone writing about sex and someone writing about violence. There is some very disturbing and violent shit written into books and made into movies and we eat it up without a second though. When people write about sex or put it into movies and it begins to venture out of our comfort zone people start talking about what a sicko the person who came up with it must be.

    I agree with the courts who over-turned that verdict you wrote about. We can’t have a thought police. People should be allowed to think whatever they want to think and write about those things if they so choose. There are no victims in that situation. All the characters are fictional so no one is getting hurt, even if it makes someone uncomfortable to read it. Just because someone fantasizes about something like incest, beastiality or having sex with minors doesn’t mean they will act on those fantasies. There are even safe ways for them to live out those fantasies like role playing and toys. As long as there is no real victim I don’t believe there’s anything to be concerned about.

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  • Rockin' with a Cock in

    Well, this was a fun article to read while trying to finish my breakfast. ;)

    You’re out on a limb here: “The fact that erotic fiction archives feature so many stories about underage characters – written by both men and women – is terrifying. It suggests that there are pedophiles lurking behind the visage of even our most respectable friends and neighbors.”

    I don’t think it suggests that at all. I think it suggests that these people really do enjoy thinking about these scenarios you deem “sick,” and that’s it. These people probably understand the difference between fantasy and reality, that their actions can incur consequences, and that other people deserve respect.

    Sarahbear brings up a good analog with violence in writing. I feel like we’ve just become jaded to violence, but that certain sex/sexual situations still prickle many of us.

    Nice article.

  • Champagne and Benzedrine

    Hey guys! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    I think you both made exceptionally valid points. I love what Sarahbear wrote about the hypocrisy of violence – I have always found it disturbing that you can show explicit violence on TV in the daytime, but a bare nipple at midnight is verboten (oh, it will warp the kiddies.)

    In my mind, violence is ALWAYS worst than sex. Sex is a positive thing generally – violence never is.

    And mMy general take on the whole thing is that censorship is bad – and so I defend the right to post stories that squick me out on places like asstr.org.

    But it also troubles me.

    I mean, what if you stumbled over the stories somebody you knew had written and they involved minors, or violent rape? Would that change the way you thought about them? Not to suggest they’d ever act out these fantasies – but acknowledging that this is what turned them on.

    Same thing with the girl I quoted. As she’s lying in bed, masturbating, she’s dreaming up elaborate mental fantasies in which she’s literally eaten alive.

    I think what challenged me was the underage thing. The internet is replete with stories (some of they story codes of which suggest they’d be deeply, deeply loathesome.) It makes me realize that there are scores of people wandering about who have fantasies like that – and it disturbs me.

  • PapaTomLA

    Interesting points. My world is slightly different – a lot of what I write involves consensual BDSM between adults. In real life it is exciting and enjoyable to a lot of people and what I write reflects real life, so I kind of worry about those who would say “this is bad, I dont like it, and therefore the person who wrote it must be a real sicko” Granted that you were describing acts that are illegal and rightfully so, still I worry about being tarred with the same brush. There is enough pressure for censorship on the internet…

    Your comments about these things being written by women resonate – I have long thought that women have far dirtier minds than men give them credit for (Many of my co-authors on BDSM are women). They’re also often far better writers as well, so where a man’s story might be raw and barely literate, most women, if they post at all, produce a piece that is at least interesting to read, regardless of how taboo the subject.

    Anyway, thanks for a thought-provoking post. I’m not sure if we self-censor out of a sense of political correctness or because we think it will make a better post – ranting or edge kind of posts usually get more flames back than more carefully reasoned ones. In my experience, anyway.

  • Kristi

    It’s perfectly fine to be disgusted or sickened by what you feel are inappropriate fantasies. We all have our limits. What’s not fine is telling people they can’t think, get turned on over, or write about those fantasies. Or to make writing such things illegal. I find *that* concept terrifying. Don’t like what you’re reading? Don’t read it. Simple as that.

    The quote you used says it all: “However disturbing his ideas, in America, every person is entitled to record his thoughts without the fear of prison.”

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  • jewel

    Just because as a society we cannot punish thoughts does not mean that we have to give the thoughts of others that we find offensive voice.

    Sites that choose to be all inclusive don;t have to. And if offended enough we could withdraw support from those that do.

    I admit toliking the giving up all control and responsibility apeak of for example the on-consent genre. I have no ill will for those who perhaps because of real life horroific experience with such find myinterest in that disturbing.

    We don’t have to read or share each others diaries.

  • Airen

    I am one of those sick, perverted women who enjoys rape fantasy and mind control fantasy. Do I want to be raped? Hell the fuck no, do I find it sexy when I hear about someone who was raped? Again hell the fuck no. What I find is the FANTASY arousing…and in my fantasies no one is ever seriously hurt or psychologically tormented by the act. It IS fantasy. Even the most horrific story is just words on a piece of paper or computer screen. We are entitled to our thoughts and to share those thoughts no matter who they might disturb. What we are NOT entitled to is to act out those thoughts…and for the most part only a very few sick individuals actually want the fantasy to be acted out. It may seem like pedophiles, rapists and victims abound when looking at the archives but in reality that is like looking at someone’s back yard and assuming they have dozens of dogs based on the evidence left behind! When the tiny chihuahua comes bouncing out the door perceptions change.
    Writing about fantasies doesn’t mean you are trying to “let out the steam” to prevent acting them out…sometmes it is the very fact that a story or fantasy is shocking that makes it get us off. I have never and would never want to subjugate another human to my perverted will but fantasizing about it is amazing…roleplaying it asfely, sanely and with full consent is also amazing. Writing about hard core fetish doesn’t make me an abuser, and meeting me you wouldn’t know that these thoughts occur to me. It also doesn’t make me a monster…I’m just human.

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