As a heads up, this post discusses taboo erotica. It mentions and occasionally gives examples that briefly describe some content of taboo erotica and some common taboo kinks like incest play, nonconsent, and water sports. It also discusses being a survivor of trauma and having taboo fantasies, though not in detail.
I’ve been writing and publishing taboo erotica for over 15 years. My first erotica publication was a taboo story, and many of my other publications since then were also taboo erotica. Most of my solo collection is taboo erotica. It’s one of the things I am most well known for, as an erotica writer.
Some taboo erotica involves things that would be wrong if they happened in a real world context, where they would be things like abuse, violence, and exploitation of power positions. Some taboo erotica involves things that are culturally frowned upon. Some involves both. These are generally things that many people have fantasies about, and want to read fiction about (and often want to erotically engage with that fiction). Some folks also do these taboo things in the context of consensual BDSM, for a variety of reasons, and want to read stories about kinky folks like them, or stories that will feed their fantasy and erotic life.
When I think of taboo erotica, I generally break it into two categories that are mostly about authorial style: taboo fantasy stories and taboo BDSM stories. In my sense of them, both kinds of stories serve similar and overlapping audiences: people who are into reading about (and perhaps erotically engaging with) a particular taboo kink (e.g. incest play, water sports, humiliation, rape play, age play, mindfuck, blood sports). These two categories are not that markedly different from each other in content, but they serve these audiences in different ways, meet different needs.
In my personal definition, taboo fantasy erotica is fiction that depicts the taboo thing directly as if it’s occurring in the real world, and taboo BDSM erotica is fiction that depicts the taboo thing taking place within the context of consensual BDSM.
As a reader of taboo erotica, I generally prefer taboo BDSM erotica. It’s more accessible for me as a trauma survivor; I often find taboo fantasy erotica triggering in a more intense way. That’s why I am grateful to folks who write taboo fantasy erotica that label it clearly (the word taboo is a big clue, and its often on the cover), give content warnings, and write book descriptions that indicate that’s what it is. Because then I can choose to avoid things I’m not up for reading. And find things that I am interested in reading.
As a writer of taboo BDSM erotica, I endeavor to make sure readers have a sense of what they are getting, give content warnings, lead up to things in text to ensure readers know this is in the context of consensual BDSM, in general try to make my work accessible to survivor readers. That said, I know that folks who want queer Daddy play stories, for example, will perhaps read both my taboo BDSM Daddy stories and taboo fantasy Daddy stories, though many readers prefer one sort over the other.
I’ve had a number of readers complain about the effort I put in to make it absolutely clear that this is consensual BDSM, because it doesn’t really allow them let go and sink into the fantasy they want. And I’ve had readers thank me for writing their kinks in a way that framed them as consensual kink, because it made the stories safe for them to read. So yes, readers have preferences, but it’s important to note that both kinds of erotica are desired by readers.
One kind of taboo erotica is not better or more morally pure than the other. As I see it, taboo erotica authors are involved in connected projects. Our work helps readers get off to and otherwise engage with taboo fantasies. And different readers have different needs in that arena.
What I think is often missed in discussions of taboo fantasies, kinks, and erotica, is that some of the folks who read this kind of stuff, and/or practice consensual BDSM involving these kinds of fantasies and taboos, are folks who are targeted by the real life abusive versions of these things in life. When I teach kink classes for survivors, I inevitably get questions from rape survivors who have rape fantasies, for example. The folks I know who play with queer hating slurs in the context of BDSM are bashing survivors and folks who get targeted with these slurs in their daily life. These are the folks I think about when I’m writing taboo BDSM erotica…folks for whom these fantasies are intensely loaded, and resonate deeply. That’s not my whole audience, of course, but I do think that it’s an important thing to acknowledge, that part of what this kind of erotica can do is serve the erotic needs of survivors. (Ironically, the folks who think this kind of work is wrong or that we are terrible people for writing it often say they are protecting survivors.)
Writing and reading erotica is one of the safer and more accessible ways to explore and engage with emotionally loaded taboo fantasies, especially ones involving fantasies of abusive power and non-consent. These are very common fantasies in general and are also common fantasies for survivors. In my experience both personally and from speaking to other survivors, taboo erotica (and erotica in general) can be an important tool in reclaiming desire and sexuality after trauma. I care about trauma survivors being able to get those needs met.
I also care about trauma survivors who do not want to read such stories, for whatever reason. Which is why I think it’s so helpful when folks who write this material label it clearly, have book descriptions that are accurate, and use content warnings. These things can be invaluable for survivor readers, and also help readers in general find the books that contain the kinks they want to read.