March 23, 2015

Talking Shop: Tentacles, Furries, Rape Fantasy ~ Taboo Sexual Fantasy

It's an exciting time to talk about sexual identity and lifestyle. Especially with the ever-increasing number of social media and special interest sites, many, many more people are finding a place to explore and learn more about their own sexual identities, and others who share them.


What's the difference between a hentai schoolgirl and a Catholic schoolgirl?


Even with this advent of increasing sexual identity awareness, though, there are still some areas of sexual fantasy and interest that get the side-eye from others. As an erotic author, this creates an opportunity: I'm a huge fan of exploration of these 'taboo' sexual fantasy realms, and the underlying allure that makes them attractive--and hopefully, more accessible to the mainstream.


Why are these taboos rich for an author's exploration? Much like the 'taboos' of yesteryear -- gay romance, polyamory, and BDSM -- these fantasies appeal to many but may only be expressed out loud by some...but when you break it down, the appeal isn't that hard to understand. As authors, perhaps we can find ways to turn this appeal into some terrific, enjoyable stories.



Part of the hentai brand of pornography, tentacle erotica seems to still get a bad rap when it comes to sexual fantasy. It's likely this goes towards the implications of bestiality. This, perhaps, stems from the earliest (at least, to my knowledge) depiction of tentacle porn, which is The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, a Japanese woodcut print from 1814:


The piece is clearly a rendition of zoophilia. However it is also, admittedly, highly erotic, from an artistic standpoint. If we look past the literal octopi involved in the sex act, we should at least be able to admit the image of twining, grasping limbs all over the female body is undoubtedly sensual, as is the implication of multiple penetration and stimulation of multiple erogenous zones.


Again, though, the Dream of the Fisherman's Wife literally depicts an act of bestiality, and so the aversion felt by many people can be well understood.  Looking at the evolution of tentacle erotica, from Japanese hentai into contemporary erotic fiction, one finds literal octopi are no longer the crux of the fantasy. Classic sources of tentacle penetration in this genre now include supernatural demons, anthropomorphic humanoids, machines, or amorphous creations (either sentient creatures or non-sentient objects).


Let's break these down. Supernatural demons are popular enough in other forms: the stories of Kresley Cole and other paranormal romance authors. Sometimes these demons have non-traditional anatomy, though quite often not too far from traditional. So what's the difference when the demon has tentacle anatomy? Sex machines are actual sex toys used by many, and the inclusion of multiple penetration appendages doesn't change the nature of these as toys. Amorphous creations can either be considered anthropomorphs (we'll discuss these next), or non-sentient sex toys. Again, what you're essentially imagining in this case can be boiled down to a sex doll with multiple dildo penetrators. So while the trappings of these tentacles may differ, when you break them down they're not really unthinkable, and they don't inherently translate to bestiality.


But why is tentacle porn sexually interesting? Going back to the Dream of the Fisherman's Wife and it's legitimate eroticism, there's something very appealing about sinuous, sensual stimulation across multiple parts of the body: consider the pleasure of a feather tickled along the skin, or corded/braided leather. Think of a tightly gripping appendages, and--perhaps the most attractive fantasy--the multiple penetration. Tentacle erotica by its very nature melds lots of physical sensation (which can be either gentle or rough), the sexual indulgence of group sex, and the allure of something otherworldly and forbidden. It's what I like to think of as "greedy satisfaction"--the erotic desire for more. are authors in the erotic field interested in bringing more tentacle erotica to readers. I first became interested in writing on the subject thanks to authors like Remittance Girl and Nobilis Reed, the latter of which has put out his own volume of tentacle-themed erotica, as well as edited an anthology with Coming Together: Arm in Arm in Arm. Inspired by these two and their contemporaries, I've also written a short story, now published, called Bad Dreams. Part of my Blood and Fire series, it melds the tentacle theme with the supernatural, and to be very honest, I'm quite proud, and very excited that my regular publisher took a chance on signing it.





This XKCD comic really captures my personal feelings on furries (besides the fact I don't think the fetish is really weird as hell). Furries have long been the target of accusations of bestiality and zoophilia fetish, which are some pretty serious and very cruel accusations.


Generally more popular in webcomic, art, and special interest gatherings, furries are individuals who find an attraction (not always exclusively sexual) in the concept anthropomorphic (part-animal) humanoids.


NOT a depiction of zoophilia;
but clearly the tiger adds to her allure.

First of all, our society in general does find animals--or animal features--attractive. Consider all the artwork surrounding beautiful animals; consider all the clothing and fashion that includes fur (faux fur, I would hope, but of course real fur is still quite in demand), snakeskin, leather; look at pin-up art and flat-out "girly" skin pics that include a woman in close proximity--sometimes even holding, embracing, or otherwise interacting with--and animal. Common "sexy" animal elements include snakes, big cats, fantastical creatures like dragons and griffins, etc. We simply cannot say we don't consider animals or animal themes to be sexy.


Jay Naylor. I don't always agree
with him, but damn does he
draw some sexy furries.

Furries simply embrace that sexiness in a similar--but more overt--way. Furries admit the attraction behind the idea of anthropomorphism: humans with animal features, sometimes to the point of being half-animal. However, there is always an important human element in these anthropomorphs; it isn't the same if you remove that human element. Paranormal authors are seeing a rise in the popularity of "shifter" romance (including people who turn into animals), and the shifters often display characteristics of their animal "forms"...which is, in my mind, no different.


There's animal behavior involved in the fantasy of furries, and this strikes others as very strange. Again, however, break it down: furries enjoy things like nuzzling, cuddling, nibbling, stroking, and making animal sounds. These are all things that other couples do, only usually they are exclusively related to intimate or sexual moments, whereas furries may display them more openly. Furthermore, I'm not sure anyone would really have a problem with a person nuzzling or mewing at their significant other in public, except that in the case of furries, it is openly associated with animal behavior.


(Before anyone points out the "weirdness" of the terms used by furries, such as "yiffing", really... who the hell cares what they call it?)


I've head it said that Disney's Beast
is one of the earliest animated crushes
girls have. I know I loved him.
Art by J. Scott Campbell

Quite honestly, I find the 'taboo' of furry fantasy to be extremely hypocritical. It's an interest in behavior, fashion, and creative expression that would easily be deemed acceptable if only it didn't admit to be based in the attraction and allure of non-human creatures. But give it some serious thought and you'll find furries aren't advocating the sexual abuse of animals: they simply admit to the beauty and often sensual nature of an animal side. I'm not personally a furry, but as long as society is quietly celebrating this same appreciation for animal beauty in their choice of clothing, creative art, body art, even sexual play and sometimes deep spiritualism (have you ever thought of any animal as your 'spirit animal'?), I can't see any reason to find fault in a lifestyle that simply admits this appreciation openly.


As an author, the allure of anthropomorphic characters and bestial behavior translates very well into fantasy and paranormal stories. One thing I'd personally like to see more of, though, are contemporary stories of actual members of the furry lifestyle, and the ways in which their intimacies relate to very natural ideals of creativity and beauty. I for one know I've got a furry story in me somewhere...I simply haven't found it yet.


Rape Fantasy

I am going to begin this section of the post with a trigger warning: this part will contain discussion of fantasies some may consider violent and traumatic. This is not a legitimization of rape or an advocate position for rape in any way. Here, we will discuss only consensual acts of role-play. However, if you have a real-life experience relating to rape trauma, you may want to skip this section.


That being said, let's discuss the appeal of rape fantasy.



This is a subject that even came up on that rather famous show about sexual lifestyle: Sex and the City. Samantha--perhaps the most sexually adventurous of the main characters--explored rape fantasy with her long-term lover, Jared Smith. Legitimately, this led to discussion between the show's fab four over whether fantasizing rape was acceptable.


I've listened to a few podcasters discuss the subject of rape fantasy, and wasn't surprised to hear the attractiveness of the fantasy broken down into a matter of power play. Rape fantasy is not an act of non-consent; in fact, I was recently told there is a term emerging for it: "consensual non-consent". Although in some ways it may be associated with BDSM or bondage, I think rape fantasy can be found even in more "vanilla" circles. At it's core, it's a sexual arousal arising from the fantasy of irresistible desire.



Most, if not all, rape and trauma counselors will tell you real rape is not about sex, but about power and control, which a rapist must seize through victimizing another, not necessarily through "getting off" from sex. Rape fantasy also has an element of power play, but it is definitely exclusively about sexual play, not victimization.


What's the appeal? I think rape fantasy simply takes more outwardly acceptable sexual fantasies such as the desire for domination and submission, and introduces a role-play element of anonymity and sexual "wildness". At it's core, the fantasy here is that someone finds you so irresistible they must have you, going to perhaps the greatest extreme to do so. There's an arousal behind the idea of a partner giving over to their basest nature, driven to using force, thinking only of the need to fuck you. The truth is, in order for this to be rape fantasy, your consent is first honestly stated to your partner: it's only in the role-play that sex is "taken" without regard for consent.


As an author, rape fantasy can be thorny. It's difficult to communicate that the acts depicted are actually genuinely consensual, without sacrificing a sense of your characters being "in the moment". This doesn't mean it's impossible, however. It's a subject one must approach carefully, however, and importantly, an author really must convey the essential details which make this fantasy, and not real assault and victimization. It's a thorny side of sexuality, for sure...but it is a very real fetish, and a greater understanding should definitely be sought.


Representing Taboo 

Let's be frank: taboo in and of itself is sexually arousing. It could be that every sexual fantasy out there has at least some element to it of "wickedness" and the forbidden. Much of what is considered mainstream now was, in the beginning, very taboo. Heck, women's ankles were once taboo. Exploration, experience and honest consideration have shown that what we might have considered "off the table" in terms of erotica or sexual discussion are actually harmless and genuine sexual interests, which may give the fantasizer a very real form of pleasure.


So what if these interests don't appeal to everyone? They don't have to. I don't advocate everyone go find a hentai site and make tentacle porn a regular part of your sex life. But, as with the other taboos we've allowed ourselves to explore, it's time to start investigating the roots of these fantasies and realizing they aren't signs of perversion or freakishness. They have very real origins which most people should be able to identify with, even if they don't share them in the same ways.


I'm always looking for new areas of sexuality to explore in my fiction, and the lesser-understood fantasy and lifestyles often prove rich with things to say. My hope is that other authors begin to see the opportunities in exploring these new areas more often, and start bringing out the legitimate sexuality behind the expressions.



  1. Really well-rounded and interesting post! Thanks for it.

  2. I enjoyed the post, and I think you go a long way to showing how un-strange many strange seeming kinks can be - essentially magnifying and re-emphasizing aspects of our much more mundane sensuality and sexualities.

    That said, I think there is something missing from the non-consent discussion. While I agree that 'consensual con-consent' is often the way RL rape-fantasies and scenes play out, in fiction it can be, and I would argue is more often quite different. In fictional rape fantasy, quite often, reluctance, and outright straight up non-consent is the point. There is no wink to the side that it's ok for both parties. Non-con fiction explores that darker side. Where a character is truly not going to take no, or another character has absolutely no power to stop what is happening. These stories enjoy tremendous popularity, and broad condemnation at the same time.

  3. A good point, aspect of the fictional genre I might have to look into and learn more about. In creating the post I focused on the translation of RL fantasy into erotic fiction, but I appreciate the reminder there is a whole side of rape fantasy in fiction that departs from that. I may have to look deeper into some of these stories, and the fantasy they satisfy among their readership. Perhaps I can write a future post on it!


What do you think?