Rape Culture at Otakon
(Generic trigger warning regarding the discussion of rape… obviously.)
So, as I’ve been saying on Twitter continuously, I’m in Baltimore, having loads of exciting sex and doing geeky shit at Otakon, which is pretty cool. I was especially excited about the adult content that you could get into with an 18+ wristband, because some of it sounded really interesting, such as the Voice Actors After Dark panel. The other “adult” activity I hit up tonight was called something like “Beyond the Tentacle: Japanese Fetishes,” and was a fan-sponsored panel that was supposed to take a humorous look into other fetishes in Japanese culture aside from tentacle porn.
Here’s the thing, you guys. I looooove me some tentacles. I want to try every tentacle dildo out there. I want to shove a jellyfish dildo in my cunt because JELLYFISH HAVE LITTLE TENTACLE-LOOKING WIGGLY BITS. I want an octopus tattooed on my body because that shit is seriously my spirit animal. I collect cephalopod and Cthulhu shit like it’s going out of style. So obviously, this presentation title was like the first one on the list that caught my eye.
Here’s the caveat: I don’t watch a lot of tentacle porn because a lot of it is really.. rape-y. And while I enjoy a degree of “force” in my bedroom, the idea of consensual nonconsent is a hard red for me. Rape fantasies are a no-go. And if you want to explore that with a willing, consenting partner (oh, you get it), that’s fantastic for you, but I have a personal problem with nonconsent and will not include it in my play – ever.
So after waiting in line for approximately half of my life (because apparently line-forming is an Olympic-quality sport at conventions), I got into this panel that I was beyond excited about, and the intro slide had some pictures of tentacle, bukkake, futanari, and furry porn. Cool! Let’s go! The rules were reviewed as the panel began, and aside from the basic rules, there was a “no judgment” rule (cool!) and, lastly, a rule that said, “And remember… there are no consentacles.” (…wat.)
I probably should have gotten up and left at that point.
Hey, it’s a comedy panel! This is a play on how tentacle porn is… unfortunately rape-y, right?
So here’s the thing. I bristled and let it go. BUT THEN IT KEPT COMING BACK. The fetish of consensual nonconsent wasn’t covered in the nine or ten fetishes that I stuck around for, but almost every other video scene shown to demonstrate a particular fetish ALSO HAPPENED TO INVOLVE RAPE.
YOU KNOW. AS NO BIG DEAL.
You guys couldn’t find any of these that didn’t involve the fetish in a nonconsensual scene? Are you kidding me?
My favorite scene was the video shown for the fetishism of anthropomorphic creatures (furries, mostly)…. which involved a woman being raped by a horse man. For which the guys running the panel conveniently provided a delightful reading of the subtitles that intentionally trivialized the rape for the sake of humor. (disclaimer: if you are incapable of picking up on it, this was my least favorite part.)
When the slide on tentacles came up, the fetish was labeled as “tentacle rape.” And I realize that shokushu goukan is generally regarded as “tentacle rape,” but I came for tentacles and beyond the tentacles, not the tentacle rape part. So I finally just got up and left, because I’d sat through about three or so rape scenes, covering my eyes and being more than mildly irked because of the inclusion of totally unnecessary nonconsensual scenes, the exclusion of ANY kind of trigger warning in any material pertaining to the presentation (in retrospect, “there are no consentacles” pretty much should have told me all I needed to know)… and then we finally got to the tentacles, and they were limited to being used in context as part of a rape scene. So I decided it wasn’t for me and left.
I’m not easily offended. I’m just more than mildly miffed that, while Otakon attempted to prevent some things that are generally considered unacceptable, the promotion of rape culture and the trivialization of rape was allowed… and without a trigger warning. Any fan of hentai knows that it’s much easier to find nonconsensual-looking hentai than obviously consensual hentai, and so I can accept that some level of that does go hand-in-hand with the topic being addressed.. but for god’s sake, at least put a trigger warning on your panel description or something.
I’m a little irked and contemplating writing an e-mail when my trip is over. And possibly starting a petition about the inclusion of trigger warnings, at the very least. I’m very fortunate that I don’t experience triggering. I sincerely hope no one in that audience had to. I felt like I was the only person in the room that wasn’t laughing my ass off. Am I being oversensitive?