The Appeal of Sadism in Fiction

Audiences vicariously engage in relationships through many sources of fiction, including those which are taboo, unsafe, or abusive in nature. It allows them to indulge in a way which poses no legitimate danger to one’s health, but just enough to give the thrill of being in an unbalanced, forbidden, but ultimately safe relationship.

It is not pure love and stable, open communication which is initially sought, but the knowledge that being devoted to such a partner is wholly unhealthy. To one who is not of such leanings, it may be entirely inexplicable. Seeking a dominating figure, and wanting to be acknowledged as subservient by them, to be overpowered, and to surrender control―it is both the liberation of responsibilities and the appeal of everything that is taboo. Yet this kind of conflict can be alluring, and darker fetishes are something one will often publicly chafe against, yet privately revel in.

Regarding BDSM, or other sorts of sexual lifestyles or relationships in reality, as long as it is between consenting adults, with prior terms of agreement and proper safewords, then it is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle. However, genuinely abusive relationships, without valid consent, are not by any means being condoned in this essay. I must reiterate that I refer only to those who seek out abusive treatment  purely within fiction, and that it must not impose a sense of real danger. If one was having real harm inflicted upon them, or was actually suffering from low self-esteem because of their partner, it immediately stops being harmless.

To those misguided fans, particularly the more naïve faction of readers, I appeal directly to you when I request a little application of common sense, next time you wish to play your favorite game. Know that you may pursue the sadist character as much as any other love interest, but their actions should not be considered acceptable in reality.

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