If you’re on social media–Twitter and tumblr in particular–you’ve probably seen the term “monsterfucking” recently. Most likely in reference to the new movie VENOM, but perhaps regarding other forms of media as well. The rise in public acknowledgement of interest in “monsterfucking” is an interesting phenomenon, and one that I particularly enjoy, because I think it’s fun to think about.
Today, for an exciting and different type of Writer Wednesday post, author Daria Defore is here to talk about this recent rise in public acknowledgement and the reasons why. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did!
2018 is finally the year of the monster.
It’s something that’s been coming a long time: not the spark of attraction to monstrous characters, but the mainstream acknowledgement of it. When The Shape of Water was released in 2017, there was a proliferation of articles about how women were actually attracted to this fishman. This wasn’t a sexy vampire situation (still looks human, a-ok) or even a sexy evil situation (he might eat cats, but he’s very kind!). The dude was a straight-up fish, and for some of us, that was Exciting.
The Shape of Water set the stage for monsterfucking to hit Peak Awareness with the release of Sony’s Venom movie. Amanda Brennan of Tumblr’s Fandometrics team confirmed to Syfy that the Venom/Eddie ship, a queer ship in which one participant is a murder alien made of goo, was dominating discussions on the site.
The conversation is louder than before, grosser than before, and yet somehow shamelessly romantic. It’s also unsurprising, because monsters have been the subject of subversive attraction all along.
Freedom from judgment
When it comes to queer folks, fiction hasn’t been shy about drawing parallels to monsters. Sometimes, as in the proto-vampire story Carmilla, the real monster is lesbianism killing your daughter.
And sometimes monsters simply function as a relatable analog. Similar to how queer kids can grow up identifying with villains due to queer-coding, we can identify with monsters who are misunderstood and outcast. Monsters who seek love, but are rejected by their disgusted suitors.
For some, the attraction goes deeper than empathy to a fellow outcast. Monsters are allowed to model inhuman behaviors. As comic artist Keezy Young jokes, “They’re not gonna have a nine-to-five job and want to talk about retirement plans and stuff like that.”
Monsters are exciting and attractive because they don’t share our ideals — and they allow us to imagine new ideals for ourselves.
“I often find myself questioning humanity, what I’m doing with my life, the choices I’ve made and what-if scenarios that test the image I’ve created of myself for myself,” says Brooklyn Ray, author of the Port Lewis Witches books. For them, part of the attraction lies in giving a monster or creature access to a part of themself that’s been kept private. “It changes the dynamic of how I see myself and how far I’m willing to push myself as I continuously search for humanity or acceptance.”
The safety of monsters
It might sound like a paradox, but a common thread in monster-fucking fantasies may be how safe they are, while also being extremely subversive.
A monster’s strength gives it the potential to hurt us, but also the potential to protect us. The tension between the two is absolutely delicious. Venom is perhaps the purest example of this dynamic, and that’s the only time I’ll say Venom is pure. The symbiote is out there biting off heads and generally posing a chaotic evil threat to every other human — but it would do anything to protect Eddie from harm. There’s a delightful danger in being chosen for love by something that could rip us to shreds.
But danger is also a factor in relationships between humans, in ways that go beyond the bad boy trope. Here, monster attraction evades some of the associations we might make upon reading a human relationship with the same power dynamic.
“It’s a fantasy about something “wrong,” sinful, or taboo that doesn’t have to engage with as much actual social baggage […] because it’s not a thing that can actually happen,” says author Austin Chant. “People have strong reactions to it because it’s shocking and not considered acceptable sexuality but it’s like, objectively, not real”
For many, sexual fantasies carry an element of shame — not just because people are taught to fear sex itself, but because we have fantasies that we can’t control, which aren’t appropriate or even explicable. Monster attraction is totally divorced from human morality. And so, some people might find it a safe, guilt-free proving ground for fantasies that revolve around power dynamics and danger.
Let our attraction be monstrous
Monster attraction also shreds beauty ideals.
“It’s partially the power dynamic of being with something supernaturally extra,” says Austin. “Extra strong, extra mean, extra big, extra magic — but also about flipping the bird to a conventional idea of who and what is attractive and deserving love.”
Keezy Young agrees: “There’s less inherent judgment there, for any of your traits that your culture has decided are bad things.”
In other words, with monsters there’s an absolute freedom to be yourself. I think it’s tempting then, to see monsters as a stepping stone. When we can accept that another human will love us, flaws and all, will we still need to be loved by monsters?
I think we will. Aside from all the serious metaphors of queer acceptance and freedom from society, there’s another important point: monsterfucking is fun.
“So what, monsters are hot, send me to hell!!! I’ll be Satan’s boyfriend!!!” says Austin.
When I was writing my novella A Spell For Luck, I found myself laughing and shrieking in disbelief at the sexy filth that was coming from my mind. It was enjoyable to write in a playground that had no damn rules until I made them.
A classic challenge for sex scenes is keeping track of the characters’ hands. Who is touching who where, and when did they start that nonsense? In A Spell For Luck I threw it all out the window. If my demon had one tongue busy, that didn’t stop him from growing another one.
Yes, in retrospect, this just meant I had more limbs to keep track of. But it was also a venue for physical comedy I hadn’t ever considered. And it was just plain good for my brain. It helped me find joy in writing a sex scene – an act which usually has me grimacing and typing aggressively fast while not looking at the screen.
Monsters are free from all of our baggage, all the worries that keep us prisoner. They allow us a chance to empathize with the outsider, ditch conventional beauty standards, and feel the thrill of a dangerous act in a safe, totally imaginary space. These are just some of the reasons we find them attractive. They can be fun, and funny, and weirdly hot.
And as Keezy Young points out, “Also, I like that some monsters are big.”
Daria Defore has been writing ever since she was a kid, and vividly remembers that her first story was about getting a pet dinosaur from Santa Claus. Now she writes filthy romance instead.
Daria’s books are about losers doing the best they can. Her style is conversational and funny, and her writing inspirations range from Agatha Christie to Ernest Hemingway. She brings a love of place to her stories, and always strives to evoke a strong setting.
She has a fondness for history and mystery, and you’ll find elements of both in her work. Her work is often set in her home of the Pacific Northwest, as well as her adopted home of New York City.
By day, she’s a video producer and hosts two podcasts on tech and video games. She loves reading, cups of coffee in multiples of ten, and being bullied to write more.
You can find her on Twitter @dariadefore and at Facebook.com/dariadefore.
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