Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

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2012 Archives > Jun 2012: Squicky?

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message 1: by Tegan (new)

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments So we're reading two books that deal with kink, particularly I believe, books that deal with BDSM rather than a predilection for shoes or something of that sort (Will be starting Daughter of Blood soon, just got it today from the library). And in the discussions its seemed to me that what we're into, what we're ok with, and what just weirds us out is affecting our enjoyment of the books.

So in that line - what are your squicks (think opposite of kink, turns you off, disgusts you), and do you think they affect how you react to what you read?

I know awareness of kink has changed how I read/watch things from when I was younger, case in point is the movie The Matrix. I totally didn't pick up on the fetish gear and content that is thrown in when I first saw it. Now I watch it and go "holy shit that's a lot of latex"

An example of how my lens for reading affects how I read sex scenes: I don't like rape, but at the same time I have no problem with brutal CONSENSUAL sex scenes, which I'm pretty sure in some cases has led me to be more ok with the possessive rough "crushing embrace/etc" that seems to be a common trope.

Also - how do you deal when squick is used with the intent of unsettling the reader?


message 2: by Shari (new)

Shari (sharislade) | 7 comments I don't think anything "squiks" me out in fiction as long as it is either A) well written or B) riveting. I often enjoy being unsettled (horror, scifi) and for awhile was really drawn to darker stuff. Exploration of all facets of the human condition appeals to me. I tend to read "lighter" these days but my "squick" meter is still set pretty low.

I think some readers (not all, and maybe not any here?) place themselves in the story. This can be problematic when the characters engage in the squick.

One book that nearly did me in was The End of Alice by A.M. Homes. It was both well written and riveting but I found the subject matter so personally abhorrent that I almost stopped reading. Almost.


message 3: by Tegan (new)

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments The stories that I've read that squicked me out the most were from a dirty little book called Master Han's Daughter... and the story that really got me was one inspired by people who are in abusive (mental and physical) relationships that are hidden behind the veneer of kink and BDSM vocabulary...

(Side note/warning/recommendation - Master Han's Daughter is a dirty, kinky erotica book, in contrast to it this month's VF reads are somewhat vanilla)


message 4: by Danielle The Book Huntress (last edited Jun 08, 2012 04:49PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 32 comments I have a very low squick-factor/kink tolerance. This book definitely took me out of my comfort zone.


message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 89 comments I generally don't get squicked out by much on it's own; it's all about context for me. Do I mind rape in fiction? Well, that depends - did the author write it well, does it have a bearing on the plot, is it conveyed through the meta-text that this is a terrible thing and the person who committed the rape did something awful? Then, sure, I'll read it and I might even like it. But if it feels like a lazy writer going for an easy scare, or that I've somehow been sucked into the author's personal fantasies, I'm not that into it. I probably won't be squicked, I just won't think it's very good and probably won't read another book by the same author.

Same thing with murder, torture, etc. Even really extreme things like child abuse - I don't mind stories where that's alluded to, though I don't really care to read any details of the abuse. I loved Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, and pretty much every main character is not someone you'd ever want to spend time with, not even to share a bus ride with them. But the story was still great, and I loved it.

Same thing with Kushiel's Dart. Even though Gunter & Waldemar only want to have vanilla sex with Phedre, it's still worse than what happens between her and a patron with whom she's negotiated and consented.


message 6: by Vicky (new)

Vicky (librovert) | 493 comments Mod
I have a high tolerance for anything that could be considered "squick-y."

However, I read first and foremost for story. To that end, I'm probably not going to read anything explicitly erotica, but I'm not going to run away from a squick-y situation when it arises in a novel.


message 7: by PointyEars42 (new)

PointyEars42 | 476 comments It's easier to identify your squick tolerances in the much-maligned halls of fan fiction. Ah, all those helpful warnings right up front, no need to waste hours reading and then having to ditch a book halfway through. I won't read any fanfic that warns for "non-con" because I think they should call it "rape", for example, but I might read a story that carries that “rape” warning if the summary indicates dark themes to the story as a whole. I heed chan warnings, but the older I get, the older the participants have to be to stay out of my squick zone anyway (although with Snarry I’ll read as low as Harry being 18 if its consensual). Almost every line I’ve ever drawn has been blurred by a fic that has used it meaningfully regardless of the squick factor.

With published fiction you take your chances. You think you’re picking up a spanky Indecent Proposal and it winds up being an abusive Twilight rip off. It happens. Most of us seem to agree that you really can't place a high enough price on "well written" or "contextual". Unsettling or not, pretty much anything goes as long as it has relevance. I’m sure we’ve all read something (Horror? Erotica? Romance?) where a taboo or kink or is thrown in for cheap titillation and falls flat. I recently read a novel whose sexual components were written skilfully enough that I read things well into my squick zone as easily as I read the stuff that did get me going because they fit the characters... but then I looked at the sexual components within the context of the larger story and lemmed the book for sheer stupidity. Well written and contextual please.


message 8: by Tangled (new)

Tangled  Speculation (TangledSpec) | 55 comments I'll agree that "well written and contextual" goes a long way with me. In general, adult-child and even adult-teen sex squicks me out. Also rape presented as erotic (not rough sex, but where one person says "no", struggles in earnest or is passed out, and it's clear that person isn't into it). To a lesser extent, I do not like to read sex scenes where one partner is insulting or contemptuous of the other. I understand that sometimes the author has such dark elements in the story for a purpose, and I can usually deal with it if it is not described in such detail as to give me nightmares or presented as acceptable sex (worse if it's supposed to be part of a HEA).


message 9: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Rachel wrote: "I generally don't get squicked out by much on it's own; it's all about context for me. Do I mind rape in fiction? Well, that depends - did the author write it well, does it have a bearing on the pl..."

the exact words i would be posting, althgrough in my case there is a catharsis going on thgrough fictional blood& gore


message 10: by Tegan (new)

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments PointyEars42 wrote: "With published fiction you take your chances. You think you’re picking up a spanky Indecent Proposal and it winds up being an abusive Twilight rip off."

Possibly also Twilight fanfic published as "original content"? :D

PointyEars42 wrote: "Unsettling or not, pretty much anything goes as long as it has relevance. I’m sure we’ve all read something (Horror? Erotica? Romance?) where a taboo or kink or is thrown in for cheap titillation and falls flat."

This was actually my problem with the first Anita Blake book, I was listening to it on audio book (which likely made this stand out more) and it got to the point where I was like "Seriously? Another almost rape scene... don't they have anything better to do than rape her?" Bored annoyance is not something you want to evoke from a reader when you're using rape in a plot.

PointyEars42 wrote: I recently read a novel whose sexual components were written skilfully enough that I read things well into my squick zone as easily as I read the stuff that did get me going because they fit the characters... but then I looked at the sexual components within the context of the larger story and lemmed the book for sheer stupidity.

Now this sentence started out making me want to know what this book is to read, ended with me not being so sure I want to read, but still curious which it was (if you don't mind sharing).


message 11: by PointyEars42 (new)

PointyEars42 | 476 comments Tegan wrote: "Now this sentence started out making me want to know what this book is to read, ended with me not being so sure I want to read, but still curious which it was (if you don't mind sharing)"

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Sigh, note to self: no more Vaginal SciFi unless it has been recommended by the Ladies Day, Burton, Kazebee, and Belmont. I read bits of a few excruciatingly bad ones before this (lemmed at 50% and it was still the best of the lot, which is why I deemed it "skillfull" by comparison) so I looked at the spoilery reviews for it and knew in advance there's be kinks explored that did nothing for me.


message 12: by Seawood (new)

Seawood Rachel wrote: "I generally don't get squicked out by much on it's own; it's all about context for me. Do I mind rape in fiction? Well, that depends - did the author write it well, does it have a bearing on the pl..."

Very much agreed, and with PointyEars42, too. Kushiel's is a long way off what would genuinely turn me away, actually, I find it well-written and have a decent amount of empathy with the characters. I personally would not want flechettes in my play because cutting is not my thing, but when reading this sort of scene I always keep "Your Kink Is Not My Kink But That's OK" in mind. If the writing is well done, appropriate and in context then it's fine with me. Particularly if the characters are learning from the experience, it affects their actions/viewpoint, or it moves the plot along well/sows future information or links. Even if it's there for shock value; if it fits as an integral part of the story it's fine. If it sticks out like a sore thumb or is repetitive then I'm more likely to lem out of boredom or impatience than squick* factor. This is the minor issue I had with the BDSM/incest scenes in Tigana, for those of you reading along with S&L this month - they didn't really seem to fit with the rest of the book in the same way that Phedre's life is moved by similar actions.


* incidentally, squick is a word that "squicks me out" because it's changed meaning since I first learned it and I have to adjust my thinking everytime someone uses it to describe their reaction!


message 13: by Tegan (new)

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments PointyEars42 - I LOVE your bookshelves for that book. Reminds me of the tags on Reasoning with Vampires (tumblr that tears apart the grammer and writing style of Twilight).

Caroline - what did you learn it to mean first?

Amusing side note: the word "squick" is used in a book publishing research on desire called A billion wicked thoughts.


message 14: by Seawood (new)

Seawood Tegan wrote: "Caroline - what did you learn it to mean first?"

I'd rather not repeat it as it is revolting but it is the last definition on Urban Dictionary. Having friends who hung out on alt.tasteless can be disturbing.


message 15: by Tegan (last edited Jun 09, 2012 01:08PM) (new)

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments Ah... I had to look under "squick" not "squicky"

I suppose it says something about my friends that my first thought when reading that is "Nice eyesockets!"


message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (ndayeni) | 64 comments Caroline wrote:"I'd rather not repeat it as it is revolting but it is the last definition on Urban Dictionary. Having friends who hung out on alt.tasteless can be disturbing."

Tegan wrote: "Ah... I had to look under "squick" not "squicky""


Curiosity usually gets the best of me, so of course I had to go look it up....and am now officially squicked and disgusted at the definition referred to. "Ew" doesn't quite cover it.

That definition aside though, I have to admit I rather like the word "squick"...at least in the sense meant by this thread.


message 17: by Seawood (new)

Seawood Sorry. But now you can see why I have to kind of refocus every time someone says it!

PointyEars42 wrote: "http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/..."
Wow. That sounds appallingly bad.

It occured to me that I read a zombie apocalyse book earlier in the year which was all GUNS! MEN! GUNS! KILL! and that suffered from the same sort of problem others have mentioned with multiple rape scenes. It's *boring*. If you're going to write something contraversial, which strikes at our very humanity, it has to be an integral part of the plot and not shoehorned in.


message 18: by Tegan (new)

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments In the Urban Dictonary def of "squick" (note their def of "squicky" matches) seems in part a case of onomonopia (and perhaps playing on the "ick" factor).


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