Like an Iron Fist: Dystopian Erotica

For Throwback Thursday, this is my forward to Like an Iron Fist: Dystopian Erotica, an anthology I edited for Circlet Press:

What is so erotic about dystopia?

A dystopia is best described as a utopia with a fatal flaw–a society’s striving toward perfection gone horribly wrong. In literature, dystopia assumes many forms: an all-seeing police state in George Orwell’s 1984, a genetically-engineered caste system in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a Biblical theocracy in Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. None of these classics are strictly erotica, but all contain sexuality as major plot points.

Without Julia’s temptation of Winston Smith, Winston might never have had the nerve to stray from the Party’s anti-sex dictates in 1984. The World State in Brave New World attempts to distract (and control) its citizens with constant orgies, while suppressing more lasting emotional attachments. The handmaids and whores of Handmaid’s Tale must endure the sexual exploitation of the ultra-Christian ruling class, but the handmaid heroine rebels by having a love affair with a chauffeur.

Sex is one of the most anarchic forces in life, so it stands to reason that an oppressive system must figure out how to control it. Ironically, by enforcing limits on sex, a dystopia makes sensuality all the more enticing to its subjects.

A coded love note. A whispered come-on. A meaningful glance. The tricks of seduction are the necessary tools of the oppressed, the watched, and the hunted. While we the readers can delight in the dangerous liaisons of the characters contained within this anthology, we also have the privilege of closing it with a sigh of relief, safe in our mundane world.

For now…

Sexcrime, edited by Cecilia Tan