Hot Dystopias – My Fantasies Of Totalitarian Control

I’ve never heard George Orwell described as an erotic writer, but 1984 contains passages that work for me at that level. The following one, for example, leading up to the arrest of the protagonist Winston and his lover Julia:

It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late – no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch had been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass. The picture had fallen to the floor, uncovering the telescreen behind it.

“Now they can see us,” said Julia.

“Now we can see you,” said the voice. “Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.”

They were not touching, but it seemed to him that he could feel Julia’s body shaking. Or perhaps it was merely the shaking of his own. He could just stop his teeth from chattering, but his knees were beyond his control. There was a sound of trampling boots below, inside the house and outside. The yard seemed to be full of men.

The control exerted over Winston and Julia by the totalitarian system personified as Big Brother is entirely non-consensual, of course, not to mention brutal and suffocating. I’m in no rush to trade my mutually fulfilling BDSM relationship with My Lady for a one-way ticket to some cruel dystopia. Nevertheless, dystopias can be amazingly hot as settings for submissive fantasies of the starker and more impersonal variety. The same dark little part of my psyche that is deeply fascinated by prisons and incarceration is irresistibly drawn to the idea of living in a society where I would be subject to strict rules and constant surveillance, and risk being told to stand still and await arrest with my hands behind my head if I stepped out of line. As a devotee of female power I’d just prefer that the iron voice from the wall belonged to Big Sister, rather than Big Brother.

The kind of system described in 1984 is just one possibility, though. Hot dystopias come in endless varieties, united only by the incorporation of various forms of inequality, coercion, exploitation, sadism and totalitarian control into the social fabric. A capitalist version of 1984 might feature lifelong “unpaid internships” that amounted to virtual slavery, or perhaps a system of voluntary but literal and legally binding slavery to which the poor would flock out of desperation. A variation on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, a futuristic novel in which only people who had completed a term of military service were treated as full citizens with voting rights, could require young men and women to submit to two years of indentured servitude in exchange for citizenship. Or perhaps just the men would be expected to submit, not just for a couple of years but for the rest of their natural lives? As each generation reached the age of majority, everyone would then be acutely aware that the women were headed for productive and fulfilling careers whereas the men were going to end up as their abject slaves.

Under that system, as I imagine it, a man would be allowed to celebrate his 21st birthday, but afterwards he’d have exactly 180 days to report to his local Male Employment Recruitment Centre (I like to think Orwell would approve of the name). At the Centre he’d be taken into custody, branded with a unique number, and subjected to a battery of assessment procedures that would determine his future placement. Some men would be sold to women as personal slaves, others would made available to corporations and other employers as highly trainable slave workers, and the most unfortunate (except possibly those who ended up as the personal slaves of very sadistic owners) would be sent to grim labour camps where they’d toil away under relentless overseers who might be either androids or women with bionic enhancements that gave them overwhelming physical strength.

Democracy and equality are so nice by comparison, and also (that dark little part of my psyche insists) so painfully boring. It’s a good thing I have My Lady to tell me what to do, ensure I’m never burdened with too much freedom, comfort or dignity, and make me squeal now and then.

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