Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis and the Erotics of Power ‹ Literary Hub

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Queers at the End of the World is a thoughtful, nerdy, and very queer conversation on the apocalypse. On the podcast, we discuss classic and contemporary novels, poetry, comics, games, tv-shows, and films that help us understand our dystopian moment—and imagine what could come next.

Nat and Nino discuss Xenogenesis, Octavia Butler’s three-book series about alien invasion, human resistance and survival, alien-human family-making, tentacle sex, colonization, third genders, and so much more. The conversation focuses on consent and compromise, and they joined in the first half of this episode by kink practitioner, performer and astrologer E. Wray, who talks with us about consent in kink and the erotics of power.

From the episode:

E. Wray: The first thing I want to say is that you’re asking this question about power, and how do you have consent when there’s unequal power or a power exchange, right? This might sound dirty. I don’t think power is bad. I don’t think wanting to have power is bad. I don’t think wanting to give over power to someone else is bad. I think what is bad is when people seize power without the consent of others. It could also even be bad to give someone else power over you without their consent.

But one thing I do want to say is that I think there’s a lot of puritanism in the way that sexual or erotic fantasy is consumed in American culture. I think that it is important to separate fantasy from reality, and I think that a healthy erotic fantasy life is very powerful. So is Butler condoning what seems like a colonial-like characters negotiating consent in the way we might in real life? Maybe. But if it’s hot for me to think about aliens coming and forcing themselves upon me, then that’s hot for me to think about. And I think that if I feel like I’m bad or I have internalized oppression because that’s hot to me, then there’s something a little puritanical going on there in my opinion.

So if we want to talk about fantasy with kink, and I will also talk about consent with kink, there’s a lot of inability in Puritan American culture with fantasies that we might call dark, that flirt with taboo, that flirt with death, that flirt with violence. … We can have stories that we tell, like if I wanted to reenact some some non-consensual hot alien tentacle sex because that that fantasy is exciting to me, I’m not going to do something to my partner without their consent. I’m going to talk to my partner and I’m going to say, hey, I like having this fantasy. What do you think about this?


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E. Wray is a 32-year-old, white transgender performer and storyteller from East Tennessee, based in NYC. Find them at ewrayastrology.net.

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis and the Erotics of Power

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