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In fiction, abuse can be fun. Even sexy. The victims are fictional anyway, and only real people have real rights.
People who would never enjoy horrors committed against real people can often enjoy the suffering of fictional individuals, and many authors fully take this into account. Romanticized Abuse is abuse Playing to The Fetishes. This can happen on four levels:
- Civilization: A Planet of Hats or particularly grim Fetish Fuel Future.
- Organization: A religious cult, criminal network or whatever fills the role.
- Couple: A husband and wife may be sweet and respectful towards each other, sharing their mutual hobby of torturing someone else.
- Individual: This level is covered by the gendered subtropes Bastard Girlfriend and Bastard Boyfriend. Putting individual characters as example in the supertrope should only be done if the character is a of unknown gender or a genderless shapeshifter/alien/whatever.
The husband and wife of a Romanticized Abuse couple should normally only be mentioned here in the supertrope — it's redundant to also mention them in the gendered subtropes, unless they also have individual adventures where they are effectively single or in another relationship with a different dynamic. For individuals who represent a civilization or an organization, it's a matter of whether they act as individuals, as representatives, or both.
When combined with Evil Is Sexy, or any other of the Evil Tropes, Romanticized Abuse is likely to lead to Draco in Leather Pants. However, the group or person whose abusive behavior is romanticized is not necessarily portrayed as evil at all.
A subtrope of Playing to The Fetishes: Sexual abuse not designed to be sexy & appealing is not this trope. Compare and contrast Casual Kink as well as Safe, Sane, and Consensual, for characters who live out BDSM fantasies and show the kind of ethical restraint needed in Real Life. Note that abuse played for Fetish Fuel is rarely played only for Fetish Fuel. It is often a mix of Fetish Fuel, Nightmare Fuel, Fetish Retardant, Nausea Fuel and so on, and the Fetish Fuel component is sometimes calculated to maximize the horror value.
A stock trait of Horny Devils. Compare Friendly Tickle Torture for the PG version. Contrast Safe, Sane, and Consensual. Contrast Hollywood Masochism, since the Romanticized Abuse is clearly abusive — however, as the stories progress, Romanticized Abuse has a tendency to shift over into becoming Hollywood Masochism instead. There can also be some overlap regarding physical safety and such. Contrast Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny.
- La Blue Girl: Obligatory, considering this is a show where the cute female protagonists are expected to be raped several times per episode.
- The second and third issue of Lou Kagan's Perils of Penelope features a religious cult whose religious doctrine seem to be limited to the ideas that pain is spiritual and that brainwashing people by tying them up and spanking them is the best way to get new converts.
- This concept is key to Hellraiser movies. Consider some of the following lines:
Pinhead: Oh, I will enjoy making you bleed. And I will enjoy making you enjoy it.
- Slave World covers all four levels. On the civilization level, the entire slaveworld is this kind of grim Fetish Fuel Future. On the organization level, the army of England is designed to maintain social order by turning uppity serfs into Sex Slave cyborgs. On the couple level, Prince Samuel and Lady Isobel have this as their mutual hobby. On the individual level, most aristocrats qualify for the appropriately gendered trope.
- Most civilizations on Gor seem to be built with this as one of their basic premises.
- Most novels by the Marquis de Sade (the guy "sadism" is named after) stays strictly in Romanticized Abuse territory, being about unrestrained sadism rather than mutual sadomasochism. It's all played for Fetish Fuel and political satire about how hypocritical, oppressive and unjust the socioeconomic system really was.
- Fifty Shades of Grey accidentally came off as this when it was meant to be a BDSM novel about a naive woman and a heavily damaged man. Considering it was based on a Twilight AU fanfic, though, it's not surprising that many people ended up seeing it this way.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit sometimes go for having their cake and eat it too, denouncing the horrors of sexual abuse by displaying it in almost pornographic details.
- One episode, named "Slaves", revels in the details on how a young Romanian woman has been imprisoned, brainwashed and used as a sex toy by an American couple. Lots of neatly presented details about the horrors she endured makes for a strange mix of Fetish Fuel and Nausea Fuel. Surprisingly, the detectives let the wife off the hook in exchange for selling out her husband, in spite of the fact that she murdered the girl's aunt without even informing her husband about it afterward.
- Another episode, named "Spectacle", runs on the principle that no one can resist watching a good rape. The episode starts with a video broadcast of a woman getting raped by a masked man popping up on the intranet of a university campus. It turns out that the guy who had the woman kidnapped and raped lost his little brother a long time ago. The brother was kidnapped, and the police gave up searching after a little while. After this cold case is solved, the unsurprising reveal is made that they were simply playing make-believe rape as a little Activist Fundamentalist Antics plot to get the police's attention.
- Several Blutengel songs go along these lines — often on a gender-neutral and structural level, talking about the lifestyles of vampires in general rather than about the actions of individual vampires.
- "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)" by The Crystals
- Katy Perry spends the song E.T. portraying the concept of Alien Abduction as this trope.
- Kiss with a Fist by Florence & The Machine
- In the Vampire: The Masquerade supplement Ghouls: Fatal Addiction, the Camarilla was played straight as this kind of organization. The theme of playing the social structure between Vampires and Ghouls as Romanticized Abuse is hinted in the core rulebook as well as many other supplements, but it's much more blatant in "Ghouls". (In this setting, a "ghoul" is a human who drinks vampire blood. The blood makes her superhumanly strong, makes her stop aging, lets her heal faster and increases her sexual urges, but it also enslaves her under the Vampire's will.)
- The Vampire: The Requiem supplement Ghouls continues the tradition.
- The New World of Darkness book Inferno, covering demons, is based on the seven deadly sins, and the "lust" part is designed for creating characters (of either gender) who fit this trope.
- Geist: The Sin Eaters supplement Book Of The Dead is about realms of the dead. One of them is a very friendly place called Oppia, which offers an abundance of food and Sex Slaves. Of course, it's very easy to break a rule and get enslaved yourself. Some of the slaves chose to remain slaves after they have served the term of their punishment.
- Bernkastel and Lambdadelta in Umineko no Naku Koro ni take this trope Up to Eleven. Being all-powerful witches who will do anything to avoid boredom, a regular "punishment game" for them will involve things like locking each other up at the bottom of a hollow tower, turning all the stars in the sky into diamonds and dropping them, one by one, onto the other one until they are crushed into a pulp.
- Considering the end of Episode 6, Battler and Beatrice seem to be heading in this direction. Back when Beatrice was pretending to be a Card-Carrying Villain, they definitely were.
- In Slave Maker, the entire setting is built on this trope.
- Basically everyone in Metal Gear has weird sexual issues about war and violence. Of course, this is played for horror/drama as well as for fanservice, but at the end of the day sexualising violence is mostly about making all the people really attractive, putting them in ridiculously tight suits, having lots of close-ups on the crotches and butts, inserting gratuitous Ho Yay, and playing enemyship as if it was heart-shatteringly romantic melodrama.