That all said, I’ve spent the last two days obsessed with Dragon Age: Inquisition. Specifically, with Iron Bull. I’ve been watching clips of him on youtube on loop. Literally.
I’m not a gamer. I’m not into big, burly, muscle-pumped, beefcake men. But I think I’m in love with him. Like, giggle-into-my-hand-whenever-I-see-him, daydream-longingly, construct-long-drawn-out-fantasies-both-mundane-and-hot-as-hell, haven’t-felt-this-way-since-junior-high level love. He’s fantastic in just about every way. He is the perfect kinkster dream. They couldn’t have done him better.
He’s SSC personified. He negotiates, uses safewords (“watchwords;” love it!), provides after care, can articulate and critically think about his kinks, and has excellent boundaries. He’s smart and funny. He’s thoughtful and considerate. He’s capable of being soulfully eloquent as well as sinfully foul-mouthed. He has this sexy swagger to him that just makes a bottom’s knees feel weak. No joke; he may not be my physical type and I’m not submissive by nature, but I would fall at this man’s fictional feet and be extremely happy there. And make damned sure he was happy with me there too. Without question, he is absolutely one of my favorite kinky characters out there (if you couldn’t tell, because subtlety is such a strength of mine).
Which is why I can’t understand why so many people are so upset by him. I cannot see how they could look at this complex character who is thoughtful, in every respect of that word, and see “a relationship that’s a minefield of issues (unsolicited sexual advances, disturbing sexual fantasies, lack of balance, no natural progression, NO APOLOGIES, unhealthy dynamic, […] lack of respect/ignoring partner’s wishes).”
I’ve been watching clips of Iron Bull’s relationships with both the Inquisitor and with Dorian, seeing as many of the different options available as possible. And…how? How can anyone look at this fantastic character and see a rapist or an abuser? Possibly because I’ve seen so many options, I’ve been able to piece together what kind of man the Iron Bull really is and, man, have people got this whole BDSM-mistaken-for-abuse thing ass-backward wrong.
As for consent, this is ridiculous. The game goes way, way, waaaaaaay out of its way to make everything the Iron Bull does above reproach. He is king of consent. He literally does everything right. By the book. Flawlessly.
Let’s look first at his romance with the Inquisitor. The scene where they negotiate the rules of their relationship is textbook. It goes through every tenet of SSC BDSM. He uses open and clear communication. He lays out his expectations and boundaries. He gives a safeword. He establishes that the rules only apply in-scene. He checks in so often it’s a little ridiculous. He gives the Inquisitor (and thus the player) every opportunity to opt in or out before anything remotely sexy or kinky happens. He makes sure to obtain enthusiastic consent every step of the way. That is the epitome of consent. There is literally nothing more he could do.
And yet there are still people saying that they were triggered by this. That this romance option left them without options or choice. How? By the fact that the Iron Bull won’t have a relationship with the Inquisitor unless it’s a D/s relationship? Well, guess what? Some people are kinky and that’s what they want. And that’s their right. You, as the Inquisitor, don’t get to dictate what the Iron Bull wants. “The Inquisitor is fully within their rights to say no to a BDSM relationship. And Iron Bull is fully within his rights to say no, that doesn't work for me. Your rights end when they begin infringing upon another's. To say that Iron Bull should compromise for a normal relationship is like saying his sexual needs are less valid than our Inquisitor's. Why?”
If kink isn’t your thing, if it’s not how you want to play the game, that’s fine. I’ve been assured that there are many, many other options with other characters where you can get all the vanilla you want; I wish you your fill. But your “normal” isn’t everyone’s “normal” and what you want won’t fulfill everyone. Have yours—have lots of yours—but let everyone else have theirs too. That isn’t infringing on your consent. That isn’t abuse. That’s life. “[People] use the fact that the inquisitor does not have a ‘choice’ as further proof that [the Iron Bull] is abusive. I'd like to be very clear about something. Your ‘choice’ in any romance is the option to say no […] you can still choose to say no. What you cannot do is pretend that a choice to say yes is ‘no choice.’ ” If you listened to what the Bull had to say and chose to “ride the Bull” anyway, you knew what you were getting into—there was no way not to; he’s not exactly subtle. You don’t get to claim foul if you give fully informed consent. You don’t get to be upset that you can’t get everything you want exactly how you want it from him because he won’t love you the way you want him to and you don’t want to be loved the way he wants to love you. If you can’t handle him, if you find that the two of you are innately incompatible, you can always tell him no. I’ve been assured that he respects that boundary well and backs off. There’s your choice. You don’t get to change who he is and what he wants just to suit you. His consent is just as important as yours. To act otherwise, is in and of itself an act against consent.
As for the Dorian relationship, I’ll admit this one gave me a bit of pause. Out of context—which is kinda how the game presents it, as you really only get gossipy eavesdropped moments—many of the comments you, as the Inquisitor, overhear sound bad. If you don’t romance either Dorian or the Bull, I’ve been told, the game ships these two together automatically, if they're both in your party. Which is the worst idea ever.
But not for the reasons people think.
Adoribull is really anything but. I Googled the two and heard way too many people talking about how horrible the Bull is to poor Dorian. How he seduces the poor, poor man with a drinking problem while he’s drunk. How that’s a case of lack of consent. About how the Bull abuses poor Dorian by sex-shaming him by rubbing their affair in Dorian’s face in front of everyone. About how he sexually harasses poor Dorian by hitting on him all the time. “GIVE ME AN OPTION TO BAIL OUT ON THIS SHIT IN MY GAME, THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING!!!!! Give me an option to stop it from developing, because if it’s skevy enough it can be 'chosen to be interpreted as abusive' don’t you think I’d like to have a choice not to see my favourite character stuck in this relationships, without being able to utter a word about it???”
I’m sorry. Were you watching the same scenes as me? They’re constantly giving each other shit. About each other’s races. About each other’s appearances. About each other’s fighting styles. They’re just one big dick-measuring contest. The first time you really hear the Bull hit on Dorian, they are hilt-deep in such a cock-swinging fight. Sure, the Bull is crass and graphic, but so what? From what I can tell, that’s just the Bull. And when Dorian says no to that kind of talk, the Bull acts surprised at the mixed signals and backs off. Then, as the game progresses, it seems like they bond further, having much more intimate moments about shared experiences.
Which leads to an “ill-considered night after drinks,” as it sometimes does. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that Dorian was drunk. It means they were having drinks. And then had a perhaps more uninhibited evening together, but it clearly wasn’t something Dorian regrets or there wouldn’t have been the “second time, and then...” Not to mention at the end of that arc, Dorian sticks around in the hopes of spending more time with the Iron Bull. Yeah, if Dorian is saying no, I really can’t blame the Bull for not hearing it. Cause that sounds like a pretty clear and consistent yes, even if Dorian doesn’t “know what’s going on, to be honest,” even if he knows that it’s “a whole lot of something.” For fuck’s sake, Dorian gets so turned on by what they do together that he magically sets the curtains on fire!
Seems to me, if anyone is being taken advantage of, Dorian is using the Bull. Badly. He’s so pearl-clutchingly riddled by “the shame” of it all that he’s taking it out on someone who’s just trying to be there for him. Look at how they both describe their relationship to the Inquisitor. When asked, the Bull talks about how good a guy Dorian is underneath it all and about how he hopes that they’ll be good for each other and how their relationship—hot as he finds it—will also help them come together in a more meaningful way. When Dorian is asked the exact same question, he laments on how much of a blabbermouth “that lumox” is and how he’s so ashamed about anyone knowing about their “dalliance” and how he wishes that no one knew about it.
I’m sorry, if you’re ashamed to be sleeping with someone, you shouldn’t stick your dick in them. They aren’t your secret shame. They aren’t your blow-up doll that you get to drag into the closet with you. They’re a person. And, whoever they are, they deserve better treatment than you’d give to a vibrator furtively hidden in your bedside drawer. If Dorian were so ashamed of sleeping with a black guy or an overweight man or a trans man that he refused to acknowledge the relationship in public, how infuriating would that be? How is this any different?
Far as I can tell, there’s a few ways to read that shame, none of which reflect well on Dorian.
One, this is self-hating homophobia leftover from an unfortunate upbringing. I’ve been told that Dorian had really shitty parents from a really shitty culture who tried to use blood magic to pray the gay away. As an ex-Catholic with her own share of heavily ingrained Catholic-guilt, I feel you. You get my sympathies for that and my congrats for getting out. But you don’t get the right to treat someone else like shit for no good reason. You don’t get to spread the shit someone shoveled on you onto someone else just because you don't know what to do with it. If anything, you should know better. Because, Lord knows, the Bull deserves better.
Two, this is kink-shaming. Dorian is riding the Bull to get his jollies. To walk on the wild side for a bit. All the while, looking down his nose at it all. Acting as if he’s above what gets his rocks off. The way he compares the Bull and their relationship to beer—this low-brow, undignified, dirty thing—is offensive. As if someone like him ought to be above something like that.
I’ve been people’s walk on the wild side and it sucks. You’re less than human at that moment. You’re just a novelty. A new experience. A soon-to-be memory. A story they can tell later. A titillated feeling of shame and excitement. That sex—that experience—is never about you. It’s all about what you can do, about what you can give, about what someone else can get off of you. You’re just a sex toy to them. A simple means to an end. Something someone wanks into without really much thought to you at all.
So, yeah, if that’s how you treat your lovers, fuck yourself. Because you haven’t earned the right to even touch the person you’re currently screwing over.
Three, this is a race thing. Listening to Dorian talk about the Bull’s race is disturbing in a way that hearing some of the other characters do so isn’t. Because when Krem calls the Bull a bastard because, within the traditions of his culture, he doesn’t have a mother, you never feel like Krem means it. It’s just banter between friends. But when Dorian talks about how he can’t trust the Bull because of who he is...that feels like truth. Dorian, in his heart of hearts, believes the things he says. Yet he’s having a sexual relationship with the Bull. That feels like fetishization.
Again, I’ve been people’s exotic destination too. Where you’re just a set of cultural expectations wrapped up in an ultimately strangely attractive package. Where that same titillated feeling of shame and excitement is now mixed with a strongly-held sense of superiority and a desire to claim the unexplored. You’re just sand they get to stick their flag in. Makes that beer line look even darker through this lens.
Four, maybe Dorian just doesn’t like the Iron Bull very much. Maybe his personality, his crassness and baser nature, offends him. Fine. That’s his right—no one has to like anyone; you can take a dislike to someone for any reason you want. But then stop sticking your dick in someone you don’t respect. Because that makes you a prissy, little hypocrite. So the Bull is good enough for you to blow your load in, but not quite good enough to talk to the morning after? Classy. Too often, we glorify hate sex. The kind of sex where it’s made hotter because there are no emotions, no attachments, involved. The kind where we get to do anything to and with that person because ultimately, at the end of the night, they don’t matter. We dehumanize them without realizing that it’s us who are throwing away our humanity. I’m not saying you have to love every person you fuck, but if you can’t give them a modicum of basic human respect, stop. Please, stop. It doesn’t do either of you any service.
Like I said, I don’t much like Dorian, after seeing this side of him. He’s cashing a lot of my past partners’ bad checks. And maybe that’s not his fault. Maybe I’m reading too much into this. But I feel like I understand where the Bull is coming from in this relationship. I’ve been there.
Which is why I find it so infuriating that people are taking the scene where the Bull seems to out Dorian about their relationship in front of the group so grossly out of context. At the beginning of that scene, the Bull approaches Dorian, using a very soft voice, asking to talk about their relationship. Because he’s, at his heart—strangely enough for a spy—really open and honest. If you matter to him, he’s going to treat you like you do. To which Dorian shuts it down. Complains about discretion. Essentially wants to dismiss and deny that the relationship even exists.
So, yeah, the Bull, in a then much louder voice, does what Dorian is too chickenshit to do. Acknowledges their relationship. In crude, crass, graphic language? You betcha. Because, guess what? Make a kinkster feel like they should be ashamed of being who they are and chances are good they’re going to prove to you just how unashamed and unapologetic they are. Because they have nothing to be ashamed of. They have nothing to apologize for. And, for most of us, it took a really long time—filled with shame and apologies abound—to get to that place. And no one has the right to make us go back. Much less the person we’re currently having kinky sex with. Tip to the wise: Just don’t. You may not like the reaction. But you will have deserved it.
To be fair, it took a few viewings (like I said, it’s been on a loop for days) for me to see this. And I got a much better view after watching both sets of clips. One of my favorite Inquisitor scenes is the one where the Inquisitor downplays and dismisses their relationship with the Bull as “blowing off steam” but then is surprised when the Bull walks away. I think this was the moment I fell for the Bull. The amount of self-respect it took to do that is beautiful. To know you deserve better and to walk away so you can get it; kinksters could use more stories like that. Where we demand to be seen and treated as people. And I love that you get to see the Bull use his sexuality as a defense mechanism here. To use that part of himself that people are trying to shame and hurt him with as his own weapon. It really helps to inform the scene with Dorian, even though you’d never see those two scenes together in the same play-through. The Inquisitor hurt him with the truth about how little he thinks of the Bull so, in turn, the Bull takes a bit of that same sentiment and turns it onto the Inquisitor. Again, that mentality of “you will not make me less just so you can look like you're more” is so well done in this moment.
Like I said, I think the Iron Bull is one of the most considerate lovers ever written. If I had to give him a fault sexually, it's that he's too considerate. He gives and gives and gives. He's all about giving other people what they want and need. And, while I think he definitely enjoys it, we never get to hear about what he—at his core, separate from his partners or circumstances—desires. He's such a service kinkster. The game even has a perfect scene where Cole comments on the fact that the Inquisitor “submits, but you serve.” Someone at BioWare smiles as wide as I do at that line every time they hear it. Because it’s true. I love me my tops, but bottoms rule, baby. That’s just the way of it.
In fact, the only thing we really ever see him demand is acknowledgement. Is the basic respect of recognition. Literally the bare minimum of common decency when it comes to relationships. Dorian goes on and on about the Bull’s lack of discretion, which is bullshit. Because he has discretion. Lots and lots and lots of discretion, so long as you acknowledge that you do indeed have a relationship together that matters. If you treat it and him with respect, he goes out of his way to do the same for you. Do the opposite…and, well, tit for tat. He just wants to feel like he's not being used. And yet to some people he's the rapist. He's the abuser. He's the predatory monster with “that mother clucking sick banter. Add one banter when Iron Bull RECOGNISES HE’S A CREEP AND APOLOGISES! Seriously, one more banter would have fixed it, instead of this Bull goes full 'I know you want it' Robin Thicke/50 Shades.”
The goal of a good service kinkster is to know what needs your partner has and to fulfill them without being asked. To anticipate what's needed and to meet that need. To observe and know your partner so well that you can be that in-tune with them. It’s the highest goal and something every partner ought to aspire to. The difference between that—which I would hope every partner, kinky or vanilla, aims to do and be—and what Fifty Shades and "Blurred Lines" do is that, in those other examples, the partner-in-question doesn't necessarily want what the speaker assumes they do. In "Blurred Lines" we never get to hear what the girl actually wants; no one ever asks her. It’s all about what the speaker wants couched in eye-brow-wiggling “you want that too, right? Right?” In Fifty Shades, we're stuck in Ana's head—for better or for worse—and she actually flat-out doesn't want what Grey assumes she does. That's what makes those things murky if not out-and-out red-flag consent issues.
However, in DA, when the Iron Bull, who was hired to be a people-reading super spy, says that he knows what that person needs, note that he tends to be able to back that up with why he thinks that. And really stop to observe that the other person tends to confirm that, yes, that is in fact exactly what they wanted. And they enjoy it. Over and over and over again. I may not have played the game, but I can clearly see that every time—EVERY SINGLE TIME—Bull talks about giving you what you want, you as a player get the opportunity to choose. To opt in. To opt out. To say "hell, yeah, let's go" or "nope, I'm out." As the Inquisitor, you literally have to choose him. Over and over and over again. To the point you want to scream at the screen, "Take yes for a goddamned answer already!" That's what makes it different. That's what makes these stories polar opposites. To compare the two as anything but contrasts shows not just a lack of knowledge about kink, but a shocking lack of basic knowledge about consent.
And, as for the relationship between the Bull and Dorian, you could make the argument that we don’t get to hear enough about it to say definitively that it’s not abusive. After all, it is extremely hard for abuse victims to leave their abusers for all sorts of reasons that might not be obvious to someone from the outside of that relationship looking in to see. Again, taken out of context—stripped of both their personalities and histories—the few scenes we get could be read that way. There’s an easier way to read them, but they could be read that way. But, here’s the rub: If we don’t have enough information to say definitively that it’s not abuse, we don’t have enough information to automatically assume that it is either. The Inquisitor goes to both of them individually to see what’s going on between the Bull and Dorian. And, as I said, from what I can see, if anyone’s a victim in all this, it sure as fucking hell isn’t Dorian. “Evidently some people interpreted […] the potential relationship between Dorian and Iron Bull is abusive. I really don’t know how that could be the case, so let me clarify: Dorian is very much a willing participant in what occurs, if less-than-thrilled at his life choices (or, at least, that’s what he evinces), and while their relationship might possibly be less-than-healthy on the whole, it’s possible for that to be the case without it being abuse. If you still feel such, go right ahead, but *I* certainly never said so. Got it? Excellent.”
Like I said, yes, a lot of my own past experiences are informing how I view this story. Just as I’m sure it was the same for the people who were triggered by that same story. You can make a million different people look at the same story and each one of them will see it differently. Sometimes slightly. Sometimes completely. Because we’re all coming at it with different experiences, different stories of our own. Stories are, after all, a conversation, with every story ever told informing all other stories. That’s how stories work. That’s their magic. Which means, if you want emotionally compelling and evocative stories, you have to be willing to risk being triggered. “Allow me to clarify, if I may, that we writers would never intentionally put triggering situations into the romances we write. We are, however, in the business of providing drama…and it’s very possible that drama might be interpreted by some as unhealthy or worse, so thus I cannot and will not offer a guarantee that someone will not encounter something triggering in the course of a game. I can’t even guarantee that it will be recognized in-game, considering all the possible interpretations one could make of a situation. Yes, I understand that some will consider that insufficient. They have my sympathy, but that is all I can really offer on the subject.”
And it’s really all the game creators should. Because they didn’t do anything wrong. They, in fact, did everything right. Even with my take on Dorian, I may not like it because I wish the Bull nothing but happiness and pleasure, but the story was so well done. Because there are people out there like that. There are people who’ve done what Dorian does. Who think they way I think he thinks. I may not like them, but that’s not the story’s fault. If anything, that’s to the story’s credit. That it could tap into that experience and portray it so well.
To be honest, when I read the comments from people who look at Iron Bull’s behavior and see abuse, I wonder how they can when they put so little effort into citing exactly what makes them think so. Maybe I have read into and thought far, far, far too much about all this, but at least I can explain exactly why I think the way I do. It makes me wonder if they’re even being all that honest with themselves. If their opinion really means what they think it does. If “what he’s doing is wrong” really translates into “what he’s doing makes me uncomfortable.” I’ve talked about this before, where people tend to demonize that which they find different. And kink and non-normative sexual orientations are today’s demon dejour.
Which seems odd, considering how popular they seem to be nowadays. Everyone claims that kink isn’t being demonized anymore. After all, look at how many copies of Fifty Shades have sold. Think about how many tickets the movie will inevitably sell. How can real-life kinksters claim that we still feel so invisible?
All you have to do is tune into CBS’s latest Moms episode "Godzilla and a Sprig of Mint" where the main character begins dating nice guy Colin Hanks who—surprise, surprise—turns out to be kinky. Into puppy play, really (which really does beg the question how and why he had such a lavish, Red-Room-of-Pain-eqsue dungeon; not that he can’t, but it seems unlikely that he'd need an elaborate setup like that, if that’s his kink, but I digress…). To which Christy pearl-clutchingly runs screaming. Because ew, gross, how can I ever even look at him again! Where, after having promised that she could be trusted with his truth, she can’t even bear to look at him afterward. Sound familiar? At least, DA has the decency not to demonize the Bull by making him crazy or over-the-top, like Hanks’s pathetically pouncing, door-scratching performance while Christy cringes in horror.
I had hoped that Fifty Shades would at least give the world an amount of awareness. Instead, it’s just reinforced the same ole crap. In fact, the MPAA gave the Shades film an R rating because of “the strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior.” Unusual behavior? Thanks, MPAA; you have such a way with words. Way to sugarcoat the word "perversion."
Even the twit actor, Jamie Dornan, they got to star in this movie could see that’s crap. “If people are into that they’re into that. By the way, if people make such a hoo-hah about the violence against women aspect of it, it’s far more common for men to be the submissive. And it’s consensual! There’s weirder sh– than that. I think plane spotting is far weirder than S&M. That I really don’t get. I can understand why people are into S&M, but standing outside Heathrow Terminal 5 waiting for Ryanair to come in?”
Okay, so he’s wrong about what’s common in kink and could have put that better. But at least it’s better than that time he told Elle, “I saw a dominant with one of his two submissives. It was an interesting evening. Then going back to my wife and newborn baby afterwards … I had a long shower before touching either one of them.”
We’ve—for better or for worse—had our truths thrust out for public consumption. And, for all the strides we’ve made to normalize our lifestyle in the mainstream, we still too often get awful portrayals of who and what we are, where the media parades us around and treats the BDSM community “like ‘circus freaks.’ "
So when creators and storytellers like BioWare get it right, can you just let us have this? Without whining and bitching and moaning all over it? Enjoy your vanilla and let us relish in the rest.
Or, if you really just must, could you at least do us the respect of attempting to make a good argument for all your whinging?
Edit: Sorry for making a ridiculously long past longer, but I’ve had it repeatedly pointed out that I’m being dismissive of Dorian’s past. And, yes, I’ll admit that I don’t know it as well as people who’ve actually played the game. I know the basics of it and have listened and watched bits and pieces about it.
And does it make me like the Dorian character more? …Yes, in terms of that I like that he’s fully fleshed out and has a rich backstory and, yes, a very sympathetic history that does speak to very real and very important experiences that many players can relate to and that even more need a better understanding of.
That said, it still doesn’t make me like Adoribull any more than I did before.
Because, even as a service partner who is invested in the well-being of his partner, the Bull isn’t Dorian’s therapist. Lord knows, I doubt he’s qualified for such a position. I’m sure that, if you explained to him what a shrink was and told him to be one, he’d look at you like you were nuts. As intelligent and thoughtful as I think he is, there has to be someone else more qualified than him for that kind of thing. Sex and affection might make you feel good, but it’s not magic or a therapy-replacement. It’s not the Bull’s job to fix Dorian’s past. And it’s certainly not his job to teach Dorian how to be an out and proud gay man. And, in fact, I still feel like the best way for the Bull to do so is to lead by example. With someone other than Dorian. Someone who’s also out and proud and living with integrity. To show Dorian that, yes, it does get better. Eventually.
But, right now as it stands, Dorian isn’t ready for the kind of relationship he’d have with the Bull. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that he never will be. I’m saying that at the moment of their relationship in the game, Dorian is not there yet. You cannot still be half-in-denial and ask your fully out partner to give up their own integrity and climb back into your closet with you. If you cannot comfortably acknowledge your partner in public, you don't deserve that person as a partner. You haven't earned that right yet. Because that kind of behavior is not discretion, that's denial. They left their closets or never had the luxury of one. They went through the work to claw their way past their own past demons; it’s not healthy or right to ask them to crawl back through yours.
Even if that service partner is willing to. Because the likelihood of that ending badly for both parties is high.
Dorian needs to do the work of coming to terms with who he is and what he wants before getting into a relationship with someone else. Because, like Dan Savage always says, people need to be in good-working-order before they get involved with another person. Because asking someone you love to fix you isn’t a loving gesture. Putting that much demand and responsibility—that is ultimately your own job to do for yourself—onto someone else’s shoulders isn’t fair and has the possibility of doing more damage than good.
After all, how many times will Dorian’s self-shame spill over onto the Bull? Because if your self-shame is telling you that your being gay is wrong, what does that say about the person you’re having gay sex with? By believing you’re wrong, you are tacitly saying they are too. You are, intentionally or not, dragging them through your shame with you. How many times is it okay for that to happen? The Bull is a strong man and, yes, I know he can take it. But does that make it right for Dorian to ask him to? How likely is it that Dorian’s wish to downplay or dismiss the relationship they share—and thus by extension the person he’s sharing that relationship with—is going to chip away at the Bull’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth? Does building Dorian up make even just the possibility of whittling away at the Bull right? At what point is it okay to acknowledge that the Bull, who’s already done the work of living openly with integrity, deserves better?
But, all right, he’s a service partner and he is choosing to stay. As is his choice and he has every right to make it. Just wondering whether that’s as great or helpful or romantic as people make it seem. So the Bull helps Dorian baby-step his way toward living openly and having a better self-image of himself. Great. What happens when Adoribull ends? What happens when one or both of them walk away or get ripped away by circumstance (they are engaged in battle quite a bit after all)? If the Bull was responsible for raising Dorian up, what happens when he’s gone? How likely is it that all that new-found confidence and comfort with himself will go too? How likely is it that, without that person who he’s now learned to lean on to bolster himself up, he’ll be worse off later because he never learned how to stand on his own?
That’s why I don’t like the idea that what makes Adoribull okay with a lot people seems to be that Dorian is being helped by the Bull, so Dorian can get over his past and find a better future. Because it glorifies and validates relationships that probably deserve closer examination.
I’ll admit, I don’t like Dorian for personal reasons. Because I’ve stuck my metaphorical dick in those waters and come up burned. But I don’t think he’s a terrible person. I think he got handed a really shitty hand in life and is learning how to deal with it the best he can.
And that’s life. You can be sympathetic and likable and still do awful things. You can have good reasons—good and perfectly understandable reasons that make perfect sense—for doing bad things to other people. But even perfectly sympathetic reasoning doesn’t make bad things right and, when the dust settles, that’s small comfort for the people you hurt along the way. I’m not saying that Dorian is abusive. I’m not even saying that he’s a bad person or character. I’m saying, of the two of them, the Bull is more likely to follow the Savage Love Campsite Rule and leave his partner in better shape than he found him in. And will likely be the one to walk away worse for the wear because of all this. Does that make Dorian horrible or a monster? No, but it does make me wish better for the character I love.
And I hope that, in his future somewhere—be it Dorian or the next person—someone endeavors to be as good a partner to him as he is to them.
Don't forget to take a peek at the comments below,
there's some great discussion there. And, of course,
please feel free to join the conversation.
Also check out my Adoribull fanfics:
For a peek at this relationship through Bull's perspective:
"What You Want of Me"
And, to see Dorian's response, read:
there's some great discussion there. And, of course,
please feel free to join the conversation.
Also check out my Adoribull fanfics:
For a peek at this relationship through Bull's perspective:
"What You Want of Me"
And, to see Dorian's response, read:
For more fun, take a look at my Gender-Swapped Iron Bull Cosplay
And, as always, hope you enjoy!
And, as always, hope you enjoy!