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The word ryona (リョナ ryona, a portmanteau of ryōki ("seeking the bizarre") and onanī ("masturbation")) refers to a genre of fiction and sexual complex wherein a protagonist, usually female, is subject to physical or psychological abuse from an offender who is at the same time a love interest, usually male. The term is mostly used when in connection to Japanese culture, although the theme itself is seen in many other cultures.
The term "ryona" almost exclusively refers to where a woman being abused by a man. In the case where the target is male, it is more commonly called gyaku-ryona (逆リョナ gyaku-ryona, "reverse ryona"). However, neither term are restricted to heterosexual relationships. There exist also ryona works where the perpetrator is a monster or other non-human being.
The term is contrasted with sexual sadism and rape pornography, in that ryona is a voyeuristic fantasy fetish, a romanticized sub-genre aimed at female target demographic group and are almost always of non-explicit sexual nature.
Works in the ryona genre are usually written as a romantic drama where two persons meet and develop love for each other, with the difference being how their relationship begins in a state of hostility. The female protagonist identifies the male love interest as her polar opposite in terms of personality and morals, and is attracted by the exotic nature of this person. Throughout the storyline, either the male pursues the female due to a feeling of protecting her or being excessively attracted, or the female seeks out the male in an effort of "taking care of him".
The nature of abuse can vary greatly between works, but it usually includes one or more of the following:
- Domestic violence and rape, and depictions thereof
- Inconvenient disruption of everyday life, such as being prevented attending one's school or job, or being embarrassed or rejected by friends and family
- Forced confinement and detention for extended periods of time
- Literal torture for extortion or confession, or simply for sexual sadism and/or masochism
- Being regarded and treated as property of another person
- Unrecoverable traumas such as limb amputation or other long-term medical complications after being exposed to violence
Outside of Japan
The theme of a violent male being the romantic interest of a female victim are a prevalent theme in also Western literature. It has been popularized and attracted controversy in contemporary romantic novels targeted at a female audience, most notably works like Twilight[original research?] and Fifty Shades.
- Mook, Sanwa (2013). Really Right Fetish – A Taste of Large Dictionary (in Japanese). 三和出版. ISBN 9784776910701.
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