People attracted to eating other creatures? What's up with that?
|One day as I was farting around on the internet, happily doing nothing productive whatsoever, I happened to stumble across an online essay titled Macrophilia 101 by Davy Kraken. The essay was an excellently written, well-thought out, and informative explanation of his attraction to giantesses, and colossal beings in general. It has become one of my favorite pieces of writing, and now I’m going to adopt his idea (read: blatantly steal it) and apply it to the subject of vorarephilia, the fantastical fetish central to my own psyche. To give a quick-and-dirty explanation for those who haven’t the faintest clue what it is: vorarephilia, often shortened to just “vore,” is an attraction to the idea of one creature taking another inside of itself- most commonly through eating it alive.
Now, I am by no means an academic person. I left college after a single semester because the thought of spending another three-and-a-half years writing essays where I had to properly cite sources made me cry myself to sleep at night. Hence, this essay is mostly my own thoughts and observations, with some additional information coming from various posts and articles on the internet, all which could be completely wrong. In fact, if someone disagrees with anything here, I encourage them to message me so that I can consider their opinion, and revise this piece accordingly.
This essay was written with three main goals in mind. I’m going to present them as a bulleted list because…Well, I like bulleted lists. They're tidy.
• To clear up the most common misconceptions about vorarephilia. There appear to be a lot of them, and every time I see someone get something wrong, it makes me twitch unpleasantly in a fit of impotent rage. By writing this, at least I know I tried to do something about it.
• Concentrate as much objective knowledge about vorarephilia as I can in one place. The first part of this essay talks about what vore encompasses as a fetish, as vore is an umbrella term for a very large number of specific kinks and attractions. I guess "objective" should be taken with a grain of salt considering the above-mentioned lack of academic rigor, but I somehow doubt a complete book with a full bibliography is going to be written on vore anytime soon.
• Help others understand why people are attracted to vore. This is the big one. Now, I’m not going to say vore isn’t weird, but if anyone, vorarephile or not, wants to learn more about the psychology behind this attraction, I want there to be something for them to turn to. This essay is meant to serve as a jump-off point for anyone who wants a well-rounded understanding of vorarephilia, from which they can then go on to learn as much or as little as they desire.
As it is my fondest hope that this explanation finds its way into the hands of open-minded people whose only knowledge of vorarephilia is “Wow, there’s actually a fetish where people fantasize about eating or getting eaten by other people? What the hell?” I suppose I should start out by talking about what vorarephilia is, and what it is not. Any time I see vore come up in places outside the community itself, there are so many assumptions, misconceptions, and things that are just plain wrong about what is said I want to tear my hair out.
For example, one day I was browsing Cracked when I stumble on this article, which operates under the assumption that all vore involves cooking and eating other humans (though, admittedly, this didn’t stop me from laughing out loud at some of the jokes). While this is something that vorarephilia covers, saying that it is the only thing vorarephiles are interested in is rather like saying that anyone into BDSM is only interested in clamping their nipples to a car battery. If you walk away with one thing from this essay, let be that while it none of the sub-categories of vorarephilia are any less strange then what you’ve already heard about (and some of them even stranger), there are a lot of them, and they can differ so radically from one another that two vorarephiles could be completely disgusted by the other’s tastes. (Pun certainly intended.)
So let’s start with analyzing the word itself. Taken from the What Is Vore? page of the vore wiki on Eka’s Portal, one of the more popular sites on the net for people into such things:
The word "vorarephile" was coined as a broad term for this fetish, and can take on many meanings depending on one's personal definition. There are a number of spelling variations for the word vorarephile. Since this is a new coinage, created by people who share this fetish, there's no official dictionary entry to go by. Voreaphile, voraphile, vorarephile, etc. are all used as spellings, but the term is unique enough that the spelling differences don't confuse anyone. The word was derived from the Latin root "vorare," which means to swallow or devour, and "-phile," the Greek suffix meaning "lover of." "Vore" is the commonly used abbreviation by vorarephiles (though occasionally lazy typists will use "vor" to avoid typing that final "e" :) ) Another term that is often used for vorarephile stuff on the net, but really only describes monsters eating women, is "gynephagia."
Because vorarephile is the most common spelling, I've used it throughout this site. The most correct term for this fetish is actually phagophilia (from the Greek "phagos", meaning eat), but the term "vore" has been used for some time now, and people are familiar with it. Phagophobia is a documented fear of being eaten or swallowed, and one would imagine that it is related in a way to the mechanics of the vore fetish.
Although it stems from an abbreviation of vorarephilia, "vore" is less specific and can be used in several different ways. Much like the word porn is associated with sexual acts, vore can be used in much the same way to describe any medium that contains it, or by itself to refer to the act of one creature swallowing another. For example:
“This story contains vore.”
“I’m into vore.”
“I’m reading a vore story.”
I’ve also sometimes seen it used as a verb more directly, as in “this story involves a snake voring a human,” but this seems to be less commonly used than the other definitions. I personally like to use the term “vorish” as an adjective, but I also like using words like "swanky" and "nifty" in casual conversations, so following my example may be...unwise.
As a side note, I disagree with the author of that quote in that I believe vorare is a better root for this attraction then phagos. Though I certainly see why someone would believe otherwise, especially since someone pointed out to me that both phagos and phile are Greek and so combining them is more linguistically correct, I still prefer vorare. As someone who is very picky about words and their connotations, “eat” is almost always used to mean orally consuming something for sustenance. “Swallow” and “devour” on the other hand are often used more figuratively to refer to one thing engulfing another. For example, a ship can be swallowed up by fog, or fire can eagerly devour a building, but it sounds far more literal to say that the ship was eaten by fog or the building was eaten by fire. Eat is a word with more narrow, concrete connotations, and I feel that given the variety of vore material out there, it proves inadequate in describing the fetish as a whole.
Semantics aside, to quickly get one of my main points across I would like you to click on this link , and scroll up and down the page. Don’t worry, it’s text-only, and if you’ve made it this far, I doubt anything there will upset you.
What you are looking at is a list of preferences that people who like roleplaying vore situations use to find people with similar interests. Ignoring the ones under roleplay components section, which apply more to the style of the RP and not the actual content, and the pred/prey preferences, which I don’t feel change the essence of a situation much, (because every instance of vore has a predator and some prey, regardless of who plays what) there are about forty different preferences people can look for on other character’s profiles.
Forty. As in, there are at least forty different ways one roleplay can vary from another and still be called “vore,” not counting the personal touches each individual player applies to their posts. To make things more complicated, many of those, like “realism” and “macro/micro” are spectrums with a near-infinite number of variations rather than just having two different options. Finally, another variation is called “unconventional vore,” and refers to how well a character will react to a type of vore that is not otherwise mentioned on that list, which, thanks to rule 34, could pad the numbers more then even I could possibly imagine.
What I'm getting at is saying that something has vore in it is a lot like saying something has sex in it. It’s incredibly vague because there are so many acts that could be labeled as such it doesn’t prove adequate in describing what actually happens. Since I don’t have the patience to elaborate on every single one of those differences and you probably don’t have the patience to read about them, I’m going to try and boil down the essence of vore into five different areas:
• Sexual or Non-Sexual: Whether or not non-vorarephiles would consider the vore “clean.”
• Type of Vore: How the prey is swallowed or consumed.
• Species and Sex: What is being eaten and what is doing the eating.
• Realism: How likely the situation could occur in real life.
• Willing or Unwilling: Whether or not the prey volunteers to be eaten, or is forcibly devoured.
Let’s address the sexual aspect first, as this is another point that I feel is so important I’m going to put it in italics: Not everyone who is into vore finds it sexually arousing.
In the vore community, there are those who, despite being attracted to the idea of one being swallowing another, will vehemently refuse to read or view any vore that possesses sexual content. Instead, some find the idea comforting, like a full body hug, or are fascinated with the look and feel of creature's insides. This being the case, calling vorarephilia a “fetish” is actually a bit misleading- just like in the furry community, not everyoneis in it for sex.
Sexual arousal does seem to be the norm, however, and those that do find the concept arousing can be turned on by situations so innocuous they appear in children's stories, cartoons, and nature shows. Because of this, many vorarephiles discover their feelings early in life, though at least in my case, the attraction was non-sexual until I hit puberty. This, of course, raises the question of how something perceived as squeaky-clean by even the harshest of censors can elect such a reaction from viewers, which I think is one of the main things non-vorarephiles hope to learn by reading this essay. Have no fear: I will explain this to the best of my ability later on, but for now, lets move on to the next point: the different types of vore.
Now, upon reading that particular bullet, you may have asked yourself “Oh come on, how many different ways can something get eaten?” Well...quite a few, it turns out. To begin with, vore is primarily divided into two categories: soft and hard. Soft vore is named as such because a creature is swallowed in one piece, whereas hard vore involves cases where prey gets swallowed in bite-sized chunks. I feel I should mention soft vore isn't necessarily gentle. Some prefer the prey digested alive, which is arguably one of the most horribly painful deaths imaginable.
Pretty much all vore falls into one of those two categories, and the lion’s share of vorarephiles are primarily attracted to one of them, especially soft vore. I think I can safely say that if one were to poll every vorarephile on the planet, there would be more soft vore fans than all the other categories combined, especially if this poll is extrapolated to represent the entire vore community.
I’ll start with soft vore, since it's not only is it the most popular, but it also has the most variety. Oral soft vore, where a predator eats their prey by swallowing them whole and alive, is the most popular sub-category and probably the one most widely seen in works that don’t intend to attract vorarephiles. It’s rather like missionary position for vore fans: well-known, tried-and-true, widely popular, arguably the least perverted, and the most vanilla thing you’re going to find in the community.
Soft vore is generally used as a catch-all term for any vore than involves a creature taking another creature into their body whole and alive. So for those who prefer slightly more exotic and erotic fare, soft vore is by no means limited to just the mouth. As the above-mentioned poll indicates, prey can be shoved into the vagina (usually called unbirthing and abbreviated as UB), the anus (anal vore/AV), or the penis (cock vore/CV). Though these are the most common, other less-seen kinds of vore include prey taken in via a second esophagus in a tail or tentacle (tail vore), a nipple (breast/udder vore), the nose or ears (nasal/aural vore), held in a marsupial-like storage area (pouch vore), or, at least in one case, sucked in though the pant legs of bell-bottom jeans. (I haven’t the faintest clue how that works anatomically, but I did find it incredibly amusing.)The bottom line in soft vore is the prey is still wiggling when the pred is done taking them inside, whatever method they use to swallow them up.
Hard vore is, for obvious reasons, the most graphic and violent category, though soft vore focusing heavily on digestion is a close second. How graphic and violent depends on the individual. Some hard vore is incredibly savage, with predators tearing off pieces of meat while the prey screams in torturous agony. On the other hand, some is more civilized, with slow-roasted creatures served on silver platters with the most tantalizing sauces, herbs, and spices. Though if they're still alive, It's a safe bet that there will be some screaming as well. Unless they have fruits or vegetables stuffed in their mouth as an improvised ball gag, which is a rather popular motif in such works. Admittedly, torturous screaming would tend to diminish a carefully-prepared fine-dining scenario somewhat...though some might find it contributes wonderfully to the atmosphere. As in all things vore, it depends on the sensibilities of the predator.
Though hard and soft vore take up almost the entirety of the fan base, I feel there are three other kinds worth mentioning that don’t fall neatly into either category. First is vampiric vore, which involves draining the blood or other vital fluids of prey rather than eating them. People who enjoy spider or spider-like predators also fall under this category, as they liquefy their prey’s insides before slurping them up. As it is the only type that focuses on drinking rather than eating, I feel it is unique enough to be considered a category in of itself.
Perhaps I’ve just been exploring the wrong places, but in my opinion this appears to be the rarest type, except for some of the more esoteric kinds of soft vore. Despite the legions of people in the vampire fanbase, in my time in the vore community, the number of stories, pictures, and people who intentionally focused on it is almost nonexistent, and I have very little to go on when describing its themes and appeal. My theory is that vampiric vore is far enough removed from more "mainstream" vore that the fans of each rarely intermingle, or even consider the overlap between their interests.
The next category worth touching upon is called soul vore. This type, as the name implies, describes vore in which the predator consumes the soul or life force of prey, either devouring a ghostlike representation of their target or sucking their meal from the prey in the form of an ethereal liquid or mist. As the prey’s body is left intact, a good portion of soul vore can revolve around the predator "playing" with the husk, which is usually assumed to be technically alive but comatose, or a mindless shell under control of the predator.
Soul vore has some aspects in common with both soft vore (if the soul is swallowed like the body it normally resides in) and vampiric vore (if the soul is slurped up like a liquid or gas), so I would understand if people believe it falls under those categories. However, because soul vore focuses on something that is incorporeal rather than the prey’s tangible form, it does not fit exactly into any of the other categories, if for no other reason than the difference in what part of the prey is devoured.
The final category is absorption vore. This vore places the emphasis on either an amorphous predator that eats by engulfing prey with its entire body, like an amoeba, or a solid predator that absorbs prey and immediately incorporate them into their body, usually via magic or highly-advanced technology. This has a large number of similarities to soft vore, especially if the prey is alive after being engulfed, but what separates the two categories is conventional soft vore involves solid predators bringing prey into their body by inserting them into an orifice that leads inside it.
Absorption vore, in contrast, has predators with bodies that, depending on your point of view, has either an infinite number of available orifices or a body that serves as one giant orifice in of itself, removing any true need for other entrances or exits. Further, goo-vore has prey end up suspended in the mass of the predator, leading to a very different sensation than being forced into one area of the predators body.
The next part of vore that varies incredibly from person to person is what sex and species the vorarephile prefers their preds and prey to be. In addition to male and female, there's also hermaphrodites (often abbreviated as "herm" or "futanari/futa); dickgirls, which posses a penis while otherwise appearing female; cuntboys, which are the opposite; and creatures that, for whatever reason, have no sex at all.
When it comes to species, vorarephiles are quite varied in their tastes. Scenarios may include:
Demi-Humans: Traditional human-like fantasy races such as elves, dwarves, goblins, ogres, trolls, orcs, etc., or human-like aliens.
Anthropomorphic Animals: See the sliding scale of anthropomorphism for all the different kinds. Werewolves and other human-to-animal shapeshifters fall under this heading as well. Very common in vore works, as attraction to vore and attraction to furries comes as a package deal for a lot of people.
Non-Anthropomorphic Animals: Snakes and whales seem to be the stars of this category when it comes to soft vore, while hard vore preferences seem more varied.
Prehistoric Animals: T. Rex and similarly-proportioned dinosaurs, like raptors, are among the most popular. Elasmosaurus-like creatures and the various kinds of saber-toothed cats can also be seen regularly. Same as animals when it comes to how human-like they can be.
Fantastical Creatures: Dragons, griffons, sea serpents, and other mythical creatures. Once again, they can be anthropomorphic or completely feral.
Tauric Creatures: Any creature with a humanoid upper body, and an animalistic lower half. Includes centaurs, merpeople, and the various tauric anthros popular in the furry fandom. Of special note are the ubiquitous nagas, which have a snake’s coils as their lower halves and usually feature the upper body of a human female.
Carnivorous Plants: Ranges from giant versions of real ones to plants that can uproot themselves and hunt down prey, or even dryads and other humanoid/plant hybrids. Often use gratuitous numbers of vines and tentacles to restrain and capture their meals.
Amorphous Creatures: Goo-girls, oozes, and other creatures with a mutable form.
Fairies and Fey: Along with humans, demi-humans, and animals (anthro or not), fairies are the only other group I notice being evenly split between pred and prey. Human-sized or larger fey usually serve as preds while smaller ones, like pixies, are common in prey rolls.
Constructs: Robots, transformers, golems and any other creature made of electronics, metal, stone, or similar materials. Some food-based constructs, like gingerbread men who come to life, are also in this category. Probably the least-used category for both pred and prey.
Monsters/Aliens: Anything that doesn’t fit into the above categories. Vore fans often take great pleasure in coming up with their own unique predators, like the Snooge .(NSFW) Some are similar to more traditional creatures, and others can be completely unique.
This area is fascinatingly diverse, and when I asked the community about their preferences I received quite a few different responses. Some were repulsed by anything that strayed too far from human, some found humans incredibly boring. Some found that preds eating "appropriate" prey, like cats devouring mice, enhanced the experience, while others liked role-reversal scenarios where the opposite occurred. Some were incredibly flexible on species, but couldn't enjoy scenarios with the "wrong" sexes, or vice-versa. Some didn't have too much preference on either axis, as long as the characters were well-written.
However, based on my own observations and an informal I performed over on Eka's, there are a couple of clear trends. Humanoid creatures can be pred or prey, but feral creatures and monsters are almost invariably predators. Further, female and female-esque forms seems to noticeably outweigh males, especially in regards to predators. Not too surprising, given that male prey seem to make up the majority of the community and sexual attraction factors in to most people's preferences.
It's also worth noting that preds and prey can be any size, smaller than a fly or bigger than a planet. As macrophilia is closely linked to vore, it is pretty common for predators to be larger than their prey, though by how much varies greatly. Assuming one can extrapolate from this poll to gain an estimation of pred/prey size ratios, most prefer pred and prey to be about the same size. However, the next most popular categories are those that make the prey small enough to be easily captured and restrained, but large enough to make a filling meal. In this case, if pred and prey were both humanoid, the prey would be anywhere from waist-high to ankle-high to the predator. Mr. Kraken explained why this size range is popular for macrophiles, but it applies to vore in many ways as well:
Personal intimacy is precisely what my macrophilia is about…Once someone has surpassed a certain size, being in her vicinity would actually be dangerous, regardless of her disposition, as she would be so powerful that even the gentlest touch could inflict injury, or perhaps others would be as small as mites and she would unknowingly trample them as she walked, their chorus of screams hopelessly inaudible to her. Once the size gap becomes too great, interaction and communication become difficult if not impossible. This is probably why “handheld” is such a popular size, since handheld people are small enough to be completely powerless and easily transportable—if not in a hand, then somewhere like a pocket, purse, or the perennially popular cleavage—yet large enough for direct eye contact, for their bodies to be seen in sexually attractive detail, and to not injure easily when reasonable precautions are taken. When a man is ant size or less, about the only way a woman can feel him is as a tickle on her skin, whereas in the case of the man who snugly fits in her clenched hand, she can feel his body in much greater detail and notice his heart racing, his muscles squirming, and his penis stiffening at her touch.
And while he doesn't devour his victims as far as I know, the Joker does a nice job of summing it up in Batman: The Dark Knight:.
Do you want to know why I use a knife? You see, guns are too quick. You can't savor all of the little...emotions. In their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way...I knew your friends better than you ever did.
Basically, the smaller the prey, the less personal the interaction with it becomes. In order to get a filling meal, a pred would have to eat multiple creatures in one sitting, or would have to use multiple creatures at once to satiate their sexual desires. Though this may sound strange, vore is about physical intimacy in many ways as well, and it’s hard to be “intimate” when prey is a handful of creatures no bigger than a fingernail. Though the concept of “mass vore” where a giant predator stuffs down dozens or even hundreds of creature in at once, does have appeal to some, they appear to be a minority for the reasons mentioned above. Most prefer prey to be swallowed up one at a time so both the pred and prey can, “savor all of the little emotions,” as well as every single struggle and twitch that the prey makes while being devoured.
Moving on to the next major difference in vore scenarios, some people prefer their vore more “realistic” than others. Now, vore is, for obvious reasons, something that is almost never indulged in real life, due to both the ethical issues involved (even if animals are eaten or fed to another), and the fact that, at the risk of stating the obvious, getting oneself eaten is not conductive to one's long-term well-being. Though that certainly doesn’t stop some people from volunteering themselves, as this article mentions.
For the record, I blame that case and the Rammstein song it inspired for a good deal of the “all vorarephiles are cannibals” assumption that gets on my nerves.
Anyways, because vore is almost entirely a fantastical fetish restrained to drawings, stories, games, and other artistic mediums, it draws a lot of flak for being unrealistic, and therefore more unhealthy than other fetishes. I have my problems with that assumption as well, but because I’m lazy I’ll use a quote to summarize my rebuttal, taken from the article Dark Romance by Arilin Thorferra:
There are many unrealizable (or technically fulfillable but incredibly unlikely) fantasies out there that wouldn’t strike anyone as intrinsically dangerous—fantasizing about a deceased lover, the current Playboy centerfold, or about winning the lottery. Any fantasy becomes unhealthy when it becomes an obsession, but that has nothing to do with the obsession’s subject.
Still, I can understand why someone would scoff at the notion that one kind of vore is more real than another, and that the difference is important enough to justify spending time elaborating on it. Please allow me to explain my reasoning through my favorite way of promoting understanding: a long-winded analogy. If you feel the same way after I’m done, scoff away, but at least humor me for a moment.
In this analogy, I’m going to compare two works of science fiction I find particularly enjoyable. One is the animated TV show Futurama, and the other is a long-running webcomic called Freefall. Both take place in the future, and have fantastical elements such as faster-than-light travel, sentient robots, alien societies, and human colonies on other planets. But each of the settings treats its fantastical elements very, very differently.
I love Futurama to death, but let’s look at some facts. Its most popular, Emmy-award winning episode “Roswell That Ends Well” centers around the crew being sent back in time to cause the Roswell incident because they were too close to a star going supernova when a crew member microwaved jiffy-pop popcorn. Later in the episode, that character goes on to become his own grandfather with absolutely no consequences to him or the space time-continuum, besides having to live with the knowledge that he slept with a younger version of his grandma. This is a show where powerful alien overlords watch trashy human TV from a thousand years ago, Santa Claus exists as an evil, psychotic robot that goes on a rampage every "X-mas", and underwater houses inexplicably burn to the ground. Futurama’s attitude toward such things is simply “Don’t think about it too much and enjoy the ride.” And it works.
Freefall takes the exact opposite approach. Almost everything “advanced” is an extension of things we already have, or things that are considered theoretically possible. Half the jokes revolve around one character explaining how something works in the future, only to put a comical twist at the end via an odd way of interpreting said explanation. It becomes incredibly obvious that the creator, Mark Stanley, has put an incredible amount of time and effort into researching what is possible and impossible.
For example, one of the main characters is an "uplifted" wolf with human intelligence, which seems like it would be the product of mad science, but it's revealed in-comic that there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for why a company would fund her creation. Though the comic is overall incredibly silly, its attitude towards its more extraordinary people and technology is a well-grounded foray into speculative fiction that seeks not only to make the reader laugh, but to make them think about the what-ifs and possibilities the future holds. And it works.
Vore is the same way. Some is obviously unrealistic and makes no apologies about it, because it’s sexy and/or appealing enough where no one worries about the feasibility of how an orifice could possibly stretch to take in something as big as they are. Others take the time, do some research, and come out with a scenario that is at least possible, if not probable. Though the level of realism doesn’t change the actual vore much, it affects the story, plot, and tone of a piece incredibly. Realistic vore has a grittier feel to it that not everyone finds enjoyable, especially due to the limitations it puts on what can and can’t be done. As a fantasy fetish to begin with, most vorarephiles are willing to sacrifice some realism in order to get the most from their attraction, something any fan of over-the-top action movies, sappy love stories, or works of science fiction is just as guilty of at one point or another.
There is also that fact that, when made too realistic, vore can become the stuff of nightmares. As I mentioned before, soft vore that includes digestion can be one of the most disturbingly graphic things you will ever see or read, and realistic vore leans more towards emphasizing this aspect of the process...as well as the inevitable outcome of it. (The poop, in case you didn’t catch that.) Chimera Synx, who came up with the above-mentioned Snooge, seems to be the master of this, picking apart every aspect of vore to form scenarios so terrifyingly horrendous I couldn’t help but browse through pretty much every picture under his…uh, her...its fur affinity page. Do the same at your own risk. While I’m certainly not going to criticize someone’s taste in erotica (which goes beyond "throwing stones in a glass house" and into "throwing Molotov cocktails in a fireworks factory" territory), I will say that such levels of realism are not suited to everyone’s tastes.
Realism is, as I mentioned before, a spectrum with countless variations, but some kinds of vore lean more towards one end of the scale than the other. More fantastical vore usually involves predators the same size or smaller than their prey, swallowing that requires incredible elasticity to pull off, prey that reforms after digestion, otherworldly creatures as preds and prey, soul vore, anthros, magic, and willing prey. Realistic vore often includes humans, animals or giant versions thereof as preds, large size differences between pred and prey, plant preds, vampiric preds, digestion, death, scat, science fiction, and unwilling prey.
These differences are by no means exclusive- a fantastical scenario could revolve around giant animals, or a realistic one feature willing prey, but they are more common on one end then another. Really, what separates realistic and unrealistic vore is not what happens, but how much detail is put into explaining how it happens. Remember, both Futurama and Freefall had improbable or impossible things occur- one just had a lot more backstory then the other.
The final, major difference between vore situations is whether the creature being swallowed is willing or unwilling. Like realism, this difference doesn’t change the vore itself by much (as something is swallowed either way), but is perhaps the number one biggest decision that determines how the vore is treated.
Vore is very much tied to domination and submission, and much like BDSM, it can be light and playful or dark and hard-core. Whether prey volunteers or not is usually the key divider between the two. Willing vore is an act of intimacy between two creatures, though as I mentioned before, whether this intimacy is on the level of a loving cuddle or passionate sex varies from individual to individual. Non-sexual soft vore is sometimes referred to as “a hug from the inside,” and is, for obvious reasons, tied heavily to endosomatophilia, an attraction to being alive inside another creature. Willing vore often has the prey emerge from the encounter unscathed, either because the pred regurgitated them before any damage was done, or the prey died and reformed afterwards.
In those cases where the prey dies and does not come back, the highlight is often on the prey becoming a part of the pred. In effect, the swallowed creature cares so deeply about the pred that they are willing to sacrifice their life to merge with someone or something that they love. This could be viewed as the ultimate form of physical intimacy: two creatures becoming so close they literally merge into a single entity. Sometimes this becomes even more pronounced, with the predator taking on physical or mental characteristics of the swallowed creature, or even having the prey’s mind share the pred’s body.
Not to say that willing vore is all about happy, consensual feelings. Darker willing vore revolves around creatures offering themselves as a sacrifice to a master or “deity,” or being brain-washed/mind-controlled, a situation where the prey is likely a lot less willing then they outwardly appear. While unwilling vore usually has a savage undertone to it, with one creature physically dominating another, this kind of willing vore highlights the predators domination on a psychological or social level. While this domination is usually portrayed as civilized or ritualistic in opposition to the primal domination of unwilling vore, in some ways it is even more domineering. The predator is so in control of the prey’s mind it has no need to physically control its meal.
Unwilling vore comes in a couple of flavors as well. There's the traditional "pred swallows unwilling prey" kind, but there are three other types that show up with some regularity. Role-reversal vore involves an unwilling "predator" and a "prey" that works its way inside in an ironic twist. In many ways this works the same way as the traditional method, but the prey is the one physically or mentally dominating the predator. The second is forced vore, in which the predator is forced by another creature to swallow an unwilling prey, in which case the third party is the one in control of the situation. Finally, there's accidental vore, where the predator swallows the prey by random chance and often never realizes there's another creature inside of them.
That's the nuts-and-bolts explanation, at least, and I'll get into the differences in mentality when I discuss why people enjoy vore. For now, there's another "axis," so to speak, that differentiates the types of unwilling vore from one another, and that is just how unwilling the parties actually are. On one end we have prey and/or pred that is truly, 100% unwilling, not enjoying itself in any way, and tries its hardest to resist the vore. Because the unwilling parties struggle so much (always a plus) and it allows the willing party to show how powerful they are, this is pretty commonly seen in vore works. The other end of end of the spectrum involves a party that is unwilling only from a logical standpoint. To use Freudian terminology, the superego of the unwilling party is screaming that they shouldn't be enjoying this, but the id is having the time of its life. Falling in the middle are the various combinations and levels of physical and emotional pleasure, and how in control the superego is of the creature's actions.
The appeal of this situation and why such an internal conflict happens was explained incredibly well by Mini Lo in Macrophilia 102 (Or, Wiring and Observations):
There’s something very romantic (the traditional definition of romantic, not “lovey dovey”) about the idea of being “ravished”, as folks in the scene call it. Also referred to as “resistance play”. The reason rape fantasies are so popular is because there’s just something irresistible about being conquered and having all your desires fulfilled without needing to ask for them. It’s supposed to be immensely cathartic, and I think that’s why I fantasized about it. The idea of being forced to do things that I secretly wanted to do, but was too scared and ashamed, or whatever, to go out and ask for them myself was really enticing. The idea that someone could come along and force me to accept everything that I really am, completely ignoring any of my pesky hang-ups… yeah, that’s what I wanted. I wanted that way more than just penis-in-vagina, to be honest.
(Sadly, the blog has since been deleted, so there's no link to share this time.)
Vore is able to take this to a whole new level, as the “victim” not only has to overcome the fact that they are being used, but that they are being used in a way that could ultimately lead to their death. How erotic would it be then, for someone to be horrified by their situation, but still have that undeniable feeling of arousal in the back of their mind? To know that they would inevitably perish from the actions of this predator savoring their helplessness, but at the same time, have their darkest, most intimate fantasy fulfilled? This inevitable conflict is a common theme in vore stories. Even creatures not portrayed as closet vorarephiles sometimes have to battle against this, as even from an objective standpoint getting swallowed can be quite arousing.
“Poppycock!” you exclaim to the computer screen, your carefully-placed monocle comically falling from your eye to dangle from its chain. Or at least that’s reaction I like to imagine you having. (If you are reading this while wearing a monocle, I admire your penchant for respectable eyewear.) Regardless, I don’t expect such a statement to stand by itself, so let me explain my point. On the most basic level, what happens during sex and masturbation? Something firm but yielding (a penis, a finger, a tongue, a dildo, a carrot, whatever floats your boat) is placed into an orifice or something meant to simulate one (a hand, a pillow, a fleshlight, a hollowed-out melon…) that is tight enough to squeeze it, while the object moves in order to create a pleasurable sensation. What happens when a creature is swallowed? Something firm but yielding (the body of a living creature) is placed into an orifice or something similar that squeezes it, and the creature usually squirms and wiggles and creates a pleasurable sensation. Not to mention in oral vore you have a tongue lapping over every inch of your body, tracing over your every curve and contour, coating you in hot, slick saliva while your body is surrounded on all sides by soft pink flesh gently yielding to your form, and then that wonderful muscle slips between your legs and…um. Ahem. Where was I?
Oh, right, segueing from the different kinds of vore into what their draw is. Before I get into that, I need to make a bit of a disclaimer. There are kinds of vore I like far more than others, and so I can explain why they appeal to me so in a great amount of detail. And in those cases, I will probably not be the only one who feels the same way, and can articulate the core appeal for a large number of people who share similar attractions. For all the other types, the only thing I have to go on is my empathy and intuition, and there is a much higher chance that what I say will not speak accurately for the people who actually possess the attraction in full. You should know by now just how much vore can vary, and with each variation comes another change in why it appeals to some people. To articulate the appeal of every type of vore would be a herculean task for one person to handle, which is why I encourage any vorarephiles who have interests different then mine to try their own explanations.
Continued in Part 2 , due to size limitations.