“Do we not bleed the same ink as they?”
I'm certain that we do.
On June 5th, 1956 on the Milton Berle Show a few shakes of his hips won the 21-year old singer Elvis Presley the title “Elvis the Pelvis” and resulted in him being banned on TV, from the waist down.
On September 16th, 2011 rap singer Stefan “RedFoo” Gordy, released the video for his band LMFAO song “Sexy and I know it.” In the video he (and the rest of the band) are dressed in silver sparkling Speedos and spend most of the video making “themselves” jiggle.
The world changes. Times move forward and once unspeakable cultural taboos become common place.
In November, 1968 the TV show Star Trek made television history by showing the first interracial kiss. Would such a kiss even be seen as remarkable now? Of course not.
Left and right, the world of visual media has pushed at boundaries till they are almost nonexistent. Then they’ve pushed even harder. I have little doubt that in my lifetime what would have been an X-rated movie, with people in the streets carrying protests signs about its release, will be seen as regular family entertainment.
The world changes. Some say for the worst, but I can point out that burlesque strippers and often vulgar vaudeville comedians were once seen as appropriate entertainment for children less than ten years of age.
People in the entertainment industry have gone to jail, gone to court and been fined into the poor house to make those changes come about. They have fought tooth and nail to get the censorship boards to acknowledge that this is not the “Puritan” times of the 1600s.
Married couples could not be seen to be in bed together. Then they could, but they couldn’t touch in anyway. Then they could give each other a kiss, but had to sleep on separate sides of the bed. And so on and so on till now … well, full frontal is still a bit to risqué for regular TV but what was once a soft R-rating is now simply a normal show.
The world changes–erotica has not.
“Wait, what? That can’t be so. You’re mistaken MST, I’m sure of it.”
Then why is it that Erotica is being pulled from E-book providers internet-wide? Content being censored? Search engines on e-book sites modified to not find certain “Taboo” words. Level caps set on how high up a best seller list an “erotica” story can go. These things and many others have been used in the last few years to help “silently censure’ erotica.
“No, no MST that was all years ago right? Back in the days of “the Pelvis”? Back when two people of different races kissing could get a movie theater burned down. When a man kissing a man was a stoning offense. That’s not today.”
Try placing a brother-sister incest story on Amazon.
“Oh, but MST that’s just a “squicky” taboo subject. Amazon is within their rights to stop that kind of thing from being sold on their site if they so choose.”
Then they probably need to remove “The Witching Hour” by Anne Rice. “Game of Thrones” by George R Martin. “Flowers in the attic” by V.C. Andrews. “The Cement Garden” by Ian McEwan. And “The Fall of the house of Usher” by Poe while we’re at it, since it hints at incest. And just how many more? Dozens? Hundreds? Or is it even more than that?
Erotica writers, we are standing on a battlefield. Most of us just don’t hear the guns. We don’t even know we’re being shot at till we’re bleeding out. Writing is our hobby, our passion, our joy and to some our livelihood and it’s being infringed upon by the moralities of others. If it was anything else, people would be protesting on the Capitol steps.
Those shots have not just begun to be fired either, they began being fired back in the 1600-1700-1800s at authors who had to post anonymous or face serious prison time. Their books burned. Themselves, in a few famous cases, executed even for writing.
Yes, and for writing what people clearly wanted to read. There is such a huge market for erotica some modern e-book providers can’t handle the volume.
“Executed for writing?”
Erotica has been called seditious, blasphemous, obscene, lewd, pornographic … but by far the worst “hate” words that have even been applied to erotica is that it is all “poorly written.”
Hacks. Smut peddlers. Trash writers. Porn writers. Yeah … that’s what they think we are. Tell people what you do and see the smiles, the grins, the condescending smirks that say without words, “You’re not a real writer.”
Because you write erotica? Not a “real” writer because what you write about is sex. How stupid, in this modern world, is that? With sex in everything around us? You can’t open a magazine, turn on a TV, see a movie, read a “Mainstream” book and not have it be there, in neon lights with flashing rhinestone pasties!
Hollywood has known this since the first days of film. Hell, the film camera as we know it wasn’t in existence three years before the first moving-pictures of people having sex were taken.
So if it works so well for Hollywood, what is said about sex in erotic writing?
Anyone can write those kinds of trashy stories.
It’s just bad porn without the good video.
It’s poorly written smut.
Erotica is a lot of things but it is not that. What it is, simply as it can be described, is a style of writing.
It gets lumped together under the publishing category of “erotica” but it’s in fact not a separate type of writing. It’s not like say Westerns, or Fantasy, or Romance. (and please don’t let me get started on Romance novels, or erotica-lite as they should be calling it) Erotica is no more or less than erotic writing. You can write an erotica Western. An erotica Fantasy story. Horror. Crime Drama. Suspense. Mystery. Spy & Espionage. You name the category and you can write it more erotic and you have an “erotica” novel, novella, novelette, short story or flash.
And those books exist on “mainstream” bookshelves already.
Yes. And they were sold with none of the controversy our tales of simple love or complex sex arouse. Those “mainstream” author’s stories were not sold out the back of the Adult Video store in brown paper sacks to hide what had been purchased. They set proudly next to the other novels in the big name bookstores. So why are our works the victims of censorship when those “conventional” books are not being given the same critical eye we suffer under? Even though they contain the same sex scenes as ours?
The very name carries with it a stigma shadow from the days of “the Pelvis” and far earlier. And that shadow we writers shall suffer under, or embrace and make it change. The world has changed and it’s damn-well-time erotica caught up.
We are, in our most humble of words, writers. We are no-less writers than the greatest authors who put quill to parchment, pen to paper, fingers to a typewriter or to keyboards. Yet our talent is given not praise but scorn. Why? Because we continue to let it happen.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed the same ink as they?”
“If you insult our writing, do we not hurt the same as they?”
“Do we not dread a bad reviews, same as they?”
“And if we write it, will they not cum?”
Do not allow yourself to be sold short. Do not walk with your head down as if you’re doing something to be ashamed of. Writers have been shamed, imprisoned, even died to be able to do what you’re doing as a hobby. As a passion. As a joy. And as a profession. When someone asks you what you do, you say “I’m a writer.”
“Well, what do you write?”
“I write the stories that make your wife go buy batteries.”
Photo Attribution: By Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States (Burn Ed Burn Uploaded by mangostar) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons