So, I have started another blog, specifically for the purpose of selling my erotic fiction.
Shameless plug time: You can find it here.
Now, I have set about the task of finding ways to promote said blog.
Stop laughing or I will get the whip out … oh wait. That’s probably not going to be much of a threat here, is it?
Anyway … I am finding just how extremely aggravating it is to try to promote my own blog. The Internet may be for porn,
but many of the social networking sites seem to be prudes. They aren’t the only ones either.
You might recall one of my posts here, which was to be a follow up to Some Gals Just Like to Be Tied Up. While Some Gals got open publication, its follow up was denied for “inappropriate content”. Because apparently, you’re not supposed to discuss what “consent” really means, I guess?
So, as aggravating as this is as a writer, I’m seeing a glimpse of a bigger picture here as well. In our society, sex and sexuality are taboo. Which seems a really strange thing to say, given how much sex and sexuality are used to sell products in our culture. Consider the scantily clad women in video games, the attractive models in just about any commercial (male and female). Even television and movies have gotten riskier.
And while we could spend an entire blog talking about the double standards in our main stream media and entertainment, that’s not what I want to discuss right now. You see, while our media loves to parade sexuality around, if you actually take agency in that sexuality – well, then we have problems.
I am talking about Porn
Now no one likes anyone who is predatory or who takes advantage of others in any way, even if they are paying them some nominal about of money. However, not every man and woman involved in adult entertainment is exploited or looking to exploit others. I have a favorite toy shop locally run by a woman and her husband, who made it a point to let me know that she’s tested out samples of the different products she was selling to me.
I’m not talking about exploitation, or supporting exploitation. In fact, if we fix what I am going to talk about, exploitation will begin to go away because the exploiters will have less power, less leverage to hold over others.
The Don’t Talk Culture
What is funny about this article is that I’m writing under a pen name. In fact, there is a lot that I have to shadow and shade in my stories in order to preserve my non-erotic works. I have been told that if I write erotica that could in any way be traced back to my other writing that I can pretty much kiss an agent contract good bye. I would be poison to any publisher. Even without any connection to my other writing, just writing erotica under the same pen name I use for other fiction – yeah.
That should not be the case. As an adult, I should be able to write anything I want. I personally follow certain standards of what I won’t write about. But if I am writing about consenting adults and consensual activity, does it matter if that activity is alluded to in a genre-fiction book or explicitly described in erotic fiction?
Nor should there be shame in reading it.
But that is what is at the heart of what I dub the “Don’t Talk Culture,” shame. If your wife finds your porn, it is embarrassing and possibly grounds for divorce. If your friends see that you downloaded the latest smutty 50 Shades rip off, they look at you like you’re a stranger, or something dirty. Whispers: Did you know someone like her would read something like that? We’ll ignore the fact that those same whisperers will probably download it to their Kindle later.
They weren’t the ones caught with it.
Explicit sex is shameful. It doesn’t help that a lot of what is in porn plays on that shame. Stubborn women are brought to their knees, usually to receive a face full of money shot. The Philandering man is made a fool or dominated by the aggressive woman. The woman who enjoys sex, or helplessly can’t say no to it, is used by partner after partner.
These themes exist because they are a fantasy. They are also our collective opinion of sexuality. If you’re chaste, if you save yourself for your one partner and spurn the men who proposition you, then you’re virtuous. If you enjoy your sexuality and – gasp – revel in it, you’re a slut, another word meant to shame. Worse, it is lop-sided. We don’t shame men who proposition women constantly for sex the way we look down upon the women who say yes.
Strangely, we do shame them when they watch porn, though.
While we also do not shame men who enjoy sex the way we shame women – we expect then to enjoy and seek out sex – we do sometimes look down on them.
I read a book recently where the author shared a funny little anecdote. While hiking, a woman who was hiking alone began hiking with a young man. She did not speak English very well, and someone meaning well gave her a warning about the young man. She fled and when asked what was wrong by others, declared she had been hiking the trail with a murderer.
He was a “lady-killer.”
You know, a loose man who enjoys taking advantage of women. It doesn’t matter if those encounters are perfectly level, of course. The women he sleeps with, then ignores later, may not mind. Sure, some might. Pride. Attachment. Others may be quite fine with having a little fling and moving on. Men aren’t the only ones who chase one night stands. But, we will happy dub a man a lady-killer if we know that he’s slept around a lot, with little to no attachment to his partners, even if every partner is okay with that arrangement.
Why? Because sex is dirty. And sex for any reason is taboo.
Yeah, even in the marriage bed, for the sake of having kids. If you don’t believe me, ask your mother to tell you about her sex life. Better yet, choose a technique, and ask her advice on it. There is a pretty good chance either you or your mother will be very uncomfortable with the conversation. You shouldn’t be. You’re both adults. But you probably will be.
Taking a Healthier View on Sex
None of this taboo and shaming is healthy. That’s what really drives me crazy. When I began writing erotica, I noticed something. My views on sex, sexuality, and my sexuality and sensuality improved. Greatly. Not just with my sex life, either, though that has seen a few nice improvements. Even scars that I often have trouble dealing with seem to mar me less. That was an effect I did not expect, but I welcome.
But when you immerse yourself into a mindset, even for the duration of writing a story, where sex is not shameful, those scars born of shame suddenly lose their sting. Their sting gone, the poison is neutralized.
It is nice.
In my writing, I don’t necessarily avoid shame. In my second vignette of Heather in Haven, when Mistress Victoria asks Heather what things she enjoys, Heather is suddenly very shy and nervous. She is afraid of being judged or turned away. This is how Mistress Victoria responds:
“That pleasant little jitter you are feeling now, it signals something is about to happen,” Mistress Victoria continued. She brought her hand down and danced her fingers between Heather’s thighs, before tracing her finger up to Heather’s corset, “the excitement of anticipation, of secrets about to be discovered or revealed.
“And in our little game of dominance and submission we find new ways to explore them. But submission is not a red letter,” Mistress traced an S, “across your chest. I am not here to boost my pride, and you are not here to be shamed. What I want is for you to feel free, to feel released to be and do all the things you imagine you want to do, those things in the back of your mind that you thought you had to hide from lovers for fear of being judged, of being ridiculed, of being turned away and spurned.
“Yours is to want and desire, and to tell me your fantasies. Mine is to consent to do them.”
In Heather in Haven, Heather is a submissive, but she is not helpless and she is not without sexual agency. Really, the story is an erotic exploration of her understanding just what that is, and that it is something she always had.
But because it contains explicit sex, it has to be relegated to the dark areas of the internet, where poor web design (evidenced by multiple animated gifs on a page – I mean come on. Who does that?) abounds and stalkers are free to harass women, because what is to stop them? They all have to be anonymous there, because sex is dirty and shameful. Unless the site is sophisticated enough (or cares enough) to block IP addresses, all they have to do is create a new log in. And besides everyone there deserves to be ridiculed. After all, they’re being all sinful on the Internets.
Consider. I have a pretty empowering, albeit explicit sex-filled story. But I have to use social networking through Google or Facebook very carefully when I promote it, even though both social networking sites have groups that would probably enjoy it: BDSM groups, LGBT groups, Feminist groups. But it has explicit sex. I have Tumblr, but the only people who will see searches that come back to Tumblr are the ones logged into Tumblr already and want to see NSFW blogs.
So if they’re not a Tumblr user, they aren’t going to find me on Yahoo! or Google, even if they have their search settings to allow for explicit content.
To be fair, Tumblr at least gives me a bone (no pun intended). It has a pretty big community and it is open about not minding sexual content, as long as it is appropriately flagged. So I ought to get some traction there. Google and Facebook could actually learn a lot from them. Google especially, given that it has pretty much written the book on search algorithms anymore. It would be incredibly easy for Google to allow/require flagging of not just pages but individual posts, so that people with Safe Search on or people who don’t want to view Porn (at all or at the moment) don’t see the explicit posts in their feeds. Facebook could do the same. In fact, I’m surprised Facebook doesn’t already, as much as they love ad revenue.
At least Twitter is okay with Porn. No seriously. Check it out. Personally, I follow Traci Lords because … well she’s Traci Lords. Yeah, I follow Porn too cause why not.
And maybe one day, I won’t have to preserve myself behind a pen name, though to be honest, I like it. One day, I’ll even get to tell the story behind it.
Until then, I have porn to write.