29 August 2012
What's the biggest unfair stereotype you've encountered about erotica writers?
That we’re slapdash hacks who don’t care about what we write. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
That we live the lives we write about. My response is always, 'good job I don't write about murder, then.'
Kat Black, contributor to At Your Mercy, Submission and Sex and the Stranger
Definitely that just because I write about sex, I must be a raging nymphomaniac and all my stories autobiographical! This presumption doesn't happen with any other fiction genre, as is patently clear every time I respond with a 'What, in the same way that Agatha Christie must have gone around bumping people off in country house libraries in order to write her murder mysteries, you mean?'
That I always want to talk about sex or my personal life. Sometimes I might, and I definitely have drawn from my personal life with my erotic writing, but that doesn't mean that when I step away from my computer I always want to discuss it. That's the beauty of writing — that you can express things you might not want to express outside the confines of words on a page. I don't mind discussing erotic writing generally, but people definitely assume that I've either done everything I've written about or that they can take liberties in conversation that they would never dare take with someone else.
Well, since I'm relatively new to this, I haven't encountered any yet. But at my book club the other day, one particularly judgmental member of the club labeled the Christian Grey character in Fifty Shades a freak and a psycho. I imagine she would say something similar about me, if she read anything I've written. It doesn't really upset me, though. I just get a sly little smile on my face, knowing I am having way more fun in life.
Megan Hart, contributor to My Secret Life
The one that I despise the most is that because I write erotic fiction, that somehow I need to be this sexed up, corset-wearing vamp who spends her days wiggling and writhing instead of writing. Really? C'mon. If I wrote murder mysteries nobody would assume I murdered people, and if they did, they'd probably not ask me to describe my personal murder habits to them.
That we can’t write other things. That our work is just basically explicit porn-ish writing with crappy dialogue and zero plot. When someone implies that’s the case, I simply say, ‘You must be reading the wrong erotica.’
Gwen Masters, contributor to My Secret Life
There is the idea that writing erotica is not 'real' writing. There is the idea that anybody can do it — after all, you’re writing about sex, and everybody has sex, so how hard can it be? The fact is that writing good erotica is hard work, it’s just as valid of a genre as any other, and it can move people just as strongly as any other kind of literary work. Hopefully, one day the idea that we erotica writers need to get a 'real job' will fade.
Many people assume that erotic stories and novels about submissive women are anti-feminist and as such, must be penned by anti-feminists. They fail to grasp the concept that a woman who understands her sexuality (or comes to do so through the course of the tale) and has the guts to act on it is, in all likelihood, a feminist.
A true female submissive is a woman who is strong enough to submit to a Dominant who will push her boundaries to the limit. A D/s relationship is built on trust, honesty, communication and pure, intense lust.
I am constantly informing people that I am a university graduate and a feminist and so are virtually all of my contemporaries. It's not a problem for me if a woman doesn't want to explore BDSM, but I suspect many women would like to if they didn't fear it would turn them into victims and strip them of their cherished 'feminist' label.
You have only to look at the enduring popularity of classic erotica novels like Story of O by Anne Desclos, under the pen name Pauline Réage, and The Sleeping Beauty trilogy by Anne Rice, writing as A. N. Roquelaure, to see that women like to fantasize about absolute submission.
The idea that feminists don't like these fantasies is a hold over from the re-emergence of the feminist movement that took place in the sixties and seventies. We were told it wasn't acceptable for feminists to have rape fantasies. It was a mistake to tell women what they could and could not fantasize about. The issue came to a head when the feminists and the anti-feminists found themselves on the same side in the debate on pornography. Only then did the feminist movement really consider the complexities of female sexual desires.
As women continue to challenge men in the workplace, at home and in politics, their private desire to be swept away and "forced" to submit will only, in my opinion, increase. Many will read about it but only courageous women with a very strong self-awareness will have the courage to actually explore it. Strong, courageous, self-aware? Sounds like a feminist to me.
I don't know if this is a stereotype, but I hate the dismissal of erotica and erotic romance as genres. I feel it's just an extension of that whole 'romance is rubbish' attitude that to me is just a larger dismissal of work created mostly by women.
Kristina Wright, author of Seduce Me Tonight
The biggest stereotype I've encountered is that erotica writers aren't 'real' writers — we're just hacks writing sex scene after sex scene. In truth, erotica is probably the hardest genre to write well.