Singing to the Choir or Beating a Dead Horse?


Time to look around the “maid café” (found around Los Angeles and in Canada) where the waitresses dress in costume; time to turn off your 1990s hello kitty Vibrator and to put down that fan-created pornographic pokemon comic. No one can deny that erotica has had its day since the closet door cracked open and everyone got an opportunity to peek in. This is not a discussion whether erotica falls into the category of pornography or not or even about indie writers opening gates for everyone to enter the pool. No doubt there will be some who will poo-poo this post, but maybe it’s time to look at the self-publishing world with eyes wide open (instead of wide shut) and realize that not only readers but also many erotica and “erotic” writers and authors are moving away and returning to mainstream novels and novellas.


I don’t know if I’m singing to the choir or just beating a dead horse, but Fanfic-based “50 Shades of Grey” did not open the doors for erotic (explicit and in some people’s opinion, obscene) material to be accepted. It’s my opinion it was merely a matter of being in the right place at the right time. These particular books hit the waves at a time when there was a great interest by the reading public for explicit (here’s that word again)—obscenity to surf their way.


The definition of obscenity has always been somewhat of a mystery. It is sometimes defined as material without social value, whose {themes} appeal to prurient interest in sex, and whose representation of sexual matters {is} an affront to contemporary community standards. Did you know that the first recorded obscenity trial in the United States took place in 1815? According to and Donald Ray Burger (A Day in History), it was March 30 in the Supreme Court in Philadelphia and Jess Sharpless was found guilty of displaying an obscene painting in his home!


Personally, I find nothing obscene about sensual music, movies, books, ads, etc. and I find nothing wrong with sex. But, don’t you think that shoving “trucker-mouth” words and explicit sex scenes and bdsm down the public’s throat has made it less attractive? Remember when Playboy magazines and romance crotch novels had to be sneaked into the house and hid from our parents? Knowing they could be confiscated at any moment, even when they weren’t explicit, created an air of mystery and excitement around them. This just goes to prove that our own imaginations produced far more erotic scenes than any publication that could not describe and or portray nudity or sexual activity in graphic detail.


Every adult in the States in 1967 remembers U.S. Congress taking a close look at the issue of obscenity. There was a loud breath of relief exhaled when their eventual conclusion was that “Congress should not seek to interfere with the right of adults who wish to do so to read, obtain, or view explicit sexual materials” (this is also a Berger quote from “A Day in History”). They also suggested regulation of the sale of such materials to minors and ensuring that such materials not be thrust upon people without their consent through the mail or otherwise.


Nevertheless, while their decision seemed completely reasonable, it was denounced and rejected by President Nixon and a Senate vote. Well, despite this rejection, this is mostly the standard for obscenity today, with the government seldom intruding on citizen’s private lives. However, this doesn’t stop the many complaints against material some people regard as obscene.


Interesting to note is how the internet, (advertising, the music industry, the movie industry) the publishing industry plays into the part of the Congressional suggestion regarding “…such materials not be thrust upon people without their consent through the mail or otherwise”. We can no longer say to the general public, “turn it off…” Turn on the internet and these flash you in the face before you can find the OFF button to click…it doesn’t matter if you choose not to see it or if the person probably is a minor. And, we all know our children are going to search for it if it doesn’t pop up. BDSM and Sexually Explicit books for sale can be accessed by minors with just a click or two from their mouse.


Suffice it to say, humans are drawn to sex and sexual content. Cultures go through phases when this is more blatant than at other times. The pendulum swung to BLATANT more than 50 years ago, it has reached its limit, and is now returning. “Fifty Shades…” did not throw open the doors to erotica, as I mentioned earlier. There have been songs and story tellers extolling the pleasures of erotica long before the first words were written or the first drawing was printed. The writers who have sunk back into the comfort of the erotica pillows (or of the bondage and whips) will continue, but over the following years, I believe more and more of them will ask themselves if they want to be famous or infamous, like the Marquis de Sade (known for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle, but more so for his erotic and pornographic novels).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s