My Thoughts on the Erotica Genre

As far as personal tastes go, I understand that everyone is different. Most people are into sports and that is something I couldn’t care less about.  There are people who feel the same way about my books and the fantasy genre as a whole. I respect there are different hobbies and different points of view.  That is what makes us human.  However, there is one thing in the literary world that particularly bothers me, the attempt to claim that erotica is not pornography.

The last sentence of the previous paragraph undoubtedly raised the ire of a few.  Questions such as “how can you claim to be respectful of other people’s interests and make that claim?” For me it’s simple. I am a logical person.  As the old saying goes if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. On twitter especially I have seen erotica authors (which seem to be a dime a dozen on there) make various impassioned arguments that erotica isn’t porn at all.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines porn as “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.” That sounds a lot like erotica.  After all, what is the point of a story that primarily centers around sex if not for the soul purpose of arousal?  Sex by itself is not a plot, other plot elements may be intertwined with the story, but if that was the focus it would cease to be erotica.

I bring this up because all other genres may not be enjoyed by all people.  I don’t particularly fancy romance, but at the end of the day it is still art.  That is what sets erotica apart from all other genres.  Strictly speaking, erotica isn’t art, it’s porn.  A quick search into the definitions of the two clearly makes a distinction.  This isn’t about me pushing my morality onto others or to insult those who read erotica, but I want us to drop the pretense that it is some sort of extreme romance and not functionally a literary version of late night Pay-Per-View.

I believe this is an important topic to discuss.  Especially considering the popularity of the genre and recent scientific findings of what porn does to the human brain.  As always though, anyone reading this is welcome to disagree.  I encourage everyone to research it themselves.  Especially the effects of porn and the differences between porn and art.  From my point of view the evidence is undeniable, but of course there are those who feel passionately that I’m wrong.

My Ironic Truth

Part of being a writer is reading.  That is painfully obvious.  Reading gives an author the tools necessary to equip him or her to do the job.  That said, I find it difficult to find things to read regularly that I enjoy because I’m pretty picky.

I can spend quite a while reading reviews and scrolling through books in genres that interest me, but rarely am I wowed by something.  I like originality, hope, and meaning in stories as I’ve indicated in past blogs.  That doesn’t mean characters have to be perfect, on the contrary, I  like them to have flaws, but not when those flaws are used to create senseless tension.  For example, one series I read a few years ago had a character fight and pine for a female.  When he finally wins her heart, and marries her he cheats, without a believable motive to do so.  It appeared that the entire point of the secondary romance was to create a forced sense of suspense.  As indicated, the character had no real motivation and that’s what bothered me.  I know cheating happens, and characters can do it to add depth, but there must be a believable reason for it.

I know quality books are out there, but due to limited time I continue to be picky about my choices.  I fully admit that it is partially a personality quirk of mine.  However, my search for books that live up to the fiction classics continues.   For it is the classics that I tend to enjoy the most, yet I know there are good stories out there, I only need to find more of them.

Hope in Fiction

Note: This is a companion article to Cynical Fiction.

Why do people read or watch fiction?  Entertainment is the short and easy answer, but there is undoubtedly more.  After all, we can be entertained by non-fiction as well.  Fiction, particularly speculative fiction is a window into the possible.

Fiction shows us what happens if we allow evil to take control, it also offers shows the potential of the human spirit and hope.  Hope for what we can be, what our would and culture can become is the importance of fiction.  Ideally, fiction and stories will show us what we need to learn so that we do not fall into tragedy and oppression ourselves.  However, that is not always how it works.  For it is no secret that humanity has a great capacity for evil.  That doesn’t mean that some people do not pay attention.  After all, how many fictional stories written in the past are becoming increasingly plausible every day?

Through stories we teach and learn, ponder what it means to be good, evil, and human.  This is the point of fiction.  Therefore, hope is necessary in stories, even those that lack a particularly “good” ending, there must be meaning.  Otherwise, what is the point? Anything can accomplish the simple task of “entertaining” an audience, but meaning, hope, and truth is where true art is found in stories.  That is my goal as an author.  That is the sort of fiction that becomes timeless, yet these are the stories that are becoming less common and less popular.  We shouldn’t let cynicism and hopeless fiction become the new normal.

Social Justice Bullies

Social pandering has gone over and beyond ridiculous.  We must be careful what we say and to whom, and even the most benign thing shared can cause outrage.  Why is that?  Words are hurtful, there is no doubt about that, but why must we walk on the proverbial eggshells anymore?

Bullies exist, they always have and always will.  It is a toxic part of humanity and a reality most people face sometime in their lives.  However, that doesn’t seem to be why people are so hurt by words lately.  It appears that large masses of people have thin skin and have an axe to grind against anyone who shares a different viewpoint or vocabulary.

Below is a screenshot of a reaction someone had to a tweet.  Keep in mind my wife runs my Twitter account and was the one that posted this, not me, which is massively ironic.  The not-too-subtle accusation of sexism.  The point isn’t to vent because I’m offended.  It is to point out just how thin-skinned, so many people of our culture are.  Why is something so innocent as my wife and I celebrating our teamwork in need of criticism?

Our culture is growing ever more sensitive to the point where it finds problems where there are none.  No matter how benign a statement, social media post, or thought is, someone is bound to get offended, but not just offended, that person may feel the need to “educate” you and put you in your place.  Offended people now are the social bullies.  Attempting to silence any voice that is different from their own in the name of “good.”  How do we fight this?  Call it out for what it is, bullying.  Us writers need to keep writing our thoughts and what’s on our mind.  Not cater or pander to anyone, no matter how loud and obnoxious their voice may be.  The irony is that it is typically those who speak of tolerance and acceptance that are guilty of the very things they claim to hate.  Perhaps this is a window into everyone’s psyche, we are often guilty of the things we hate the most.  Therefore, before getting sanctimonious over silly things on social media, let us examine ourselves and see if we live up to our own standards.  We all need this.  Certainly, there is a time and place to speak up, and that is where wisdom and discernment comes in, both qualities though seem to be sorely lacking in our society.

Hurt Pt. 2

In my last entry, I discussed victimhood and the culture growing around that.  Pain is a shared experience, it is one of the things that all humans everywhere face.  Most wish to avoid it, however more and more American culture appears to be embracing it, placing people into categories based on historical and emotional pain groups.  A writer’s job is to pay attention to the world.

As stated in the previous blog.  I completely understand that there is hurt that I don’t understand and can never understand, and at the same time I’ve faced things that others will not understand.  That is the truth of being human.  Pain is pain.  Yes, some of it is more traumatic than others, such as seeing combat or being assaulted, but claiming that as an identifying feature accomplishes nothing.

There is a recent study that says teens are creating fake social media accounts to “bully” themselves.  Is this how much we prize victimhood?  Have we ended up creating an environment that favors those who define themselves solely by their pain that this has become a reality?  Life is short, and as we argue about who hurts more and what pain is more legitimate, feeling sorry for ourselves, our life is passing by.

As I watch this unfold, I cannot help but feel like this is something that would be considered unbelievable if it was in a fictional book.  Especially the part where teens bully themselves to get attention.  If that was in a book I was reading, it would feel campy and forced.  Yet this is the reality of the world we live in.