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"Chloe Harris" really is the pseudonym for two writers, Noelle and Barbra, who've joined forces to write intriguing and sexy stories. A quintessential eccentric southerner, Noelle seems to find a story in almost everything. Ever ambitious to change her stars, she has a degree in Communications. Barbra lives together with her cat ('Princess Mimi'), who isn't very happy that she is spending so much time on writing. But this folly of the living can opener with opposable thumbs is mostly tolerated.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't Tell Me I'm Twisted

I read a trade paperback erotica recently that really bothered me.
It's written from a Male POV sorta like a Casanova's diary kind of thing. Basically each character had very non-vanilla appetites as all good erotica characters should. But they each had something dark (sometimes very dark) in their past that had supposedly been responsible for their colorful appetites. So to me she was saying that her characters only enjoyed these kinky fun kinda things because something bad twisted them that way. While here I am a very normal un-twisted reader enjoying reading about these wild things.(It wasn't anything that hard core just some anal, light bondage, spanking, voyeurism, threesomes.) I'm offended at the thought that she thinks only twisted people do those kinds of things and enjoy them and I'm not twisted. Well yes I am but not in that way. Okay yes in that way but just because I'm wired that way not because I was abused or anything.

Thankfully I am secure enough in who I am and my taste to think "Frak you lady!" and not let it change my ways. But I hate it for other readers. I think there are some women out there that do read erotica/erotic romance as a kind of research, or exploration if you will, into sexual ideas they might be interested in and yet to experience. I think a book like this can really do a disservice to that kind of reader and make them feel somehow wrong about their feelings.

I think erotica/erotic romance writers have some responsibility to portray the things we write about in a way that is honest, responsible and allows the reader to explore their feelings about the acts in a comfortable way.

So what do you think? Do you think erotica/erotic romance writers have a responsibility to the readers in this way or not? Have you read other books that do this same kind of thing?

[B's Thursday Protagonists Series will return next week]

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not only are you not twisted, you make a valid point.
Our sexual fantasies are safe places for us to explore things we might not have the nerve (or opportunity) to otherwise.
Whether we ever actually DO those things is up to us.
Some of my best fantasies are more satisfying in my head than when actually acted out with a trusted partner.
But none of my sometimes kinky meanderings have anything to do with past abuse of any kind. Possibly, because I've had a safe, secure past, I am more willing to trust and try some of the wilder things I've considered.
I haven't read the book you mentioned. Maybe the character's twisted pasts make the author feel less guilty about enjoying deviations?

Katherine Kingston said...

I write hot, kinky stories for Ellora's Cave, with a lot of those wild things like bondage, spankings, threesomes, foursomes, or even more, sometimes.

That attitude that kink arises from abuse and other bad childhood issues bothers me, too, because it implies that all non-vanilla sex is unhealthy. I just don't buy that.

They're just different tastes. Some people like vanilla ice cream, some like rocky road. Some people like vanilla sex, some like it wilder. And some of us like to read about and imagine the wilder scenes.

That isn't to say that some people don't act out past issues in their sex lives. Of course, they do. But to suggest that everyone who does kinky sex is acting out bad childhood issues doesn't follow and doesn't seem to me very real.

Some of my characters have issues in their background, but they don't see their sexual tastes as arising from those. Their sexual proclivities are what they are, and my characters don't apologize for them or try to explain them either. In fact, they mostly live entirely normal lives otherwise, but enjoy indulging their different tastes in a safe, sane and consensual environment.

Jessica Lee said...

Good points, Chloe, and I agree with the first comment. Maybe that is exactly why the author wrote it that way, lessens her guilt in what she may feel is a deviant lifestyle.
And I don't feel that just because one's pleasures in the bedroom are taken beyond the missionary means you have serious issues. It means you're creative. LOL

Eliza Gayle said...

I hope I don't read that book because it would piss me off too!

That kind of narrow minded thinking is a sad sad thing and one that is perpetuated far too often in the media so we sure don't need that in our fiction.

Even if you do have something twisted in your past that doesn't mean it made you the kinkster you are today. Come on!

E

Noelle said...

Great points! I hate things just got so busy here at my day job.

Longer response later.

Barbra said...

*pffft* That book sounds really condescending. I think it’s the book that’s twisted, not us. Nobody is a pervert just because they want to think (or perhaps maybe even act) outside the small vanilla box. What really bothers me is the fact that there are people out there who may have doubts about their sexuality and when they read such crap they conclude (wrongly!!!) that something is seriously wrong with them. But I shouldn’t get started on that or I’ll digress too much.

Sexual fantasies - no matter how kinky - are good, healthy even, as long as they include safe, sane and consensual sex. We as writers must get the psychology right in the first place - and for that you have to dedicate the majority of your time to research. I don’t mean that a writer needs to be trussed up and beaten black and blue to understand the what, how and why of it, of course. All I’m saying is that if we’re not wired that way, we should at least take the time to actually talk to people who are and try to understand them. So, yes, writers definitely have a responsibility to actually present fiction that’s so good you can’t tell the difference!

I’ve read an abundance of BDSM stories that have nothing to do with BDSM simply because they neglected the very first, very basic rule of BDSM: safe, sane and consensual. There was nothing but rape, abuse and unbelievable sex all around.

The author feeling less guilty about her kinks? That’s an interesting perspective. If that’s really the case, it’s a shame. And the author is to be pitied in my not very humble opinion.

Samantha Kane said...

That bothers me, too, when I read it. It's like books that portray homosexuals as people who were "turned" by rape or sexual abuse in their past. It's not only offensive, but irresponsible. People don't need to be made to feel bad about their sexual fantasies. Our fantasies should be the one place we're safe from censure and armchair psychology.

I recently read the submissions guidelines for a relatively well known erotic publisher. They made a point of saying don't bother to submit stories if the sexual proclivities of your characters were inspired by negative events or emotions in the past. They only want stories about adults doing what they do because it's their choice and they like it. Period. Now that's healthy erotica. I loved the submissions page for this pub so much I'm going to blog about it. But not tomorrow. Tomorrow it's another top ten list with lisabea. ;-)

Noelle said...

Thanks everyone. I had read it a few weeks ago and it’s been bothering me ever since.

“Maybe the character's twisted pasts make the author feel less guilty about enjoying deviations?”
My thoughts are it was either that or she was trying and failing to bring emotional conflict into the story.
This author is very well know and gets 4 ½ stars from RT consistently so maybe it the odd format with it being snippets of the narrator’s past and the two women he loved and not a straight forward story. Or maybe you’re right and she has hangs up about her own feelings.

And you know now that I think about it, it was only the women that had been married off to a masochist at 15 or forced by poverty into prostitution etc etc. Which makes it all that much worse doesn’t did.

I am glad to see though, that there are many other writers that are out there writing healthy, happy kinky characters. :)