So last weekend I went to see the new Star Wars movie with a friend. It was a good, fun movie, and I enjoyed it, despite the fact that my dirtball nephew had blurted out a huge spoiler at Christmas.
Elijah, you are dead meat.
But the interesting part of the afternoon was when my friend asked me why I hadn’t shown up the day before, to take part in some post-New Year’s fun with family and friends.
I told my friend the truth. I was working on a story, got into a good groove, and lost track of time.
And then I made my confession, which I had not told anyone.
I write erotica. And have it published.
“Oh, what kind?”
I could have lied here. I don’t think my friend would have immediately gone on-line searching for my pen name (which I had admitted to). But I didn’t want to gloss it over and then have it thrown in my face the next time we talked.
I write fantasy-themed stuff. Goddesses, nature spirits, that sort of thing. Oh, also some incest.
The look I got. A combination of disgust and nausea. You know the old joke? What’s worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm? Seeing half a worm. That was the look I saw.
I understand the feeling. Incest is a huge cultural taboo in this country (less so in other societies, but I’m an American, so let’s talk about America). We are conditioned since birth that brothers and sisters, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters should not see each other as sexual objects.
This, of course, is where the temptation lies. Raise your hands. How many of you, when told that you shouldn’t do something, are immediately tempted to do it, just to buck the system? We break the speed limit on the highways. We slip an apple into our pocket at the store, just to see if we can get away with it. At work, we wonder if that sexy new hire in the cubicle next to ours likes to get freaky.
And we wonder about breaking the most rigid taboo of them all.
We don’t do it. But we know what it is like to think about it. Which means, when we write our stories, we can go into that dark place and put the fantasies onto electronic paper.
And for that, we are judged.
Why? Why are erotica authors held to such a hypocritical standard? Why does society assume we wish to do what we write about?
George R.R. Martin may write rape scenes in “A Game of Thrones,” but no one thinks that he has rape fantasies. John Grisham, in one of the first scenes in his first book, has an underage girl savagely beaten and sexually tortured. No one accuses him of perverse desires. Dan Brown, of “The DaVinci Code” fame, describes an insane monk ritually scarring himself for the greater glory of God. I have yet to hear anyone ask if he flogs himself as some sort of BDSM ritual.
But let an erotica author publish something out of the standard, “boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl make love” format, and we are instantly suspected of being closet perverts at best, and potential criminals at worst.
I have a message for the world. I am not ashamed of what I do. Incest is a way of exploring a side of human nature. Erotica authors have many ways to do this. But to conflate what we write with who we are is a gross miscarriage of justice. Writers who write about BDSM are not necessarily drawn to that in their own lives. I doubt very much writers who write cuckold or gangbang stories have much experience in the realities of that sort of situation (if they do, I apologize profusely). I, personally, have never slept with any member of my family.
Eve, wife of Adam, had the right idea (and couldn’t we call Eve the daughter of Adam? I mean, rib equals genetic material, right? Was Eve a clone? Hmmm). She gave into temptation. She reached for the apple.
I don’t consider that a sin. I consider that a triumph.
I am a writer. I write erotica.
I am not ashamed.