Sex vs. Romance

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week pondering the porn vs. erotica divide.

This is mostly because I spent a lot of time looking at the blogs and websites of erotica authors.

And, they’re all strikingly porn free.

Most of them?  Were trying to pass as romance novelists.  They don’t write porn.  They write erotic romance.

Or, maybe they were just attempting to be safe for work.

This isn't safe for work. But, still--doesn't qualify as porn, does it?

I don’t really know.

I just know I don’t have much interest in writing erotic romance.  That’s what I did with my summer vacation.  I read a ton of “erotica.”

Most of it?  Is “romance” oriented.  That means that you’ve got two (or three) people (or werewolves, vampires, or aliens) that not only have floridly described Hottest Sex Ever–they fuck like no one has ever fucked before, because they’re meant to be.  They’re soulmates.  It’s an emotional connection that cannot be denied.  It’s the twuest of twue love.

This is doubly so if there are BDSM elements, because there’s that mythical thing where BDSM is made somehow more acceptable by the notion that the two people in the relationship are more “deeply committed” to each other via floggings and “trust” and, presumably, fucking magic.

The story, I am writing right now?

No magic spankings.

Not that all consensual spankings aren’t a wee magical.  But you know… these people in my head?  They’re not meant to be together forever.  They’re wank bank material.  The teacher in my current story (broke 15k words last night, hello!) is sort of sad.  He’s no one’s soulmate.  He is shallow.  He’s lonely.  And, he’s depressed.  The student that seduces him?  Is gawky and talks too much.

Because perfect just isn’t hot to me.  People are just way more interesting when they’re flawed.  Sex doesn’t have to happen in the context of a fateful eternal romance.

Erotica is aimed at women.

Now, when you go looking for erotica?  The two recommendations that come up over and over and over?  The Marketplace series and the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice.

And, those aren’t books about true love.

It’s weird.  The most successful romance novelist of the last decade is a Mormon that believes in waiting until marriage, writing about dazzling, emotionally abusive stalkers.  And, that is okay.  That’s okay for freaking teenagers.

But porn for grown women is seemingly taboo in the larger marketplace.

So, really, I don’t understand this thing.  Is it embarrassment?  If you’re a woman reading about male werepanther threesomes, should shame come into your game at all?

And, seriously, who is buying all the sci-fi m/m/m books?  Blue skin and tails, I tell you.  I think the tails are probably the important part…

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  1. Rich
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Maybe some intrepid explorer has discovered the border between erotica and porn, but I don’t know how you would define that. They both are intended to arouse sexual passions.

    But even if you could define the qualities, I don’t think you could attribute them to the work. You might be able to say that the author, painter or photographer had some intent (although how you get into their minds and extract proof is also beyond me) but that doesn’t mean that their work inherits that quality.

    Porn, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It requires the interpretation of the viewer to give it a particular meaning. Until that happens, it is just charcoal on paper or whatever.

    You who are reading this are looking at it and creating meaning. No meaning is transferred from me to you. I can intend for this to have meaning and you can create meaning from it. But I have no control over the meaning you ascribe to it. If you find it pornographic, that’s entirely your fault, not mine!

  2. Joan
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Good point.

    There’s actually a group of fetishists that get off on watching laundry machines, and they post videos on YouTube. Side loading washers that are extra sudsy. Dryers at the public lander-mat. Especially uneven machines that rock. They leave each other appreciative comments. It’s a trip. You’d never know you were looking at porn, without the included context.

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