Saturday, February 18, 2012

Now We Really Need Courage to Write Erotica

One of my projects for 2012 is to contribute a monthly post to The Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog, along with many other erotica writers whose work I greatly admire.  This morning when I went to Facebook to link to my current post, they refused the URL as inappropriate or "spammy."  This has never happened before, and I don't see it as a good sign.  We live in a society where our House of Representatives believes it's okay to ask a panel of old men to decide on women's health issues and their right to access birth control without allowing a single woman to be part of the dialogue.  Is Facebook's sudden blocking of ERWA a similar effort to allow the most reactionary, fearful opinion prevail over freedom of speech and thought?

I hope I'm being paranoid.

Unfortunately, history shows that the forces of reaction can roll back progress, as impossible as that might seem.  Remember that Jim Crow kept southern blacks in virtual slavery for over a century after the Emancipation Proclamation.  There are obviously many people out there who would like to outlaw contraception and anything that celebrates the enjoyment of sexuality.  As my blog post argues, writing erotica is an important way to assert the truth about the human experience rather than buckle under to what makes a small minority of fear-mongers comfortable.  Apparently Facebook is part of that minority.

The problem is, once you start censoring for the "common good," where do you stop?  I find violence very objectionable, and in fact some PG-13 movies offend me with their portrayal of terrible violence without realistic consequences.  Does that mean Facebook should censor all violent material? 

Ironically, my ERWA blog post about changing the world is even more salient than I thought when I wrote it last week.


Gina Marie said...

That is just so unbelievably wrong. Thank you, Donna, for standing up and shining some light on this curious and disturbing issue. Can't we just evolve already???

Donna said...

Exactly, Gina Marie! Besides, it really FEELS GOOD to tell the truth about who we are. Although these censor types seem to distrust feeling good in any form....

Remittance Girl said...

It really does feel good!

It is a sly kind of censorship too, because there is no legal mechanism by which one can challenge the decision. When the public sphere is privately owned (Facebook), it becomes an exceedingly non-democratic and unanswerable situation.

Meanwhile, you wouldn't believe how many profs have rejected my proposal because they do not feel 'able to engage' with the work. I honestly think I'd have been better off in the 1970s.

Gina Marie said...

"I honestly think I'd have been better off in the 1970s."

I've thought the same thing....

Donna said...

Yes, there was an openness and sense of possibility in the 1970s that seems to have closed down decade by decade. On a fifty year cycle, we'll be back in full progressive mode in the 2020s, so just sit tight... okay, now I'm being optimistic.

Having spent some time in academia, RG, I am not in the least surprised that profs were squeamish. I'll try to keep this as brief as possible :-), however, because academics are insecure about the value and prestige of what they're doing anyway, many of them might feel sexual themes would call their seriousness into question. And yet, intellectuals are supposed to be asking the important questions, such as, why does Western civilization seem invested in denying and degrading the body and pleasure even when few of us go to Christian churches anymore?

I can't tell you how many people tell me, "I enjoyed your novel, but I don't usually read this kind of thing." As if they have to reassure me they are respectable. But I don't care what they read otherwise, I care how they responded to my novel, which, in my opinion, does have a lot more to it than sexual descriptions even within the sex scenes themselves.

We still have a LONG way to go, but I think your dissertation will help AND should be published for a non-academic audience. I'll buy a copy!