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Erotic litterature - What do you think?

(56 Posts)
RestingUnderTheSun Wed 10-Jul-13 19:23:17

Not usually posting on here but I always enjoy reading posts in this section so wanted your pov on that.

I have noticed recently that you can find more and more erotic literature on the bookshelves next to more 'classic' literature. So it seems to become a very 'acceptable' thing.

But is it OK on a feminism pov or just as bad as porn (albeit it's only words on paper not real people)?

There's nothing wrong with visual porn in itself as far as I'm concerned - the problem is with the porn industry and its treatment of the people within it (drugs, coercion etc) Going from that viewpoint I can't see how erotic literature can be any better or worse than any other form of literature as a genre. As an avid reader of specific types of 'erotic literature' I'm probably biased though, so I'm quite interested to hear any other viewpoints.

RestingUnderTheSun Wed 10-Jul-13 19:33:52

I have been wondering about what sort if image it can send. Some of them are very much the Alpha male and the poor little woman who can't possibly resist him...

louisianablue2000 Wed 10-Jul-13 19:38:52

I don't think it's as bad as porn because there's not the same exploitation of actual people. However, depending on the 'novel' they may or may not be a great example for teenagers to read depending how the women are portrayed. I'm also wondering if it's just more explicitly sexual these days, and these books always existed. I read lots of erotic fiction, e.g. Lace, as a teenager, my Mum had no idea what it was about until she picked it up. She was shocked at how explicit it was but didn't stop me reading it because she went to a boarding school that distributed lists of banned books, not surprisingly the girls all tried to get hold of all the books on the list.

I think you can definitely find specific examples of 'bad' erotica, but you can do that with regular literature as well. Most pieces of Classic literature would have women in a subordinate (non sexual) role.

IDK. It's a tightrope I think. WRT the scenario you mentioned; do you belittle women who may want to read that kind of erotica by assuming they can't tell the difference between fiction or reality? Or is it protecting people who may take the wrong lessons from it? Do you censor 'for the general good'? What people like to read for kicks isn't a mirror of their real life.

FreyaSnow Wed 10-Jul-13 19:51:43

There can be ethical issues with any kind of media. I don't think sexually explicit material which doesn't involve actual people, be it written or visual, has the same issues as that which does involve actual people.

The range of sexually explicit written material is huge. I don't think it is just based on one trope.

Thisisaeuphemism Wed 10-Jul-13 19:58:29

I used to write erotica and I am a feminist. I don't see an incompatibility between writing it or enjoying it and being a feminist.

However, yeah, some of it is a bit off (I'm thinking of 50 shades of course).

SummersHere Wed 10-Jul-13 20:00:08

There's plenty of decent erotic literature out there's written by women for women.
There's nothing erotic about badly written erotica but no I don't think it's exploitative in the same way that porn is. It's just peoples fantasies at the end of the day.

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Wed 10-Jul-13 20:27:25

I don't think erotica is wrong, no. But like other posters have mentioned it can be as exploitative as women as other kinds of printed non sexual media. Depends on what people are reading, good erotica could probably be a really good thing for teenagers to read.

arsenaltilidie Wed 10-Jul-13 20:51:04

So big production company (the vet the women) or owner produced is okay??

RestingUnderTheSun Wed 10-Jul-13 20:52:00

What would you say is good erotica? Could you give me an example?

It's funny I was expecting lots of people coming in and saying they were all depicting women as being feeble, unable to take decisions etc... I must have come across the wrong ones lol. (not my usual reading as you can guess)

Okay. I think it's a bit difficult tbh. I can't stand badly written anything, that's what I'd call 'bad' erotica, I guess you're referring to subject matter, which is very... subjective grin

If you like reading trashy novels with big Alpha men and swooning women, then you're not going to see it as bad,. 50 Shades isn't bad because it's a D/s novel with tropey male/female roles (haven't read more than a few pages so apologies if that's a wrong assumption) it's bad because it's badly written and just bad. There's an internet acronym, YKINMK (Your Kink Is Not My Kink) which works here.

I guess what you want is more realistic erotica, with strong independent female characters giving as good as they get? Hopefully someone will suggest something. If I buy books like that it tends to be in the Urban Fantasy range, so fair amount of sex but a lot more Vampires/Werewolves/Witches and actual plot than most people want!

(If I read porn for porns sake, it'll be something fan written from an internet site)

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Wed 10-Jul-13 21:22:43

Totally consensual? Women really enjoying it? And yes to well written.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Wed 10-Jul-13 22:01:30

I agree with others - the ethical issues are different from porn, and can be avoided, because it doesn't involve abusing someone else's body.

I have issues with crap like 50 Shades the same way I have issue with beautifully written novels like Lolita (which I can't and won't finish so this is not a deep interpretation of the whole text). I think there's something sick about literature that makes something attractive out of something abusive.

But it isn't the same as actual abuse.

I think it's very telling that there are huuuuge reams of free erotic lit on the net, and, relative to this, the erotic lit marked that's paid for is small.

With porn it's the other way around, and I'm dubious about how 'free' some supposedly amateur porn is anyway.

I think that says something about how we're being manipulated in the porn industry.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 10-Jul-13 22:08:26

Read Anais Nin for some well written stuff.

RestingUnderTheSun Wed 10-Jul-13 22:12:10

LRD 'making something attractive out of something abusive' is exactly the feeling I came out with the couple of books I've read.
Some parts just made me think about some threads on the relationship board, except that here the women are supported from abusive partners whereas in the book, it was shown as something how ever so lovely hmm.

But I also get that not erotica is like this so I will now have to hunt down the 'good' ones.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Wed 10-Jul-13 22:17:12

Yes, it gives me the shudders sometimes. Especially because of course sexy writing is actually sexy (or can be, god knows 50 shades makes my ladybits want to retreat into my larynx, but still ...), so it feels a bit grubby to read. For me, at least.

NiceTabard Thu 11-Jul-13 18:50:01

Agree with others that there are not the same concerns because it's not real actual people doing stuff.

I read a lot of fanfic much of which contains explicit sex / is no more than porn. The situations and people who get put together is a much wider range than the "mainstream" stuff you mention - much of it is miles away from the dominant man / passive woman idea you talk about (not least because a large amount of it is male/male).

PeaceAndHope Tue 16-Jul-13 01:29:03

I am not opposed to erotica, either visual or literary.

However most of the erotic literature out there be it the Mills and Boon novels, Harlequin romances, or the more racy Fifty Shades of Crap are so immersed in traditional gender stereotypes that I want to vomit.

FreyaSnow Wed 17-Jul-13 16:35:39

I disagree that most erotic literature is immersed in gender stereotypes. I agree with NiceTabard that the range is very wide. OP, I don't think it is possible to say what good erotic fiction is because tastes vary widely and female interests tend to cluster around a number of quite specific tropes which usually don't have equivalents in sexual content made for men. I assume that most women who read erotic fiction read fan fiction (there seems to be huge quantities of it compared to anything else). The biggest source of such fiction (erotic or general) is archive of our own:

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 17-Jul-13 19:17:57

Coo, feel like I'm in a parallel universe fan-ficcers anon meeting: "Hello, my name's lurcio and I like erotic fanfic." <Hope very sincerely that the one RL person who knows my username doesn't spot this>.

Actually, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the links between fanfic erotic fiction and feminism. One of my fan-fic mates (who ocassionally betas for me) said that she'd heard fanfic described as a community of the disenfranchised, by which I think she meant that it was a space for women to explore fantasies that weren't allowed by mainstream culture. Certainly it raises all sorts of interesting questions for me - such as why does so much fiction perpetuate sexual stereotypes from the 1950s? Why do so many of us like slash? (My reasons: it tends to be better written; given the 1950s vibe of much het fiction, it presents much more equal relationships; some of the fandoms I'm interested in have very few female characters, so unless you want to introduce female OCs you're stuck with writing slash).

Crap erotic fiction tends to perpetuate sexual stereotypes, good stuff can challenge them, though as LRD says upthread, it's particularly disturbing when you come across something that's well written and offensive (on the whole I subscribe to "your kink is not my kink and that's ok", the one exception I make to this is when people promulgate rape myths - I will call them on that).

It's been very interesting for me trying to write fanfic, especially since my story attracted a young teen readership (wasn't an erotic fic, though the characters were adults, so there was a romance, and sex happening "off screen" as it were - think 12 cert film) - I'm having to think very carefully about issues of consent, power relationships and the like. (There was an interesting thread on Jacqui Wilson elsewhere today, which discussed this - how good are teenagers at reading between the lines and distinguishing the character's own assessments of the situation from a more objective stance - the book in question was about a teacher-pupil abusive relationship where the head teacher ends up victim blaming and the pupil seems, at the end of the book, to accept the head's assessment that it was her fault - very disturbing message for young teens if they're not in a place where they can step back and say "actually that's a crock of shit.")

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 17-Jul-13 19:19:49

Bugger, can't spell "occasionally"! This is why I write using a word processor with a spell checker. :-)

GreenSkittles Wed 17-Jul-13 20:36:46

A freind of mine gave me a copy of her favourite erotic novel which I felt was a bit hmm anyway - I didn't need to know what gets her off!

But the book kicks off with the handsome prince spotting the beautiful princess asleep/unconscious and choosing to fuck her awake! It was so gross and rapey, not arousing at all. My bits want to shrivel up and die when I read stuff like that.

HoneyDragon Wed 17-Jul-13 20:41:14

When I see it I think

That is neither erotic or literature.

It should be on a shelf marked Wank Pulp in Waterstones.

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