Shaming Erotica Writers & Why it's a FUCKING NO-NO!

I know, it's been a while since I've posted. I can't even try to make an excuse, often enough, it's simply that I forget in the grind between being mom & getting some writing done. But today, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and tripped over something that couldn't be ignored (from a writer's standpoint, I mean . . . on any given day someone shares some inflammatory thing that 'can't be ignored'). She'd shared her latest blog post, entitled: I was fired over erotic romance.

Yup. So that you all understand exactly what the problem here is, I'll give you the rundown, but I've also gotten permission from my friend (fellow Curiosity Quills author, Ayden K. Morgen) to post the link to her post on the matter.

Ayden was a stellar employee, never a write up, never a complaint, had a larger workload than her coworkers, but handled it without assistance, and during myriad personal issues. Yet, she was fired because . . . wait for it . . . she emailed her erotic romance novel to . . . HERSELF.

Was it her work email? Yes. BUT she'd done this four times over the space of a year and a half, so there was room for a warning. There was time for whomever oversaw such things to alert her that this was not acceptable. Where in that 18 months, in sending & receipt of those other three emails, was this person?

The document was not in the body of the email, open for everyone to see, it was an attachment. It was not shared in any way, shape or form with coworkers, or clients. Yet everything about how she did her job was forgotten in the wake of someone going through her work email, opening the attached file, reading it, and in the course of reading ('cause it wasn't on page one!) found erotic content.

That was it. Is she fighting it? Of course, but here's the thing, she shouldn't have to.

How is it that we've come to an age where we can be more open about reading erotica, but people are still shaming the writers of it?

This was my response, posted to the FB share of the link:

I think it's shameful that you lost your job over some bullshit like this. Honestly, it's not as if you were sending or receiving inappropriate messages- you were emailing your literary work to yourself, and they had to dig through the attachment to find the thing that offended them. They should be embarrassed- it shouldn't even have crossed your mind to be the one embarrassed in this.

I remember from my late teens knowing in my heart that when I grew up, I was going to write, and a lot of my stories would contain erotica. I struggled for years with simply putting pen to paper (it was the 90's folks, laptops weighed as much as a desktop pc & tablets hadn't been invented, yet), because inevitably there were the friends who'd ask to read what you're working on, and I couldn't hand it over without wanting to crawl under a rock. Even as I became more secure in my abilities as a writer, I was still gun-shy about letting people see that I wrote something with 'adult content'.... 

But now, I've stopped caring. I simply caution certain people in my life that I don't want them to read 'this' story (like warning my mom not to order the After Dark anthology, 'cause the last thing I want a woman reading is a vampire/fallen angel one night stand written by her daughter-that was a fun conversation). But I'm so done being embarrassed, or shamed. It's frankly exhausting- the shy glancing away when asked what we write, the air quotes as we clear our throats and say "mature content", the gritting of our teeth as we brace for judgment. Cuz you're correct- the people who judge us most harshly usually turn out to be the ones reading our work. And it takes a while to realize that it's got nothing to do with us. They're afraid of how they will be looked at for enjoying those stories- they are afraid that others will condemn them if they remain silent while said others condemn our work.

After a while, you have to accept the calling to write things the way they unfold in your mind, or you stifle your natural writer's instinct and churn out crap. Erotica is an art form (trust me on this- there is a difference between erotica & literary porn- don't believe me? Read Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy.... And then muck through 50 Shades). I repeat: erotica is an art form, and it's time that those of us who are skilled with writing erotica stand up and say "Yes, it's an art, and I'm a goddamned master." 

We shouldn't have to duck and hide. Just because someone can't admit to reading our work doesn't mean we should be made to feel bad for writing it. We're not forcing them to pick up, or download, that book. We'd have written that story with or without that particular reader's purchase of it. And if it wasn't our work, it would be another writer's. It's socially accepted that men watch porn, that they read Playboy & Penthouse, we don't see it, because there is still such a thing as social propriety, but it is widely known and accepted. Women are still expected to read period romances with floofy-dressed, virginal heroine on the cover being rescued by some muscly dude with long hair, and that's it, but even then we're supposed to cower and jump to hide the book when someone 'catches us'. It's supposed to be accepted that we read smut, but it's really not, because gods forbid someone finds your 'girly-smut' novel. There are those who still look at you like there's something wrong with you  . . . before they go home and, away from prying eyes, do exactly that for which they've just condemned you.

If you wouldn't shame a writer of any other type of fiction, then don't shame writers of erotic fiction. Our work takes just as much effort, takes just as much of our energy, and time, and focus. In some cases, just as much research-sometimes more! And the story surrounding the much murmured about 'adult content' is the point, not the erotica, itself. There's an actual story unfolding that just so happens to contain sex. Sex that may be described in eloquent fasion, but still that's what it is. Stories that may have sex as an equal part of the tale to the mystery, and danger, or horror, or intrigue, or whatever-the-fuck-else the writer is giving you. 

It should not be the case that if your name isn't that of a bestselling author everyone would know off the tops of their heads, then you should feel ashamed for what you write. Accepting that you are a writer at heart, and developing the courage to share your work with others is hard enough. We shouldn't have to keep stumbling over new hurdles. Writers, in general (unless one is what I call a literary diva [you can't give them constructive criticism without them imploding & accusing you of being jealous of how ZOMG fabulously talented they are, and informing you that their story's just so deep that you 'don't get it']), are hard on themselves. They're imposing their own hurdles, trying to constantly grow, and overcome and push. And that's a process that doesn't end. If any writer thinks they're grown as much as they're ever going to, and there's no way to improve (no matter how long they've been at it, this will always apply), then, watch out, Literary Diva Alert. Yes, even long time, established writers can turn a corner one day and BAM, suddenly they become LDs

I'm sidetracking, but my point is, with all that we put ourselves through, why try to make us feel bad about the very thing we're called to do? We don't sit down one day and go "I think I'm gonna write me some smut!" Ever writer has storytelling in their heart, and with that is their expression of that story. We have to follow our instincts & our muses on how a story will unfold. So, in a way, if that story contains erotica really isn't even up to us. So will, some won't, but they do or not, don't make someone feel bad for doing the very thing they're meant to do.

Ayden's original post here.




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