Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Three Holes, No Waiting

The good news: I've recovered from the PLAGUE that infected every pore and fiber of my body, and am now able to sit up and type for long stretches of time without losing the ability to take deep breaths.

The bad news: people still suck.

I'd so been hoping I'd rise from my sickbed (okay, sickcouch) and discover the world a finer place than I'd left it. 'Twas not to be.

Samuel Alito (he of the strong belief in an Executive Privilege that may allow for a suspension of Constitutionally provided liberties heretofore unknown in this nation since the extremity of the Civil War) has been confirmed as a member of the Supreme Court.

No one has yet killed Simon Cowell in his sleep.

And folks -- sister romance writers, no less -- are still ragging on erotica/erotic romance.

I can't do much about the first except watch the President's approval rating drop like a stone and pray it bodes well for the November midterm elections, which will help make Alito's confirmation somewhat moot, at least temporarily.

The second? I don't even WATCH American Idol, and I know Cowell needs to die. Or at least be sent far, far away to a place where his opinion is regularly dismissed as irrelevant.

But that third one? Really gets my panties in a wad. If I wore panties with any regularity, which I don't. Which is more than you need to know. And, incidentally, is the reason I keep getting sick, according to my mother.


The lovely Candy of Smart Bitches fame talked about Emma Holly and polyamorous relationships and group sex (otherwise known as "three holes, no waiting) in a recent re-posting of an old Romancing the Blog column. She asked folks if they found this sort of thing sexy or romantic. Some folks did. Some folks didn't. And some folks not only didn't, but went out of their considerable ways to explain that such fiction was not only NOT sexy or romantic, but NOT Romance (note capitalized 'R') and pornographic to boot. The particular commenter who called it "porn" (a Miss Black) went on to say that including such material in the romance genre only served to confuse readers.

Pardon me while I grit my teeth down to their pearly little nubs. I do so love condescension, especially when it comes from my peers.

"Confuse the readers?" You're kidding, right? Those of us not already confused by the wild contradictions fed us by the media regarding our own bodies and how we're to use, abuse and enjoy them aren't going to be further bumfoozled by a too plentiful variety of flavors on the romance shelves, even if a few of those flavors turn more than a few stomachs.

Give the romance-reading public -- and by that I mean women, of course -- a little more credit, if you please. If we can live with the paradox of "Maddona/whore" we're fed from infancy, we can likely find our way through Barnes & Noble without big scary signs that scream "Here There Be DILDOES."

As for calling erotica/erotic romance "porn"...methinks someone needs to read read/view a little real pornography before throwing that label around so freely. I've read it, I've viewed it, I know the difference. Every time someone labels erotica/erotic romance pornography, it only shows me they haven't done their homework. And that makes it so much easier to dismiss their opinions out of hand.

Candy took the discussion over to her own site, where she was characteristically brilliant in her commentary. About those folks who can't separate what they find personally uncomfortable from what they find morally repellent, she says:

"...It has to do with the way people identify something they don't like and attach a myriad of other judgments to this distaste. Instead of saying 'This grosses me out,' the conclusion they reach is, 'This grosses me out, therefore it’s wrong and doesn’t belong in romance novels.'

In short, it bothers me when people seem to automatically judge something they find kind of squicky as immoral.'

Yes. Oh, yes indeed.

People commented, and are still commenting. Someone blamed our Puritan forefathers for our messed up approach to sex. I've jumped on that bandwagon more than once, but like they say in Al Anon -- you can only blame your fuck-ups on your drunken parents for so long before it starts getting old.

Two hundred and sixty years and one hell of an influx of cultural diversity later, we're still blaming Jonathon Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" for our dysfunction. Let's give JonBoy a break and call ourselves what we are -- deeply and profoundly fucked on the topic of sexuality.

This country has always preferred its fictional representations of sex the way it likes its fictional representations of violence -- as far removed from reality as they can possibly be. HUGE explosion, the bad guys are dead, and let's not show the clean-up afterwards, because who wants to see an EMT-trainee throwing up in the bushes after collecting severed limbs? Until fairly recently, sex on the screen and between the covers of books -- mostly for consumption by men, because why would women want to read about THAT?? -- was the same way. And you know what I'm talking about.

A lot of folks -- and not a few of them women -- are uncomfortable with bringing a more realistic depiction of sex center-stage in fiction. And when I say "realistic," I'm aware that I'm speaking in relative terms. RomanceLandia Sex is to Real Sex what DisneyWorld is to downtown Orlando, Florida. But it's a helluva lot more resonant, from a feminine point of view, than the Mickey Spillane version of "fuck her, discard her, then she turns up dead" crap I found to read when I was a kid.

To insist that erotic romance be sequestered in its own genre because it deals more with sexual fantasy then romantic fantasy, which was one of the arguments used by Miss Black after she backed off the "porn" allegation, is to separate sex and love artificially. And that speaks volumes about where we are as a society. We can't embrace a spectrum of sexual intensity in our fictional depictions of romance? Really? Even NOW, a century and a half after Nathaniel Hawthorne made Hester Prynne wear her scarlet letter to town? Maybe those Europeans who laugh at us for being absurdly uptight and provincial have a point. And I do so hate to give the French points for anything.*

*This is a joke. Some of my best friends are...well, no, I don't actually know anyone in or from France. But I'm sure if I did, I would love them like family. Really. I'm KIDDING.

Addendum: Then there's this nonsense from a commenter on Miss Snark's blog:

"Mark" thinks selling a book to Ellora's Cave isn't a "real writing credit."

He goes on to say of the original poster (who wondered if she should list her erotica writing credits in queries to agents/publishers regarding non-erotic projects):

"If you succeed it will in spite of your literotica past not because of it."

I s'pose that all depends upon your definition of success. Mark? He's vanity-pubbed. To his credit, he makes no bones about it. But what's weird is his insistence that the very topic of sex negates all a book's validity as a "credit."

Even assuming you buy the nonsense that small press/epublishing doesn't "count" somehow, the number of Ellora's Cave authors who've been picked up by large New York houses negates this premise. Which makes Mark sadly misinformed -- or maybe willfully so, because his whole smug diatribe points to a nasty case of sour grapes.

Or perhaps just an exceptionally small penis.


Blogger FerfeLaBat said...

Very fun rant. But.

a. Stop reading Miss Snark. You'll get brain cavities.

b. Ever since Euro-Disney the French have been completely immune to further abuse from Americans. Mock away.

c. It's smut, not porn. ;-)

2/10/2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger Jordan Summers said...

Terrific rant. I'm still laughing.

2/10/2006 7:10 PM  

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