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Pornography without morals is boring. - Elf M. Sternberg
Pornography without morals is boring.
I've been re-reading some old "How to write sex and romance" books that I have on my shelves, and the first one, Writing Romances," edited by Rita Gallagher and Rita Clay Estrada, may have had some good things to say about the genre, but is so sadly outdated that it fails to convey the modern market. The rise of the anonymous erotica romance makes all of the advice about subtletly and "this isn't soft-corn porn" seem trite and pointless. But it was Helen Myer's advice that really made want to throw the book across the room.

In a section entitled "The Love Scene," Myers tells us: "These are monogamous couples with healthy, sexual relationships. Mores and morals matter to these people, which challenges critics who label these books as soft pornography."

Uh, no. To claim that "mores and morals" are a challenge to pornography is to miss the point of pornography, and worse, leave no breathing room at all for that vast tract of writing known as erotica. Does it not exist, or can we admit that it exists on a continuum than envelops both the universe of romance novels and vast tracts of the the porniverse as well? To say that pornography writers write in a universe without morals is to say that pornographers write in a universe without plot; the two are inextricably entwined. Characters want, others oppose them, these conflicts keep the reader returning to an author or a series long after the sex has become routinized.

I've read romance where the passion is flat and drab and meanders across the page, and I've read erotica where there's no plot and no morals. (The latter often involves a lot of misogyny, surprise that.) Few people want to read much of that. But don't tell me that good pornography doesn't invoke questions of morals and mores.

What Ms. Myers is telling us, really, is that only in the monogamous sexual paradigm do love, romance, and respect intertwine. (I maintain the old-fashioned idea that having a solid set of working morals and hewing to them is the only source of self-respect.) She seems to have missed forseeing the rise of the polyamory/romance/erotica series coming out of the usual publishing houses these days. Well, we can't all be prophets.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

2 comments or Leave a comment
shockwave77598 From: shockwave77598 Date: September 17th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Anonymous, eh? As in the woman has one night stands or is blindfolded and has no idea who is with her?
elfs From: elfs Date: September 17th, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, "anonymous erotica" is a term of art. It refers to the fact that ebooks don't have cover art visible to others, so the reader can enjoy it anonymously-- without others seeing lurid covers and suggestive titles.

"Surreptitious" might have been a better word, but I didn't get to choose it.
2 comments or Leave a comment