Erotica is transgressive by nature. Someone smarter than me said “Simply discussing female pleasure is an act of rebellion.” I don’t remember who. Probably Camille Paglia or Naomi Wolf or some other icon of things I only barely begin to understand. But what I do understand is that while pleasure and sex may be transgressive in some circles, in many it’s not. BDSM has even gone through a normalizing over the past few years, although many of the books I read labelled such only play at the real meaning of living the lifestyle.
So what’s left? What’s truly transgressive in this day and age when Walking Dead is discussed by children in elementary school halls? And why do we care?
The act of transgression is simply the act of breaking the rules. Not the little ones like don’t speed or don’t cheat, but the big moral human rules. Most societies have taboos which are not to be broached, either punishable in the legal system or socially, but the line in the sand doesn’t waiver on these. The list differs through the ages and across cultures, but some hold up as basic humanity.
Non-Consentual Sex (although definitions of consent vary widely)
And yet, these are the very things we’re fascinated by. Don’t believe me? Check out Game of Thrones. The only real love story in the whole thin in my opinion is Jaime and Cersei who are twins. They transgress in so many ways: murder, incest, adultery, and yet we as the audience are fascinated by their affair. Their deep love and devotion. Jamie’s desperation for his sister even drives him to what should be considered rape – although it was hella hot.
But for the most part, we avoid looking directly at the things which entrance us, because we aren’t supposed to. By who’s moral compass are we not to look? I give you that to ACT on these transgressions is reprehensible, but to be intrigued or titillated is a part of all of us.
Most book distributors claim they will not sell books about incest, and yet they sell Flowers in the Attic. Or books about Paedophilia and yet they sell Lolita and Gemma and Tampa. It’s only in the Erotica genre that these topics are truly banned, because while we can discuss them, we can’t do it for pleasure.
I posit that there’s no reason for this. I’ve said it before, but if Erotica is about power, about reclaiming a discussion denied to women, what could be more paternalistic than telling me what I can and can’t find hot? Art is not life. Art is a reflection of life, a question of self. It should make you uncomfortable and it should bring you joy. Can anything that does both really be within the boundaries of someone else’s rules?
One of the saddest things I ever hear is when someone says they won’t write what they have in their head because they’re worried it will offend people. Or that their publisher “made them” take something out because it was too risqué. This is the core of the Indie Revolution. To no longer be silenced by gate keepers and those who underestimate readers.
I have written Cannibal Erotica. I have also written a book which looks a paedophilia from the point of view of a young girl. While it’s not erotica, the sex scenes are written to make you uncomfortable, to titillate you and make you question your assumptions. I have a book with shadows of incest which will come further into play as the series continues.
I write these things because they fascinate me, because peeking behind the curtain to find the Wizard is simply a man sitting there touching himself has always been my way. I write them and ask you to question your assumptions about yourself, your neighbors, your society. What evils are we complicit in simply because we won’t discuss them? And what great heights of pleasure could we find if we break a few rules?