The Perils of Writing EroticabyLeanmeangoblin©
Maybe I should use a more provocative title like "I Am a Depraved Man" to make my thoughts appear intriguing and frank, suitable for the topic of sex in writing. Or perhaps, something steamy and titillating: "How I Raped My Sister"—mimicking true confession magazine headlines—more intimate and appropriate for the avid readers of EROTICA, the realm of fictional lascivious affairs.
The history of literature narrated an enduring, controversial battle for public acceptance of stories (short stories, novels, and serials) with sex, or erotica, as subject matter. And this predicament was also true and shared by fine arts and commercial arts (painting, illustration, graphic design, photography, and comics) together with films, movies, or videos whether animation, live action, or documentary.
One can only read the tribulations of Marquis De Sade or the scandals that beset D.H. Lawrence, or the more modern writers with tinged of erotica in their works, to understand and appreciate the long arduous efforts the genre took...Which, in my humble opinion, is enjoying its most prolific and popular, if not phenomenal, acceptance this century through wide-open and encouraging receptions in Internet sites—from stories to art, to photography and comics, to movies and videos—regardless of quality or worth of the materials.
For there will always be unavoidable abuses in both writing and art when it comes to depiction of explicit sex, whether alone, with a partner, or in a group. Sex offers such a fascinating and challenging subject matter in which written or visual interpretations tend to go beyond the normal—favouring more the forbidden and strange—with the imagined depravities and fantasies all given vivid realities in the chosen medium. And in the trembling hands of an amateur enjoying the liberties stimulated by sex, the resulting erotica can be disastrous, if not ridiculous.
As always, the authors and artists were only flexing their playful creative skills, enjoying the delicious freedom to exercise their talents inspired by sex in both artistic mediums. Yet, as history clarified, were dutifully curbed, censored, and saddled with the constraints of resentful public opinions who felt the presented works were corrupting the morals of a given age.
But ever since man discovered his penis and recognized a vagina for a woman, we saw and understood, too, the pleasures of sex through these unique instruments—thank God for His blessings to us all! As one rams and digs, and the other swallows and enfolds, we have appreciated the enormous range of thrills these tools provided and brought us, whether by itself, together, or with the same kind. All free and addicting for everyone to use in any way it pleases them—in private, in public, with their love ones, with their friends, with their neighbours, strangers, relatives, or even with their pets.
For how else can one indulge in the unique abundant bliss these God-given personal instruments provide along with their accompanying enhancements for pleasures? For the man, a strong and rigid as a pipe implement: self-elongating—a lot longer and harder with extra coaxing, mind you—doubling often as towel holder in the showers. Then again, receding when not needed, and comes equipped with dual sacks of sensitive, fragile globules filled with the seeds of future generations meant for propagation.
For the woman, a self-lubricating, allow-all-size kind of magnificent device—so flexible, tantalizing, and utterly voracious (from beer can, soft drink bottle, one litre plastic bottle, even your fucking fist, for crying out loud!) and still exquisitely accommodating—it can spout out a new-born. Not to mention, its accompanying boosts of extremely gorgeous twin orbs, often the source of ogling and maddening fantasies early in youth, aside from the enviable duty of nurturing life itself.
Of course, one has to have some experience, either-or, before the enjoyment of it is tasted, savoured, and digested. Yet, just by taking a pee—even as a child who woke up in a chilly morning—one is bound to experience the intimate elegance of the delicious usage of this God-given instrument of life.
Didn't you wiggle your head when you peed? It's sometimes so strong that even your shoulders and arms went with the shudder. My circle of horny friends maintained that the wriggle felt each time when urinating is the most reliable gauge of one's virility, and as long as one experiences it, the certainty of the macho image—that much sought after erectile potency in bed—is assured for good.
Okay, I have used the "God" word several times already, and you might be thinking this is only my indulgent sermon on sex, disguised as an erotic, irreverent essay...but no.
Truth is, I think that is exactly where the problem started. The unnecessary, unfounded, and unsophisticated attempts to control and regulate two incomprehensible theories that do not mix, unite, or bond well together: GOD, as believed and championed by organized religions, complete with its admonitions of upholding purity and obedience, thus, advocating safeguarding one's morality—and SEX, as practiced and enjoyed by man, exercising his inherent carnal desires and cravings for procreation, empowered in his most intimate behaviours from the moment of his creation.
One idea is spiritual (God-Religion), while the other is physical (Man-Carnal). The former, perceived as good and righteous, and the latter, malicious and evil—entirely opposite each other in purpose and attitudes. And yet, if honestly scrutinized and studied, sex came from one benevolent source, as everything was created by God. Sex, therefore, was God's excellent gift to man, authorized and provided by Him for its own prearranged, multi-purpose manipulations for the fulfilment and enjoyment of His plans—thus, all-good—a man's birth right.
I must admit this controversial attitude of subjugating, suppressing, and practically controlling sex by means of almost fanatical religious adherence in some circles, organizations, or societies only added to the temptation of man luxuriating in the pleasures and thrills of the flesh. It becomes a luscious tang of ticklish, uninhibited, and forbidden delight—with man relishing, instead, the thought, performance, and indulgence of it—nearly going insane, if without sex for long periods of time.
I once worked for a marketing firm somewhere in the oil-rich, desert nations in the Middle East where unlawful sex (one is supposed to be married first to the woman) is forbidden and punishable by beheading in the public suq (market). Yet the old-timers told of a certain street in the city visited often by Arab women, scattered but waiting, hiding in the darker shadows after midnight.
Apparently, because of their harsh laws on entertainment, booze, sex, and marriage stoked by stern religious rules and rituals, the deprived women would offer themselves to anyone who passed by the vicinity—as long as these women retained their anonymity, their faces covered—only to satisfy their sexual needs. These women are rich and do not need the money, but craved the sex in any way they can get it.
Still, only the bravest and insane dared accept the challenge. Among us, who would want to lose our heads? (Even the woman, if caught, is beheaded). We consoled ourselves with our immoral thoughts; our raging desires kept secured and zipped inside our pants as we held vigil till past two in the mornings huddled in a car near the street corner—slobbering and dirty-imagining at the mere sight of veiled silhouettes appearing and losing themselves in hurried steps in the shadows. Damn, it's fucking free, yet the thought of one's head rolling in a basket is an excellent sexual deterrent.
Unfortunately, man in his bumbling, meddling, and inept intrusion into the sensitive domain of sex as a personal, private, exclusive affair between consenting (and none consenting) individuals regardless of age, sex, colour, creed, or political affiliations, muddied altogether the bright idea of the Almighty...And added fornication, copulation, masturbation, fellatio, cunnilingus, etc., as his noble contributions to the vocabulary of sex. Though much later and more scandalous, incorporated fuck, cock, cunt, pussy, tits, ass hole, blowjob, handjob, fingering, fisting, etc., which, admittedly, made the inhibited vocabulary more colourful, alive, and hot.
Thus, sex looked dirty, unsavoury, unhealthy, wrong, and more objectionable in the eyes of the righteous advocates and guardians of morality—those concerned individuals and groups intrigued of everyone's personal ethics and morals, and who perceived themselves as pillars of decency in any society. Not to include our parents who tried to guide us and fumbled, unsure of themselves on how to show the pleasures and dangers of early sex, as we grew up experimenting, exploring, and experiencing the sweet and bitter flavours of it—spiced up by erotica, of course.
Hence, we have the anxiety of Erotica to confront in every generation—a simmering subject described as debased, indecent, abnormal, sick, depraved, immoral, wicked, disgusting, evil, and other degrading labels and insults it enjoys carrying around its neck like gold medals after the Olympics.
The term, as a genre of writing and art, deals primarily with the intricacies of extreme, pleasurable, and fantasy-based sexual indulgences in varied acceptable, and not too acceptable, relationships—hence, the more forbidden, the more titillating and licentious. Of course, Porn, the twin gay brother of Erotica with his dirty finger muddying the pure ecstasies of his sister—their mother, sweet, calm, innocent Sincerity and the father, obnoxious, loutish, malicious Hypocrisy—is another more salacious and smouldering matter to consider, and I still want to live a happy, long life.
Yet, what is amusing and ridiculous in this convoluted predicament of Erotica as subject for stories either short, serialized, or a novel, is that everyone—reader, browser, patron, sponsor or even protester—is extremely curious of the content. And therefore, more than interested and attracted to it, as if they have already done what were presented or had more vast and wide-ranging experiences, than what were depicted. Each one guilty of enjoying the same, as if only looking for proofs, for confirmations, that what they have been doing were acceptable and pleasurable, satisfying and enduring, and thus, universal.
Not unless...the reader or viewer, is a curious innocent child.
During the end of my secondary education, and as part of military training in school, I was included to guard the national museum where an exhibition of paintings by the Masters (some were reproductions) was held. Throngs of students in all levels came each day, yet were often caught huddled in front of one huge printed copy (thank God!) of Francisco Goya's "The Naked Maja" (La Maja Desnuda).
The painting, nothing more but a reclining nude in a couch, is in full frontal and facing the painter when she sat and posed for the portrait. But truth is, there were two versions: this one, and "The Clothed Maja" (La Maja Vestida), which carried more suggestive erotic content in the stories told behind the pose. It was said that the woman was actually Goya's mistress, a duchess, the wife of a government high ranking official. And when the husband learned of the infidelity and sought after the truth—raiding Goya's studio in the process—found nothing but an excellent portrait of his wife, fully dressed in rich gown, looking lovelier than he expected to see, erasing his suspicions.
Yet, "The Naked Maja" exhibited in my country elicited more curiosity with the kids, that a concerned and scandalized mentor, well-meaning in his intentions, covered the nude's vagina with a piece of paper to give it a semblance of modesty, despite the laughter and ridicule of those who saw it. Then again, his gallantry ignited more disaster—the students started peeking inside the paper.
When museum personnel moved the painting from the lobby to the fourth floor since it became an attraction of malicious curiosity among the kids, we found more: Naughty students drew with their pencils, pens, or ball pens on the Maja's cunt, giving her a lush, unruly curtain of pubic hair. Yet, the reproduction suffered more—damaged by mischievous students eager to provide a hole for her pussy—tearing the paper and pushing their pens and pencils harder, fingering her until the wood backing showed through.
What can one expect from a country where religion is a dominant part of living, imposing strict rules on morals and sexual practices like any other Muslim or Catholic nation, inciting more curiosity than is warranted or necessary?
In my honest opinion, the greatest argument proffered by moralists for the acceptance of Erotica as a valid, honourable form of Literature is its corrupting qualities, i.e., its explicit depictions of sex that may lead to liberal indulgence, addiction, experimentation, practice of abnormal positions, forbidden relationships, number of sex partners, and the unavoidable encouragement of indifference or boredom with "normal" sex—as endorsed by the suggestive scenarios and other variations all creatively enhanced and painted by the writers.
Therefore, deemed destructive for everyone, especially children, who must be at least 15 or 18 years old and above, depending on the particular state laws or country, to be allowed to read or view it.
I say wow in amazement because what gave the magic numbers 15 and 18 in age the license to read or view Erotica? Why are 14 year olds not included, and what did 16 and 17 have—the in-between ages among the privileged few—to be so special and rewarded?
Answer: They are thought to be of adult age, which means they know what is right from wrong, can already decide for themselves what is good or bad for them, and therefore, can tolerate or ignore the malice and perversion of the material, whether a book, video, cartoon, comics, or a movie...or booze, drugs, smoking, sex—ho-hum, wake me, before you go-go, when more pertinent rationalizations are offered.
Kids, ages 14 and below, unless one is blind or still living without Internet, dominated and proliferated most online sex and porn sites. They enjoy webcam clips and pics taken by themselves, or their professional videos posted in their own websites, and distributed throughout various links. No one will admit their true age but they are the stars of strip joints, clubs, prostitution dens, and porn films. In fact, the older ones—girls and boys 18 to 22—are straining with difficulty to imitate them physically so they can be popular, too, and become stars in porn videos. Ironic? Ask Alanis M., she already offered an array of choice definitions.
Fact is, in Japan, the dominant Hentai anime films and manga comics follow a standardized portrayal of girls. Each character, to look innocent, young, seductive, attractive, and oozing with the promised pleasures of sex, must be depicted as school girls in uniform. The design of the uniform almost patented and drawn to appear strictly similar in every material produced. The Japanese men, according to hentai artists, writers, publishers, and producers, tend to patronize more and favour anime and manga materials with young girls shown in school uniforms...And definitely, not 18 years old and above.
So what's this much ado about "18 years old only and above" in Western erotic writings? What's this fear of incest, rape, paedophilia, or bestiality as topic in erotic stories or novels when each one is fiction—a work of sexual fantasy—clearly understood by the imposed mature age limitation? Several online sites strictly prohibited incest, paedophilia, bestiality, interracial, rape, sodomy, necrophilia while they blatantly advertised accepting BDSM, MILF, mechanical toys, paranormal, vampires, or other more perverted sexual relationships in stories—sex with horny, slimy aliens, anyone?
Most popular print publishers and sites for online erotic novels and short stories specifically forbid the topics stated above and strictly imposed the age limit for readers or members, even for the characters inhabiting a story. Why? Why the hypocrisy—why the constraints when one is writing erotica? It is like saying one cannot mention "corruption" when writing about politics, or "holiness" when it is about religion. Were they too cautious so as not to fall out of favour from the mighty authorities or offend the sensibilities of everyone?
The answer is both, because there are risks...Dangers, neither undeniable nor unavoidable, that merit well the constraints. There are more sensitive repercussions involved if the gates of restrictions in erotica are blown open for writers and artists to wallow and enjoy. With each writer/artist intoxicated of the freedom and authority to do and explore whatever depravity and perversion they chose—in any age or gender—more mud and muck than credible gems of extraordinary erotic works will come to fore.
And where the dirt thrown for public consumption can be horrendously influential to sick and depraved individuals with uncanny sexual preferences, fetishes, or orientations, initiating more criminalities and cruelties to innocent unsuspecting victims than what we, as authors and artists, do not expect or hope to see—as if providing powerful, pleasurable poisons to their impotent, dormant, flagging guns of perversions.
Still, I feel like a mischievous evil professor in my deranged, unwashed artist-rebel persona, moaning with glee. Oh yes, I feel delighted, secured in my dreary desktop where slinking excess stories danced ready to destroy the morals of the purified, guarded, and restricted world of sex in Literature. But as I concoct, create and write my little monsters of madness, abuse, and corruption—conniving, cajoling, and consenting with debauchery and perversion—I stood more determined and challenged, sturdy and firm to prove my conviction that nothing is really wrong with the genre.
I think every reader has the sole privilege to accept or reject an erotic story—to decide what is wrong or right in whatever category he or she chooses—and not for society and its saintly guardians to assume the obligation of determining for us, as a whole, what should be read or viewed, as we exercised our rights as individuals. Still, it is unfortunate that not every one of us is ready to accept that obligation, either to use it discretely, or in our right frame of mind, to understand what is meant by individual responsibility.
Censorships imposed by the moral standards of the times tend to discourage the creative growth of writers and artists, true—more often forcing them to go underground yet revelling in it, rebellious and full of angst. Their works ignored, unnoticed by the masses except for a handful of adoring artist/writer friends; often disastrous to their accepted social status and literary reputation, its artistic worth or merit known only as showcase for their stubborn defiance of the established norms. Their scandalous actions—courting more the unruly dance of the dunces—tend to continue to the next starving generation, the "harmful" residue spilling over to the next creative group.
But still, in spite of all the moral constraints and social restrictions we, as artists, felt, we have an obligation to consider always the risks...
How many of us will have the courage of Anais Nin to pursue the purity of erotica in her own way even when trying to survive? And how many will have the convictions of a Henry Miller, or the explorations of a D. H. Lawrence, both determined to continue writing in spite of the rigid norms and economic conditions of their eras?
Indeed, it was a pity that Anne Rice—tampering with the thrills of horror, and enormously succeeding in it—abandoned erotica. Yet, the lucidity of her literary erotic intimations can still be discerned in her early works, in particular, The Feast of All Saints. Thus, I asked, when can we see erotic writings at par with a Melville or a Poe—unafraid, exemplary, pure and sincere—still influential for generations to come?