Friday, September 23, 2016

Phallic Friday - limits/taboos

I read a very interesting post (here) on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association blog, written by Lisabet Sarai. She always writes thoughtful, thought-provoking posts.

Her post was about taboos and limits in erotic writing. She's questioning what taboos and limits should exist, or should there be any? Is it a personal decision, or one that should be made for people?

She lists some taboos, which are becoming more commonplace in published erotic writing - rape, incest, bestiality - and gives reasons for and against, asking if they should still be 'banned'.

Then she explores a few taboos that aren't common in published erotic writing - sex with minors, violence, physical harm, death.

She makes some very good points about how 'rules' have changed in recent times, or how they've been bent to include different fads. Then she has this beautiful paragraph, which I love -

"In my view, erotica should not only turn readers on, but should also expand their perspectives. Sex is inextricably intertwined with so many other emotions—love, guilt, ambition, shame, anger, and compassion, to name just a few. Erotica derives its singular power from this psychological complexity. It’s not a safe genre, or at least it shouldn’t be. Sometimes the most arousing stories are the most disturbing."

There's something in those words that clangs a big gong in my chest. That's why I write erotica, to explore, to expand, to question, to understand. I want to dig into those emotions through story, to help unravel the giant mystery of emotion and sex and connection.

Erotica isn't safe. That's what I find thrilling.

It's not safe reading it, or writing it. I learn things about myself as I read and write - I can be shocked at my own double standards, my lack of critical thinking of issues, my lack of understanding of another's perspective or life choice.

Sometimes I can be writing and my words pull up as my brain can't take me any further into the topic. It's where my thinking has stopped, or where my limit is, or where my knowledge fails. It's always enlightening to reach that point, to see where/what it is.

Sometimes when reading, I may have to stop a book, or put it down until later because the topic has slapped me in the face, or I just can't handle the scene. Finding that point in myself is intriguing. Niggling at it to work out why, or why not, is fascinating.

In a completely non-erotic example, when I was in high school we had to read John Steinbeck's The Red Pony. The opening scene is horrific with a horse being cut open and dying (I vaguely think it was a caesarean, but maybe I'm wrong, it was a long time ago!). I loved horses and longed for my own, so this hit a wall inside me - I wanted a horse and they were 'wasting' them in this book. I also have a vivid imagination and Steinbeck's description was rather gruesome, creating vivid images in my mind which became recurring nightmares. I've never read that book (I bargained with my teacher and read a couple of others instead). In truth, I have never picked up a Steinbeck book or even wanted to. No matter how much people tell me of his genius. That's my limit. It may have changed - I'm sure it would have - but I haven't gone back to test it out!

I'm not fond of violence, horror, torture, humiliation, degradation. But I understand that other people like these things. I don't think because these are my limits, they should be banned. I think I should be entitled to choose. It should be a personal decision.

How do you feel about 'rules' in erotic publication?

Do you have limits/taboos you can't read/write?

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