Friday, March 9, 2012

Dirty Mind vs. Debit Card: I Questioned Whether I Was a Monster

Today's Dirty Mind is Monocle.

One of my previous guests suggested I track Monocle down and sweet-talk him into participating in the series.  I'm delighted I did, and I think you will be as well.

Good morning, Monocle, and thank you for letting me twist your arm into talking with me about your erotica and your feelings about the Paypal ban. Though it has yet to affect you directly, you've brought an entirely different perspective to this week's conversation, and one I feel we needed, particularly in light of some things brought up by previous Dirty Minds participants. 

Hello, Eden.  Here we go.

I write a lot of different kinds of erotica, but the majority of my writing before about 2009 fell into or very close to categories which PayPal currently bans transactions for. Most of those stories are non-consent, or ‘dubious-consent’, or ‘reluctance’ - though the latter two might fall into some grey area for PayPal. Frankly it’s hard to tell, given the capriciousness, or odd selectivity of their enforcement. I’ve also written a lot of alien/monster/nonhuman erotica (and yes, much of that is also non-cons, which isn’t really bestiality, but again, probably comes close to that grey area.
Much of my earlier writing was self-exploration of the themes. It was, in many ways, the navel-gazing of someone trying to figure out exactly what monsters were inside him, and to own them. I didn’t start out with any noble goals to write transgressive literature or to explore any psyche besides my own. The latter came later, the former much later, when I realized I actually wrote passably and wanted to get better.
To me, all these stories served two purposes. First, they were arousing. I wrote them because they turned me on. I wrote “rape for the purpose of titillation” quite intentionally. Second, I wrote them to figure out exactly what about them turned me on and why. And I got some answers.
Since I started writing erotica seriously, I’ve always shared it online. First on usenet, then on ASSTR and similar sites, and since 2009 on my shared blog. Also in 2009 and 2010, I took most of my non-cons and similar erotica off the public spaces and moved them behind passwords and into books, in my case published by Republica Press. Republica’s credo was to give its writers freedom to explore whatever they wanted. It wasn’t afraid of the darker, or weirder, or squickier stuff. Emma, Republica’s editor, encouraged me to get my first book together with them, a collection of 100 flash-fictions, nearly all of them non-con or strange in nature, because she knew there was an audience for it. And she was right.

One of my more recent n/c stories, called 'Give In', which has not made it into any book, is to me, the reason why non-consent - even ‘non-consent for tillation has value.

In some ways the story is a metaphor for the non-cons fantasy itself. If you're inclined to have this kind of fantasy - and many of us are - you’re going to have them one way or the other. There’s nothing you can – or should, in my opinion – do to fight the fact that those are your fantasies. Understand them, fine. Learn, perhaps where they come from within yourself, but there’s nothing wrong with having them, or enjoying them. I don’t think anyone is messed up for having rape fantasies. The messed-up only happens when the bright line between the mind and the real world is crossed.

And there’s more. 'Give In' taught me that non-cons stories had still more to them, when a woman who had experienced sexual assault commented on the story. It was humbling, but the story had given her something positive, and it was amazing to think about.

The gist of the comment was that in some situations of rape, the victim’s body’s own self-protection - such as lubrication, can feel like a betrayal when it’s not. Physical pleasure can be forced on someone, and they are not to ‘blame’ for it. Many victims are additionally victimized (from inside and out) by the belief that they shouldn’t have felt anything, or felt only the pain of the violation. Human physical and emotional self-protection works against that. It’s not “sit back and enjoy it if there’s nothing else you can do”, but “forgive yourself for being human, and having human reactions in extreme circumstances.” These were not ‘lessons’ I set out to ‘teach’ - that’s arrogance and hubris beyond the pale. But I wanted to explore, in the story, that very set-up of rapists (true fantasy rapists) whose overt goal is not simply to have a fuck of an unwilling victim, but to orchestrate and coerce her surrender to pleasure.

Other comments on this  and other non-cons erotica I’ve written revealed conflict in my readers - whether or not they had personal experience with sexual assault. As readers, there is guilt and freedom, to associate with the victim or the perpetrator. To allow yourself into those head-spaces, and imagine what it would be like. People feel guilty about getting pleasure doing that - about imagining these things. I know I used to. But writing the stories, and reading others’, and reading the comments, and thinking about ‘whys' is what lets you look into the darker crevices of your own mind. 

As a man, I questioned whether I was a monster. Did I actually want to do these things? Did I think so little of women to turn them into objects? Was I in control of myself? And, over time, first after realizing I had to ask those questions, and then spending time to think; to make sure I was answering non-reflexively, I came to answers. Yes, I do, sometimes want to do these things, but I will not. The division between imagination and reality is a hard bright line. Do I think of women as things? No. I think of women as people, and equals. And yet sometimes, I want them to be my things as well. Does that affect the way I treat, for example, female colleagues?  My Wife? My neighbors? And the answer came back no. It’s an interesting process of self interrogation - you have to question whether or not you’re fooling yourself, if you’re being truly honest. It took me a lot of time. But it’s the process of knowing yourself.

So, given that non-cons has been, essentially an examination of myself, what does this mean for the reader? As an aside, it logically follows, that all the monstery/alienish stories are similar. Think of the invisible monster of Forbidden Planet- but with a much bigger libido. I’ve read of that particular monster called ‘the Id monster’ because it was an expression of Morbius’ Id - in the Freudian sense; his passions and fears manifested. Similarly all my beasties - human and non - are Id monsters.

Earlier in my writing, I didn’t think about it. I put the stories out there, and people read them or not, and thought what they thought. In recent years, and especially now as I’ve become more conscious - and desirous - of the interaction between writer and reader, I’ve thought more about it. If a reader can use stories like these to explore their own reactions, to look into themselves about the ‘why’ they react the way they do - then there’s more to these stories than ‘rape for titillation,’ and, maybe even something important. We’re the only animals with any hint of this kind of imagination. The ability to conceive of things that we could do - and even want to do - and still not do them for a myriad of reasons, including internal and external morality.  And yes, some people will be (I hope) turned on.

Do you want to tell us why you’re a man who writes erotica from the female perspective, Monocle?  We had a previous post from a woman who writes M/M erotica. Her insight on her motives was very interesting. 

It’s another evolution thing. I found I was always more attracted to erotica either from the female POV, or that seemed designed to appeal to women.  That’s not to say romantica or anything, but the writing that most turned me on seemed targeted at turning on women. Second, being male, and always wondering at the strange creatures that are women, I wanted to try to understand them better; and to do so I figured to imagine what it might be like. In some ways a lot of it was guesswork - even talking to women doesn’t get one that far in what it feels like on the visceral level. The language between the sexes - when I was thinking about it this way - didn’t seem adequate. Plus, there weren’t really many women I knew comfortable talking sex and sexuality to that depth with me - and wasn't as comfortable then with it as I am now. 

Third (I know, long list!), my early stories in this POV got, at the time, positive response - from both men and women. A lot of women thought I was also a woman writer. I took it as a point of pride I could write believably from the woman’s POV, and had also read and seen enough to know that male erotica writers often had a much harder time of it with the female audience. So, up to around 2009 or so, I was usually cryptic about my gender to the commenters I interacted with, an happy enough to let readers guess.
Last, and this took a lot more time and discussion to think through, one reason I wrote so much from the woman’s POV was to protect myself. Sure, as writer I was both the monster (human or otherwise) as well as the heroine, but not being the antagonist I could avoid confronting the feelings and motivations for these transgressive acts in first person. I could be more distant, even somewhat analytic, when seeing it through different eyes. In the last three years, I’ve made much more of a shift towards male protagonists, because I’m in a different place in my self exploration - and I’m now consciously exploring writing as craft as well as simply a vector for scenes and stories that turn me on. However, I still haven’t written a complete, overt first-person male POV non-cons story. I realize that ten, or five years ago, I was unconsciously afraid of doing so. I’m not any more, so it’s on my list.

Remittance Girl, my first guest author and I had a wide-ranging discussion. Part of it touched on the advent of the e-reader and the liberty they afford. A reader of erotica no longer has to pullout a paperback with a lurid cover. RG and I  agreed that new-found sense of privacy brought more readers to the sub-genre, but is also what’s keeping women silent about this issue. 

No doubt! It’s a double edged sword. On my blog - on any blog - you get a lot more readers than commenters. On the ‘Obsidian Lens’ part of my blog, which puts the darker themed stories behind a password, some readers have found that the privacy afforded makes them more comfortable to comment. Still, many (certainly not all) who read the most transgressive materials are either consciously or unconsciously dealing with the guilt of their desire to do so, and that tends to keep them from speaking - and speaking out - about it.

Where can readers find your titles?My publisher, Republica will close doors at the end of the month. Until that time, my titles may be purchased through them. I have 5 books at Republica. The first, Nightmares and Visions, is a series of 100 flash-fictions (averaging 500-600 words each). Almost all of them deal with various forms of non-consent and reluctance with different levels of intensity. All of them are in first person female POV. The fact of the 100 makes it pretty relentless if you read many at a time, which is sort of a meta-point about the whole subject matter. It’s not for someone who knows what they like, or who is not afraid. The other 4 I made with a theme “Through a … Lens”, and the nature of the lens hinted at the content of the stories. “Silvered” is more romantic stories, “Ethereal” is Science Fiction and Fantasy (with different aspects of consent and non-) “Tinted” is general consent-edgy stories, and “Haunted” is Fantasy/Horror (including my one story where the protagonist does not survive to the end). That’s all very sales-y and I don’t intend to do that.
No problem, I'll state right now, I prodded you to include this information. It's my goal to show readers what they're going to be giving away if an outcry is not made over Paypal's policy. How will they know what's being taken unless they buy a book or two? Stop blushing. <grin>
Writing continues to be a personal journey for me. I suspect it is for most writers. Being a hobbyist at it, I’m very inconsistent. Since I started seriously in ‘98, I’ve gone for periods of 6 months to over a year producing little or nothing new fiction at all. I’m in one of those now, even though I’ve been active in other ways - things like filthy micropoetry on twitter, and which I post daily. I want to improve my craft of writing, explore more themes - both common and uncommon. I want to write for myself, but I also want to be read. I want to be able to be read by those interested, and I want to learn what my stories - and stories like mine - make people think about and feel. That means having my blog space, and it means having the books I’ve finished available to the public. I am my own gatekeeper. If I let it out of my head - if any writer lets their monsters out - I don’t want to grant PayPal or some webmaster somewhere permission or power to keep it away from people who wish to see it.

Hrm. Now for closing, I have to think of something. It’s extra hard, perhaps, because I’ve been so dry of writing this past year. Recently the ideas have been starting to come again, but still the fingers-to-keyboard have been sluggish. I have never written anything that doesn’t turn me on at least a little, and prefer to write things that grab me by the throat - or cock - and make me write them. I think my best stories came out (literally and figuratively) in that way. As an aside, coming at writing with a desire to ‘write better’ is sometimes a challenge to ‘writing instinctively.’ The former may be higher quality, the latter is, I feel more visceral and true for me. I have yet to internalize ‘all writing is rewriting’ because I have always hated rewriting.

Look at me ramble. Truth of the matter is, one major reason I started writing - and sharing - because I couldn't find the kind of twisted, perverted, nasty stuff online that I wanted to read myself. So I made it. And in some ways, that remains a big motivation. If I have an idea that wants expression, putting my characters - all shades of myself, in the final analysis - in different perils, or perpetrating the acts of monsters (human or otherwise), then I act on that.

There’s another way that writing - and reading - frees us of the constraints of our civilized or moralized world. Our imaginations are unfettered. I can reach through this screen and take you, the reader, right now. Don’t think I’m not thinking about it. Right now. There’s nothing you can do about it except close the page. But you and I - we’re free to do these things because no one is standing over us saying I can’t write this and you can’t read it, or buy it, or what have you. And that’s the way it should be. And if you’re still reading it, knowing the utterly obscene and awful things I’m thinking of doing to you right now, well, that’ll be our secret, won’t it?

(grinning) I probably shouldn't say 'Bring it," should I? Not in front of all these readers. So,instead, I'll say thank you so much for taking the time to work out this interview with me. I had a delightful time, and I appreciate the effort you made to be utterly honest. I'm very pleased to say Moncocle submitted 'Give In' to my Transgressive Erotica Anthology call. The best part of this series, for me, has been getting to know these authors as people. As I suspected, not one dirty old man wearing a sweat-stained wife-beater and smoking a cigar while plotting to exploit real-life women in the bunch. So far, all I can see PayPal protecting me from is exercising my free will and using my own funds to read the legal content of my choosing. How about you? These authors and I love comments. Have you learned anything this week about erotica, and the people who write it? Those of you who write in the sub-genre,and those of you who never have, but are true rebels at heart and want to give it a try, please don't forget the Transgressive Erotica Submission Call. I'm late posting tonight because Blogger and I had a fight about posting the image, and Blogger won.


  1. Eden, thank you so much for bringing this series to us. It has not only been wonderful getting to know the different author's but also learning about what it is that drives them to write in their chosen genre and sub genre's.
    Monocle it has been a pleasure reading about you and your work and I will make sure I go and visit your site.

    *bites n kisses*

    1. Thank you! I hope you find something to your liking over on the blog.
      We don't always write nasty - or at least not always the same kind.

      (I'm re-posting for Monocle, whom Blogspot doesn't seem to like. He cannot access the comments section. I do like a good three-way. EC)

  2. Yes indeed! Thank you Eden, and thank you Monocle! Quite frankly, it's very refreshing to get the point of view of a male writer of erotica. They are an endangered species it seems. I found your honestly and your reasoning very, very interesting.

    1. Here's one of the funnier things I've found. I hadn't thought male
      erotica writers were so rare until I emerged from the
      Usenet/ASSTR/Literotica world. Perhaps it was my own myopia. Perhaps
      there is a gender distribution difference between those communities of
      writers. A division between more and less literary? Or between people
      writing for a wank and righting for something additional? I don't
      know. That's a whole other conversation.

      (Re-posted from e-mail for Monocle. Comments won't work for him, I'm afraid. EC)

  3. Nope - definitely NOT a monster, a monster wouldn't engage in such self-examination ;) A wonderful glimpse into the mind of what seems to be a rarity, the male erotica writer.

    1. Thanks. I agree that I'm not a monster - none of us is. But _having_
      and owning one's monster is a different thing altogether. And it's not
      so frightening if you put enough time into thinking about it.

      (Re-posted from e-mail. Blogspot won't let Monocle access comments, unfortunately. EC)

  4. Count me among those who are happy to see a point of view of a male writer of erotica here. I know many men do write erotica under a female pseudonym and I think a lot of that has to do with issues you raised in your interview, Monocle. Particularly for men who enjoy exploring scenes of non-consent, the risk of being labeled a monster and stigmatized for fictional exploration is never far from their minds.

    As Sessha said, definitely NOT a monster. Thank you for speaking up.

    1. Every now and then there are rumblings among the male erotica writers
      when calls for "women's erotica by women" come out. It doesn't bother
      me so much, even knowing that that is the majority of the genre's
      writing population. We all have different voices, and different ears.
      I'm always pleased and honored if someone finds the voice I write
      convincing or compelling. It's always easier when a reader goes in
      with no preconceptions due to things as trivial as name, but that's
      rarely possible. We are creatures of first impression.

      (Re-posted from e-mail. Monocle and Blogger are in a non-con situation,I fear. :p EC)

    2. I probably wouldn't find that as hilarious if I weren't such a pervert. Thank you, Eden!

      And I do agree, Monocle. Hardwiring is difficult to shake, and I don't blame anyone for wanting to avoid putting themselves in the crosshairs. It's just such a shame. The male voice is one that I know is appreciated by a lot of women. For many, many years male-written, male-perspective erotica is what I read. Sure, some of it was "enh", but not all of it was. And that window into the male mind was so valuable. And, uh. Compelling. Yeah, we'll go with that. Compelling!

  5. Excellent post. I'm glad I'm not the only one who really analyzes their thoughts and desires in such a manner. Was a really illuminating post and I particularily enjoyed the idea of being able to want to treat women - who are people and individuals - as things once in a while.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to just be able to sexualize someone for no other reason than to explore desires.

    I'm glad to see there are men out there that have these desires, think about them, analyze them, and keep that barrier between fantasy and reality firmly in check

    1. We all have our baser natures. Anyone who says they don't, man or
      woman, is lying or fiercely repressing themselves. But we're civilized
      and we choose when if ever to act on those base desires.

      (Re-posted from e-mail for Monocle. He's having difficulties accessing Blogger comments, I'm sorry to say. EC)

  6. That was a great interview -- thoughtful and considered. Reminds, as always, how much I enjoy sharing a blog with you and how much I enjoy your stories.

    I also enjoy writing erotica from the woman's perspective. I can't imagine how any male or female erotic writer could really be convincing without that intense curiosity. What is it like to be the opposite sex? What does it feel like? What does he or she think? Ultimately, it's also the difference between a good or mediocre lover (not just a good or bad writer). The ability to imagine ourselves in the bodies of our lovers (and I almost always think of my characters as, in a sense, lovers) makes us more human and certainly makes our characters more human.

  7. Monocle...what a great interview...and Eden, thanks for hosting him here...I've been a fan, a reader, and a comment-maker, too. You often write things that make my hair stand on end (and turn me on, too...).

    We all have to face our reader and writers. I've been writing erotic fiction on my blog for over 2 years, for the exact same reason as Monocle, there was nothing that was free that was really good. (that's when I discovered *blogs* of erotica, like Monocles...)

    Things that poke and prod at the deepest darkest places in our sexuality, psyche, and humanness...they have a place, and IMHO, a value. I think that people who are repressing these type of thoughts are way more a danger to society than those of us who write and "let the steam escape the pot" ...but again, just my opinion.

    And I'm rambling.

    What I intended to say was...job well done to you both, interviewer, and interviewee...

    Monocle, you are a joy to read, and I hope you kick out of your "quiet phase" soon... have you thought of eating some oysters??



    1. It was a treat in so many ways to host Monocle, nilla.

      Thank you so much for dropping by. I'll try and poke some oysters down his throat before I let him leave tonight. I'm a firm believer in not letting a man leave hungry.

  8. I've been a fan of Monocle's for a while now and its fantastic to hear this side of him. eloquent and sexy, even when he's just talking about writing about sex. Thank you for the series Eden. Im glad I peeked in.

    1. It has been my privilege to host this series. So many viewpoints exposed, so many raw emotions touched, so much human emotion and passion revealed--and no one disrobed. After getting to know these writers as people, can any reader fail to surmise this group are some of the finest contemporary writers you may ever read?

      To mute them? Unacceptable.

      Thank you for reading, and for commenting, trixi. :)

  9. Thank you, Raziel, for all that you have ever been, all that you are, and, all that you will ever be, for all of it is equally magnificent...