Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dirty Mind vs. Debit Card: Sex Is The Cornerstone of Control

Welcome today's Dirty Mind, Alessia Brio.
This woman came through the door knowing exactly what she wanted to say, so I'll grab a cup of coffee and let her get right to it . My WIP is suffering from a lack of fresh typos anyway. <grin>

I started my journey as a professional writer with a niche small press publisher. At that time, waaaay back in 2005, it was the only way a short story writer could get her work in front of a broad paying readership and even hope to make a decent income. Selling stories to print anthologies only netted about $50 and a couple comp copies of the book. That’s hardly a living wage.
So, until self-epublishing became accessible, I tried to make my writing fit the erotic romance genre. Sometimes, I succeeded in producing a title that could be construed (albeit loosely) as a Romance (with a capital R). I just couldn’t make myself embrace the hero alpha male fantasy, though. I typically write strong, independent women with lusty appetites who didn’t need a man to complete them. Perhaps that’s why my most popular work is lesbian erotica.
Pardon the digression. I’ll get to my point. Digital self-publishing platforms have enabled writers like me a freedom of expression that transcends genre. However, in order to reach the desired audience, we still have to title, cover, categorize, and tag our work appropriately. That is a double-edged sword for it draws not only the attention of readers but also of those who seek to stifle the edgier expressions of eroticism. (Why certain people feel it imperative to do so is another matter entirely.)
Take, for example, my short story entitled Time Warp, which is free this week at Smashwords as part of the Read an eBook Week celebration. It has thus far escaped censorship, to my surprise. It’s not a huge seller, but it is extremely well reviewed. And it is rape. Rape for revenge. There’s no other way to spin it without being hypocritical.
Some claim that the touchstone of proscription is whether or not the subject matter is intended to titillate. Hell, if you don’t seek to spark something in a reader, why bother to write? I definitely intended this title to arouse the reader, although perhaps not sexually. Oh, the sex is graphic. The language, explicit. It certainly may result in sexual arousal, depending on the reader’s mindset at the moment of consumption. To me, it is a tale of empowerment. It is hella entertaining erotica. And it is fiction.

Can you even imagine what our reading menu would look like if everything that is illegal or considered immoral in our nonfiction worlds was disallowed as entertainment value in our fiction? And make no mistake, all of those illegal and transgressive activities are intended to arouse emotion in the audience. Twilight embraces pedophilia (Edward is 200 years old; Bella, 16) and, arguably, necrophilia. The Hunger Games glorifies the murder of children for blood sport. It’s fiction, and fiction exists for entertainment.
The only difference is that erotica often contains graphic depictions of sex, and sex is at the cornerstone of control. If we, as a culture, had not allowed religions to convince us and our purportedly secular governments that our sexual impulses were shameful, there would be no such thing as taboo or transgressive behavior between consenting adults. It can even can be argued that those entities are directly responsible for the existence of the content they seek to repress.
My erotica comes from a place of rebellion. I am perpetually pissed off that something as raw and primal and life-affirming as sex has been victimized by those claiming to speak for their gods. I refuse to be pushed into some seedy back alley. I will celebrate sex with every word I write, and I will do it until sex no longer bears the stain of shame.
When you dissect this recent payment processor bullshit, it bears a striking resemblance to the recently-defeated Internet control legislation in the US. Both seek to insert an arbitrary layer of control between source and audience. The slope is just as slippery.
peace & passion,
~ Alessia Brio

Thank you so much for coming and speaking out today Alessia. It certainly seems there's a conservative backlash afoot in more than just the indie publishing market which feels aimed at eroding a woman's right to control her sexuality in many ways. 


  1. Nicely said, Alessia. It certainly does have the look of another probe along the lines of the SOPA laws. A small nibble instead of a full bite, but certainly aimed at a population without the cohesion and support needed to stop them from even trying.

    1. Thank you, Corinna. It's all perspective, isn't it? Those who don't write or read taboo erotica can more easily shrug off this censorship. (Kudos, by the way, to those who aren't shrugging it off.)

  2. More intelligent, articulate, utterly rational reasons why censoring anything - and especially sex - is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing.

    As for writing romance . . . well, I do have one short story that qualifies - all I had to do was write a hundred thousand words and then cut off the last 87,000!

    1. *grins* Well, Romance is fiction, too. No reason it can't be as surreal as... oh, say a 200 year old brooding sparkly teen vampire and his one-dimensional girlfriend.

  3. I guess you ladies know my in-laws are never going to recover when you seduce me into crossing this shadowy line between erotic romance and erotica. I won't be able to hold my head up at the local post office when I start heeding the siren's call of writing TE. I'll have to color my hair at home, too. Order delivery pizza because I dare not set foot int he grocery store.


    Wait. How would the good conservative local folk know if I turn to writing TE? I don't know anyone in this small town where I've lived for 25 years who would dare read that kind of thing! I mean, I see them in the liquor store from time to time, but they're only buying alcohol to use when they cook.

    1. That, dear Eden, is why we'll have difficulty getting readers to express their righteous indignation. Many are influenced by the prevalent notion that sex is shameful and must be relegated to the shadows. It's up to us -- the authors -- to fight for our readers.

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