Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Women's Erotica

On radio last night I was asked if there was a stigma about writing erotic fiction.  I gave an answer but I am very uncomfortable about it and need to think this through.

My answer was yes. I said that there is a term that is used; women's erotica which marginalises erotic writers as something that is just for women. I went on to say that it used to be a boys club of erotic writers and that it was only the intellectuals who were often male who wrote it and published it and distributed it in small print runs in an underground way.

My discomfort comes from the idea that erotic writing for and by women is somehow less than that kabal of male writers who used to be the kings of the form. This idea must be snuffed out. Firstly the idea that eros is a lesser form is insane. Erotic writing is such a powerful form - so powerful that it is often banned.  Erotic writing is also a form that can and should be enjoyed by any gender.  Just because you don't have a vagina does not mean you can't read work that describes vaginas. In fact doesn't it make vagina-centric work all the more titillating if you don't have one? You get to glimpse an area of life that you have little working knowledge of. Female arousal is something that many people have only a passing knowledge of. Even many females do not understand or even experience it. Why should 'women's erotica' be a term that lessens a work?

I don't use the term because it is often used to single out more escapist works and books that focus on romantic eros.  I am not really that interested in romance. I like my sex separated from romantic entanglements for the most part. I like my sex pure.

Still I am both uncomfortable with the term 'women's erotica' and also uncomfortable with my discomfort about the term.  Women's erotica should be a term that refers to some powerful, transgressive, challenging and smart writing. At this moment in our history it is used to differentiate erotic writing that tickles rather than punches.  I prefer a full force punch of sexual pleasure that challenges the status quo. I wish that was a form that we called women's erotica but alas it is not.   Please feel free to continue this conversation with me. I would love your thoughts.


cyan cat said...

Thanks for putting this out there.
I agree, 'women's erotica' is insulting. It does suggest, as you have said, a kind of watering down of the form, that either only women can handle to read (rubbish) or women can only write (absolute bollocks).
I have spent some time wandering the realms of erotica lately - this being the year of 50 shades and all, I put it to iTunes to tell me the top 10 selling pieces of fiction there (both for free and for cost books) were erotica of one shade or another. Most though, were filled with romantic erotica, specifically. Perhaps this romantic erotica is what is suggested women are specifically drawn to?

Got me thinking though, took me back to Toshba Learner and Linda Jaivan. Good stuff.

katherinecunningham said...

I like my sex pure too, but still able to engage all of my intelligence's, including the heart. A real feeling state that opens me, some where beyond the choice of orifice. I very much like your distinction between the feather and the punch. Perhaps, as I am so new to this conversation, I need to read much more before I even consider picking up a pen. So, where do I start if I wish to explore beyond the surface level noise?

chris j. said...

I am a mid 50s male who has read erotica for many years. I stopped reading male erotica some time back as female writers overwhelmingly wrote with more passion , feeling and sensitivity .Love your work Krissy and was delighted to read that you are often at my fav book store Avid Reader .

Krissy Kneen said...

Hi Katherine. There is a reading list in the back of my new book The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine if you want to explore - but start with Anais Nin's Little Birds and James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime and Nicholson Baker's Vox.