Sunday, September 21, 2008

It isn't just "smut" anymore!

The Power of Smut

Many people—particularly people in the publishing world—tend to view erotica or erotic romance as a…shall we say….less than worthy literary pursuit. Whether you’re reading it or writing it, it’s viewed as empty, mindless, titillating entertainment for the masses. And, granted…I do believe there is some erotica and porn that falls into that category. However, to slot all erotica and erotic romance into that category is a gross misjudgment.

I firmly believe that literature—ANY literature—has the power to have a huge impact on the reader. Whenever you lose yourself in another world, in another character or set of characters…you are, in effect, taking on their experiences. Living their life. Sharing in their struggle. And that can have profound implications.

I know it did for me! I grew up in a very devout, and in some ways, strict home environment. Particularly when it came to matters of sexuality, I had allll kinds of hang-ups over what was right, acceptable, good or sinful. There were words that, all on their own, seemed to have the power to consign me to hell! Imagine that. A mere set of 4 letters that, if uttered aloud, had the power to land me among fire and brimstone for eternity. Many of these issues and fears spilled over into my marriage, making my sexual life…a challenge, to say the least. But then, for a variety of reasons, I started to expand my reading horizons. I began reading romance…and then I began writing it. And THEN I began to read and write EROTIC romance. And the doors began to swing open.

Those “evil” words began to lose their power over me. I began to see and accept that there wasn’t just ONE way to interact sexually. I began to expand my own sexual horizong (much to my hubby's approval! lol) And the more I read, and the more I wrote, and the more I EXPERIENCED other sexualities—even if it was vicariously—I began to identify with these “people”. I began to realize that sexuality in ALL its forms is good and fun, and that what any one person—or group of people—do consensually behind closed doors in the privacy of their own home, or their own club, or their own community for that matter, is perfectly acceptable! And it’s none of my damn business! In fact, I attended a Gay Pride parade this year for the first time, and it was an absolute blast! A celebration of sexual diversity and acceptance that I found refreshing and exciting.

Whether or not they’re going to hell for it? Well, I don’t believe in that anymore, but that’s a topic for another blog.

My point is that it isn’t “just smut” anymore. Whether it’s tales of homosexual or bisexual exploration, of the BDSM community or even of transgender adventures…the more stories of “deviant” sexuality that we read about, the more REAL these people and their issues become. And the less likely we are to judge and be afraid of them. It’s much harder to hate Josh, a twenty-seven-year-old rock star who loves music and kids and is struggling to accept his own attraction to another man, than it is to hate a group of faceless, formless, “homos”.

Not only is erotica a way for women to validate and explore their OWN sexuality…But I firmly believe it can be a way to promote tolerance and understanding for people of all sexual persuasions and in all walks of life.

Has anyone else found their views and/or opinions affected or changed through books? Not even necessarily erotica, but through any form of fiction? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

5 comments:

Lynn LaFleur said...

Great post, Nikki! I agree with every word. I know my own views on sexuality and what's "right" or "wrong" has changed since I discovered erotic romance. If it feels good, do it!

Lynn

Ruby Storm said...

Oh yeah, Nikki, great great post. As I was reading you brought something to the front of my mind-not only do I view the 'terms' of those four letter words differently, I'm actually a changed person in many ways.

I remember back to a more naive time of my life when the terms made me blush or I stood and vehemently claimed that I hated those words. Once I started reading erotica, then moved on to writing it, did I experience more freedom of mind. It's amazing how nothing shocks me anymore unless it's someone using those terms in a situation where more reserve is called for. To me happenings like this simply shows the person or persons' extreme idiocy.

In regard to your thoughts about diversity... It was BECAUSE of erotic reading and writing that I've been able to throw away my ignorance on topics of transgender, homosexuality, etc. I've done major research and have been able to replace my own unawareness (because that's what it was - in the past I simply listened to others who were in the exact same place as I was: total ambivalence.) Not so anymore! Why is it so hard for so many to accept the lifestyles of others?

Times are changing yet have been the same for thousands of years. People are not afraid anymore. Kudos to those who live the lives they desire!

Ruby

Nikki_Soarde said...

Thanks Ruby! YOu're soooo right! I'm exactly the same. Almost NOTHING shocks me anymore....at least nothing of a sexual nature. My writing, in part, has led me to not only read more, but meet and EXPERIENCE more. I now call people from many walks of life my friends and the more I see the more I am baffled as to why we can't just let people BE who they ARE! Embrace the diversity! It's what makes us all so wonderfully human!

And yeah...the first time I allowed myself to say "fuck"....wow! That felt sooooo damn good! lol

Cait Miller said...

I agree 100% too. I know things now I never would have even thought about before. While there are things that still make me squirm - in a bad way :), I'm glad I know about them.
One thing I've learned in reading and researching erotica and erotic romance is that no matter how odd you think your particular kink is, someone out there shares it!

Titania Ladley said...

What you said, Nikki! But as far as reading changing my views or opinions, I would say it taught me more so than it changed my views. See, I grew up in a broken, chaotic, lax home, and as a result, I didn't have the strict upbringing you did. I think for me, accepting a lot of these things without judgment was sort of a result of feeling my way blindly through life and learning on my own. Hmmm, a young adult book with 2 friends growing up in opposite environments like ours might make for an interesting story! :)

Titania