I originally did this post back on Feb 19th of this year. It seems that the controversy which inspired it has flared up yet again on Facebook and Twitter though. So, here’s a very slightly updated version of that post:
I’ve already made a few posts today. I did say I was going to talk about that other recent Twitter notification that bothered me though.
It was one going around the erotica authors’ circle on Twitter. It was all about how women were supposedly “educating” men about what horrible erotica authors they are and laughing at their “stupid” mistakes. Not the first time I’ve seen such a post either. During my few months on twitter, I found the erotica authors to be pretty judgmental and negative in general. The key words there are “IN GENERAL”. There are some wonderful, supportive and talented women (and men) there also. I adore Ava Sterling and Aurora Blue in particular. They’ve been helpful since the beginning. They’re also both very talented and I highly recommend their books.
OK, getting back to the subject, let’s be real. There are quite a few bad male erotica authors out there. What the ladies are NOT understanding though is that their (the women’s) way or view is NOT the only way. I had a blog post about this in the past. There was an article in The Atlantic magazine how authors had to write consent in romance novels. The idea being essentially that if you didn’t have written and signed consent at every step of the way, you were writing and advocating rape. Here’s that blog post:
My comments there are enough said. Another example I saw in the past was a snarky agreement among some of those women that if bra or genital sizes were mentioned, they immediately stopped reading and declared the story was trash. “What did they do, take out a measuring tape at that point?” was one reply. What they were missing is that some people, particularly if they’re in fields that require regular measuring and sizing such as seamstresses and tailors, clothing sales people, construction and automotive workers, and even people that do crafty type things as hobbies, tend to be able to measure very accurately by eyesight. Regardless of gender, they’re likely to be visual people as well. It’s not unrealistic at all. Overall, I’d agree that general size descriptors and leaving things to imagination is probably a little better though.
So where do I think the issues are being seen all wrong? The ladies are missing a chance to grow their audience. Men DO buy and read erotica also. I get email from men and women both on my writing.
Saying “women don’t stand in front of mirrors and compare their boobs to fruit” misses the reality that men tend to be highly visual creatures and competition / comparison driven. They care about things like are a female character’s boobs “pear shaped” or perfectly round and firm *cough*fakeboobs*cough* (lol). They want to know who’s boobs are bigger and by how much also. When you understand the male mindset, you can tailor your writing just a little so that you appeal more to them as well. Bang, your sales go up.
Think carefully about that if you’re a romance or erotica author. Do you want to shut out half the world’s population as a potential market? If you bend just a little in your writing style you can reach a larger audience and still be true to yourself.
The whole idea of “teaching” men by belittling them is only going to backfire also. For all their bravado, men have fragile egos, especially where women are concerned. They’re also trained to suppress emotion early on, so they’re rarely all that intuitive, BUT they also are eager to please.
So here’s a tip, girls, both as authors and for relationships: All you’ve got to do to get a decent guy to do what you want is ask nicely or gently suggest. In the case of writing erotica, give them better, more natural ways to help relay visual information. Explain to them that the act isn’t about rutting either when you’re a woman. It’s about intimacy, emotional connection, and a primal need to feel desired, like that male character would sacrifice anything to have our heroine. When an erotica author can impart all of those male and female perspective elements into a story, I think the sky is the limit.
Again, same holds true with relationships. Too many women complain about men being clueless, and expect them to know exactly how to touch them, what to say to them, etc… It takes communication. Positive communication too. “A little gentler (or rougher), oh yes!”, goes much farther with the typical clueless male than “not like that, you selfish idiot.”
A certain radio show host on relationships had it right; women have much more power in relationships than people think. At least in reasonably healthy relationships. It just has to be used in the right way.