The two genres are motivated by entirely different impulses, but it is the degree to which the act of sex is alluded that demarcates the boundaries. If there is still any confusion, the simplest rule of thumb is the level of facility it takes to dabble in either genre. Place a camera mechanically in front of a masturbating woman and you have pornography. Instead, document the sensation, the rush of blood from clitoris to head as she writhes and combusts and swims in wave after ecstatic wave until her lips contort into an open mouth, until the quivering ceases after the final gasp, the penultimate sigh.
Erotica is what you will have produced. Pornography is a cakewalk. But to write a single line of erotica from scratch, you must first create the universe. The atmosphere is dense with alternating layers of desire and desperation: a single fertile river that runs underground and bifurcates into diverse streams of consciousness, infusing and irrigating everything it encompasses with passion and intrigue. The landscape is peopled with characters who live ordinary lives and who dabble routinely with the mundane, but who experience the world in all its sensual glory. And finally, her capacity to linger in the afterglow of language so that what arouses the reader is not merely the quirkiness of the situation at hand but the symphony that her words conduct.
For instance, the title story is not so much about sex; the focus is on the impassioned lack of it. A woman of indefinite age tells us about her botanist husband, who is more aroused by Amazon gingers than her.
She rants:. And still I loved his hands. I wonder what it is about him that rejects me over and over. It is not that he does not look at me. But it is not with the eyes of a lover that he sees me. It is with the eyes of a botanist. He sees my eyes — humans have two, plants none, so perhaps they do not impress him, though they are, I am told, fine eyes. He even lays with me, often enough that I would not notice this disinterest, but not often enough that I felt elevated above Amazon gingers.
The 18 stories spread over nearly pages embody a range of characters who are, more often than not, of Indian descent, though not always located in India. Laura could not resist the smell of the fruit, and the goblins licking them off her, off her breasts, biting and sucking and grabbing her, and then off her cunt, they gathered around it like creatures at a watering hole, lapping, sucking, squealing and pushing each other, fighting for the juices that flowed from her.
He decides to write a book based on her and finally meets this almost mythical figure, finding himself further intrigued by her grace, her beauty and her missing eye. The act of looking is not voyeuristic; rather, it is tempered by tenderness and wisdom. Each story in the collection has a personality of its own. Despite the phenomenal range and variety of the plots, you find yourself relating to and remembering the context of each narrative. Moreover, there is a dexterous quality to the language, a stylistic flexibility.
Deshpande juggles different techniques of narration, from first-person to third, and each voice is unique so there is no room for repetition or monotony. Holy well While the Subcontinent has a rich history of erotica, most of the pre-modern erotic writing by women has been within the domain of the devotional, by Bhakti women poets like Meera and Akka Mahadevi, the 12th-century saint from Karnataka. Given this history, erotica by contemporary Indian women writers could be read in the same vein as casual sex, an indulgence, writing for pleasure, which is precisely why the Indian moral brigade got its panties in a twist when writers such as Kamala Das started to write the way she did, irreverently and indulgently focusing on her erotic self.
While it is acceptable for men to brag about their sexual exploits, it is still taboo for women writers. The few women who do, usually hesitate to sign their real names to their writing. Writers who so much as hint at being sexually experienced — such as Meena Kandasamy, who openly writes about the experience of being Dalit and a woman, and Mridula Garg — often have to bear the brunt of moral hypocrisy.
Joshi explains the difficulty he experienced in soliciting stories. No fucking way! Deshpande is possibly the first contemporary Indian author in English to publish a collection of stories devoted entirely to the erotic. In the last two years, though, a host of writers, particularly women, have been appropriating the space of the erotic.
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She prefers cunt, as in wet cunt, nasty cunt, naughty cunt, bad cunt, good cunt, beautiful cunt. Cunt from the Sanskrit word for well, or spring, a deep source: kund, as in kundalini. As in the word for menstrual blood: kundapushpa, flower of the holy well. Red Violent. The taste of birth and death, of origins. Aisha Nayar, Sabah Guille and Sheherzade are the other permanent members of the collective. Every month, the blog www. As more and more publishers are waking up to the marketing potential of the erotica genre, more and more women are waking up to its capacity for subversion — this is especially so given the recent success of the Slut Walk phenomenon, with urban women becoming increasingly comfortable expressing their right to pleasure.
Posted in Uncategorized Comments Off on Many of these stories reveal my influences. But explorations, they may be more subconscious than conscious. I just let it happen. Writing sex is even harder: you have to squash inhibitions — sexual and social ones. You have to allow characters to act in ways they would act. You cannot think about judgment. Despite the fact that there is actually an award for Bad Sex in Fiction — whose recipients include John Updike Lifetime Achievement , Norman Mailer, Sebastian Faulks and Tom Wolfe — Deshpande says that writing about sex is in itself a mature thing to do.
Writers write what they know, and imagine. My mother, for example, wrote frankly about sexuality, in Marathi. Some explanation, says Deshpande, may also lie in the language itself. I appropriated the word cunt from the porn vocabulary, a misogynist vocabulary. Carnal prose.
But a few paragraphs into this collection of short stories, you realise that there is much more to the book than erotica. Deshpande could well lay claim to a genre of her own — carnal noir. The stories go beyond the sexual. Some are dark and mysterious in their thoughts, others are warped in their actions. Those expecting amorous reading may be a tad disappointed but those who persevere will be richly rewarded with the complexity of each story.
The copulatory imagery is just a garnish on the prose that delves deep into the human psyche. The layers peel to reveal to the reader what each protagonist feels: shame, anger, jealousy, even confusion as their bodies seek out ways to satiate sexual urges. She finds it only when she draws blood from her husband.
You feel strangely sympathetic and see her as a victim and killer. You want to know what the protagonists of each story did and why they did when they did.
The author is not voyeuristic and her writing balances eroticism with sensitivity. Karuna John. How many authors of Indian origin would gladly choose the subject? But neither does it mean that my opinion is worth any less. Putting aside the fact that you are a lesbian, and only focusing on your experience and reputation as a journalist with many years of experience, you also have a responsibility of privilege to each person who reads your articles to be as accurate and unbiased as you can be each time you put yourself in the public eye.
You do no favors to the LGBT community by overgeneralization and knee-jerk responses. Just as I am mine. Yes, fiction.
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But you leave out the important part of the equation. Let me ask you a point blank question. It requires a simple yes or no. If you wrote a work with a black or asian or latino character male or female and a member of that marginalized group told you it was offensive as hell, would you dismiss them out of hand? As if fiction has no power. All you have to do is look at the power that fiction has wielded for generations. Look at history, starting with the Bible and working forward.
Fictional depictions have been the cause of indigenous peoples nearly being eradicated, hate crimes, genocide. And it all starts with the written word, whether it be fiction or propaganda. When I was growing up, gay men were sex fiends, perverts, pedophiles, murderers and frightening deviants in every movie, novel or TV show I saw. How nice for you that you get to protect your children from homophobia simply by changing your name.
Good for you. Or people threaten to take our children away. You want to get off on the gay life, then be brave enough to face it like actual gay people do everyday. Must be nice to have that luxury. There are legitimate reasons for pseudonyms and, yes, protection from bullies and homophobes is one of them. Oh lordy, please look into the wealth of information on fetishization and the psychological implications. That is, receiving sexual arousal and gratification from a fetish.
Gay men are being objectified for the sexual gratification of others. There are hundred of psychological studies on fetishism and fetishism is not limited to simply sexual gratification as evidenced by the fetishism in america of many foreign cultures by many individuals. It often goes hand in hand with appropriation of something such as religion or culture.
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There are good ones out there. That […]. There are more reasons for pain than sexuality… ones that I hope to the heavens that you and your loved ones never have to experience… ones that I have experienced. It means they need to be educated. As long as people refrain from total sarcasm and name-calling, these types of discussions are exactly where opinions and attitudes change.
I, not once, said that your feelings were less than mine. But in that same line, yours are not more important than mine. Propaganda has been the cause of many hate crimes against gays, women, and minority races. Fiction has not. How patronizing and unproductive. As a parent, would you expect me to do less than protect my children from homophobic assholes?
This upsets me. Whoever this author is should be ashamed. Which is basically the same thing I said with bigger words.
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Welcome to diversion This is my opinion. These are legitimate comments. You did list a handful. Thank you. So… help us understand. Where should we go to learn? O Rly? Victoria, you are offended because a few commentors have misspelled your name. I find it interesting that you are bothered by inaccuracy, because you are making things up wholesale and lying baldfaced about me and a number of other authors.
I am a member of the queer community. Ask my wife. I am calling you on these lies. Erastes does not review her own books; she tends to avoid reviewing those of her friends. I jokingly gave Ransom 5 stars on that blog. But you may note that that is the only one of my books that I have rated, anywhere. The ratings that count for many purposes are on Amazon, which does not allow its writers to rate themselves.
As for the notion of claiming sexuality according to fashion, my sexuality—which is none of your business, btw—ought to be relatively apparent from the fact that I married my wife in Ontario the year it became legal, and we moved here in Little did she know. Please substantiate the claims you make; I want to see citations of urls where people have done the things you claim they have done.
I want the titles of the books to which you refer when you make these sweeping statements about rape and other offenses. Your statements are dramatic, but you have as much credibility as Sarah Palin, and you are operating in much the same way—attack without foundation and assume that most people will not bother to check your claims. Since I know that what you are saying about me and my books is untrue, I see no reason to believe the slurs you are casting on other writers. What I see in your post is not righteous indignation, Victoria: it is plain old envy. Are you angry that Erastes, Alex, Don and I were invited to submit outlines to Perseus—or are you simply furious that you were not?
Would you have recoiled from the opportunity, or sent them an outline and hoped for a contract? Somehow, I suspect the latter. Victoria A. She teaches writing and film at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she added two new courses to the literary curriculum: Writing Below the Belt and Smut. She lives in Philadelphia. Dare I suggest that the motives you impute to others are actually projections of your own intent?
You can hardly write gay male porn and tell any other woman that she is not allowed to do the same. Lee, although I find this article problematic in some ways, you and your band of fine BIG NAME authors are doing yourselves no favors in the way you are conducting yourselves online. I would like to point out that although it says Victoria publishes under a pseudonym, it does not say it is a MALE pseudonym. If Victoria is doing that, then by all means that is hypocritical.
A lot of people commenting here are too fucking pleased with themselves and entirely missing the point. So why Victoria Brownworth has the right to write gay male porn? I think no one pointed out she is doing it under a male pseudonym, that would be even more hypocritical. When and were she gained that place? Well, if you think your pop culture definition of fetishization was the same as the one I presented, then I completely understand why you keep using derail.
Because comprehension seems to be lacking. I am not a nice little humble straight girl waiting to be enlightened. Fiction comes from the imagination. I can distinguish between fiction and fact. If someone posts outright lies about me, I am certainly going to dispute those lies. Would it be appropriate for any heterosexual writer to condemn gay men or lesbians for writing about heterosexual romance? Ah, but who would know? How many readers care? Is Madame Bovary less of a book because Flaubert was male? A book should be judged on its merit. Some books are good, some are downright horrible.
A responsible reviewer would go case-by-case. Who happens to be a gay man. Who is, incidentally, the only person with the right to decide whether or not he wants to print what I have written. And I am very grateful that he actually reads my books before making that decision. But as I probably realized a bit too late, there is no way to concile the idea, no matter what one states, no matter what reasons you have. I will remain with my idea, a book has to be judged for its merit not for the gender of who wrote it. Victoria Brownworth will remain with her idea of not embracing the straight fetishizing of their relationships.
I tend to think that exposing straights to positive portrayals of gay relationships — even those that are inaccurate — make gays less other. It is a genetic predisposition. And those of us who were born queer resent our lives being taken as a publishing trend. Again, even with its flaws, I would think the popularity and growth of this genre is a good thing for GLBT visibility and therefore the fight for equal rights. Put quotes around my response to one of your comments rather than the comment itself.
Hope you can tell what I meant. Is there no way to edit on here? Here is a list of books—both fiction and nonfiction—by gay male authors that have been reviewed by Speak Its Name. You can find all of these reviews on the website. Judging by all those four- and five-star ratings, I cannot see why you would claim that the work of gay male romance writers is being dismissed or rated poorly. Have some works been given low ratings? Of course. And so have some works by women authors. Speak Its Name rates books based on the quality of the writing, the storytelling and the historical accuracy. Any author of either sex or any sexuality can get a low rating.
By the same token, any author of either sex or any sexuality can earn a high one. It always has been. My first book, Basecraft Cirrostratus , does not have a single rape, describes relationship dynamics culled from my own experiences, and never once turns abusive. I should probably let Justin replies, but Tasha I think this is a highly offensive comment. Not really different from vampires or werewolves in paranormal. Elisa: And you have missed my point entirely, as well as the point of the blog entry to which we are commenting.
Some of them have been used quite frequently here in this discussion. Just wanted to thank Ms. Brownworth for a great article. And thanks to the others who have done battle with the reactionary trolls in comments. What I hate is the self-righteous indignation when actual queers call them out on poor behavior. I was just reading back over some of the comments by some of these authors during the Lambda awards issue and one is astounded by the things many of them said.
That is when I realized that a good number of these writers are not allies but opportunists. Just one. Because there are none. I left the schoolyard and petty bullies like Rowan long ago when my years at Catholic school were finally up. My work has appeared in every major queer mag in the country and most of the better known national daily newspapers, including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Google me and you get about two million references. Google Lee Rowan and you get—no joke—a list of closet organizers.
So maybe I am envious—because my closets are a mess. Who knew Rowan was the leader of the actual business, though? Oh my—yes, i have. A lot. I actually have always been a writer who writes. And includes Gertrude Stein among others. I took over the project when my dear friend, the photographer Tee Corinne, was diagnosed with liver cancer she died a few months later. So by all means castigate me for doing a lesbian history. So tedious. Envious of what? Your bad attitude?
Your ability to clear a room or enrage a comments list? My kingdom for a hatpin! The other half disagree, mostly whining and complaning. Boo hoo. Deal with it. Own it. And then go off and blog amongst yourselves that the rest of us actual queers are just jealous of your hetero privilege and stupendously successful writing careers in a sub-genre and your own publisher refers to it as sub-genre, Rowan, so I am not defaming you. I told her that she might have less of a language problem if she were reading something less low-brow, but that was probably mean of me.
Or fuschia. I just think that among all your fanciful claims should be some facts.
So why all the secrecy? My life is the proverbial open book. I want to thank respondents like Paul Bens, Tasha and Mel among others who read the article carefully and articulated their responses with such care and consideration and made me think more about the issues I was discussing. This is why I write. Tilting at windmills has not gone out of fashion, I see.
What could be more gratifying? I am a member of a organization sic , Lambda Literary, which Rowan does not respect nor esteem. If you so disrespect Lambda Literary, why continue to post here or read anything we write? Why not focus on the things that you do respect, whatever those might be, since there has not been a single positive comment from you on this page or anywhere else I can find. Get it now, folks?
This is what I mean by co-optation and objectification. These people revile us—Rowan said it succinctly above. So why should we embrace them? Not all of us are English mother tongue and I try very hard to speak and write a different language from mine. Elisa, dear. I wanted only to highlight that Justin has all the right, and the basis, to comment and his comment has not to be dismessed since his characters are a fox and a cougar.
I like to think I live in a country where we can buy pretty much any book we like. After a quick visit to Amazon. Would that be you? I tried the same quick search on Amazon. Which of your books did Canada ban? You said:. Ok, go with the number a professional deviation. I use themes to classify them, and the themes that most are near to what you are referring are probably:. All of them are men, so even the Alpha Male character is part of the Gay Romance imaginery.
All of the are Historical Romances. Again I found: Johnny Miles, M. Kei, Mark R. Probst, D. Manly, Mark Alders, J. Sagmiller, Dusk Peterson, J. Jim P. Same as above. But most of the time this plot revolve around the fact that, indeed, the straight man was not so straight. Banis, D. Manly, Gary Martine.