As I've delved into the erotic romance genre, I've been on a steep learning curve of what's acceptable and what isn't. It seems there is a myriad of opinions--from there are 'no limits' to 'no dubious consent' or 'monster erotica' is out of bounds.
Book sellers and certain publishing houses definitely have standards they adhere to and reject manuscripts/indie books for crossing the proverbial line. An author friend of mine recently said she doesn't believe either should dictate what women read. This statement has been tossing around in my brain lately--on the one hand, I see that businesses are looking at it from the standpoint of marketability and a return on their investment; on the other hand, authors shouldn't be prohibited from writing what resonates with them.
One person's porn is another person's Sunday afternoon, right? But is the erotic genre getting out of hand? Some erotic authors have been accused of promoting violence against women, beastiality, promiscuity, and pedophilia. In the age of the internet when choices are limitless, however, is this true? People are, after all, choosing what to read and where to spend their money, nothing is being forced upon them.
But where is the moral compass and is it our business to patrol it? Censorship is the dirtiest of words in publishing. Is there a line that should never be crossed or, because it is so easy these days to self-publish, is anything fair game? The gatekeepers that once controlled the publishing world are becoming scarce--but this leads to bigger questions about "just because we can write/publish it, should we?" Are erotica authors taking their freedom too far and adding to the corruption of society? Then again, if people want to be corrupted, is it our business to act as their moral compass?
I have my personal tastes--I like M/F romance and erotic romance. I enjoy stories that push the limits, that walk right up to the edge spit in the face of the conservative mindset. I have rape--or dubious consent--in a few of my books that fit with the storylines I'm intending to write. I don't feel that it's wrong--after all, life isn't always filled with light, rainbows, and joy. To me, as an erotic romance author, I enjoy writing about the darker parts of life and sex that is far from vanilla. It's liberating!
It's true that I don't enjoy certain genres--and would't go out and buy them--but I don't judge the authors or refuse to promote my friends who write them. I know some erotic authors who do ban the more taboo stuff--but I think that's their right, too, because at a certain point we all need to look at our own reasons for writing and our fan base. Erotic romance and erotica genres cover a wide spectrum. I'm learning that we're a diverse group, as is our audience, but does cross-promoting work for this group or not when the diversity grows more every day?
Do we as erotica authors who are putting work into the world have an obligation to think about the impact of our words? Or do we wrap ourselves in the cloak of creative expression and trust that people are capable of controlling their own actions? Somewhere in the answer is the C-word we all fear--censorship. What is acceptable? What is scandalous? Is there a right or wrong or is there simply an individual choice that needs to be respected?