50 Shades of Grey…and me

If you’ve been living under a rock, 50 Shades is a blockbuster erotica novel that has been breaking sales records and optioned for a movie.  As an erotica author, I’ve recently been asked by a lot of my friends what I think of it.

That I’m not interested in reading it.

I have an intense dislike of Twilight, so it’s not a far stretch for me to say that I’m not going to enjoy this book, as it is re-purposed Twilight fanfic.  (What’s fanfic?)

I have read excerpts, and I’m not crazy about the author’s style.

I think that the unrealistic portrayal of BDSM would make the book problematic for me.

That anything that helps mainstream erotica is a good thing.

We write in a genre that gets very little public respect or acceptance.  I write under the pseudonym of Delilah Night not because I have delusions of being mobbed at a mall like Justin Beiber, but rather because I know that my profession is uncomfortable for many.

The day I don’t feel uncomfortable saying “I write erotica” at my daughter’s nursery school is the day it’s truly gone mainstream.  I tend to say I’m a writer, and then deflect after that or just say “romance.”  I only came out publicly on facebook to my friends and family as an erotica author after my first professional acceptance in Irresistible (now available in paperback and as a kindle e-book).  While some people knew, not everyone did (and my in-laws sure as hell didn’t before–and we don’t discuss that they know it now).

Sure I’m a little jealous of the checks EL James is depositing in the bank, but if the popularity of 50 shades actually helps to mainstream erotica (already getting shelved with the romance trade paperbacks–a far cry from 15 years ago) then we all benefit.

Wow, I’d love that kind of paycheck some day.

By and large, erotica isn’t a money making genre.  I’m only able to be a writer (which mostly means the blog I write about my life in Singapore, and the short stories/novel I’m working on—but full time in this context is maybe 10 hours a week in a good week) because what I actually am is a full time stay at home mom who writes.  Most of us who write erotica have full time other jobs (mine may not pay, but it is absolutely full time).  So yes, I absolutely would love to repay all the love and support my partner has given me with a big fat check for a book I’ve written.

“Mommy Porn” is lazy writing and rude

For me, the most troubling aspect of the talk surrounding 50 shades is the lazy descriptor of it as “mommy porn.”

Calling it “mommy porn” is dismissive to mothers, to erotica writers, to the genre, and it’s just plain lazy.  It buys into the madonna/whore stereotype that says mothers don’t like sex.  That in the act of childbirth we also push out our sexuality and become boring asexual beings.

Guess what?  I like sex.  I like writing about sex.  I don’t always like my sex vanilla.  I’m also a mother, but that’s just part of my overall identity. My being a mom does not dictate what type of pornography I am attracted to.  Or if it does, it influences me in that I tend to write a lot of characters who also happen to be moms, because I can identify with that at this stage in my life far more than I can identify with a college co-ed.  On the flip side, I’m writing one of Santa’s elves these days and contemplating which fairy tale I want to BDSM up for a submission to a different anthology.

The major demographic for this novel is the same demographic that reads romance novels in general.  Is a Nora Roberts book mommy soft-core porn?  No, it’s a romance novel.  Let’s not diss women who want a more explicit read (and I say that as a fairly big fan of Nora Roberts work, and a long time reader of her work).

Call it fanfic, call it a bad portrayal of BDSM, call it a publishing phenom, but don’t call it mommy porn.


Hats off to you, Ms James.  I hope to one day be so lucky.

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