- Posted September 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Why I Separate Erotica from Pornography
Jess C Scott outlines the differences between erotica and pornography, and why it's important not to confuse one with the other.
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EROTICA = PORN…NOT!
Earlier this year, I came across a blog post titled Survival Tips for the Pornocalypse.
The post was about books by (some) erotica and erotic romance writers being filtered and excluded from an online retailer’s “All Department” search feature.
A quote from the post states:
“Jeff Bezos [founder of Amazon] owes the success of Kindle. . .to every erotica writer out there making a living writing ‘porn’.”
The quote made me wonder about the readers and writers who like erotica that’s more artistic and/or personal than pornographic.
I have heard erotica readers complain several times that they were disappointed with certain erotic books because they were “not explicit enough to be called erotica.”
Is explicitness what defines erotica?
WHY EROTICA ISN’T THE SAME THING AS PORN
At present, writers producing quality erotica have their works categorized together with pornographers because there’s little differentiation in the marketplace.
I would really like to see the mainstream retailers come up with an elegant solution to make a clear genre separation between “erotica” and “porn” when it comes to reading material. This is especially significant in the era of digital publishing, where anyone can write and publish whatever they desire.
Pornography, in its textual or visual form, is about explicitness (and making money via the customer’s arousal at the graphic content). Pornography objectifies sex, takes away any need for thought and concentrates entirely on supplying a physical need.
The above image accompanying this article features a lovely painting by the Hungarian artist, Emerico Toth.
Doesn’t it make you want to slow down and let your senses take in the picture?
While there’s a bit of nudity, this image is more sensuous, evocative and erotic than pornographic.
Let’s go through a few word definitions.
(1) Sensuous: Relating to or affecting the senses rather than the intellect. (Source: Oxford Dictionary)
(2) Pornographic: Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal. (Source: The Free Dictionary)
(3) Erotica: Erotica represents the complex cartography of desire, full of hazard and mystery, inviting endless exploration. (Source: The Times of India). This differentiates it from commercial pornography. The value is in the story and how it’s told, not the number of explicit sex scenes.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE CONFUSE EROTICA WITH PORNOGRAPHY
There is a powerful difference between each of the above three terms.
Society is not going to progress much in terms of intellect or sexuality if people are not educated or motivated enough to separate erotica from porn. Confusing pornography with erotica represents an impoverishment of our sexual imagination.
Quality erotica is a genre I’ll always be passionate about because I fully believe in the following quote:
“. . .it is vital for good erotica to be published, so that we can see for ourselves the difference between the life-enhancing, and the sordid and destructive.”
~ From Erotica: An Illustrated Anthology of Sexual Art and Literature, by Charlotte Hill and William Wallace
When I was sixteen, I happened to chance upon one of Anaïs Nin’s short story anthologies. I’m glad I came across classic erotica at the time, as it really opened up my mind with regards to exploring sex and sexuality.
There is a reason why there is classic erotica, and billionaire erotic romance which more or less follows the storyline of Fifty Shades. Which category leans closer towards the definition of “mass-market pornography”?
We compromise our own enjoyment and fulfillment (sexually and romantically) if our focus is on being titillated by adult fantasy (whether it’s in the “visual porn” sense, or through having a “warped sense of the perfect relationship” and “unrealistic expectations” as a result of Hollywood love stories).
That’s not to say that we should never enjoy a bit of fantasy or escapism now and then. But as the psychologist Dr Bjarne Holmes states, “some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realize.”
Essentially, quality erotica helped me to explore my own views on sex, as well as get in touch with my own sexual self.
Knowing yourself well keeps you from losing yourself in relationships, which brings about healthier relationships in general.
It’s a whole world of difference from the messages in a work or scene that’s pornographic.