Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We Will Thwart You, and Then We Will Mock You

By Kathleen Bradean

Please read Remittance Girl’s excellent write-up on all things censorship in the UK. Then don’t get too cozy, my US friends, seeing as we’re living in a pre-fascist society hurtling toward doom of our own making if things don’t turn around fast. And Canadians, gosh, I hate to say it, seeing as you’re usually the sensible neighbor compared to our ‘drunken frat boy passed out on the lawn, ‘ but you’ve got some weird-assed reactionary crap going on under your own roof lately too.
It seems the churches have about given up on controlling us. I mean, they do try, but even the choir is sneaking out during the sermon to play hide the communion wafer with each other. So here come our governments stepping into the power void. Seems humans can’t survive without someone wagging a finger in our faces. They learned from the churches that the best way to control people is to thwart natural sexuality, but the government doesn’t want to be obvious about it, so they’re trying to shut down the ability of UK citizens to search for erotica and adult content.

Hmm. Amazon just won a HUGE contract to host government stuff on their server farms. Perhaps the whole ‘hide the literary salami’ game where they disappeared all erotica (except big seller FSOG from a big publisher got a magical pass) was just a sales demonstration of their might with index-obliteration. Hmmm.   Oh wait, that sounds like a conspiracy theory. They probably just did it because… reasons.   “Oh, we’re Amazon, and we’ve decided money is gross! Get away, evil sales.”  Yeah. I can totes see that.

This week, Tumblr sent multiple fandoms into vaporlock by hiding all their slashy fanfic memes, as well as the sites that played by the rules and admitted they had adult content or were NSFW. (and got shamed into sort of bringing them back)

And then there’s that whole thing with Blogger turning uptight maiden auntie on anyone with links to ickle adult sites on their blogs.

This affects all of us, no matter where we are. Writers and artists, our blogs and Tumblrs and books have been banished to limbo without last rites. Not deleted, because oh no, that would be “bad” government censorship. Just made invisible. Disappeared. It’s Turn of the Screwed.

In the UK, Cameron can order Google to hide information on breast cancer. Oh, that’s not what his censorship is supposed to do, but that’s effectively what happens. We have seen it many times before. Cameron can also try to make it so consenting adults can’t read perfectly legal stories -- again collateral damage of poor policy. Or make it nearly impossible for rape victims to find  support anonymously online. And be sure that girls can never find information on their own bodies because there’s something so terrible about female genitalia that no woman must ever be allowed to see it. Do you think you can really protect people by denying them access to information, Mr Cameron?  I don't feel comfortable calling you a cynical, lying bastard without knowing for a fact that you are, so I'm going to assume that you’re so technologically illiterate that you shouldn’t ever be allowed near a piece of legislation involving the Internet, computers, surveillance, telecommunications, or any technology. Even if you are, you should know this won’t work. Ask countries that tried to block off the entire internet during revolutions and outright slaughter of their citizens. If they couldn’t stop the Tweets from finding a way past electronic borders, what chance do you think you have?

By the way, do you know which one of the examples above will find a way to reach its audience no matter what you do?  Erotica. 

You, Amazon, Tumblr, Google-- You're  just the latest wrinkle in a war that’s been raging since the first time someone picked up a stick to draw a cock in the sand and someone else kicked dirt over it. 

And we’ve always won this fight. From well-fondled copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover to bawdy tales around the campfire with Chaucer, we endure.  We laugh at you, with your silly belief that you can kill an idea and control people. Pandora’s Box, baby.  It’s open, and if you try to put a lid on it, we will find another way. To reach our readers, if we must, we will sell our novels and anthologies under the genre title Romance (Let’s see you cut off 50% of your sales, Amazon). Or Westerns. Or Mysteries. Or  Literature.  Or all the genres.  To hide in plain sight, we will use euphemisms so obscure that readers will leave an Urban Dictionary tab open to figure out what’s going on. Or we will go Shakespearean on their asses. We will change faster than your filters can keep up.  We will be agile. We will be goddamn Kaiser Soze—poof, and we’re gone, as far as you know. But not really. We will always be here. Because we are writers. Because words are our fucking tools, and we know how to use them.


Here's a petition you can sign (UK citizens, one supposes), but personally, I think respectful phone calls work much better. Also, VOTING.


  1. You're just the latest wrinkle in a war that’s been raging since the first time someone picked up a stick to draw a cock in the sand and someone else kicked dirt over it.

    Very true and an amusing image! (Got to keep one's sense of humor which is another resilient weapon). Not that it won't be frustrating to deal with the setbacks, and if you look at history, any attempt to secure freedom and equality whether by race, gender, religion or whatever, is a jerky two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance. Sexuality is still so vulnerable to this kind of thing because most people feel too ashamed to stand up for free speech in this area. They use mockery against us, too, but again the shaming isn't quite as effective as it once was. Ain't no one going to recall all of those copies of 50 Shades! Sign petitions, vote, and keep writing and blogging, everyone!

  2. They claim it's to cut down on sexual abuse of children, but as RG points out on her blog, it won't. However, it probably will be used to block out political parties the government doesn't want people to see.

    What many people don't understand is that what they see is already heavily filtered. If you tend to search for conservative key words, you aren't shown the most liberal leaning answer even if it would be the top search term otherwise. And vice versa. If Google decides you're liberal, it will hide conservative search results, or at least rank them lower. So I suppose we should all switch to non-filtering, non-tracking search engines.

  3. "We will always be here. Because we are writers. Because words are our fucking tools, and we know how to use them."

    Amen, and amen!

    Did you read about the recent anti-gambling law in Florida that accidentally made computers illegal?

    Sigh. These are the people we supposedly elected.

  4. We seriously need to elect a better class of people. The problem is that smart people don't want to run for office, and anyone with tech knowledge or a solid background in science is better off monetarily staying in their field.

    And it would help if laws got professional review before they're voted on. Although, if one were extremely cynical, one could say that bill was designed to be a mess so it would be overturned so politician could get points with their constituents for voting against online gambling but still take money from online gambling companies.

  5. Timely discussion. I hope the petition that RG is promoting in the UK gets lots of signatures. And yes, creeping fascism is happening in the UK, the US and Canada. Right-wing regimes at every level of government in Canada have done their best to defund and scale back long-standing liberal Canadian traditions without alerting the voting public. Vigilance seems to be the antidote.

  6. I think people are numb to the near constant assaults on their liberties and have no idea what to do.


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