Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Friday, December 26, 2014
by Jean Roberta
My day job is never boring because it is constantly changing. As I plan to start teaching three new English classes in the local university in January, a project I worked on during my last holiday break (December 2013) is coming to fruition.
Last year, I worked with someone who teaches English as an Additional Language to devise a test in English fluency/comprehension to be administered to first-year students to start generating some data about their ability to function in university classes. Unfortunately, the original test took three-to-four hours to write, and therefore it wasn’t practical to use in regular classes. Over the past year, a committee in the English Department has tinkered with the test and reduced the time it takes to approximately fifty minutes, the time-span of a regular class that meets three times per week. The current department head has asked me to administer this to my first-semester class on the first day.
I am curious to find out if the hard data confirms what I have observed over a quarter-century of teaching mandatory first-year classes to a very diverse student body. The administration has been recruiting students from other countries, many of whom have had to learn English as adults, and these students often beg me on the first day of class to give them a passing grade because they need it to complete their programs. They hope I can overlook their grammatical flaws. The more desperate they are, the more they are tempted to hand in plagiarized essays, and when the students are caught, they claim they had no idea this isn’t allowed. (In all fairness, they might not have understood my warning lecture.)
Locally-grown students aren’t necessarily better-prepared or better-behaved. Even students who speak English fluently, with a local (Canadian) accent, often tell me they didn’t want to take an English class because they have never understood grammar, and they hope I will overlook any silly little mistakes they might make. When/if I question the home-grown students about their backgrounds, some of them tell me the first language they ever heard was spoken by their immigrant parents, and it was not English. In all their years of public-school education, apparently no one ever explained to them the differences between English grammar and that of their mother tongue. Some local students grew up in households where reading was treated as a waste of time. In most cases, they decided that precision in written communication just wasn’t important.
I devoutly hope that if the new placement test (as it is called) shows that more than half of all first-year students really aren’t ready to study literature in English and write essays about it, the administration (and above that, the various levels of government that fund the education system) will find some spare change for more basic language-and-composition classes. I wouldn’t even mind teaching at a pre-first-year level, especially if this would mean that I would see more progress and hear less begging.
What does all this have to do with writing? A lot. I honestly don’t know whether the mix of students in my classes is a microcosm of the public at large, but the possibility scares me. Grammatical mistakes in their writing are only part of the problem. (Here are some examples: plural subjects with singular verbs, as in “the students studies real hard,” object pronouns used as subjects, as in “Me and Joe went to the bar,” and dangling participles, as in: “Flapping in the breeze, Dee looked up at the flag.”) These glitches are bad enough, but as some students claim, grammatical mistakes are not a huge deal if the reader can guess what is really meant.
In most cases, grammatical mistakes are accompanied by a lack of logic: contradictory statements, needless repetition, the startling interjection of commands to the reader (e.g. “This novel is about racism. Stop using stereotypes!”) An example of a tautology, or circular reasoning, is this sentence from an actual student essay on literature that I graded in December: “The end of domestic violence would stop men from beating their wives.” Duh. But what unnamed force is (or was) supposed to stop domestic violence, according to the work under discussion?
I jump between piles of (largely) unclear or inaccurate writing, and writing projects of my own. I often wonder for whom I am writing. Who, in general, reads erotic fiction? Is this audience more literate than the average person, assuming the word “average” makes any sense in this context?
The word “sex,” apparently so simple and so clear, really doesn’t mean the same thing to every person who hears or uses it. Over thirty years ago, I was told by my husband at the time that he knew some women who “masturbated” each other, but “they didn’t have sex.” The apparent lack of sex meant that these women weren’t really lesbians, according to him. And like most of the men I knew at that time, my husband was convinced that unwanted sex (especially if unwanted by the female partner) was very different from “real rape.” And sex, by definition, was both consensual and natural, so after sex had occurred, none of the participants had a right to complain that it should not have happened.
So when we write about sex, we can’t afford to assume we know how our words will be understood. (I always hope that a lot of sensory description will be clearer than abstract terms.) This problem is amplified when the more advanced (beyond the basic grammar of cock-in-cunt) varieties of sex are introduced. As the public release of the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey approaches like a speeding racecar, widespread concern about its content is, if possible, more urgent than before. Will hordes of readers and viewers assume that the movie accurately represents BDSM (itself a very general term that needs to be clarified in specific cases)?
I could mention a specifically Canadian example of the misuse of the term “rough sex” to describe the nonconsensual treatment of at least nine female complainants by the minor male celebrity who dated them, but I am running out of space. Suffice it to say that by all accounts, the women accepted invitations to the man’s house because they were willing to have “sex” with him, according to their understanding of what that meant, but what the host dished out was something else entirely. This case seems to involve more than a tragic misunderstanding, but it does show the need for negotiation in good faith whenever two or more people get naked together.
Meanwhile, I keep advocating accurate expression and large vocabularies as sexy things that can lead to wonderfully satisfying encounters between (say) a reader and an author. Am I indulging in intellectual masturbation? It’s hard to know.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
by Kathleen Bradean
The past few days, as I hung out with fellow erotica writer (and editor) D.L. King, I was reminded again of what a close-knit community erotica writers are. I'm sure there are rivalries, but for the most part we're wonderfully supportive of each other. I'll admit that I get a little jealous when I read about other writers' successes, but only because I wish I'd tried to get stories in for deadlines or had worked as hard at my writing as those other writers did.
As I'm friends on FaceBook with many writers, I get glimpses into their lives. I've never met them in person, but we've been in many anthologies together and been on writer's lists, so I feel as if I know them. I've seen some folks struggle through terrible times, and I've seen other writers rush in with words of support and even personal help or funds.
I'm not sure what people think of when they envision erotica writers, but I doubt it's such sweetness and gentle care of others. Not that their opinion matters, of course.
I'm proud to know this group of people. I love how they help each other with grammar problems and news about editors as well as personal matters outside writing. You're all good people- in case you need to be reminded. But one of the things I like about you most is that you're naughty too.
Posted by Kathleen Bradean at 6:56 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Posted by Lucy Felthouse at 12:00 PM
Saturday, December 20, 2014
By Lisabet Sarai
Friday, December 19, 2014
May I interrupt your shopping, cooking and other holiday preparations for a moment? Just in case you've forgotten, today is the 19th of December. In other words, it's Sexy Snippets Day!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we've decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day's post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link, if you'd like.
Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It's an open invitation!
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Sexual assault is very much in the news these days from Bill Cosby and the controversy around Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” to the Obama administration’s Title IX probe of the handling of sexual assault cases on many campuses across the country. This complex issue deserves thoughtful attention and meaningful action towards prevention, but the discussion also brings up strong emotions. Extreme opinions are easy to find on the Internet. On the one end of the spectrum are those who claim that all men are rapists waiting for their chance, on the other, those who accuse women who speak up about their experiences of assault of being liars and attention-seekers (because, really now, the kind of attention they receive is so much fun, right?)
Every commenter has her or his solution. One woman pointed the finger at parents, who should take their sons aside before they go off to college and tell them not to rape anyone.
My first reaction was to shake my head at the quaint custom of blaming individual parents rather than, say, broader cultural values, but then I got to thinking. Maybe the Internet Lady was right. Maybe if parents talked openly with their sons and daughters about sexual assault, that might change the environment enough to make a difference. Because preventing sexual assault in the first place is far better for everyone than trying to punish assault after it happens.
However, there has to be a lot more to the talk than, “Son, don’t rape anyone at college!” or “Daughter, don’t get inebriated, wear short skirts or get within groping distance of a boy!” The talk I have in mind would not only involve rape itself, but fundamental issues that nourish it and are likewise shrouded in silence. I’m talking about sexuality, status and power, and the ways group pressure can make you do things that are not in your own best interest.
Assault of any kind at any age by anyone, even say, a policeman, is a crime. But young adults (and not just college kids) are particularly vulnerable to becoming both perpetrators and victims because they are unsure about where they fit in and what good sex means to them personally versus cultural myths of what sex should be. If they have nothing else to go on but what their equally uncertain peers model as cool and fun, then they have to figure it out for themselves at great risk. What’s still happening on campuses today—and let’s not doubt that assault and date rape have always been there--is the result.
Where to start the discussion? For the sake of simplicity, I’ll speak mainly about heterosexual relationships, but the general principles apply across the range of orientations. The first myth to tackle is that being a cool stud means putting your penis in as many holes as possible. If the body you penetrate is unconscious, struggling, protesting, even ambivalent, it doesn’t matter as long as you get inside. But what if we all agreed to redefine the terms—a sexual encounter only gets you stud points if both partners willingly participate and experience pleasure? As many before me have argued, this means that men and women must be allowed to say “yes” to sex so that “no” has meaning. But we need to get the message out—if you have sex with an unconscious or unwilling body, you’re a creep and a criminal, not a player.
Another issue that struck me when I read the Rolling Stone article is that young men in fraternities face serious dehumanization as part of the pledging process. I’ve heard reliable stories about pledges being coerced into eating cat food, crickets, and vomit, of being forced to stand in a row, blindfolded, while they wait for the night’s assignment to prove their dedication to the group. This might involve running three miles to get pizza for a brother or sleeping on a hardwood floor in the frat house for several nights. I’m sure the worst parts were not shared with me. Secrecy and silence are crucial to the fraternal code and those who break it face the same consequences as victims of rape who speak out. Hazing tends to make the news when people die or are seriously injured, but the truth is, it damages and dehumanizes everyone who endures it and everyone who inflicts it on others. Colleges are condoning and enabling this behavior by ignoring it. Many of us are doing the same by romanticizing it. It’s time to shine the light on fraternity and sorority hazing and its effects on young adults before the next death from alcohol poisoning or the next party rape. Is belonging worth that price?
Finally, we must acknowledge that the taproot of this problem is shame. Not just shame about reporting incidents if you are a victim, which is certainly the cause of much tragedy, but also shame about expressing and experiencing sexual desire. Because we can’t share the truth of our sexuality, people can all too easily manipulate us through sexual shame. They can bully us for not being sexual enough or experienced enough, then turn around and call us names for being too sexual. Even in erotica, where fearless and frank sexual writing is the name of the game, many of us must seek protection behind pseudonyms--for very good reasons.
The commentator who blamed parents for sexual assault on campus was, I believe, oversimplifying the problem. But if we all could more openly discuss sexual myths, sexual shame and the ways vulnerable young adults can be manipulated by the desire for status, we could make progress toward creating an environment where nonconsensual sex is no longer business as usual on the college scene.
Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman and a collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor
Monday, December 15, 2014
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the brothel
All the women complained that their tips had been awful.
The johns were all hung, but with a casual air.
When it came down to cold cash, they just wouldn’t share.
Mistresses had been fucked, smiling smug in their beds
As visions of sugar daddies danced in their heads.
Mistress Domina Gretchen, my jack booted Hessian
Had me trussed nice and tight for a long dungeon session.
When over her cussing, as she paddled my rear
There outside in the dark, I heard something draw near.
Then fell from the sky with a flirt and a flitter
A tiny red sleigh drawn by eight elfin strippers.
As naked as jaybirds his tanned Valkyries came;
He whipped them; he spanked them as he called them by name:
“Now Nixie! Now Trixie! Now Nikki! Now Vixen!
“Mount up to the rooftop! Show them tease and pizzazz –
then let’s all party down cause I’m freezing my ass!”
Down the chimney he came, with a bounce and a bound,
He tossed down his big bag and he looked all around.
Then Saint Nick threw off his clothes, that randy old kook
And bellowed “Out of my way, you tight fisted mooks!
“I’m Santa, I’m hot, I’m hard and I’m horny –
I’ve brought my elf girls, now let’s have an orgy!”
Johns hid their faces, girls cried “I’m naughty! Do me!”
Cause that Santa Claus, man, he was hung to his knee.
Then from out of the wind, from the snow and the cold
The girls dropped down the chimney and set up their poles.
How their nipples were perky – their butt cheeks how merry!
Sixteen titties a-jiggle like bowls full of jelly.
How they lap-danced! How they dazzled! Johns emptied their pockets.
Santa ploughed through the women like a love hungry rocket.
The women squealed when they came, came hard and came thrice,
While the girls showed the men unknown levels of vice.
And when all was over, the sated saint satyr
Looked deep in his bag and ho hoed as he scattered
Loving gifts to this crowd as they gathered and grew.
“I just know that God loves you, so I love you too!”
There were dildoes for ladies, and cock rings for men.
Fur lined handcuffs for me, a bull whip for Gretchen.
Then punching my shoulder, he smiled and he winked
Said “Those ought to hold you till next year, I think.”
He put on his clothes, then to his girls gave a whistle,
Up the chimney they flew like the down of a thistle.
I heard him exclaim as he took off towards
“Good lovin’ to you all, and thank God for Viagra!”
Posted by Garceus at 9:06 PM
Saturday, December 13, 2014
- Aggressive whipping
- Penetration by any object "associated with violence"
- Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)
- Urolagnia (known as "water sports")
- Role-playing as non-adults
- Physical restraint
- Female ejaculation
The last three are included for being potentially life threatening.
Rest assured, all these restriction only apply to video remediation of the acts, but what interests me is the reasoning behind them.
Certainly breath play can be dangerous; there might, feasibly be some concern that making it seem unproblematic could lead people to try it without further education on the subject (although a reenactment your run-of-the-mill movie bar fight would be just as likely to cause severe injury). But a search of the research indicates only one death, in 1987, caused by fisting which tore the tissues so badly that the victim bled to death. There is another recorded death associated with an air embolism. Following this reasoning, as dangerous activities go, videos of showers should be banned; it's a thousand times more likely to lead to fatality. I've searched far and wide, and cannot find a single incident of death by 'facesitting'.
Then there is the puzzling ban on female ejaculation. When asked to explain their thinking on this, the group responsible for this decision argued that there was no evidence that female ejaculation actually exists and that the fluid being 'ejaculated' might contain urine, putting it in the same category as other watersports, i.e. golden showers. The fact that mainstream society's objection to golden showers stems from it being considered an act of degradation - not because it involves urine - seems to have been lost on this panel. Is there actually porn out there where women degrade men by squirting on them? Well, if there wasn't, there will be now!
The list of 'strange' goes on. Spanking is out, even though approximately 65% of all couples have tried it. Penetration by any object "associated with violence" is on pretty dicey grounds; most women who have been raped would consider a penis an object associated with violence. Physical restraint is so broad as to be laughable. Hands up if you've ever let your lover tie you up and fuck you? The absurdity of this part of the list would be risible if it weren't so sad. How is it that a government ends up banning the remediation of what a considerable number of lovers do in their bedroom on a fairly regular basis? The subtext is that these things aren't normal. They are abusive, they are perversions, they are wrong.
But strangest of all, at least to me, are the prohibited acts that are not even physical: verbal abuse, humiliation and age-play. None of these are acceptable even when there is clear consent in the video. All of these restrictions approach the concept of 'sins of the mind'. It appears that the powers that have imposed these restrictions have completely discounted the difference between fantasy and reality. Fictionality is no longer acceptable in porn because, in their view, our society can no longer be trusted to distinguish the difference between, for instance, pretending to be a 12-year old schoolgirl and actually being one. Ironically, it is fictionality that makes porn culturally safer.
Another defense of these restrictions is that it protects children from seeing things they shouldn't see. But think about all the sexual acts NOT on the list. Is it okay for children to see those things? I'm not going to list them. I trust your imaginations. This argument can be dismissed as ridiculous.
On a personal basis, the banning of the remediation of the acts on list offends me - not because I would want to see most of the acts, I'm not much of a porn fan - but because the prohibition makes a very grave statement about how intellectually subnormal the government assumes its adult citizens to be. More importantly, the government has once again entered into the business, as it did in most of the 20th Century, of taking on the authority to determine what normative sexuality is, and it has moved to ensure that non-normative forms are discouraged, even in fantasy.
But more ironically than all of that, in the name of stemming 'rape culture' and the depiction of violence against women, it has banned the video remediation of female ejaculation and facesitting, while still allowing the depiction of women choking on cocks and bukakke scenes.
This is not about protecting anyone from anything. This is, along with the ever-increasing surveillance of our private lives, a claiming of additional powers in the guise of concern for our safety.
Of course, the censorship of sexually explicit material and bans on pornography have never stopped people from getting their hands on it. The plethora of both written and photographic porn produced during the late Victorian period attests to this. What the legislation has done is make certain pornographic spectacle more forbidden, and therefore more alluring. If squirting was a popular meme before, its cache in the UK will go through the roof. People will crave more violent flogging, caning and spanking material because it is prohibited. Eroticism requires transgression and this has simply made the things that have been banned all the more erotic.
And it that spirit, I offer you a little piece of social science fiction:
Show Me Bad
Having pulled on their gimp masks as they make their way down into the basement of the strip-mall Thai takeaway in Ruislip. Gina, Lotte and Rose weave their way through the occupied stacking chairs in the dank, windowless, impromptu cinema.
The others in the secret audience are also masked. Some in balaclavas, some in gas masks, some in pillowcases with holes for the eyes. People nod, murmur. All the seats are occupied, so they stand to the side, leaning against the damp brick wall, and stare at a large flatscreen TV.
Someone switches the lights off. The bluescreen menu prompt pops up and the input is set to 'video'. First the screen goes black, and then brightens again. On the screen, in what looks like an old fashioned kitchen, a small, bony man argues with what appears to be his obese wife. The wife grabs him, trips him, and pins him to the dirty linoleum floor. The camera moves in, closer, closer. She is hiking up the skirt of her faded, stained housedress. She's not wearing anything under it. The little man is struggling to free himself but he's no match for her. She inches her bared bulk up his body.
Someone in the audience whispers, "Fuck, yeah." The sound of multiple zippers being pulled down, the rustle of displaced clothes is a whisper beneath the hiss of the video. On the screen, there's a close-up of a plump, enormous cunt lowering itself onto the little man's panicked face. He screams as the huge, meaty, wet labia cover his nose and mouth. Only his bloodshot,frightened eyes are visible as the woman begins to rock her pelvis back and forth, slathering his face in viscous effluvia.
"Lick me, you motherfucker," mutters the woman. The man's hands are fluttering, clawing at her thighs but she doesn't stop.
In the dark of the room, there are moans, the quick, determined sounds of genitals being self-pleasured.
The man's legs are kicking wildly, uselessly. Muffled choking sounds are emanating from under the draped slabs of her vulva
"Oh, my god," whispers Lotte.
Gina has her hand down the front of her jeans, frigging herself, gimp mask impassive, eyes fixed on the flatscreen. The little man's face - what's visible of it - has turned a deep red. His head jerks helplessly.
"So fucking hot," whispers Rose.
On the screen, the massive woman is coming. Her body goes rigid, flesh judders, fluid floods out over the face of the little man, who now appears to be passed out, if not dead.
Half the masked audience is also coming. Moans, cries, grunts fill the dark.
While waiting for the bus, Rose, Gina and Lotte stand in silence for a while, their gimp masks tucked safely back in their purses.
"I can't believe what we saw," says Lotte. "So this is a thing?" "They used to have face sitting in porn, on the net," says Rose. "It used to be just cunnilingus, you know. The normal kind. But then the government banned it."
Lotte looks confused. "Why did they ban it?"
Gina smiles. "They said it was too dangerous," she says. "So someone decided to make it dangerous, for real."
Rose nods. "It's way hotter now, isn't it?"
Thursday, December 11, 2014
One of the coldest rules of being an erotica author is that it's a sexist genre: women have a slightly easier time of it than do guys— unless you're penning gay stuff, of course. Straight men still remain the primary buyers of erotica, and they usually don't enjoy stuff written by men. Is this homophobic? Certainly. But them's the breaks until our society grows up. Women also don't seem to trust anything written by a man, being suspicious that a man can't write about sex. Is this wrong? Absolutely. But again, that's simply the way the world works—for the moment, at least.
In this world of literary female domination, some women authors have made the mistake of selling themselves rather than their work. The temptation, like I said, is clear: turning yourself into a desirable product makes it easy to sell just about anything you do, whether it's a book or your own underwear. Becoming a sex personality means that you carry your catalog with you; you don't have to trouble yourself with showing people what makes you a writer worthy of reading.
There are other benefits as well. Celebrity has a special allure. There's nothing like the adrenaline rush of people saying you're sexy or clapping when you walk on stage. Writing, as I've said many times before, is a spectacularly harsh mistress. With the low pay, generally poor treatment, and little artistic recognition, it's no wonder that so many women are seduced by the quick and easy fame—or at least recognition—of becoming a product or personality, rather than a writer.
Now I should qualify what I mean by "selling." I'm all for writers marketing themselves and their work. Becoming an expert on something is an established marketing technique and lots of people do it very well, but there's a huge difference between becoming an authority and actually peddling your ass: if you write articles and essays on sex and sexuality, or give advice on it, then you're an expert; talk about who you took to bed last night and you're selling yourself.
There are two good reasons for not crossing that line between publicity and soliciting. The first is more professional: if you create yourself as a sexual superstar, you're severely limiting what you can do as a writer. Your sex life might get you attention, but walk away from that spotlight and you'll find yourself in the dark: your audience having been used to you as a sex object, not as a writer, and won't respond when you're not writing about being a pro-dom, sex activist, or porn star. Flexibility, after all, is key to being a writer because it gives you a plethora of genres and venues in which to expand and play. Your erotica didn't sell? Try horror. Horror didn't work? Try romance, and so forth. Unless, that is, you turn yourself into nothing but a sex object—then that's all you can be.
If you want to turn yourself into a sexual superstar, don't let me stop you: it's your right as a free person. But I sincerely recommend that you resist the temptation to market yourself and not your work. Besides being a potential dead end career-wise, the other reason for not writing about your own sex life and putting it out there for hundreds, maybe thousands and—who knows?—millions of people to read: fans.
Not to put down the handsome and well-groomed reading world, but way too many of my female writer friends tell me that having die-hard admirers of their sexual personas, rather than their stories, is more a curse than a blessing—and really, really creepy. I'd say unwelcome advances are another reason to write stories about all kinds of things, and not about how wonderful it was jerk off the entire swim team.