While at Eroticon this weekend, something came up that I think deserves a bit of a discussion. While watching a S&M demo, I looked around the room at the audience in attendance, and noticed that there were a few members who did not seem comfortable with the situation. After the demo was done, there was a brief discussion about what we (as the audience) just saw. One individual brought up what I had noticed. In turn, Rubyyy Jones asked those in attendance who had never seen an actual session before.
A small number in attendance raised their hands. Rubyyy then asked those who had their hands in the air if they had ever written about BDSM before. The conversation kind of fizzled out from there, which was a shame, since it really could have expanded on the concept as a whole – do some fetish authors write without experiencing the activities they write about, and on a lesser note, does the reader ever notice the difference?
Luxie Rider left a comment on my Eroticon2012 post bringing up this concept:
“I am one of the erotica writers who found the BDSM session hard to watch (I was the one who asked if it was ok to wince, lol). I don’t write BDSM, for a couple of reasons, mostly because I don’t find the idea of pain arousing (well, nothing more intense than a bit of hair pulling, nibbling, etc). I did wonder though, when the question was asked about how many authors had written it without seeing it, if those who do have experience of this kind of thing can tell if the author has had any real life experiences to draw from?”
Of course there are writers who create stories without ever taking part in the actual activity. One of the speakers at Eroticon was Josephine Myles, a woman who specializes in writing erotica about gay men, but she went on to explain that she researches her material a number of ways, including watching gay porn. You can write without experiencing your niche or fetish first hand, but can you write convincingly without even witnessing your topic before?
I personally think it depends on your audience – the reader.
For instance, I have been working for a porn site recently who showcases “Ladyboys” – transgender men generally from Thailand. I have never spoken to one of these ladies before, never watched them have sex other than in the videos I write about, but I have been told that my content is some of the most popular on the site. The audience are men who go for the stereotypical – they want to read what they expect to see. I feel perfectly comfortable providing them with that over-generalized material. At the end of the day, I’m not trying to educate through my hardcore movie descriptions, I’m trying to get a guy to want to jack off so much that he clicks through and purchases a membership.
On the flip side, if the audience of that site were transgender individuals themselves, who were looking for material that related to their everyday living, I’m sure it would be sorted out in minutes that I don’t have any experience in that world. Those with an inner working knowledge of that world, that vocabulary, that way of life would probably look at my writing and gag at the absolute lack of realism. That audience is looking for something that I can’t provide to them, by my own admission. I have no issue writing Ladyboy porn descriptions for straight men. I do have issues writing Ladyboy erotica for a transgender audience.
Turning back to BDSM – can an author write about it without ever taking part? Of course they can, but I think that only those with an inner working knowledge of that world and the lifestyle will pick up on that. Now, if you are targeting your book to that audience specifically, I dare say you might find yourself in a bit of trouble. But, if you are hoping that Suzie-housewife who hasn’t ever even been swatted on the ass before picks up your novel and enjoys it, I bet you’ll tickle her fancy.
The question now to be debated – is it “right” to create material involving a fetish that neither the author or the reader has no experiences of? Do you perpetuate stereotypes to earn the royalty money? Do you write in generalities to appease a wide audience, or go with authentic detail from experience that will only be truly appreciated by a few?
That’s another post in it’s entirety.
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