Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Erotica, Erotic Romance or Pornography?

Well, it never dawned on me until tonight. Is what I write pornography?

Personally, I don't think so. Here is my reasoning, whether you agree or not: To me, pornography's sole purpose is to turn on the receiver (be it viewer, reader, spectator, actor, etc.) in whatever way works for them. Pornography is created and sold to get someone hot under the collar and damp in the drawers. There isn't much else to it. The context is irrelevant.

Now, as to erotica, for me, it comes down to the context. Sure, most often it still turns on the receiver, sometimes better than pornography, but is that all it does? Erotica invites conversation and opens discussion. Erotica begs the receiver to consider the context of the sex. There isn't only sex, just sitting there, happening, instead there is background and color. Maybe the sex involves the complexities of a relationship, either blossoming or failing tragically. Maybe the sex questions beliefs or understandings of attraction. Maybe the sex just so happens to create interest in a new form of expression (what's that, the lotus position?). Maybe, and this is where I tend to write, the sex allows exploration of the many variations on the meaning of sexuality and pleasure. I have to admit, I tend to go for the old faithfuls in my sexual relationship. But, what about other forms of pleasure, other combinations of humanity and sexuality? Erotica allows the creator and receiver to open that door - to awaken the question and seek out the answer. Pornography might do the same, but that is never it's purpose.

Whether it is art or not, doesn't even enter the picture for me. What is the purpose? What is the context?

Yet, that isn't even all there is... what about the differences between romance, erotic romance, and erotica?

Well, I just had to delve into that, too. Lime Cello wrote an excellent article on this distinction, though, I am not quite sure I actually agree with all her points. Nonetheless, here is what she had to say on the matter:
Romance: a story where the characters fall in love. It focuses on their relationship, and the reader is certain the characters will be in love, and stay in love. For ever.
Erotic Romance: The same as above, but with explicit sex. The sex is instrumental to the development of the relationship, and helps further the connection between the hero and heroine.
Erotica: A story with explicit, graphic sex, that focuses on the emotions of the characters—not necessarily the relationship (good or bad)—and no happy ending required.
As far as I go, I love the erotic romance more than the straight romance, though I did spend a great deal of my younger years reading gothic romances - Barbara Michaels is my hero! Romance is all fine and dandy, but we aren't living in the Victorian Age anymore and sex is a part of life. The sexual chemistry between a couple can help cement a relationship or bring the relationship to its knees, when the couple realizes that's all there is to the pairing. And, this is where I have to disagree with Ms. Cello, I don't believe romance, of any type, must end in happily ever after, forever. Romance can exist without the benefit of forever or happy. That being said, I do agree with her approach to erotica. The emotional aspect, the context, is the important part... other than the explicit sex, of course. And, between the two, the erotic romance; I'm not even sure that exists as anything separate from romance in today's world. In fact, pretty sure those two have never really existed at the same time. It used to be romance, maybe still is in some small, niche, genre, somewhere, now, though, all romances, the commercial and the bestsellers, have that little bit of sexual spice thrown in.

Who knows, maybe in time, following the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and such, erotica will take over and both romance and erotic romance will shift to the back wall. Doubt it, but as an erotica author, I can always hope, right?