Naughty Little Secrets by Elizabeth Cage
The commercial success of Fifty Shades of Grey has spawned a host of patronising and downright irritating articles about erotica. Phrases like “new world of feminised erotic fiction” abound. New? How new is new? Fifty Shades is referred to as a “breakout clit lit novel” or “posh porn”. The media do love labels. Publishing giants like HarperCollins and Random House are now reported to be signing 6 figure deals to secure titles that they hope will duplicate and exceed the huge sales of Fifty Shades. As a writer of erotica for more than 13 years, I should be excited about this, and I am. Yes, the market could soon become saturated, but there are still many more opportunities to be published. Nowadays, when people realise what I write there seems to be less awkwardness in their response and more enthusiasm about erotica being the big thing right now. While this could all be good news for writers, why does a part of me feel uneasy? Is it sweeping generalisations that are trotted out along the lines of, women prefer to read rather than observe. Who says? And the assertion that “new” erotica is well written whereas in the past it was just pages of sex. And do any other writers bristle when a genre they have been working in for years is now being heralded as “new.”
Some commentators on the role of fantasy in fiction, especially BDSM, hasten to add that BDSM is okay in fiction (because that’s safe) but are quick to point out that no-one would want to do this in real life. Grrr! Don’t even get me started on this….
Sex isn’t new. Art and literature about sex isn’t new. Erotic fiction by women for women isn’t new. So what has suddenly changed? Oh, digital readers of course. In the past, it seems that we women might have been embarrassed about reading The Story of O in public. Now, we can read what the hell we like in company on our Kindle. So when I am enjoying some Janine Ashbless or Penelope Friday on my discreet little device in a packed train carriage, I can also experience a frisson of guilty pleasure that could make me feel even sexier. My naughty little secret.
Secrets can be very sexy. And Fifty Shades is a secret that readers have shared on a massive, unprecedented scale.
A published writer for over 35 years, Elizabeth Cage has been writing erotica since 1999. Her stories, poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Scarlet, Desire, Forum, For Women, In the Buff, The Hotspot, and the International Journal of Erotica, as well as The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 (Cleis) and her fiction regularly appears in the sizzling anthologies and e-books from Xcite . Her collection, Kissing Velvet, was published in 2003 by Chimera. She also does guest blogs, author talks, interviews, events and workshops.