Public Shame, Low Standards and Bite-Sized Nuggets of Warm Fuzzies
I’m writing this guest post the morning after the latest internet kerfuffle—this time one that slammed erotica readers, writers, publishers and reviewers. I won’t give specifics, though I suspect they’re easy enough to find.
In essence, however, an author who had self-published an urban fantasy trilogy to poor sales, then went on to write what she referred to as “trashy smut.” The book, she reported, sold like crazy netting her $10,000 in two weeks. An amazing hit for her. Readers and reviewers alike seemed to love it. Any author would be ecstatic to have that kind of immediate success, especially in a new genre.
She, however, was not happy.
Instead she drew the lesson that sometimes you “have to compromise your principles” and that readers “want easily digestible, bite-sized nuggets of warm fuzzies.” She finished up with the conclusion that “once you’ve done your part to feed the reader machine…you get paid ridiculous amounts of money for publicly shaming yourself and lowering your standards.”
As a writer of erotic romance—books that I work hard on and that I’m proud of—this bothered me deeply. It made me angry for my readers, who write to me about how my books have improved their sex lives and given them a sense of freedom and empowerment about their sexuality and exploring new kinks. The fact that an author, one who’d written something exciting to readers, felt that she’d publicly shamed herself left me shaking my head in disgust.
We hear it all the time in the media—the snickering terms like “mommy porn.” Our culture is full of people who want us to feel bad about reading and writing sexy stories. There will always be people who will try to make us think this is a shameful thing.
Clearly this author has those thoughts deeply instilled in her, that she felt she’d lowered her standards to write “smut.”
I’d like to suggest that we, the ones who stand up and show our love of erotica, have raised our standards. We cannot be shamed because we don’t believe there’s anything wrong with what we love to read and write. Being a reader of it does not make anyone contemptible or part of some mindless machine. Writing it does not make anyone a sell-out. Art is what it is. Books are to be read and enjoyed.
There was a time I wrestled with this, when I wondered what the fancy writers foundation that sponsored some of my early work with a fellowship would think about my current books. And then I realized—what they think doesn’t matter. What I think matters.
I look forward to the day when no one is judged for what they read or write. School is over. We got our report cards to prove we paid attention. Nothing really goes on your permanent transcript.
So, let’s celebrate ourselves and refuse to give into these attitudes.
I’m Jeffe Kennedy and I write erotic romance. And I’m proud of it!
Danielle Sosna has no problem denying herself in order to achieve her goals—after all, that attitude landed her a dream job at Vogue Paris. But in New Orleans for one last assignment before heading overseas, she’s faced with the most decadent of temptations. Seductive Cajun chef Bobby Prejean takes Dani’s strength of will as a challenge, and offers her a night of wild indulgence—if she will agree to obey his every command…
Dani can’t resist Prejean’s invitation to join him in a world of carnal desire, complete with fetish costumes and masks. Determined to keep her emotional distance, she gives Prejean everything but her name. A night becomes a week, as she spends Mardi Gras suspended…in the delicious space where pleasure meets pain.
Too late, she realizes the cloak of anonymity has not protected her—and that chasing her dream might come at the expense of her heart.
For more Facets of Passion, check out Sapphire and Platinum, available now!
About the Author:
Jeffe Kennedy took the crooked road to writing, stopping off at neurobiology, religious studies and environmental consulting before her creative writing began appearing in places like Redbook, Puerto del Sol, Wyoming Wildlife, Under the Sun and Aeon. An erotic novella, Petals and Thorns, came out under her pen name of Jennifer Paris in 2010, heralding yet another branch of her path, into erotica and romantic fantasy fiction. Since then, an erotic short, Feeding the Vampire, and another erotic novella, Sapphire, have hit the shelves.
Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and frequently serves as a guinea pig for an acupuncturist-in-training. Find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Author.Jeffe.Kennedy and Twitter (@jeffekennedy) or visit her at her website http://jeffekennedy.com/.