Should we self-censor?
Isn’t it funny how we’re taught not to trust ourselves with the contents of our own minds? We learn to police our own thoughts, worrying that certain ideas are beyond the pale, etc. People get churned up with guilt, worrying that thinking certain things makes them a bad person, even though they know that they’d never act on them. I think that actually, most people have an inbuilt safety net. For example – I reckon I could say to any one of my friends, ‘tell me the kinkiest fantasy you can think of’ and I could absolutely guarantee you that, whilst it might be utterly filthy, it would only involve consenting adults.
But what if you want to push the boundaries?
When you write erotica it’s a leap of faith to put those fantasies out on the page, because it risks the wider world assuming that you have direct first-hand experience of whatever you write about. True, we’ve come a long way – but still, I reckon an awful lot of erotica writers probably think ‘eek’ quietly to themselves before they press that publish button, wondering what their audience will think.
Can’t we just trust ourselves – as writers and readers – to know that thinking isn’t the same as doing? Isn’t the whole point of fiction is that it isn’t necessarily real? And if we accept that, then it’s not much to ask that we then step even further out of our comfort zones into the realms of the forbidden.
I was reading through the schedule for this weekend’s Eroticon just now, and was thrilled to see that Remittance Girl is doing a session. Then I sulked, cos my own creative drop-in session is on at the same time, bah. Still, it sounds fascinating:
‘…fiction should not be asked to serve as a self-help resource or a best practices manual, but be free to examine erotic desires and behaviours that cannot legally or ethically be countenanced in practice.
The session asks participants to put their moral and ethical judgement on hold, and enter the world of no-limits erotic fiction.’
This fascinates me – how far should we allow ourselves to go as writers? Is it acceptable to step beyond the boundaries of what might generally be considered acceptable (and even into the realms of the downright illegal), so long as we accept that it will only ever be fiction? You only have to look at the pseudo-incestuous porn that is widely available to see that there is undoubtedly a market for it, so why should written fantasy be different? Okay so it’s not my personal ‘thing’ – I tend more towards the mainstream and make no apologies for that – but I’m still interested in why other people might prefer the darker side and whether they should be ‘allowed’.
Which brings us back to permissions. As we are talking about fiction, in which no one is actually ‘real’, does it matter morally if the subject matter is not only outside our comfort zone but has actually done a sprint down the lane marked ‘A Step Too Far’?