Writing Uncomfortable Subjects
Some thoughts on this post,
“you’re not entitled to a constant stream of uninspired feel-good pap. not in your music, not in your television, and certainly not in your books. “
A constant stream of feel-good pap is the very petri dish in which odious thought processes are allowed to grow unchecked. This feel-good pap is the Soma of Brave New World. Give the Proletariat their happy drugs, in this case, meaningless media rife with pretty people with petty problems and impeccably whitened teeth, and they won’t question the rising shit-storm of discontent, maltreatment of the lower classes, or other unpleasant subjects like sexism, racism, and homophobia.
Interestingly enough, despite the extreme right-wing assertion (kowtowed to by Bumblr) that erotica is a terrible, no good, awful, and very bad thing, the place where I curtail certain uncomfortable subjects the most stringently is in erotic writing. In spite of the fact that characters in the Naughty Netherworld universe are always banging, group sex is far more common than one-on-one couplings, and much of the action takes place in an arena where wild BDSM play is acted out for an audience, there are a few things that will never be described explicitly in these otherwise uninhibited tales.
These things are:
Any kind of non-consensual sex
Any kind of dub-con encounters. Even though there is no shortage of bondage, the characters are one hundred percent on board, and it’s obvious.
Sex with minors.
These stories are very inclusive. I hate labeling them as “interracial,” which is a keyword that I do use when publishing on Kindle. I also hate feeling that I need to include a label such as “BBW.” People of all races are just people, and large women are just people. Unfortunately, we don’t yet live in a world that is quite so inclusive, and so I do feel the need to use what I deem fetishizing keywords to promote the Naughty Netherworld brand.
One of my main reasons for using such keywords is to let people know that these stories are for them. I would not be the first person to be sick and tired of trying to find a good romantic or spicy erotic read, only to discover that it’s rife with Barbie and Ken lookalikes with a few department store manikins thrown in as supporting characters. I want a realistic selection of people, even if some of those people happen to be shape-shifting alien sex fiends.
I want to read about the five-foot-tall, 100-pound elf prince falling in love with the six-foot-tall, 400-pound human pastry chef who has lost her belief in magic. (This is one of the few monogamous couplings in the Naughty Netherworld sagas.)
I want to read about the geeky ginger film fan and the strong, sinewy Japanese vampire (both male) falling wildly in love and enjoying introducing newcomers to their extremely spicy world together.
I want to read about the powerful, six-foot-tall, dark and intimidatingly beautiful mad scientist and sorceress redeeming herself to her tiny and deceptively strong, smart as a whip Asian wife.
However, these characters weren’t out there. So Team Netherworld created them.
Do subjects such as racism, sexism, and homophobia make appearances in these stories?
Yes. In Carnal Invasion VI, Kali and Nyx recall their first meeting. Nyx, who is, in reality, one of the shape-shifting extraterrestrials, adopted the form of a badly burned “comfort girl” and she and her fellow extraterrestrials rescued the trafficked women and girls from the “comfort station”. In the same book, Kali recalls allowing herself to be taken prisoner in a death camp where she uses her powers to raise the dead and destroy the place. She suffers abuse at the hands of the guards.
Due to the explicit erotica inherent to these stories, there were no exact descriptions of the abuse endured by Kali at the guards’ hands. Had this not been an explicitly erotic story, the offenses against Kali would likely have been described in greater detail. However, I wanted to be sure that no-one would be tempted to confuse sexualized abuse with erotic bondage and role-playing.
I like to think that the Naughty Netherworld stories are feel-good stories--very joyful, smutty stories for a mature audience. The characters in these stories are much more accepting of those who are not considered conventionally attractive than real people are. In spite of occasional heavy subject matter, the general spirit of these tales is a fun-filled sexy romp among dirty-minded friends.
However, there are those who would say such stories should not be allowed. Some would frame the work as being “sinful.” Some might postulate that homosexual activity is “unnatural.” Still others might be opposed to the “mixing of the races.” Some might be angered by the idea of women in positions of power. Some might proclaim that describing larger characters as sexy and desirable is “glorification of obesity” or some such rubbish.
People of various sizes, shapes, nationalities, and races exist. Not everyone looks like a fashion doll or an impossibly thin, heavily Photoshopped model. In fact, the majority of people do not bear any resemblance to the glossy images we have been told we are supposed to resemble. Human sexuality has a spectrum. Not everyone is heterosexual, and being heterosexual is not morally superior to being homosexual, bisexual, or asexual.
People are not perfectly unblemished. People can have scars, moles, crooked teeth, funny noses, wrinkles, structural anomalies, any number of so-called “imperfections.” Not all people are perfectly able-bodied. Some have lost limbs. Some have conditions which impair their mobility. Many deal with invisible impairments, including psychiatric conditions. A fair number of the characters in the Carnal Invasion series are working through PTSD due to past abuses.
The point being that feel-good stories are all fine and good, but stories are not there just to entertain, they are there to educate. If every story was completely sanitized of any uncomfortable topic, the literary world would be gutted. We would be left with nothing but a bunch of meaningless, watered-down twaddle.
Evil characters who do bad things SHOULD make you angry. They should make you think.
A world where no-one thinks is a dangerous place indeed.
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