Monday, 1 December 2014

Emerald: The Art of Perception: Sexuality, Society, and Realness

Huge thanks to KD Grace and the other fabulous Brit Babes for inviting me today, as well as for just being awesome! I so appreciate all of you and am honored to be here.

A while back I was asked to consider to a question I know many of my colleagues have received throughout their writing careers. The asker was not asking on behalf of herself but was curious how I would respond were I to hear it. It was, basically, how would I counter the seemingly common claim that erotica isn't "real" writing?

This is not a new subject, of course. Many, many people have written on it, and I myself have alluded to it in a number of my own blog posts. With the recent release of the first books that are solely my own If ...Then: a collection of erotic romance stories. Safe: a collection of erotic stories, I found myself recalling the question and feel moved to take the opportunity to reflect on it.

I'll first say I feel far less interested in countering the claim than I do in examining it. Constructing a defense seems far less potentially beneficial or even interesting to me than exploring where such a perception comes from in the first place. The intention to arouse almost any other emotion or experiencesadness, vindictiveness, hilarity, delight, certainly fearhas not usually seemed subject to these same sets of censoring and denigration as the intention to sexually arouse has. Why? Why does that experience seem to be placed in a separate category, with correlative separate rules and treatment? It seems to me that the very act of considering this may invite answers or perspectives or illumination that could be of use to usreally, I feel the very process of inquiry would likely be of use.

I myself see the perspective in question as much more related to societys perceptions around sexuality than about anything to do with either literary or erotic writing. That is, it is not about the writing but about the subject matter and how we as a culture respond to the subject of sexuality in general. Because we often seem to collectively fear and experience repression and subsequent squeamishness about sexuality, we seem to feel that art designed to elicit sexual arousal must not be taken seriously or of true artistic quality.

As I see it, until society awakens around sexuality as a subject and an intrinsic (and not inherently harmful or to-be-feared) area of life in general, the perception of art that sincerely addresses it will continue to be viewed with skepticism or fear. I don't feel that writing a higher volume of quality erotic literature and offering it to the public will be the instigator of the publics eventually taking erotic art seriouslymainly because quality erotic literature has already existed for some time, and yet we're still addressing this question. The collective attitude is not there yet (overtly, anyway) for this culture to be in a position to eschew its fear-based perspective simply due to the existence of quality erotic fiction. A greater shift is needed for that.

I do, however, feel erotic writing can certainly support and influence the shift around societal perspectives on sexualityand, in fact, that it may be seen as an essential part of doing so.

Because, lamentably, humanity seems so engulfed in distortion and repression around sexuality, I see erotica authors in a unique position in that it seems to me almost any authentic addressing of sexuality has a correlative potential for magnification. That doesn't mean I feel erotica authors have an increased responsibility as suchthe fact that there seems a dearth of sex education and even the
recognition of its necessity seems to me, while dire, not something that makes erotic fiction responsible for something we as a culture fail to see the need for and providebut it does mean that we have an opportunity to address something consciously and sincerely that rarely seems to receive such treatment and that we as a society thus have very little exposure to. Our doing so may support a shift in that.

I also see art in general as embodying the potential to affect us as humans, to move and awaken and stretch and if necessary break us open. I dont presume my own work has some unique capacity to do thatI just see the potential of it in all art. It doesn't mean I necessarily aim to break someone open with everything I write; rather, I aim to write in a way that respects that potential of art, connecting with what is most authentic in my own experience of consciousness and offering it via writing to invite authenticity and consciousness in the world.

Overall, it seems to me there is little that writers of erotica can do to counter the perception that opened this post beyond writing the highest quality erotic literature of which they/we are capable. This, as I've mentioned, will not necessarily convince the masses to take it more seriously. But it may spark the explorations into self and sexuality that will move us toward the time when we no longer need to convince them to.

If Then 
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About Emerald:
Emerald is an erotic fiction author and general advocate for human sexuality as informed by her appreciation of the beauty, value, and intrinsic nature of sexuality and its holistic relation to life. She is an advocate for sexual freedom, reproductive justice, and sex worker rights, and she serves as the Facebook group moderator and an assistant newsletter editor for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW). Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, Logical-Lust, and Sweetmeats Press, and her first single-author books, IfThen: a collection of erotic romance stories and Safe: a collection of erotic stories, are out now from 1001 Nights Press. Find her online at


  1. Emerald - wow, thank you for being our guest and addressing the perception of erotic literature with such grace and eloquence. Great post.

    Lily x

  2. Wonderful post Emerald - I agree - Minds are usually made up about erotica before experiencing any which is a shame as some of the most insightful and breathtaking writing I've read has been erotic. X x x thanks for being here!

  3. I love this post- thanks Emerald xx

  4. Thank you so much, Lily, Tabitha, and Kay—I appreciate your words and your so graciously hosting me today. :) It is a pleasure to be here!



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