I write erotica. There. I’ve said it. (Although, if you read this tumblr with any frequency, you should already know that…)
It’s a funny thing about erotica: when you write sex, you’re going to eventually write about something someone doesn’t like. Hell, the very fact that you’re writing about sex, means that someone somewhere isn’t going to like it, but I’m not really speaking to the more prudish in our midst.
And I’m not here to pass judgment, really. I’m pretty sure that I’ve written people in different sex positions that someone somewhere doesn’t like. I’ve even written some things that I don’t actually like…
I mention this because two online sellers of ebooks got some bad press about a month ago in England. While the exact details are sketchy as to what triggered it, but the net result was a crackdown on two types of erotica, both of which involve activities that are, frankly, illegal: incest and underage sex. By “underage” I don’t mean young children, but with teenagers technically below the age of consent but still old enough to know that they want to get laid.
And by incest, I actually mean close relations that might not actually be blood relatives. Step-brother and step-sister and other aspects of what could be called “pseudo-incest” apply as well.
I talked about this a little bit in a blog entry from last month.
To be clear, Amazon has a hard and fast rule explicitly banning incest from their erotica. The first draft of The Lustful Meme had two sisters getting it on, and it was rejected. When Amazon rejected it, I made them step-sisters and added a huge amount of dialogue with the two sisters reminiscing about how they met when their parents got together.
The two sites that got the most negative press last month, are Amazon and Kobo. And the way they handled the negative publicity speaks volumes about both companies.
Kobo sent me an email saying that they had “quarantined” all works of erotica pending a thorough review of them for content and consistency with their terms. A week later, I got an email that said that most authors have had the quarantine lifted and that if anyone’s books were still missing, please contact customer service. I did exactly that, and the response was that they hadn’t gotten to my ebooks yet.
Amazon, on the other hand, kept the ebooks up and reviewed them one by one. None of my ebooks — not even the modified version of The Lustful Meme — ended up getting pulled. This story was duplicated in my Exotic Destinations Trilogy anthology.
While both companies may have overreacted to the negative publicity they received, I think Kobo handled it far worse than Amazon did. What Kobo did amounted to little more than censorship, despite their protestations to the contrary.
I have thus made the active decision no longer to publish my ebooks through Kobo. I have already un-linked them from this blog. When they quarantined my library, my story Mountin’ Biking was still awaiting review and, after it was reviewed, it became available for sale. I have not posted any of my subsequent stories to Kobo. I will make a decision as to what to do with my other ebooks when and if they take them out of quarantine.
I do find it curious that, of all taboo sexual topics, incest gets so many people up in arms. Yes, an argument can be made against incest on the grounds that children conceived as a result of that kind of relationship are at higher risk for birth defects or other problems, and that the very nature of sexual selection in a species is to attain genetic diversity. After too many generations of incest, the diversity tends to get a bit thin. We’ve seen that historically within monarchies.
But if you take offspring out of the picture, either in a hetero relationship that goes out of their way not to have children, or in a same-sex relationship in any capacity, is there anything truly bad about incest? As long as you’re dealing with consenting adults, does it deserve the taboo that is currently heaped upon it? A fellow author who, up until Amazon pulled a large percentage of his work, made far more money selling ebooks than I have would argue that the market certainly exists for incest porn. If ever the question was worth asking, it’s here: why?
After all, all we’re doing is indulging in a fantasy.