Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Smut? Porn? Romance? What Do YOU Call It?

My covers typically tend to be racy. Perhaps not this sexy, but you get the gist. The story is erotic romance, whether it be between shifters, men, women, groups or pairs, earthly or not. With the recent buzz about the 50 shades book, I've noticed more women paying attention to books than before, from writing groups to the PTA to the teachers in my kids' school. 

Today my youngest son's teacher mentioned she was thinking about the "smutty" books I write when someone mentioned the shades book to her (though I have yet to tell her specifically my name or any titles, just that my romance is erotically charged--and all that I answered when asked what I do.)

Immediately I wanted to protest the term "smutty." She didn't offend me, and the comment she made was innocent enough, yet the term bothers me because it's always had a negative connotation. Surprisingly, I find that as more women embrace their sexual selves, language doesn't seem to bother many the way it once did. Frank terms seemed to be welcomed or at least preferred over the purple prose of the glorious 80s. "Manhood," "love flower," and "turgid plum root" are thankfully words of the past. 
That aside, I still can't get a grip on how others refer to what I write. At its core, what I write is romance. Romance that happens to be expressed physically, sexually. I don't consider it porn, because to me, pornography is just physical gratification. I write more than tab A filling slot B. There has to be feeling, romance, love. An expression of conjoined emotion that plays out through touch and sensory exploration.  

I couldn't care less about the gender of partners or the number of partners in a relationship. It's about the love that's shared that makes my stories, well, my stories.

Do I then call them smutty? To me, smutty means dirty. Racy? Raunchy? Steamy is a word that seems safe to me. Heck, half the single title romance books I pick up in Target or Costco have the same steam factor as what I write. Yet they're geared as romance and not erotic romance. Semantics, really. 

I wonder how this new buzz about BDSM will affect how people view romances. Will there be more or less attention to other genres? Will the whole erotic tableau become fodder for the masses, or will it remain niche, the way it's pretty much been since long before I started writing?  And when will it be okay to call it smutty or raunchy? Is it okay now? 

I don't know. I do know calling my material porn offends me. Not because I hate porn (for the record I don't), but because I don't feel that term accurately portrays my work. So I'm sticking with steamy. We'll see where this leads. So far so good, because I haven't been tarred and feathered out of the neighborhood yet. Fingers crossed that life out of the Bible Belt is easier to bear.

4 comments:

Elle said...

I guess I think of it as just plain old, straightforward, "romance"... definitely not "porn". (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy porn... but that's another story.)

I've been reading romance novels since I was 13 (couldn't agree more with the dissolution of 80's descriptors), and my tastes have definitely evolved from "bodice rippers" or "schlock novels" in a natural progression that I think many of us romance readers make. For me, that meant making the jump to vampire stories where the sex was more graphic, but also introduced me to other themes, like shifters, BDSM, menage, and same sex. With that, I discovered a whole new genre of romance: m/m and menage romance. And yes, even though it tends to be more erotically charged or racy, at the heart, it's still romance.

Whatever anyone else wants to call it, it's just good writing and I'm glad you (and my other favorite authors) do it. :)

seelk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seelk said...

I would call it romance with a touch of frosting of the physical. I think it happens in every field, when you are faced with a "lay person" who makes an uneducated guess or statement without realizing the consequences. The way I deal with this kind, is look who is saying it and then decide if I take it to heart or leave it. If I see potential, I try to clarify, if not, I just walk away. As Elle mentioned, you write good stories and I am glad I discovered your books.

Diana Mcc. said...

WOW! What a thought provoking blog post. I read it and the comments and had to let it all gel before commenting myself. As you know Marie, I've only read a couple of Erotic books. I have several friends, Dee Brice, Suz DeMello and yourself who write Erotica. It isn't Porn or Smut IMO, but romance with more graphic terms. When I read, I associate myself with the heroine. So where erotica is hard for me to embrace, is some of the graphic language. I don't want my husband or any man saying to me, I want to f--k you, (turns me off). It's a personal thing,I guess. Back in the day of the purple prose those books were considered racy. But then T.V. was P.G. most movies were P.G. So I think with our constant exposure now days both on T.V., Movies and books of more graphic sex and sexual terms Erotica has been more accepted by the main stream. Romance novels, except for the sex terminology, are a lot of the time just as sexual as an erotica novel. What is your opinion on the current state of romance novels in general as far as Sex goes?