Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not for the faint of heart: erotic fiction and free speech

I want to present you with the opinion of an individual who writes erotic fiction online (OK, call them pornographic stories if it pleases you) under the pseudonym "Dirty Old Pervert."

It fully encapsulates an important argument about freedom of the imagination that, quite frankly, isn't politically correct either on the right or the left these days, and it is as well-written on the subject as anything I have ever seen.

Dirty Old Pervert has graciously allowed me to reprint this here, with only the requirement that I also give you the link to the original statement as well as his works at the BDSM Library. I do so because I believe you have the freedom to decide whether or not you will choose to go there, and with the explicit understanding that to direct anyone to this site who is under 18 or objects to erotic fiction may well be committing a crime against the state.

Please consider DOP's views, expressed in the afterword to his story, "Trading Up," before you pass this post by:

This story is, thankfully, a work of fiction. If there were any resemblance between the events of this story and real events, it would be disturbing to say the least.

Unfortunately, such things as child abuse and sexual slavery do exists in the real world, and they are truly vile, despicable enterprises. This story is no more an accurate depiction of real sexual slavery than the popular videogame "Doom" is an accurate depiction of real combat. In fact, this story isn't even an accurate depiction of the nominal "master/slave" relationships that exist within the BDSM subculture. It is pure fiction; no more and no less.

I am forced to write this story under a pseudonym because, for some reason I simply cannot fathom, large, politically powerful segments of society seem to strongly disapprove of both the writing and the reading of this type of erotic literature. Part of this stems from a belief that depicting sexual abuse in fiction somehow constitutes an endorsement of it in reality, particularly if the reader is meant to enjoy the depiction. This, of course, is nonsense. Do we accuse the writers of the Wizard of Oz of promoting witchcraft? Is Warner Brothers guilty of encouraging people to push one-another off cliffs, or blow things up with dynamite? Do we condemn Catch Me If You Can for encouraging people to write bad checks?
Of course not. As a society we tolerate, and even encourage, favorable depictions of such things as violence (Independence Day), fraud (The Sting), child abuse (Married With Children), burglary (Ocean's Eleven), and professional misconduct (Boston Legal), because we trust people's ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. Nevertheless, for some reason we assume that adults lack that ability when it comes to fiction that depicts, in a manner designed to elicit sexual pleasure, events that would be despicable if they were to take place in real life.

I do not think anyone seriously believes that reading a story such as this one will (for example) cause someone to sell his daughter into sexual slavery. I think the true objection lies with the idea that someone might get sexual pleasure from the idea of someone selling his daughter into sexual slavery. It's okay, in other words, for people to enjoy watching Rambo shoot people, but if Rambo shooting people were depicted in a way that sexually aroused the audience, there would be a moral outcry.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that there was something immoral about the normal human sex drive, and that giving other people sexual pleasure was a sin. To say that the normal human sex drive is a sin is like saying that it is a sin to urinate or to sweat. It imposes an unrealistic expectation on people, and makes them feel ashamed of themselves and their own normal, biological urges. People who feel ashamed of themselves are easy to manipulate and control. People with a sense of pride, on the other hand, are harder to control. If you want to control people, convince them to be ashamed of their own bodily functions.

If you think that I am limiting my critique to the "religious right," think again. There are people identified with the political "left" who are guilty of the same thing. I speak of a cadre of puritans who call themselves "feminists" -- the Susan Brownmillers and the Catharine MacKinnons of the world -- who condemn "pornography" on the grounds that it "degrades women." I say that they "call themselves 'feminists'" because it seems to me that trying to make people ashamed of their own sexuality is at odds with any conception of "feminism" I know. The word "feminism" means many things to many people, but to me it refers to the idea that women, like men, ought to be treated with respect and dignity. The fact of the matter is that some women enjoy fantasizing about themselves (or other women) in a submissive role. Those women deserve just as much respect and dignity as those with "orthodox" sexual preferences. To be a true "feminist," one must be willing to accommodate -- not judge -- every woman's sexual preference. And, while we're at it, I can see no reason why the same courtesy should not extended to men.

Like most men, I like sex. I do not believe any man should be ashamed of himself (or woman ashamed of herself) for likening sex. Many people, both good and bad, enjoy giving and receiving sexual pleasure. The difference is that good people use sex to make people happy, while bad people use sex to hurt people. I hope this story has made many people happy, for that is its purpose.

This story is dedicated to those people who spend their lives and make their livings toiling in the name of using sex to make people happy. I speak of such people pornography models, erotic fiction writers, prostitutes, professional dominants, phone sex operators, and the like. Other segments of society may shun you, but I never will. Yours is truly a noble calling.

In these days of pandering your principles to the prejudices of the public rather than holding to your values (one of mine is freedom of thought and imagination), I'd love to see comments on this post.


Anonymous said...

Wow dude! Way to tell it like it is.

People say prostitution needs to be outlawed because the women are "exploited". They are charging money. So who is exploiting whom? If I value the "service" more than the $100, and she values the $100 more than the service, why shouldn't we trade?

To deny these women and men legal protections is just wrong.

a most peculiar nature said...

On this particular point in DOP’s wonderful treatise:

“I speak of a cadre of puritans who call themselves "feminists" -- the Susan Brownmillers and the Catharine MacKinnons of the world -- who condemn "pornography" on the grounds that it "degrades women."

Although not an expert nor connoisseur, I have seen pornography and lo and behold I have enjoyed it. Thank you, Internet. The particular point quoted above has me laughing.

“…degrades women” ? How about educates women? One thing we of the female persuasion worry about is if we are “normal”. Is my equipment the standard, or am I a freak of nature? Our accoutrements, in isolation, are somewhat odd. My initial reaction to so-called pornography was, “Whew, what a relief ! I’m OK ! I’m normal, and everybody else has the same things I do !”.

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful mother with whom I could discuss anything. She and my father were married in 1952 and she swore that Dad was the only man she had ever been with. One night at DelVets, after we had each had martini or two, she wondered if Dad was “normal”, since she didn’t know any different. I asked her for a blow-by-blow description. After it was all said and done I said, “Yep, Mom, that’s it ! Dad’s OK”. Whew !

What Mom needed was a little porn to ease her concerns.

As for BDSM and the like, consensual activities between adults should be of no concern to the State or anyone else for that matter. I also believe as far as viewing these materials, that they can provide sexual release for those who might otherwise turn their frustrations elsewhere.

Sex is a wonderful and beautiful thing. And, at certain times, it can be down and dirty-nasty. If you are lucky enough to have an accommodating partner, go for it.

Otherwise, read Dirty Old Pervert.

Excuse me, I have to check my toy drawer.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, most of our society is too wrapped up in the judgement of others, stemming from their own inhibitions.

DOP is right; inhibitions come from feelings of shame, caused by one's own upbringing, or narrow minded views of the world, or any number of reasons.

I believe more marriages could be salvaged if one or the other, or both partners, would (or could) shed their inhibitions and enjoy each other the way each of us is made to do.

The human mind is a wonderful thing and fantasies occur in every walk of life, on every subject. Who else should you be able to share fantasies with but your spouse, or significant other?

The most judged practice of them all are those who indulge in the BDSM lifestyle, yet they are safer and saner than the mainstream couple who insists that "missionary style" is the only acceptable position. And then they wonder why their marriage falls apart.

Regardless, who is anyone to judge what others do to get their rocks off? As long as it doesn't hurt someone else, is it really any of their business?

I am lucky enough to have a partner who can privately shed all his inhibitions. (Though it took me many years to find him.) When there are no inhibitions, the possibilities are endless! I plan to die a happy old woman with a smile on my face, and my last thought: Wow! What an orgasm! (And hope my partner won't be accused of loving me to death.)

This story was well written and entertaining, with a twist at the end. I'll have to read a few more of them now. Always a good source for ideas ;-)

Aitch said...

Alan: Like the author here says: It is a fact that there are women being exploited and held against there will in sexual slavery. Except for Thailand-- it is not well known . Go to PBS and look at the Frontline show on women from the Ukraine and Moldavia; these bitterly impoverished countries, they are tricked into being sold into sexual slavery---and worked to death. They don't have a choice so of course they are being exploited.
Contrast to a woman who is self-employed, her own boss, empowered by her choice to prostitute herself. That is an entirely different scenario.
I do believe strongly in the legalization of prostitution. It is so much more humane!