Taking the erotic out of erotica
After 17 of his erotic fiction stories are banned from a major online retailer, Barry Lowe ponders the politics of censorship in cyberspace.
Anyone for a book burning? Not quite sure how you burn an eBook but one surefire way to stop them being distributed is to cut off the supply of cash that keeps the computer keyboards of industry churning out those pesky little words. Ah, it must be election year in the land of free speech.
It’s the latest moral minefield: that glorious world of eBook erotica in which I have a vested interest. I turn out about 10,000 words a week for my publisher, which earns me a nice little warm glow in my groin and an even littler warm glow in my bank account.
That glow recently took a nose dive because seventeen of my stories, and counting, have been banned from both my publisher’s website and one of the major eBook online retailers, All Romance eBooks. To date, most of the titles are still available on, of all places, Barnes & Noble, smaller websites, and Amazon.
Okay, I’m not pretending they’re great literature like D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, or Fanny Hill, which were once banned for their sexual content, but who knows what will appear in Penguin Modern Classics twenty years down the track? Barry Lowe’s Sonny & Shared anyone?
Yep, that one’s banned. Along with the others in the father/son sex romp series including Son & Games and Sonny Side Up. I can’t say I’m surprised the sex police clamped down on those, even though incest, gay and straight, is everywhere on the erotica websites that give the stuff away for free. As are the other now ‘unacceptable’ sexual delights that have proven a word too far for the powers that be at the monetary behemoth that is PayPal, for it’s that corporate Mrs. Grundy that is dictating what you can and cannot read for your daily wanking or clit-tickling pleasure.
Just to get it clear, we’re talking erotica rather than porn. There is admittedly a fine line between the two but I like to think of erotica as the difference between good sex and a quickie. Erotica has characterization and tension, winding you up until your body screams for sexual release. Porn is like sticking your dick in a glory hole and hoping someone is one the other side to take care of you. One describes the furniture where it’s all taking place; the other tells you how big the cock is.
Now the sexual has become political. It always was but it takes something like this to kick us in the balls and remind us. PayPal with its bullyboy behavior has done just that, issuing a directive to smaller publishers threatening deactivation of their PayPal accounts if they don’t remove material that PP finds objectionable.
But PP is embedded in most websites as a tool for payment and its deletion would send the company to the wall. For example, PayPal accounts for over fifty per cent of income generated by my own publisher, ‘loveyoudivine Alterotica’.
Most people learning of the ban will merely shrug that pissing, scat, incest both real and pseudo (stepfather/stepson), rape fantasies, and bestiality including two werewolves going at it, deserve to die with their dirty secret under the nearest rock. But they’re not illegal to write about or to read about.
This will remain a fringe issue until it begins to impact on major publishers or major retail websites. It’s an attempt to intimidate the small publishers and, so far, it’s succeeding. A bit like getting rid of the drunks in the inner city during the Olympics. Showy, but harmful to those affected.
But women’s nipples on the cover of books? Yep, they’re banned. What next, dictating that all characters wear condoms in erotic fiction?
A forthcoming story of mine, OMG! My Dad’s Got Tits! has a hot male torso adorned with women’s breasts. Not anymore. We slipped a brown paper bag over the cover so it can go on sale. It makes me feel so deliciously dirty, just like the old days.
Pssst, anyone wanna buy a dirty book?