Transblog Discourse: Taboo in Erotica

This post is a written continuation of two podcasts and a follow up discussion, so it may or may not be the most coherent of things. I write in response to the most recent edition of  The Good Parts Podcast: Episode 14. The Good Parts is podcast produced by three great erotica writers: Helen E. Madden, Nobilis Reed & Ann Regentin. A thoughtful and incisive rebuttal was podcasted by the incomparable Remittance Girl.

My remarks may make little sense even if you have heard these podcasts, but will almost certainly make no sense if you haven’t listened to them:

The Good Parts:

Remitance Girl’s rebuttal: tabooinerotica_remittancegirl.mp3

And lastly, my thoughts:

When listening to The Good Parts podcast (TGP), the trio seemed to me over-focused at times on the aspects of how taboo affects publishability. This has never been my own concern, and never the reason for writing – or not writing – certain topics. In a way, I was a little disappointed they didn’t discuss the reasons taboo topics were taboo. Most of those are obvious reflections of our current mass Western culture, but they do bear examination in the realm of erotic writing. For my part, RG did an excellent job of describing the whats and whys of taboos in erotica, and then added passionate and true commentary about the social acceptability of all erotica.

Like RG, I don’t have a real desire to sell stories or publications (though I have discovered the rush of it). When I first started writing and putting stories up, I didn’t really think about audience either.  I wouldn’t have put anything out there if I didn’t want anyone to read and like the stories, but for me it was – and still is – reaching out to connect with other people who resonate with certain fantasies. 99+% of that connection is one way, I discovered early, since the vast majority of readers never communicate back, but that <1% has made a difference to me.

I explore the taboo themes – primarily noncons and other aspects of reluctance/submission and what have you – for precisely the exploration of control RG talks about. Having it, losing it, giving it, taking it, and the needs and fears based around that exchange. In both sexual and nonsexual ways, that’s something I’ve been sef-examining all my life. Writing about it in stories, and sharing them is both a turn on and an exposition of inner dialog.

I’ve only slowly been edging toward the “literary” side of erotica. Looking back on a lot of my older stories, which I’m still posting on the blog, most of them are far from literary in quality – and were really never intended as such. The viscera and rawness of the act, both in its romantic and animalistic incarnations still dominate the way I want to write erotica, and a good number of those themes fall squarely in the realm considered taboo.

Nobilis’ point, that the business side of erotica is dictating these restrictions is based on salability, which is also based on cultural perception of the publishers. A perception of public perception. The fact that pornography is a multibillion dollar industry – and the darker sides of it are a non-trivial corner. Look at at the tip of that iceberg. Part of what TGP is missing, I think, is that all erotica is taboo for the majority of people. That doesn’t stop much of that same majority from consuming it, but very few will do so above board.

The distinction between taboo subjects _within_ erotic literature is an argument between saphire and aquamarine about blue. Our book and movie – and TV – industries have no problem protraying the vilest and most twisted parts of our violent natures – and deal no less with control than does non-consent erotica. They cover themselves with gore and pain instead of pleasure and cum. Which one is really more dangerous to the human psyche?

And then, I’ll also take issue with publishability. That restriction exists only so long as the publishing world holds these taboos as taboos. Today, e-books are beginning to come into their own, and there are people willing to stretch those accepted bounds. My first book (and the upcoming), and RG’s books with Republica Press demonstrate that today. If the next couple of years are going to be a wild west of e-publishing, it’s quite possible we’re going to see both erotica and taboo erotica walls begin to breach. It would do well to begin to realize that there really is a low wall between “taboo” and “mainstream” erotica. The difference is between a John Woo R rated film and a Quentin Tarantino.

There, I don’t know how coherent or sensible that was, but it sure felt good to say it.

There’s far more to say and discuss. I know more bloggers are planning responses to the podcast. I’ll add links to them here when they go up. If you have any thoughts please share them!


Categories: Uncategorized


I am the little devil on your shoulder, stroking your neck with my tail, whispering obscenities into your ear, and looking down your blouse. One third of The Erotic Writer blog.

1 Comment

  1. moogle

    If it’s not taboo, why bother? If it’s not forbidden, it’s not temptation. If it’s not scarey, it’s not thrilling.

    In the wild west of e-publishing, I’m looking for the bordello with red velvet wallpaper.

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