Censorship, Erotica, Porn and Underage Sex

maahilund-censored

Today I feel like sharing my opinions about censorship and the boundaries of explicit sexual descriptions in legitimate literature (not porn). I’m curious to know if anyone out there is paying attention and has their own opinions they would like to share with me. I have strong feelings about this topic. The acceptable limit of graphically explicit descriptions of sexual acts in novels has been pushed out drastically by writers of bestsellers in the last 20 years. On the other hand, in the age-old tug of war between writers and censors, the censors have been striking back in the last four years and are winning many of the battles.

Personally, before these big changes started happening, I was always frustrated when I would read a love scene in some book I was really into and, just as things were getting really hot between the lovers, the author cut the scene short, skipping over to another scene. I wondered if s/he really wanted to write this way or was s/he just afraid of the censors or being classified as a writer of porn. I also hate the old movies that fade to black just when things are getting hot in the bedroom.

In all other aspects of the lives of the characters in novels, it’s considered to be good writing to be very explicit in showing us everything the character is doing and feeling. Sex is the only action where readers are frequently not allowed a deep view of the protagonist’s actions and feelings. To me, shying away from this area makes the novel less realistic and certainly less interesting. I think enlightened authors, readers, publishers, and retailers should welcome a realistic balance of sex with the other typical action elements of a novel such as: violence, horror, mystery, conspiracy, and so forth. Notice this list of acceptable elements in novels is mostly negative whereas sex, in most cases, is a positive experience and at least potentially every bit as exciting as a battle scene.

Now let’s get specific. Today, it’s safe to write that the characters went to bed and made love. It’s not as safe to write that he plunged his hard, throbbing cock in and out of her warm, wet pussy as she wrapped her legs around him and screamed, “Yes, yes, fuck me!” Many would say the latter was gratuitous pornography, degrading the novel to something less than worthwhile literature. Well, maybe not so many as there were 20 years ago but still enough to make writers pause for thought before penning such descriptive sex scenes.

Now let’s talk about censorship. Did you know that Tim Cook launched a stealth censorship campaign on Apple’s ibookstore site recently? Along with thousands of new titles he issued bans on new digital editions of hundreds of classics, including Moby Dick because it had the word “Dick” in the title. Almost every publisher will reject manuscripts containing what they consider to be “pornographic” terms such as cock, pussy, fuck, shit, and cunt. Cover images are being routinely rejected by Amazon if they contain female nipples or vaginas or male genitalia. If an author has young characters and they make love during the story, s/he better make sure to state emphatically that they are at least 18 years old or the book will be banned by most retailers for containing “child pornography.”

I have a bit of trouble with that last bit of censorship myself because, in my last three novels the setting is during the period of the Dark Ages in Northern Europe. Well, never mind having sex before 18, Dark Age women were typically married in their early teens. It seems so hypocritical for people to hide their heads in the sand when it comes to children under 18 having sex. Don’t they realize almost 100% of today’s under-18 teens are having sex? My sister is a fifth grade teacher and she says most of her students have already had sex. She doesn’t like or condone this but feels it’s just stupid not to recognize that it’s how things are these days. In her opinion and mine, not talking or writing about it makes it worse because most of these children are not having safe sex. Because no one is talking to them realistically about sex.

We seem to have a dichotomy today: an older generation who wants all things having to do with sex to be hush-hush like they were in the 50s of the previous century, and a younger generation hungry to know and experience everything they can about sex. I’m middle-aged myself and I say “Yay!” for the younger generation. Unfortunately, it’s the older generation who are doing the censorship because it’s they who have control of everything, e.g., executives like Tim Cook.
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