Why Do We Need a “Best Male Erotica” Anthology

5065946_f260Yesterday, Burning Book Press sent out a call for submissions for a ‘Best Male Erotica Anthology 2013‘ to be edited by Raziel Moore and Will Crimson.

Historically, pornographic (sexually explicit) writing has been almost the exclusive preserve of men, although ironically the etymology of pornography is Greek and means ‘the writing of prostitutes’.  With some notable early exceptions, like the poems of Sappho and the Heptameron, attributed to Queen Marguerite de Navarre, the vast majority of erotic works well into the 20th Century were written by men and for men.  With the publication of female writers of erotic fiction such as Anais Nin, Marguerite Duras and Pauline Réage, erotic fiction took an interesting turn towards being female-focused.  This evolution corresponds historically to the rise in the availability of pornographic magazines, and film and video pornography. Socially, there is evidence that men were increasingly more likely to opt for visual representations of sexuality while women preferred textual ones. There have been interesting discussions as to why that is – ranging from biological differences in sexual responses between the sexes to sociological double-standards when it comes to how publicly ‘sexual’ it has been acceptable for the different genders to be in the eyes of society.

Today, however, both the market and the industry of erotica publishing are undeniably dominated by women. As consumers, writers, publishers and editors. Erotica itself has changed radically in the last 10 years, with Erotic Romance slowly eclipsing the Erotica genre.

At the same time, it is worth noting that many men express an interest in both writing and reading erotic fiction. Many have expressed their dissatisfaction with pornography as the only mediated expression of erotic narrative.  And yet our culture still perpetuates the assertion that ‘real men watch porn’.

It’s fair to say that both men and women watch porn. Visual porn has its place for all genders. But one of the problems with visual porn is that it short-circuits the use of the imagination for many people who consume it. Porn SHOWS us how sex should be and it always only shows an ‘ideal’.

Even when writing is highly descriptive, it cannot tell a reader everything. It depends on the reader to ‘complete the picture’ to a certain extent. Text requires the reader to generate their own mental images and this means that these images will inevitably be more contextual to the reader’s lived experience, more personal, more intimate. Good erotic writing allows the reader space to bring their own erotic nuances to the scenes they hatch in their imaginations, prompted by the words they read on the page.

There will be a lot of men and women who are simply too mentally lazy to do that imagination work themselves. They rather have their sexual spectacle delivered to them on a plate. And the more they depend on that sort of ‘closed’ dose of mediated sex, the less workout their sexual imagination muscles get, the flabbier they become. Well, it’s pretty much like fast food. You know what you’re getting, it’s quick, and in the long run, it probably isn’t very good for you.

However, there are an increasing number of men who do want the opportunity to exercise those erotic imagination muscles, but when they go to read a piece of erotica, many times they find that either a) it’s so badly written, it jars them out of their engagement with the story or b) its so female-focused and female voiced, it is not addressing their experience of sexuality at all.

Let us dispense with the fallacy that only men are visual or that men are ONLY visual. It’s not true. The gender split for sci-fi readers is pretty much 50/50, which is another literary genre that requires a great deal of reader imagination. I think our culture has brainwashed men into believing that are more dependent on the visual when it comes to sex than they really are. And this lie has served the producers of sexually explicit visual products very well.

The erotica genre really needs to address both genders, and I believe that it can. But let us start by acknowledging that there are differences in what we seek in our textual erotic material. That those differences should not be barriers or hurdles but should make us not only feel welcome, as readers, in the work, but also encourage us to take a peek over the wall into foreign territory.

I’m hoping this anthology will do well. I suspect that many women will be keen to take a wander into the textual eroticism of the male mind. Moreover, I’m hoping it will also tempt male readers to do a little fence jumping themselves. It is fine to celebrate the themes, situations, imagery that turns us on, but it is truly both a pleasure and an adventure when we realize that we can find eroticism in what turns ‘the other’ on.

Postscript: Please note that the call for the anthology doesn’t exclude authors of any gender. The editors are looking for erotic stories from a male POV, but female & trans authors are welcome to submit so long as their story fits the bill.

  11 comments for “Why Do We Need a “Best Male Erotica” Anthology

  1. May 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    I really am curious about this book. I hope to find some exceptional male writers from this as I only know 5 very talented erotic males writers and more than half of them no longer write.

    • Goodwriter
      May 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      Try the new erotic romance WUTHERING NIGHTS, written by I.J. Miller, a male writer. It’s an erotic retelling of the Bronte classic Wuthering Heights.

      • May 10, 2013 at 3:11 am

        Wow, this is exactly NOT what I was hoping to engender in the erotica community. Because we so don’t need YET ANOTHER UNORIGINAL RETELLING of a classic tale with the sex dumped in. Wuthering Heights in its original form is an erotic masterpiece.

        • Goodwriter
          June 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

          So sad that a fellow writer would label something an “unoriginal retelling” without having read the book. I’m sure you must really appreciate when people make judgments about you the same way.

          • June 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

            I have no problem with doing so. I have a real ethical problem with retold, sexed up classics and particularly with Wuthering Heights because it is already overflowing eroticism. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m a VERY judgmental writer.

            I do not give people cause to make those judgements about me, because I would never have the temerity to think that Ms Brontë needed retelling. The current postmodern fascination with recycling canonical literature disgusts me.

            • Goodwriter
              June 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

              You certainly do give people cause to see you as a sad jealous writer…

              • June 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

                You’re welcome to see me as anything you please. That I don’t agree with the current practice of sexing up the classics is my prerogative. The fact that you feel the need to attack me personally (as sad and jealous) is out of order. Clearly we disagree. I’ve explained why I feel the practice is wrong. It was not aimed at you personally as a writer, but at the literary practice. That you could not keep the discussion on the same, non-personal level tells me a lot about your intellect and your capabilities as a writer.

  2. May 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I prefer the written word, just as I prefer the Radio over the Television, the pictures are better on the Radio.
    I agree, I like original stories rather than revamped old stories, and frequently the old stories are better written.

  3. May 11, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Thanks for mentioning this, I’m definitely going to send them something.

  4. rny
    May 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    This strikes a chord with me as I’ve felt lately that I’ve become overly reliant on visual material. My own erotic imagination muscle have grown a little soft! More on the main point – while I’ve always enjoyed a variety of POVs when reading erotic fiction, off the top of my head I can’t think of any anthologies I’ve seen that feature exclusively male POVs apart from those aimed at gay men. And those are great, I love that kind of story, but it will be good to see what this new anthology brings. I look forward to it.

  5. June 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you for bringing this out into the open. I’m trying to come up with something for the anthology…we shall see if it makes the cut.

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