I have often gone on rants about how poorly non-vanilla characters are portrayed in some erotic fiction. I’m pretty sure we’ve all run across the stereotypical impermeable stay-pressed Dominant, the bratty, navel gazing Submissive, the evil and unprincipled Sadist and the mentally ill and most probably sexually abused Masochist. Or we are presented with sexual practices we are unfamiliar with which are either misrepresented by people who know little about them, or presented with the insider view by people who are so normalized to the paradigm that their language is almost impenetrably jargon laden and it is assumed any reader who doesn’t immediately recognize the obvious benefits of the fetish and embrace them immediately must be mad. I can say with total confidence that I have written my share of underdeveloped BDSM leaning characters.
The problem is, I don’t think any of this is erotic literature – which should be, first and foremost, intelligible. It should also, I think, be able to speak to more than just the initiated. If a story on shoe fetishes doesn’t even attempt to communicate the attraction of the fetish, then it’s basically trade literature written specifically for the sub-culture that already practices it. Also, literature – any literature – should say something true about us. It should speak to us, not just as women or men, kinky or vanilla, gay or straight. It should be able to reach over those boundaries and invite people in to understanding.
This isn’t to say that simplistic portrayals of kinky characters can’t be arousing. They can. But it is objectification – the simplistic representation of what the writer or the reader, or both, desire. And although that might be good fun to read, and absolutely wank-worthy, it isn’t (by my definition) erotic literature. It’s pornography. I don’t mean that in any derogatory sense. It’s not an insult to either the writers or the readers of this type of material. However there is, in my mind, a very definite difference between material that only appeals to the libido and distills desirable character traits down to their essence and that which represents it in a more holistic and multi-dimensional way. Fantasy is very arousing. But for me, the complex truth always has a more lasting erotic impact.
Undoubtedly, erotica writers tend to focus on the type of sexuality that intrigues them the most. So there are lots of kinky people out there who also write erotica, but being on the inside isn’t always an advantage. As a writer, you need to at least have some idea of what the view looks like from your reader’s vantage point. This can be extremely difficult if you have been, for instance, a member of a BDSM community for so long you can’t remember what it’s like to have vanilla sex.
So, in the interests of fostering the writing of more realistic, compelling and engaging kinky characters, I’m inviting people who are practicing doms, subs, masochists and sadists to provide a portrait of themselves as people. If you would like to participate in this, I’d be very grateful. However, I want to limit my portraits to people who have identified themselves within the spectrum of kink for an extended period of time, and have, after a period of introspection, become comfortable in their understanding of themselves. You don’t have to be a member of a scene, or publicly ‘out’ at all. Just be comfortable with your orientation for a reasonable length of time.
I will provide you with a list of questions for anyone willing to participate and I’d appreciate you using it as a guide. You don’t have to answer all the questions, or answer them in the form they are presented, but I would appreciate you touching upon at least some of the issues and subjects I ask questions about.
If you’re up for it, please email me at remittancegirl(at)gmail(dot)com with the word Portraits in the subject line.