Blurring the Line–When Does Erotica Become Pornography?

aeLpEfWpufozlzf2NX6QZ9fXo1_I define myself as an author of Erotic Romance and Erotic Short Stories. Bu I know full well that some of a more puritanical nature would define me as a Pornographer. Now, I’m fine with that, after all these are just labels and they are, at the end of the day, pretty meaningless. Or are they? According to this article in The Daily Mail, Dutch MEP Kartika Liotard is trying to introduce a all-out ban on pornography in the EU, and that would make the label placed on a piece of work pretty important – it could see it banned or not depending on that label.

Now, let’s ignore the irony of this amendment being introduced by a Dutch MEP and let’s ignore that the Daily Mail supports a ban on pornography on the website that contains ‘celebrities’ in little to no clothing in the side-bar. Let’s also ignore that the European Parliament is not a legislative body and so a vote to ban pornography there would not be law in any country.  Let’s also ignore that such a ban would be so unenforceable as to be laughable and that the amendment is to a report called ‘Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU’ and claims that the pornography ban is to stop the ‘exploitation’ of the actresses who are paid far more than their male co-stars but makes no such claim for homosexual pornography (presumably that wouldn’t be banned as it doesn’t exploit women).

Let’s ignore all that and focus on the important issue. How do you define pornography and who will decide what is banned and what is allowable? Is it possible that my novels & short stories would become illegal in the EU should this type of ban come to pass?

The short answer to the second question is, I believe, no. But let’s explore this a little deeper.

The proposed ban is aimed squarely at the flood of visual pornography that our children have far too easy access to on the internet. Because, as we all know, visual pornography is only viewed by evil men who subsequently go out to rape and commit all sorts of horrible sex crimes after spending all day doing nothing but watching porn. The ban would almost certainly not cover French ‘art porn’ which is so very respectful to women and besides it has a very high artistic value in any case. It also is unlikely to cover ‘erotic literature’, which, thanks to EL James and 50 Shades, the world now believes is written exclusively by women for women. No, the ban would only apply to evil men and their evil porn empires who corrupt all before them into thinking of women as nothing more than tight holes and receptacles for cum.

Okay, I’m taking sarcasm to new heights there, but seriously, where do you draw the line between what to ban and what not to? And even when it’s drawn, just how blurred is that line?

I’ve written about this before, as have many, many others. In my article, I argued that the difference between porn and erotica lies in Character. And that’s something I stand by. I have always invested a lot of time and effort in character development and that is, I believe, not only what separates porn from erotica, but also what separates good fiction from bad.

i concluded my earlier article with this …

Characters in porn are merely “faceless” cocks and pussies. Porn appeals to our base urges. It has it’s place, and that place is a tool for sexual gratification. Characters in erotica are “real people”, with real emotions, facing real problems and solving them in realistic ways (most of the time). And it’s because these characters have depth and history that they react in different ways to different situations and the resultant plots are stronger and feature more conflict and resolution. And that, at the end of the day, is what good fiction, erotic or otherwise, is all about.

Of course, my argument that character and its development is all important leads very nicely into my Tuelam Venit series and in particular into A Tortured Soul. The development if the central character, Paul, is the key to the whole book. I was e-mailing back and forth with an editor friend of mine who’s beta-reading for me about a particular aspect of Paul’s character, the resolution of which will mark the conclusion of the book. I asked the question ‘is this character trait realistic and believable’. Her answer was ‘yes’ (although said in more words than that) and my immediate thought was ‘that’s a relief as the whole book becomes pointless otherwise’.

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