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veinglory
06-06-2005, 10:36 PM
Me again:



Ven Porn is not Erotica (but erotica is porn).

How they doth protest. Romance writers who don't write sex, erotica writers who don't write porn; no of course not your mothers raised you properly! And (to focus the rant slightly) why is erotica not porn? Variously because it has a plot line, doesn't use rude words, is written by a woman, is read by a women, is published by a major press, is stocked in a mainstream store, depicts only those in true love or within the bands of wedlock... Well, etc.

Alternatively let us take a side step into the world of Ven diagrams. This is when you draw two sets. Every thing within the set (marked by a line or in this rather ASCII situation, some brackets) has a certain quality. For example you could have the set of sexual activity:

(SEX)

And another set like this for earning a living which might including teaching, dancing, bus driving and so on:

[WORK]

Now imagine these two sets get really close together until they actually overlap? Well, this:

(SEX[prostitution)WORK]

Prostitution fit where the two sets overlap because it is both sex and work. But please note, this does not mean sex is prostitution, or even that work is prostitution (in the literal sense of the word). Is that patronising enough for you? Good, I'll move on.

Let's try another.

(PORN)

This is the activity of writing about people having sex, and:

[LITERATURE]

This is a fictional narrative with either narrative structure (i.e. a plot) or artistic expression (i.e. pretty words)—or if you are truly lucky, it might even have both. Now try this:

(PORN[erotica)LITERATURE]

Now isn't that cosy? Now we can get past the problem that really stops the erotic writer being a proud pornographer. That is the idea that if erotica is porn, porn is erotica. After all if A=B doesn't B, by definition, equal A. And therefore what we do is not any different from some sweaty old man cataloging his stolen knicker collection and writing yet another letter that even Penthouse won't print. But look again. That activity is not in the literature section. There is a nice strong bracket between you and him! See!

(PORN[erotica)LITERATURE]

Erotic is writing about sex, it is in the set 'porn' (and in the set of literature). But porn is not in the erotica set. Much of porn is not erotica therefore it is factually incorrect to say 'porn is erotica'. So my argument is this. If you write erotica and somebody asks if you write porn the answer may be:

a) Yes! What of it? or,
b) Hand me a pen and paper I need to draw you a diagram (heh, imagine what they'll be thinking).

If you still have a c) none of the above, do please let me know.

MacAllister
06-06-2005, 10:39 PM
Ah! You only sound slightly bitter...

Just remember: Great and durable, culture-altering work occurs out on the margins.

(at least, that's what I tell myself...)

veinglory
06-06-2005, 11:13 PM
I am currently working a taking my attitude through a three poitn turn anyway. Funny how spelling out what I think tends to make me change my mind.

What's wrong with porn? There's good porn and bad porn--good literature and bad literature. I think there's still some lingering hypocracy in there somewhere.

MacAllister
06-06-2005, 11:27 PM
What's wrong with porn? There's good porn and bad porn--good literature and bad literature. I think there's still some lingering hypocracy in there somewhere. Of course there's hypocrisy lurking inside...some want to classify porn as a whole other genus and species than literature.

That's happened with spec lit, women's lit, fiction by people of color, fanfic...and the list just goes on.

When the pressure on the more "respectable" reading community becomes overwhelming...and they have to explain, as an archaic-but-well-known-example, that copy of Delta of Venus stashed in the corner bookshelf--suddenly, it gets annexed from being "porn" to being "literature." Experimental, risky, edgy literature, to be sure, but literature, nonetheless.

Perhaps "erotica" is merely a name for the transition place where it morphs from being an orange into being an apple, instead.

What's interesting to me is that the big sex and death themes that mainstream lit spends sooooooo much time examining only obliquely, are the very same themes that porn tackles head-on.

mreddin
06-07-2005, 01:02 AM
I've now seen the expression "Ven Porn" listed on two websites today, after never having heard the term before. Could someone fill me in please? Inquiring minds want to know! (Well maybe I don't, but that never stopped me.)

Mike

veinglory
06-07-2005, 01:19 AM
As far as I know it doesn't meaning anything--I was just being punny.

Sheryl Nantus
06-07-2005, 02:12 AM
As far as I know it doesn't meaning anything--I was just being punny.

tease.

here I was thinking I was on the verge of a whole new era of porn... er, erotica!

:ROFL:

veinglory
06-07-2005, 12:22 PM
My new questions is.


Is there prose porn?

Is there written, published porn with no literary merit at all but that is still functioning as porn (i.e. hot for someone?)

e.g.?

MacAllister
06-07-2005, 12:34 PM
written, published porn with no literary merit at all but that is still functioning as porn (i.e. hot for someone?) Hmm--by virtue of actually being hot, I think you could make a case for the necessity of at least some merit, in terms of writing.

I would think if it's totally not hot for anyone, in spite of content--then it would have no merit.

What about a tricky discussion about the goal of the literature itself being defining? That is, writing to the "higher" instincts is arguably intrinsically superior than writing to the "baser" instincts...

(playing devil's advocate, here...)

veinglory
06-07-2005, 02:36 PM
I think that to write for the baser instincts as you say--and actually accomplish your goal, the writing must have some literary merit?

So what excatly is derogatory abotu the word porn, that isn't equally derofatory of genre western or category romance--it is just writing with a specific goal.

The only thing that makes it 'worse' is if sex is considered objectively 'bad'.

MacAllister
06-07-2005, 03:28 PM
The only thing that makes it 'worse' is if sex is considered objectively 'bad'. Oh yeah--and the kinkier the sex, the "worse" the lit, right? So there is a lot more acceptance in general of old fashioned, missionary position, hetero sex...but you don't have to stray very far from that at ALL to find yourself shoved way out on the margin.

Senta
06-07-2005, 04:10 PM
a long time ago, when I was young, erotica meant porn printed on beautiful paper with latin words and classical quotations. in other words, it was porn disguised to be something 'higher'.

now it seems that erotica is a way of making erotic writing of all kinds more respectable and more accessible to many more people, and most importantly to women.

much of the porn of my youth was VERY women-unfriendly. a lot of the literature that had sex and love in it was too.

so while I personally think there is a lot of hypocrisy in the distinction between porn and erotica, it seems to have been useful in opening a space for me as a woman to write and read about my sexuality and about men's sexuality from a different perspective.

but as long as sex is seen as something to be pushed away or hidden away or unacceptable for a 'family' audience, there will always be porn...

MacAllister
06-07-2005, 04:13 PM
as long as sex is seen as something to be pushed away or hidden away or unacceptable for a 'family' audience, there will always be porn... wow--which presents an interesting question: what does porn become, when sex itself, in its many variations, is acceptable.

maestrowork
06-07-2005, 04:20 PM
Read some Christian romance... I think the sex in there is of the "acceptable" kind. ;)

Sheryl Nantus
06-07-2005, 05:24 PM
so where do all those "I never thought it would happen to me" letters in the Penthouse go?

:ROFL:

mreddin
06-07-2005, 08:22 PM
I'm afraid to ask but care to give us a sample of "prose porn" [without violating board rules and State/Federal regulations.]. ;)

maestrowork
06-07-2005, 09:28 PM
I'm afraid to ask but care to give us a sample of "prose porn" [without violating board rules and State/Federal regulations.]. ;)

Prose porn:

The subject caressed the object's dangling participle, getting preposition all over his sentence. Meanwhile, his conjuction got excited as her adjective rubbed against his adverbs... he got all past tense. Exclamation point.

Sheryl Nantus
06-07-2005, 09:42 PM
Prose porn:

The subject caressed the object's dangling participle, getting preposition all over his sentence. Meanwhile, his conjuction got excited as her adjective rubbed against his adverbs... he got all past tense. Exclamation point.

*swoons*

tease.

CaoPaux
06-07-2005, 09:58 PM
*snerk*

FWIW, I've heard erotica v. porn described as stimulation v. gratification.

veinglory
06-07-2005, 10:58 PM
I think Senta's comment makes a great deal of sence. Within sex writing if erotica is writing that would be acceptable to a wide audience. So not sexist and written simialrly to other genre or literary. Therefore porn is use to refer to the 'rump' of sex writing (can't believe I wrote that). Let us say the 'remnant' instead--having quality like be crass or demeaning?

maestrowork
06-07-2005, 11:13 PM
Literary: "We'll indulge our flesh and corrupt our souls with lust-drenched dreams..."

Romance: "Make love to me."

Erotica: "F*** me."

Porn: "Take your **** and ram it up my *** while I **** you, whore!"


(lame excuse for humor...)

Sheryl Nantus
06-07-2005, 11:20 PM
Literary: "We'll indulge our flesh and corrupt our souls with lust-drenched dreams..."

Romance: "Make love to me."

Erotica: "F*** me."

Porn: "Take your **** and ram it up my *** while I **** you, whore!"


(lame excuse for humor...)

and yet... possibly as close as we're going to get for a definition.

:ROFL:

veinglory
06-07-2005, 11:23 PM
Indeed


[mildly shocked even *with* the asterisks]

pepperlandgirl
06-08-2005, 12:51 AM
Of course prose porn exists as it's defined in this thread. Hot sex without a single bit of literary merit?

I write it all the time.

Senta
06-08-2005, 06:06 AM
of course that was the deciding factor in many court cases in the past - if the sex has literary merit it's not porn... (and therefore the book can be sold in normal bookshops etc) (same for film censorship) which led sometimes to bizarre results, depending on the definition or the ingenuity of defition of literary merit

it's a bit like 'I'll take off my clothes if the scene is artistically necessary'

my point is that these definitions are social, cultural, historical (and for anyone at any point in that continuum personal)

Cathy C
06-09-2005, 02:00 AM
What a fun topic! Of course, this subject is being hotly discussed (pun intended) on the romance boards as we speak. :ROFL:


To my way of thought, the single difference between pornography and erotica is "emotion."

Porn is the written slap of flesh against flesh -- no matter who the person is. Wife, lover, lonely girl at the end of the bar, or whore in the alley.
Erotica DEMANDS emotion in the text. Whether it is anger, or fear or love.

Yes, sex is the story in each, but erotica allows the flesh to gain humanity. It's a person with life and desires and feelings you're slapping flesh with, and that makes all the difference in the world to some readers.

Nothing wrong with either one, mind you, but you were asking the difference. There is one. It's sort of like a full length porn movie that at least tries to have a plot, versus the "ten free quickies" tape that comes free with the movie. Porn is raw sight, sound and motion. Erotica is those, plus acting!

JMHO! :)

mreddin
06-09-2005, 02:58 AM
That's a great definition Cathy, thanks!

Senta
06-09-2005, 04:23 AM
I find this discussion very stimulating!
my novel doesn't have much of a 'plot' in the conventional sense, it is the exploration of the development of a relationship through the sexual encounters. in other words it's about 90% sex, and I try to keep all the levels (physical, sensual, emotional and mental) alive and alert and track the processes as they unfold while the characters are engaged in sexual activities. long varied activities that bring out all sorts of different sensations, feelings, thoughts, relationship processes.

so by some people's definition here that would be porn, although it's probably more like literature by other people's.

I think I have a bit of a problem with the assumption that what distinguishes writing from porn is non-sexual plot.

for me the whole point of erotica is to explore the EROTIC plot!

hoping for discussion...

veinglory
06-09-2005, 12:10 PM
I think a lot of people use substantial plot as the defining feature but I also think Cathy's point is a very good one. Even in a very basic scenario the characters can be developed to the point of showing a relationship rather than simply depicting fornication.

Sheryl Nantus
06-09-2005, 03:37 PM
ah... it becomes a bit clearer now...

I think.

BonnieD
06-13-2005, 10:38 PM
Yes, sex is the story in each, but erotica allows the flesh to gain humanity. It's a person with life and desires and feelings you're slapping flesh with, and that makes all the difference in the world to some readers.

Good definition! Along with maestrowork's very succinct examples, I think the pair of you have said it all.

Kate StAmour
06-14-2005, 02:35 AM
Why do many erotica e-pub website message boards make readers affirm they are 18? I'm pretty sure LSB does this ( somebody please correct me if I’m wrong here). Also, many erotica writers have readers affirm their age before entering their sites where excerpts may be posted. Why? Why? Why?! If you go into a bookstore they don't card you to purchase erotica, so what’s the deal with the net? There are so many mixed messages out there!
My position:
Porn is pure, gratuitous sex. It is usually base, sans plot, and about as significant to the literary community as a phone sex operator is to public broadcasting. ( No offense to either hard working party intended here.)
Erotica, on the other hand, has a plot. The sex usually has a point, and it does have some literary significance.

Cathy C
06-14-2005, 03:04 AM
If you go into a bookstore they don't card you to purchase erotica, so what’s the deal with the net?



Ummm, they're supposed to. If they don't and they're caught, it will be a similar fine as when selling a Penthouse or liquor or cigarettes to someone under 18, if it happens to violate obscenity standards.

Here's the situation:

47 CFR § 64.201 specifically prohibits minors from having lawful access to potentially obscene material, including in print, on websites, and verbally on home or mobile phones. Also, minors must not have access to potentially obscene material through a company's email or email sent by others advertising the company's website(s) or other goods or services.

Yeah, there is a law against it.

However, it's up to the bookstore to judge what is considered "obscene." Erotica doesn't always fit the definition, because federally speaking, there are specific determinations regarding words, etc., rather than images. But if the erotica uses four-letter words to describe the ACTS of sex, rather than as swear words, etc., then it can be considered obscene.

So, while porn is ALWAYS obscene, erotica only MIGHT be obscene. That's the difference.

Kate StAmour
06-14-2005, 04:25 AM
Yeah, there is a law against it.

However, it's up to the bookstore to judge what is considered "obscene." Erotica doesn't always fit the definition, because federally speaking, there are specific determinations regarding words, etc., rather than images. But if the erotica uses four-letter words to describe the ACTS of sex, rather than as swear words, etc., then it can be considered obscene.

So, while porn is ALWAYS obscene, erotica only MIGHT be obscene. That's the difference.

LOL. Thanks for the clarification. And thank you for not saying that I have never been carded because I am clearly over 18.
Kate