I posted this in my Facebook status message after a response to a promotional post for my Tuesday blog irritated me before moving into calling me to question the response and what it possibly implied for my promotion.
I am not capable nor am I interested in always being academic, educational about the various things I care about, including issues of sexual orientation, however I'm thinking of that word. sometimes "play" and "fun" are better ways to educate,I think. And not everything needs to be educational.
For other authors, bloggers reading this, you no doubt understand what I'm talking about with a promotional post, but for readers, please let me explain. When you see that post from a favorite author- whether it's a sentence or a whole paragraph talking about a blog post, a book, a contest (whatever's being shared), that's a promotional post and beyond sharing whatever it is, the author may not plan to engage much with others through that promo. I do converse sometimes through my posts; it depends on a bunch of factors- like if I'm having a good or bad day (remember, I am bipolar and I also have jobs beyond being an author), if the person who's wanting to converse with me commented at great length (like a paragraph or more, as an example)- just to name a few things. Some days I just don't have the mental and/or emotional stamina to "teach."
Now as an author of erotic romance who also finds myself in various intersections of discrimination and oppression based on pieces of my non-normative sexuality, I find myself thinking about teaching within fiction often. Although authors who identify as straight, monogamous, vanilla/non-kinky, engage in this conversation too. For my part, I spend time looking at how my writing supports or disproves stereotypes of various minority groups. But to use Sigmund Freud's unverified quote of "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," I have to say sometimes sex is just sex. Sometimes within a sex scene isn't the place I've dealt with issues of race, orientation, gender, non-normative sexual activity- I've taken care of these things outside of the sex scene. An example of this is where author Vanessa Clark reminded me that in working with my transgender character Lady Audrey that I need to keep conversations about things like her genital structure, her hormone taking OUTSIDE of the sex scene- too often these body things are talked about during the sex when a trans or intersex character is present and that's just not right, not sexy.
BDSM is a big part of my conversations through various media each day- I once had another erotica author (who to my knowledge wasn't into BDSM really) ask me if people really pronounce the acronym as a word; I managed not to laugh at him as I said "yes, it's a normal word in my household." In my writing (erotic or otherwise), in my status messages, in my activism, BDSM has an important place. Especially with books like "Fifty Shades of Grey" coming out and receiving so much conversations- even if the books are filled with incorrect and offensive myths and stereotypes about BDSM. Sometimes I feel like every thing I say is being used to justify condemnation of BDSM; I wish I could remember the "double bind" that Julia Serano talks about in her book "Excluded," but this feels like a case of it- I may be held up as an example of a person who practices BDSM and at times, that could be a bad thing, if I'm thinking of BDSM as a minority group that needs to gain political traction- like the GLBT community trying to get same sex marriage.
Let me circle round to that comment that inspired this post. As I summarized it to my Master- I admit, I picked out one point out of two paragraphs, largely to explain to my Master why it made me angry- "[he] complained about my use of the words violent and rough, arguing that they aren't synonymous." Here are the blog post title and the promo sentence.
#Taboo2sday... Is violent sex a taboo? :D [post title]
#Taboo2sday The Queen and Vala enjoy some rough sex- is that a taboo for you? :D [post promo]
Violent is what's actually used in the snippet- a bit from a sex scene that leads into an educational BDSM moment in the story- a story that's a work-in-progress. Now I've broken all sorts of storytelling rules and the majority of my fans would likely see my main character's bratting in the "Intermission for violent sex" line. The thing is, the whole snippet (all 10 lines) show consensual BDSM in which Vala never withdraws her consent; also a moment of afterglow is shown where Vala is giggling at The Queen's goofy post-orgasmic grin.
So I said to my beta reader, why does it matter if violent and rough are synonymous? Does the post title and promo make it seem as if I think they're synonymous? Vala is just playing- you see that, right? While she doesn't write erotic romance, she is also a writer so she understands the balance of blog post promotion. Her responses? "That's a good question" and "Yes, Vala's playing." This of course led to venting- I can't always be teaching. Not in an academic way. Not being so damn PC that my meaning is lost. And sometimes I just want to have fun. Yes, I'm a minority in many ways, while being part of the majority in others- why can't I sometimes just have fun? Sometimes a blog promo is just a promo.
Of course as a home educator (another one of those minority groups, although of course I complicate it by being a Unitarian Universalist and politically liberal in a minority group where the conservative, fundamentalist Christians have the biggest voice), I think of multiple ways to teach something. Sure, serious essays can teach a lot of things, but they don't teach everything, don't reach everyone. Sometimes one line will get a person thinking harder about a topic they've never thought about before- this was part of what got me reading about a line of feminist thought which examines transgender-critical feminist thinking. This lead me to posting today that I refused to respond to a male-bodied person's challenging comment by deleting the whole conversation.
Teaching is good, but there are multiple ways to get a message across. Sometimes the message is so there that we don't even need to point it out. Sometimes perspective is too big a hurdle to surmount when there is one message we want to teach. And sometimes sex is just sex.