Saturday, April 9, 2011

Age Old Argument: Porn Versus Erotica

The debate over what pornography and erotica never phased me before. That is, before I started making a career as an erotic romance author. Writing romance is one standard...writing erotica romance is completely another.

Romance can range from sweet or forbidden love all the way to the other end of the spectrum, hot steamy sex, menages, same sex trysts even wild orgy scenes. So what, if any, is the dividing line of pornography and erotic writing?

Pornography is defined as depicting an erotic behavior, including pictures and writing, intending to cause sexual excitement and arousal. The acts concluding viewing or reading pornography results in a quick emotional reaction to the material.

Really?

So erotica romance novels are included in this definition? The definition of erotica is a literary work having an erotic theme or quality and depicts of things erotic.

OK, so both definitions have the word erotic. So what is erotic? Erotic is a devoted style of writing intended to arouse sexual love and desire.

Hmm...OK, so erotica writing includes graphic sex scenes, innuendos and words but the viewer (or reader in this case, isn't subjected to viewing an actual sex scene. The only scene they “see” is the one their imagination develops in their mind. They don't actually “view” a man's male sex organ penetrating into a woman's vagina. They use their mind to transfix and create a personal image. But the one word I haven't used yet in describing erotic writing is the “L” word. Yes, love. Most, if not all erotic romance, erotica, have the proverbial happily ever after, or at least the happy for now, ending. The characters have a connection. Whether it's love, an understanding or even a brief emotional link.

In a pornographic video, there is no visible connection. There is no love. There isn't even a storyline. All the viewers are subjected to sex, sex and more sex. No underlying emotional unification. Many erotic authors agree and have shared their opinions, thoughts and views.

Romance author Jean Joachim says, “porn involves action, erotica involves action and feeling, heart, which is missing from porn. Perhaps why women have not taken to porn so much but prefer erotica, where love is always in the air, including a HEA or HFN ending that includes sexual satisfaction.”

Erotic romance author and NNP publishing house owner Gina Kincade says “Doubt I will wow anyone but porn is sex for the purpose of sex. Erotica is a story, a plot an charachters woven into a fanatical world of sensual, mind blowing sex, usually with a loving theme and a happily eDoubt I will wow anyone but in my opinion porn is sex for the purpose of sex.
Erotica is a story, a plot and characters, woven into a fanatical world of stimulating, sensual, mind blowing sex, usually with a loving theme of overcoming some obstacle in life
and a happily ever after ending that the reader can relate to or insert themselves into the picture, created by the authors words, in their mind as they read. It is more for the purpose of titillating the mind rather then the body, although one often follows the other when the story is well written.”

Fellow erotic author Elizabeth Black adds “Erotic writing has the soul and spirit always present in hot sex and steaming words. Porn seems so cold and empty by comparison.”

And another erotic author of M/M novels, Lee Brazil compares pornography to erotica in these words, “Well, that's like the difference between Michaelangelo's David and Playgirl.. “

Erotic romance author Cassandre Dayne recently blogged about the same topic but had this to say, “Porn is nothing more than a reminder of our primal needs, the hunger that fills us with a desperate longing so that we will do anything to have what we crave. Erotic is a passion that fills our souls until we are completely in tune with our partner and their touch, their scent, the very essence of the reason we connected. It's at that moment we are lost in the utter bliss of ecstasy and total trust so that we can share everything.”

Erotic M/M author Sammy Jo Hunt adds, “Erotica is something that at the heart of it, still has 'romance' as the main ingredient. Its just a steamier, more explicit level for romance novels to naturally gravitate toward...or perhaps evolve to...is a better word.”



All the authors have different words but they all have the same end result- Erotic writing/novels are not pornography. We create the vision and scene, it's up to the viewer (reader) to evolve the actual picture in their head.

Follow Dawne on her facebook fan page, her blog and her newest blog promoting and bringing together upcoming romance authors and publishers. She has five erotic romance published, one sex/relationship advice book, oversees and contributes to eight blogs weekly and coordinates five facebook pages and is the lead administrator of a private facebook erotic author's group.

12 comments:

  1. My working definition is that "porn" has the implicit or explicit understanding that the sex is for the titillation of a third-party. (For instance, the way girls in porn movies kiss, with their heads slightly turned towards the camera, so we can "see" better.

    Erotica is when the characters are into each other for each other's sake without any acknowledgement of the third party. In some sense that's actually creepier from the reader/watcher's perspective, but it creates a completely different relationship dynamics between the reader/watcher and story.

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  2. It is a timeless discussion indeed. I totally agree that there is a distinct difference between porn and erotica.

    I don't really agree that erotica necessarily results in an HEA or HFN, though erotic romance does.

    I feel erotica contains sexuality as a strong element in the story, but there is deeper character development than porn. The result of an erotic story might be dark or ambiguous. Erotica can be quite explicit, if that is what the story calls for.

    For what it's worth, I entered the fray on this topic here:

    http://just-craig.blogspot.com/2010/10/by-any-other-name.html

    And here:

    http://just-craig.blogspot.com/2010/10/defining-terms.html?zx=f649f98106ba48e5

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  3. Thank you, I like this post. I think it defines well the difference and it helps define to me what I'm trying to achieve.

    Garce

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  4. Craig-I do agree with the erotica vs erotic romance having HEA/HFN endings- For me, and many of my fellow erotic authors- we are tired of the comparisons that aren't even legitimate.

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  5. The lines have blurred so much between some romance and erotic books that it's even difficult as a newbie writer to determine where your work will fit. I've read many great romances that border on the erotic, many erotic that have a great romance component, and a lot of great reads that are somewhere in between.

    As for pornography, it's never been my thing. I'd rather create the picture in my head when I write or read. Once I've seen it on a screen, I'm like, "Okay - there they are. I'm good now." LOL Some people are more visual and like porn because it's just about sex. I prefer romance. To each his own, but we need to recognize that erotic writing is definitely different than pornography.

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  6. Oh AND that there's nothing wrong with writing erotica. I get a raised eyebrow when I tell people I write romance, but when you mention erotica then it's the hairy eyeball!!! Sex and romance are a part of life, so there is nothing wrong with writing about it.

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  7. Blogger ate my first comment :sigh:.

    There is a real difference between erotic romance and erotica. Erotica can but does not necessarily have an HFN/HEA.

    As for people thinking erotic romance is ok while erotica is somehow "wrong", well, I didn't get to where I am by listening to narrow-minded people. LOL. As long as it has real characters and a plot that arises naturally from those characters, IMO, it ain't porn, and I don't usually care whether it has a happy ending or not, if it's well-written.

    And, yes, sometimes I do read porn. It's not a four-letter word to me!

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  8. Well said Barrie- bad writing is just that...bad writing. If a story holds, the characters are believable and holds your interest- that's great. I just get so tired of the erotic romance/erotica is porn.

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  9. One more point I didn't mention in our discussion of the topic. Porn is any two people in erotic romance the hero/heroine and whoever else is involved with them is exclusive. They are not out in the street copulating with anything that walks. We get to see from the inside out the heat of their romance, but they are discerning and are not having sex with anything that walks in the door, like porn stars or writings do.
    Great article, Dawne

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  10. I agree with Barrie. Also, I don't have a problem with any of it as long as it involves consenting adults. I'm not hung up on the porn vs. erotica thing. I'm an erotica writer. But if people think I write porn - then I write porn.

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  11. I came over here ready to post a brilliant comment...then realized I'd been beat to the punch.
    I've always thought there was a major difference between porn and erotica. As others have said, love, storyline, relationships, perceptive, these are all very important in erotica.
    The other difference is how their written. I've read a couple of "erotica" stories that seemed more like written pornography with the e title, apparently hoping to be read more. I've also watched and read "pornography" that could be defined more as erotica, simply because it's much milder than the male dominated, treat0-the-woman-like-property style that so permeates the adult industry.
    I write paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. My sex scenes tend to be quite detailed, however, many would never realize how closely related the scenes are to erotica.

    Okay, I'm done rambling...sorry, it's really early for me!

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  12. I think the line can be blurry between erotica and porn. I write erotica which, by the way, needs no happy or happy for now ending. Erotica is a story driven by sex. But it's a story, with a beginning, middle and end; with characters and a plot. Porn is really little more than a scene, or series of scenes loosely tied together.

    For the record, I like porn--both visual and written. I have a nice collection (mostly videos, as I prefer written erotica). A lot of women like porn. Perhaps, if you don't like porn, it's because you haven't found the right kind of porn for you. But that's slightly off-topic.

    Somel of my stories have a love interest or romantic interest but, make no mistake, they're really all about the sex. I think that's the difference between erotica and erotic romance. Erotic romance is all about the romantic relationship--with sex--and erotica is all about the sex--perhaps with a little romance thrown in for good measure.

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