Monday, May 2, 2011

The Wank Heard Round The World

Disclaimer: Today’s post has a few naughty words. If you’re easily offended by profanity, you might want to skip.

It being Monday, May 2, 2011, this is old news now. People who have never picked up an erotic romance book are a-buzz discussing the controversy surrounding self-described mild-mannered Judy Buranich, who has also made a name for herself publishing numerous erotic romance novels under the name Judy Mays. And yes, I do feel a little dirty posting her real name beside her penname, but as I said, it’s old news now.

Several of my writer colleagues and I were quick to jump on WNEP’s Facebook page and throw our support behind one of our own. Indeed, the writing community, a wealth of current and former students, and people just dumbfounded at the pile of “what the fuck-ery” have inundated the web with posts like this one to rage over the non-story. There has been a lot of smear going on in the last few days; I doubt anyone at WNEP could have predicted the shitstorm they welcomed, or had any idea how huge the erotica writing community is. Truth be told, though, I’ve been on the fence regarding their part in this fiasco. On one hand, Mrs. Buranich’s writing is no one’s business but hers and her readers, so outing her as an erotica author is skeazy to say the least. Similarly, the way the report was executed was something out of the tabloids. On the other hand, WNEP is hardly the only news organization—local or otherwise—to tackle a “sexy” story for no other reason than to have something scandalous to air, so a part of me holds the unpopular opinion that their role has been overplayed.

I’m not going to repeat the sentiment of others here, either. Judy Mays has responded to this ordeal with nothing but class. I don’t know her—though we are now Facebook friends—therefore it’s a little strange to feel this overwhelming sense of respect and downright awe toward an author whose name I wouldn’t have recognized a week ago. From what I can tell, the only people who have a problem are a small group of conservative women who apparently have a history of creating problems just for the hell of it.

I will include the obligatory links at the end of today’s post. As countless others, I am now the proud owner of a Judy Mays novel. I have quite the TBR list, as most authors do, but I’m putting it at the top.

What I really want to discuss is the culture in which sexuality and expressions of one’s sexuality is something shameful. How many of us dance around what we write when asked by friends, family or even complete strangers? I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ll say “fiction” or “paranormal fiction” or even fess up to “paranormal romance.” I have never once said, “erotic paranormal romance” or “erotic romance.” Why? Am I ashamed of what I write? Hell. No. It’s this societal belief that sex is something dirty and wrong, something we shouldn’t talk about or even acknowledge. Now, mind you, I’m not in favor of candidly discussing what goes on in the bedroom. Sex is a private affair; I don’t want details on my friends’ sex lives, and they don’t want the details of mine. However, there is a very definitive line between TMI and shame.

So here’s the dirty little secret: sex is natural.

Egads! What will I say next? That everyone has it? That everyone thinks about it? That everyone has sexual fantasies? That sexual fantasies are normal and healthy? That sex is something we should celebrate and enjoy?

Oh no she di-in’t!

Yes, gentle readers, I did.

The thing that strikes me is the people who are so adamant about sex being evil are likewise the same who deliberately insert themselves into the lives of others in order to police how and when they view or have sex. Take the parents involved in the current sex-related debacle. They believe the writings of a woman who has never so much as mention her publications in a schoolroom interfere with her ability to teach. Why? Because of sex. They believe sex is so shameful, so dirty, they can’t help but hold up a megaphone and announce that someone around them writes about it. Think about every time a sex-related topic makes headlines and answer me, who is it that makes it news? Nine times out of ten, I guarantee, it’s someone who wants to monitor what happens in the bedroom all the while sliming those whose sexual practices might be different from theirs.

Another thing that kills me? Erotic romance. Romance. Most erotic romances end with the participating parties in stable, committed relationships. Is it so hard for these people to believe that loving couples have sex? Erotic romance: the genre that promotes a healthy sexual relationship between people who love each other.

Oh. Please.

Recently, I gave my mother a copy of one of my books for her birthday. I have never, ever, ever let her read anything of mine. Of course, she knew my penname so there was nothing stopping her from buying and reading on her own—and she told me she had done so. My mother was raised by a fundamentalist Church of Christ minister, and I was brought up in the same sort of filtered environment. I recently expressed the reason I believed I had never been comfortable letting her read my work—and to be honest, I’m not fully comfortable now—is this mindset that I should be ashamed of what I write. And sorry, that’s crap. I love writing what I write. And I’ve decided to start embracing it. My mother is extraordinarily proud of me. She talks about my accomplishments to her staff and has asked if she can share the book I gave her with others.

Turns out that I didn’t need to be ashamed after all. Who knew my mother would enjoy reading my work, even though it includes gratuitous S-E-X?

So I pose this question, to those opponents of Judy Buranich, few as you seem…what is it about sex that you find so threatening? I presume, you being parents, you’ve had it at least once in your life. Why should we erotic romance authors be ashamed? Why should Mrs. Buranich’s credentials as a teacher be in question? Is JK Rowling guilty of the Cruciatus Curse? Should we arrest Stephen King for the attempted murder of his family at the Overlook Hotel? Is my aunt, young adult and nonfiction author Pamela Smith-Hill a young girl in a country divided by the Civil War? Does Jeffrey Lindsay kill people who deserve it? Am I a demon hunter or vampire or a high school student about to take his best friend’s virginity?

I really want to know. I’ve searched on every discussion forum regarding Mrs. Buranich I’ve found, and not once have I encountered a comment wherein one of her opponents had the balls to say, “Hey, I’m here, and I agree with those parents!” If anyone could give me an honest reason why she or I or any one of the thousands of published and unpublished erotic romance writers should be ashamed, I’d like to know.

Until then, I’ll go back to sinning. It’s what I do best.

Information on Judy Mays
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4 comments:

Sharon S. said...

I agree! I now own a Judy Mays book (Solstice Heat). When I started reading romance about two years ago. I told people I read UF with *some romantic elements, but *never would admit to reading "romance" . Then I claimed PNR. Now I proudly say I read romance and m/m romance. I don't care for erotic scenes myself, but I just skim what I don't care for and move on.

I review lots of romance, and I'll mention the type of sex in a book, but I don't factor it into my rating because sexual content has no bearing on how good the story is over all. I just read a freaking wonderful m/m with heavy BDSM/erotic sex (my first one of those), but the characters and love story was so yummy I didn't even bat an eye :)

Trisha said...

Very well said! I saw your comment on the Facebook page!

sarahballance said...

*loves this post*

Nikki London said...

Great post! I missed this whole wank, but I agree with your premise. What we write isn't a judge of our character, it's a judge of our imagination.

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