Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Posted by: on Jun 22, 2017 | 2 Comments
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This question has been coming up a great deal lately. Erotic writers say to me, “I love it that Go Deeper Press is an activist press. I wish I was more of an activist.” And I instantly think, “But you are, you are!” When I tell them this, however, they look surprised and say, “You think so?”

And I really, really do.

Let’s face it, those of us who are erotic artists—including erotic writers, performers, and visual artists—and are working for a more equitable, shame-free world, certainly are activists if we say we are. Sharing your erotic art in the face of society’s shame is gutsy and takes a ton of heart. Activists fight for a better world. And that’s what I see our community doing on a daily basis.

Of course, you don’t have to view yourself as an activist. Being an artist is a gift to the world regardless. But I’m writing this post for those who want to identify this way.

The question is: how do you know if you’re an activist? Sometimes, I wonder if the “depth” debate confuses things.

My erotic fantasy series for activists.

For example, I’m all for reclaiming the word “smut.” It’s a glorious word with deep joy behind it. But even now that it’s been reclaimed, I wonder whether some folks still view “smut” as being luxurious reveling rather than serious purpose. But we, as erotic artists, know it can be both. What’s more, there will always be those who say that books like Jane Eyre and Great Expectations are far more important art than erotica and porn. But given erotica’s potential for busting shame and promoting self-acceptance, I can’t agree. Whether your erotica is deep and literary or just tremendous fun doesn’t make it any more or less worthy of being called activism. (By the way, I’m a fan of Great Expectations! I recognize its activism too.)

My favorite example when discussing activism snobbery is to compare Shakespeare’s work with that of Joss Whedon. As Whedon seeks to tell stories (such as Buffy, Firefly, and more) that appeal to a popular audience regardless of their literacy level or educational privilege, so did Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare was often sneered at by his contemporaries because he saw fit to include servants, people of color, queers, and misfits in his dramas—powerful activism indeed. He even took the blank verse that was typical of esteemed playwrights back then, and added prose that the everyday viewer could access and find relevant. He really was the “pop lit” of his day. Likewise, Whedon had whole series chopped by introducing queer characters. He has shown us that even superheroes struggle in the face of society’s prejudices. He has fought as a feminist to reclaim female strength in adversity. Characters of color kick ass and help save the world in Buffy and Firefly, just as Shakespeare showed us the horrors of racism and the beauty of queer love. Many of us, myself included, credit Whedon’s work for helping keep us alive.

One way of crushing activism is to start comparing its worthiness. Whedon is an activist. Shakespeare was too.

By the way, pet peeve: So called “high art” like Madame Butterfly often remains unscrutinized because of its perceived spiritual/ethical purity. Yet Madame Butterfly is a notoriously racist opera.

Take the snobbery out and it’s easier to see the activism.

At Go Deeper, we are about to release two books by powerfully talented erotic writers. The first to be launched (on 7/11/17) is Roadhouse Blues by Malin James, and is as literary as it is explicit. (Interested? Read an interview or excerpt.) James names cock, cunt, and ass without any shame, and also raises deep questions about sex, love, class, abuse, and prejudice, and the power of authenticity. Her words are captivating, and filled to the brim with emotion and edge. Her characters, who live in the fictional blue collar town of Styx, strive secretly to live authentic sexual lives.

The second book we’re launching (on 7/24/17) is Oleander Plume‘s Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe, and it’s as glorious, whacky, and addictive as fiction gets. (Read an interview plus excerpts, if you like.) It’s also brilliant—so gleaming and impossibly clever that you won’t be able to even think of Trump or May when you’re rapidly turning its pages. Plume writes humor that makes me shake with laughter. Her world-building is delicious. And her story is simply stuffed with heart. It’s healing.

But to compare these two books, asking, “Which is deeper activism?” or “Which is more activist?” No no no. Some readers will prefer one. Some will prefer the other. Some will love both with equal joy. But both are activism, in my eyes. Quite apart from the genius of their craft, each of the above authors brings profound activism to their work, fighting for visibility, emotional healing, the recognition of love, the depths of community. Both the books are hot, hot, hot. And ultimately, I believe Plume and James share a mission, like many of we erotic writers do: To reach a society that needs, so profoundly, to shed its shame and be loving and authentic.

These authors comfort us, in the face of a desperate world.

Fellow erotic writers and artists, do you have similar aims of your own? And do you want to think of yourself as an “activist”?

If yes, I encourage you to accept that you are one.

I believe it. Do you?

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Passionate about erotica and activism? Check out this awesome article by Rachel Kramer Bussell in Rolling Stone. We at Go Deeper are delighted to be included, and I’m really proud of Jake who says some really vital things.

You Can’t Force An Ocean Into A Bottle #BOAW2017 #girlboner #woman

You Can’t Force An Ocean Into A Bottle #BOAW2017 #girlboner #woman

Posted by: on Mar 6, 2017 | 17 Comments

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.

So, I’ve been having some difficulties with calling myself “woman”, recently. It’s not that I’m not a feminist or that I’m ashamed of being female. Far from it. Having been on a journey with my partner who came out as transgender almost two years ago now, I’m just finding it hard to know who I am in terms of gender. Jake’s transition was so courageous and deep that it made me view myself from a new angle.

That angle made me gasp.

In a recent post on a beautiful story called “On Some Maps, But Not on Others” by Annabeth Leong (in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel), I said that “gender often feels like a bottle that I was forced into, when really I’m part of an unending sea.”

Yes, in terms of gender, I’m an ocean. But I think my female identity is part of that ocean. Perhaps I am a woman … and someone else. As folks who read my #BOAW16 post know, I have worn a mustache during sex, not to mention a rather studly tie — oh, and lipstick, as it happens, at the same time. I also love wearing a slinky nightdress. I love to don a silicone cock. All these expressions feel like me.

So perhaps I am a woman in the middle of an ocean. I always did call myself a mermaid. And you can’t take a mermaid from her ocean, can you?

In Mirages, my hero Anaïs Nin, who was also a mermaid, writes, “I am not writing for the elite, but for the confused ones. I would like to have the Encyclopedia Britannica. I need it now. I want facts and concrete images, earth, science, body. Everything made flesh, everything a story, everything animated and dramatized.” Beautiful! I am one of the confused ones. And like so many of her fans, her children, I always did feel Anais Nin was writing for me.

Confused as I am, I can see everything is indeed a story, just like Anaïs Nin says. Even the parts of us that we believe are simply facts — leg, belly, cunt, cock — are part of a story, a bigger, wider story. We tell those stories when we say, “This is female,” or “This is not sexual,” or “This is only sexual,” or “This looks female,” or “This does not look female.”

There’s always magic when we remove the either/or.

In Mirages, Anaïs Nin also writes, “Stories, stories, the only enchantment possible, for when we begin to see our suffering as a story, we are saved.”

Yes, yes, yes! From confusion and lostness, I will make stories. (In Maddie Aflame! I write about a giant, swallowing mansion that is sentient and sexual, and has no gender. What a comfort that story has been!) And I’ll make stories of my gender too. I’ll say my gender is a butterfly, a flying saucer, a stream of laughing bubbles, a spreading oak. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? And sometimes I will wear a cock and call myself a woman. And sometimes I’ll wear nothing and choose a different word.

But always, always, I will call myself an ocean.

And I think that, as an ocean, I’m beautiful.

What is the story of your own gender? If, like an ocean, it had no constraints, what would it be? Feel free to tweet me your thoughts at @foxlana tagging #BOAW2017 — I’d love to hear them!

My Crotch, His Crotch, And While We’re At It, Trump

My Crotch, His Crotch, And While We’re At It, Trump

Posted by: on Dec 15, 2016 | No Comments

First, there was Trump.

Then I went to the doctor’s.

Since I’m a new patient, I decided to tell my PCP that my partner is transgender and I identify as queer. She smiled warmly and said, “Is he biologically female?” Wow. I was stumped. I wanted to ask, What’s that got to do with it? But instead, I explained where Jake was and wasn’t in terms of testosterone, body type, and so forth, without referring to what was going on inside his pants.

I mean, why did she need to know that?

“Right,” she said, making a few mental leaps. “So in terms of a pap smear, you’re not a high risk.”

Here, it turned out, after further chit-chat, she was assuming that what we do in the bedroom doesn’t involve a six inch cock. Which, given the range of accessories on the market, not to mention the fact that I’ve carefully avoided discussing my partner’s genitals, is a big guess indeed.

She’s a nice woman, my new doctor. Really. She wasn’t hard to come out to. She also dealt sensitively with me when I told her I was an abuse survivor. But like many folks I’ve met, say the word “trans” and she chooses to focus on the physical. I’d be more understanding if she was Jake’s doctor. It wouldn’t be a sensitive way of broaching the topic, but I’d get it — she’s focused on biological stuff. That’s a huge part of her job.

But hell, you might as well ask whether my partner has a pierced foreskin. Or a butt tattoo of a naked angel. Or, you know, wood.

Of course, a lot of the world is obsessed with what trans folks have in their pants. Which means they’re obsessed with what all of us have in our pants. When they look at me, they think, “She has a pussy.” And even though they might actually be wrong, that makes them feel safe. The fact that one in 1500-2000 kids are born intersex seems to evade them, as does the notion that I might be trans, and, more to the point, that humans invented gender — it’s a social construct. We built it from scratch. And it’s different to biological sex. That’s why our dog, Lilly, has a biological sex, but doesn’t know which restroom to use, can’t apply lipstick, and would eat any skirt you handed her.

It also explains why she doesn’t care when she drops her food all over the floor.

But I digress.

Let me share what we’re watching on TV, right now. Suspects is a very gripping British TV drama. But when Detective Inspector Martha Jones and her team started referring to a guy who’d gone missing as being “a pre-op transsexual” because he appeared to be taking testosterone, it became decidedly less gripping. (Unless you think of ‘gripping’ as being characterized by the gnashing teeth of an angry werewolf.) “Did you know that your daughter is a pre-op transsexual who is taking testosterone?” is a terrible thing to say, Martha Jones and team. Check out your language, for starters. Quite frankly, it’s all very triggering stuff. Advice to TV detectives and their creators:

  1. Get your gender markers right. If they’re taking T, they’re less likely to be going by “she” pronouns. Have the decency to use “they” before you make any more assumptions.
  2. “Transgender” and “transsexual” mean different things. Check it out, screenwriters.
  3. Once you’ve discovered he is actually a transgender man, use his male name, goddammit. The name he used before now really isn’t relevant and is probably highly triggering for him.
  4. Don’t assume that when Mum finds out her son is transgender, it will be “a bombshell.”
  5. Remember, directors and screenwriters — I can’t stress this enough — that your audience likely comprises of both cisgender and transgender folks who all deserve respect.
  6. Could we please have a crime situation where transgender characters are involved in an investigation but don’t actually kick, maim, or murder anyone? That would be really nice, especially in a society that is so determined to be judgmental towards trans folks — one where, I might add, trans people are being attacked on a daily basis rather than doing the attacking.
  7. It’s okay to make mistakes. I’m sure I make ’em myself all the time. But when you make twenty of them in the same TV show, enough is enough. Research, research, research!

Now, rant done, this brings me back to the Trump thing. I mean, let’s face it, he got in. My spouse is trans and relies on receiving a vial of testosterone each month in order to survive. (Yes, it is a matter of survival. You’ve seen how we are about gender — we’ve made it a life and death issue.) Will someone try to take that away? That is my big fear. My God.

The Trump thing also scares me because I am an immigrant. Fortunately for me, I’m a privileged Brit with white skin and a certain kind of accent. I’m one of the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those less fortunate than me. But I’m still scared. For myself. For my partner. For all of us.

Please God, keep my family together.

Please God, let my partner be safe.

You know what I expected my doctor to say when I told her my partner started transitioning over a year ago? I thought she’d say, “How’s it going? Is he doing all right? Are you doing all right? Do you both feel safe right now? Have you both got support? Have you been okay since the election?”

Instead, she essentially asked about his crotch.

Thank you, gender. This is where we are.

–Lana Fox

Pic courtesy of Miss Fit Academy, with thanks.

Why I Wear a Mustache During Sex #GirlBoner #BOAW16

Why I Wear a Mustache During Sex #GirlBoner #BOAW16

Posted by: on May 2, 2016 | 19 Comments

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest run by the delightful and talented August McGlaughlin. Check out the official blogfest page to read other posts and enter to win some fabulous prizes. Picture credit: “Watercolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon.”

Why do I wear a mustache during sex? Because I’m playing with gender. Because I’m being me. And because I’m also being Steve-O Bing.

When my partner Jacob came out as transgender last year, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect my own identity — I was simply too focused on helping him live his truth. But my own gender identity started to shift, and it continues to do so. As our therapist so wisely told us, “Coming out as trans can queer the whole family.”

Cartoons: Dick the Small

Cartoons: Dick the Small

Posted by: on Apr 1, 2016 | No Comments

It’s great to acknowledge as a culture that different sizes and shapes of dicks can be exciting. This is the thought that inspired this little cartoon, which was written and illustrated by yours truly with the amazing help of amazing Jacob Louder. Enjoy!