Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Posted by: on Jun 22, 2017 | 2 Comments
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HP_FearlessThis 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.

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.

Horatio_Cover200At 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.

ARC Roadhouse Blues - Malin JamesBut 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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rs-erotica-donald-trump-4f7c7e45-3dcf-49b7-9915-f67ff7cb0be6Passionate about erotica and activism? Check out this awesome article by Rachel Kramer Bussel 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.

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2 Comments

  1. Oleander Plume
    June 23, 2017

    After reading this, I believe that I am, and I thank you, lovely Lana!

    Reply
    • lanafox
      June 23, 2017

      Oh you *so* are, dear Oleander! It saddens me to think that you ever doubted it. Thank you for your lovely comment! Delighted you enjoyed the post. <3

      Reply

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