Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Write Sex Week: Day Three

As part of our week long indepth investigation (we like these things long and deep, of course) into ‘The Write Sex’, I asked writer Huck Berry to give us his point of view.

Huck is a UK writer whose work can be found at Ruthie’s Club, Clean Sheets, and The Erotic Woman online, and in ‘Erotic Tales 2’ by Justus Roux and ‘The Mammoth Book of Best Lesbian Erotica’. He describes himself as ‘the world’s youngest grumpy old man’ – in other words, the perfect candidate to give us a rant about women-only publishers and blogs.

Over to you, Huck...


Back when Lust Bites first started, I had a long argument with Nikki and others about why the internet needed another ‘women only’ outlet. We’ve kissed and made up since, metaphorically of course until I find my way to Glasgow, but the issue is still there. Just for the occasion, I’ve broken the habit of a lifetime and actually done some research.

One of the best sources of information for erotic authors is the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website. At any one time, their Calls for Submission page will have around one hundred listings, ranging from anthologies to paying websites.

Of these, around a quarter cater to gay, lesbian or bisexual interest. It’s really quite surprising that they have time to do anything other than read. Currently two publishers are looking for either ‘women of colour’ or writers with disabilities.

Around twenty will be aimed at a female audience. Now that’s fine, but how many of the remainder do you think claim to be for the benefit of a male audience? Would you be surprised if I told you none? Now two calls are from Penthouse and Hustler magazines, so I can read between the lines and guess that they are aimed at men, but not even they come right out and say it, as the female-oriented sites do.

What is more iniquitous is that of the twenty female sites, five will only accept work by female authors. Part of me wonders how they enforce this policy. Are you asked to drop your knickers before you’re published? By the way, not one listing restricts itself to male authors.

This means that a proportion of sites are closed to me as an author. Obviously that’s not a problem because, after all, there are plenty of others out there, but what rankles is the implication that my writing is in some way sub-standard.

If you think I’m being too sensitive, compare the straplines of two well-known erotica sites. Tit-elation: ‘Because even men’s erotica lacks foreplay’ and Ruthies Club: ‘Classy. Literate. Kinky. Smut.’ The former insults, albeit jokingly. Half their potential audience is lost at a stroke. The latter appeals to all, and even strokes our egos by promoting the literary aspect of the stories.

Some say that men prefer visual erotica, citing the quantity of porn magazines that are available to men. I say that’s rubbish. Have you ever browsed the female interest section at your newsagent? From that, one could conclude that women are only interested in celebrity gossip, better sex and weight loss tips. Not only do I not believe that, but I’d also guess that plenty of men are interested in these things too.

Well-written erotica should, and does, appeal to anyone who reads it.

Speaking of well-written erotica, can men’s writing appeal to women? I know that my own stories do, because I’ve had lots of feedback telling me so. In fact, I’ve probably had more positive comments from women than from men, some of which made my toes curl.

The Erotic Woman is a free site, aimed at women. They publish stories by male and female authors. They conducted a survey of their 100,000 readers, and they tell me that almost 70% are female. Their aim is to reach 80% this year. Clearly these women are not turned off by male authors.

What about the converse? Does all erotica written by women appeal to other women? Of course not. Women are just as capable as men of writing poor quality porn. You’ve only to poke around Literotica (www.literotica.com) or StoriesOnline (www.storiesonline.net) to prove that.

Most sites don’t keep membership statistics. Art, the webmaster at Erotic Stories, does, and was kind enough to supply some. I also did a little research of my own. The majority of members don’t list their sex, but of those that do, 30% are women. Most authors do, and 43% percent are female. This statistic is duplicated on the 100 top-ranked authors list, with 42 being female, implying that readers are equally happy with both sexes.

It’s wrong to making sweeping generalisations. There may be some women who only want to read stories by female authors, but I think that the majority would be happy reading any well-written erotica. And in my opinion discrimination is also wrong, no matter who is being discriminated against.



...So that’s the view from our latest manblogger. What do you think? Are we wrong to restrict Lustbites to female authors? Should publishers get over the positive discrimination kick already? Or is there still a good argument for promoting women-only imprints?


Check out Huck’s writing at his website:

And subscribe to his amusing and erudite (that right, Huck?!) blog

100 comments:

Janine Ashbless said...

Ooh, goatee beard! That is so one of my fetishes!

Sorry.
Bad Janine.

Nikki Magennis said...

Huck, a big thanks for giving your opinion.

Now, let me rip it to pieces!

'they are aimed at men, but not even they come right out and say it'

Because they don't need to. It's an unspoken presumption that if something is not labelled as 'for women' or 'for gay men' it's for men. The roots of sexism are deeply embedded, even in our language, our his-story.

As we're talking about sexuality here, too, I might ask you to take another look at those magazines in your newsagent. How many shelves are there with porn for men? And how many shelves with porn for women?

Men are presumed the default audience/consumers, especially when it comes to sex/porn/erotica. I believe that's starting to change, but there's still a long way to go.

And re the implication that men's writing is substandard - I think you're missing the point. It has nothing to do with the quality of men's writing (I completely disagree with Tit-Elation's strapline, for what its worth).

I have never, ever derided 'men's writing'. There is no such thing, as far as I know. There's writing and there's 'women's writing', in common parlance. Pourquoi? Because the author is presumed male until proved otherwise.

Positive discrimination is not about doing down men's writing. More to do with the fact, perhaps, that the 'canon' is made of around ninety four (white) men and Jane Austen (three times). Its trying to redress the balance.

When it comes down to it, your argument seems to suggest that positive discrimination is no longer needed. I disagree. Women have been marginalised, denied a voice and repressed for centuries. It's going to take a long while to even that out.

Janine Ashbless said...

Right, having got that out of the way I will now answer seriously.

Instinctively, idealistically, I feel you are right, Huck. We should not put up barriers between writers based on gender. There are enough barriers in this world. As Nikki Magennis put it once, brilliantly: I don't write for women: I write for myself and for the Great God of Writing.

As Olivia was saying yesterday:
I hate being identified with my gender. My writing will always be my writing, not "a woman's" writing, and I don't expect all other women to identify with / align themselves with / be held responsible for my preferences. Likewise, my opinion is my opinion, not "a woman's" opinion.

I have enthusiastic readers of both sexes and that's something I'm proud of. And I think that both Black Lace and Lust Bites should be open to male writers.

BUT...

(Hey, I'm showing you my But!)

I'm going to give you a quote from "Ginch" by Michael Perkins, which was in a non-gender-specific erotic anthology:

"I was weary with having to deal with women as if they had brains ... I think the truth is that I like any Catholic schoolboy was torn between the brainlessly pornographic vision of ginch before me and a lifetime's indoctrination - by women of course, from my mother to my un-lamented ex-wife - in the notion that women have souls as well as cunts, feelings as well as tits."

Now call me old-fashioned for taking this seriously and personally, but when I pick up porn I do not expect to be insulted and offended and treated as something less than human. Nor do most women, I assume.

Another theme that's fairly common in upmarket porn is the woman dying at the end. Having fucked his character to the edge of oblivion the writer can think of no appropriate ending except to push her over that edge. Funny how that never applies to male characters.

I am certain that most female writers do not use erotica as a vehicle for expressing how much they hate the objects of their desire. However it is really quite common in mens' writing (the above example is just very blatant about it).

So, yeah, it would be great if we all could work on an equal footing with mutual respect. But until the day men (and I do mean *some* men obviously, not all of them)sort out that weird short-circuit in their heads between desire and contempt, I guess there is a place for female (and specifically female-positive) erotica.

Mathilde Madden said...

It's funny. When 'majorities' get excluded (men, white people, ABs, heteros) they are always so *amazed*.

Not used to it, I guess.

Sometimes women need their own spaces. (So do men - they are called sheds).

Portia Da Costa said...

Sometimes women need their own spaces. (So do men - they are called sheds).

Perfectly put!

Janine Ashbless said...

If we ever get polls on this blog, we just have to do a "Should Lustbites membership be open to male writers as well as female?"

I'd love to know the results.

I'd vote Yes, with some trepidation. I think I've been hiding from the issue of exclusion, behind the Rules.

johnny said...

I'm a member.

No, wait, I have a member.

So - when is it we all get naked and get in the mud pit? I brought my trunks.

kristina lloyd said...

If Lust Bites decided to let the lads in, I think I'd quit and go build me a shed.

Actually, one of my ambitions in life is to have a shed. I would hide there all day reading shed porn.

Olivia Knight said...

I've come too late to make all these brilliant points myself - damn! As Nikki rightly points out, the default is still "white", "man", "Anglo-Saxon"; the others are flagged up as deviations from that norm. And Tilly's comment is spot-on that people from the "norm" are always amazed to be discriminated against. I was slightly alarmed by something else: around a quarter cater to gay, lesbian or bisexual interest. It’s really quite surprising that they have time to do anything other than read. So that's a quarter to lesbian/gay/bi (three different groups, 1/12 each) and 3/4 to heterosexual, but they're the ones spending an inordinate amount of time reading porn? Not to accuse you of any kind of prejudice - just how much "deviations" (non-"norm") jump out at us compared to how much "norm" we easily accept without batting an eyelid.

The thing is, women, gays, lesbians, black people, and so on, were sat on for ages and looked around and said This sucks! Then they did something about it. There wasn't another power-group who awarded them their own special space - they made it. I'd say - if you feel male erotica needs to be defined as its own identity, start something. If you feel too many groups exist that are gender-defined, start something that's not. There's nothing to prevent you from doing so, and so the amount of discrimination at work is questionable - I'd say it's a question of markets.

Now I'm aware my argument has some gaping holes in it, so please feel free to step in and tear it apart!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Hi, Huck!

Just between you and me (and our hosts and all their readers and anyone who finds this page by searching on "goatee"), that Tit-Elation slogan makes me wince every time I see it. I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume what they really mean is "Because most erotica traditionally aimed at male readers lacks foreplay, analogous to a certain familar style of rushed sexual intercourse during which a male partner is insufficiently attentive to a woman's needs." Every time they've published one of my stories, I've hoped in vain that they would concurrently alter the slogan to that version.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Women may have more opportunities in terms of erotica/erotic romance, but in publishing in general, we're way down the list. I would quote you the figures from a recent survey, but as usual when I need something, the relevant piece of paper has vanished. It makes for hideous reading though.

As a man you have a far higher chance of being published and being paid a decent amount for your writing than you do as a woman.

Personally, I have no problems with women-only clubs, but then, I'm a member of the largest women-only organisation in the world.

Mathilde Madden said...

Lesbian gay and bi porn is quite popular amongst straight people too. I'm surprised it's only a 1/4

Mathilde Madden said...

The stats for the Nobel prize for literature (1902-1997)

96% men :: 4% women

Four per cent!

Great artcle my stat is from

Madelynne Ellis said...

That's the article I was looking for.

I love Mslexia. It's a great magazine.

Nikki Magennis said...

Damn, I'm subscribing. Right now. Brilliant article, Madelynne and Mathilde. I feel like cutting and pasting the whole thing here.

Olivia Knight said...

Can I precis?

Q: Why are there all these women-only publishers?
A: Because the rest of the world is pretty much men-only publishers, only no-one notices.


MsLexia's description of the effect of children is a massive part of the reason - possibly the reason - why I refuse to have children. Despite having a womb.

Janine Ashbless said...

Mslexia article - WOW.

God I feel depressed.

And I'm one of the lucky ones with no kids and a supportive husband.

H.L. Berry said...

So, if I read these responses right, in summary discrimination is okay, because women need revenge.

But seriously, think about what you are saying. I'm not 'amazed' to be discriminated against. I don't really care. As I said, there are plenty of outlets avaiable to me. My position is that all discrimination is wrong. You can't pick and choose. If it's wrong to discriminate one way on the grounds of sex or colour, why is it acceptable the other way?

I can't think of any authors, male or female, who treat their female characters with contempt. Put simply, I love women, and I don't like to see them treated that way. If I see that developing in a story, I'll move on and read something else. I'm sure many other men feel the same, and I hope you are not letting your experience of a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel for you. Believe it or not, women are not exempt from bad behaviour either!

I even have an example for you. Remember Erotic Stories, the website from which I obtained some statistics. I did a little more research.

Authors on that site can attach a photograph of themselves to their profile. Out of 58 men, only seven include a picture, of which four are nude. Of the 42 women on the top 100 list, 32 featured a picture purporting to be of the author. 24 of them were either naked or dressed in lingerie.

Would you rather be featured in a women-only anthology, alongside women like these, or an all-inclusive one featuring men like myself or Jeremy?

Janine Ashbless said...

I'd actually rather be published in a both-genders, no-exclusions anthology because I'd have the feeling that I was picked purely for the quality of my story, over every other writer in the Whole Universe.

Sadly I think both sides of this argument are right. Discrimination is wrong from either direction. But if the alternative is for you as an individual to be victimised by the existing system, what is your choice?

Nikki Magennis said...

Nobody mentioned ‘revenge’. If you see it as such, you’re still misunderstanding what positive discrimination is trying to acheive – namely parity.

I’m not a misandrist. (Antonym for ‘misogynist.’ A very uncommon word.)

If discrimination is wrong, which I agree it is, then is someone going to do something to make sure that children have as many female authors, artists, politicians, scientists, journalists, medics, and Nobel Prize Winners as role models as there are male equivalents? How else would we achieve that redress of the balance?

Do you believe its right and fair that 96% of Nobel prize winners are male?

You are suggesting we do nothing to alter the status quo, implying there is a level playing field. That is so very, very far from the truth.

I can debate the discrimination issue with you all day, Huck, and your argument is fair and reasonable.

The point you’re trying to make about the Erotic Stories website, however, seems to me to be firstly irrelevant and secondly suspiciously condescending.

I would tread very carefully before using terms like ‘women like these’. What exactly do you mean by that? Women like what? Naked and lingerie clad women?

Personally, I’m happy to be in any anthology that contains good writing and pays me for my work. Full stop.

Nikki Magennis said...

...and I just thought I'd take a look at 'Erotic Stories'.

The front page has a big, flashing advert that says 'Watch hot babes get fucked hard', with two pictures of topless girls.

I somehow think it's aimed at a male audience, Huck.

Mathilde Madden said...

Equal Opportunities doesn't mean everyone gets the same. It means trying to give everyone what they need to have an equal chance.

Mathilde Madden said...

Authors on that site can attach a photograph of themselves to their profile. Out of 58 men, only seven include a picture, of which four are nude. Of the 42 women on the top 100 list, 32 featured a picture purporting to be of the author. 24 of them were either naked or dressed in lingerie.

Would you rather be featured in a women-only anthology, alongside women like these, or an all-inclusive one featuring men like myself or Jeremy?


Huh?

H.L. Berry said...

Nikki:

"The point you’re trying to make about the Erotic Stories website, however, seems to me to be firstly irrelevant and secondly suspiciously condescending.

I would tread very carefully before using terms like ‘women like these’. What exactly do you mean by that? Women like what? Naked and lingerie clad women?"

By 'women like these' I meant women who feel they need to show naked or lingerie-clad pictures of themselves in order to get people to read their stories and make the top lists. If you think there is any other reason why they do it, then you are being very naive. Believe me, their writing is not of the standard that you write.

And that, I think, was my point. That women are not holier than men. They are quite capable of using every available technique at their disposal to get what they want.

And as for the level playing field, pah! Would you rather achieve something on your own merit, or because a bunch of your main competitors had been excluded?

Have a look at the best-selling book lists on USA Today. Check out your local Waterstones. It seems to me that there are plenty of talented female authors making it all on their own. Even the best-selling and richest author of all time is a woman.

Mathilde Madden said...

Even the best-selling and richest author of all time is a woman.

Who was told to use a pseud that hid her gender

Nikki Magennis said...

Oh yes, my local Waterstones.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/13/nbook13.xml

...where 66 out of the 'top 100 ' books are written by men. That's two thirds. That's not equal.

H.L. Berry said...

Oh and by the way, as I said in my original article, 30% of readers at Erotic Stories are female.

H.L. Berry said...

"Even the best-selling and richest author of all time is a woman.

Who was told to use a pseud that hid her gender"

And has not doing so done her any harm whatsoever?

H.L. Berry said...

"...where 66 out of the 'top 100 ' books are written by men. That's two thirds. That's not equal."

Will you only be happy with an exact 50:50 split? Where would we stop? How many books would you like to see by authors of colour? Homesexual authors? Disabled authors?

And does it really accomplish anything to achieve your target by artificial means?

H.L. Berry said...

And another thing. That article to which you so kindly pointed me was at least as irrelevant as my remarks about the author pictures at ES.

You implied that 66 out of 100 authors were male. Wrong! It was a poll of reader preferences. Of the people surveyed, 66 of their 100 favourite authors were male. That is very, very different to saying that 66% of books at Waterstones are by male authors.

Nikki Magennis said...

For the record, here's the relevant excerpt:

'The company asked its 5,000 employees to name their favourite five books written since 1982, when Waterstone's opened its first store. The resulting list of the top 100 favourites is dominated by male authors.

The list features the cream, both male and female, of the modern, international literary world, from Umberto Eco and Bill Bryson to Robert Harris and Ian McEwan; from Margaret Atwood and Jung Chang to Zadie Smith and Zoe Heller. But male authors outnumber female writers by a staggering 66 to 27.

The chain, which polled its sales staff to celebrate its 25th anniversary, denied suggestions yesterday that its book tills were manned by male chauvinists. But it said that it was at a loss to explain the heavy bias in favour of male authors.'

Nikki Magennis said...

'How many books would you like to see by authors of colour? Homesexual authors? Disabled authors?'

Ultimately, I'd like it not to matter. Ultimately, I'd like us all to be just seen as writers. Pos discrimination is part of a process, it's not the end goal.

H.L. Berry said...

"The chain, which polled its sales staff to celebrate its 25th anniversary, denied suggestions yesterday that its book tills were manned by male chauvinists. But it said that it was at a loss to explain the heavy bias in favour of male authors."

You'll note that they didn't attempt to suggest that the reason was because male authors heavily outnumbered female authors, which is what anyone reading your responses might expect.

Alison Tyler said...

I've just gotten here to see 30 comments. Wow! And (as I always seem to say) my coffee is still brewing, so this may make little sense.

But, as a publisher (of pretty things press, that is www.prettythings.press.com -- shameless plug before coffee) I don't care what pen name people use, or if they have a hoo-ha (I *love* that term) or a cock (another term I love), or both. (Or, I suppose, neither -- but poor them!)

I just want to read good porn/smut/erotica. I guess that makes me an equal opportunity pornographer. (Did I use the term right, Mat?)

I'm lucky to be friends with writers who can pretty much churn out any genre when I need it. And I will never print a women-penned or male-penned only collection, the way I'd never publish one that I insisted was written only by lesbians, gays, Italians, or whatever. (Seriously, there's an anthology nobody's come up with: Best Italian Erotica.)

That said, I'd hate it if Lust Bites were open to men, as well. I like the chemistry of this girl group very much. I suppose that makes me a hypocrite, and I can't think of a way to defend myself.

Olivia, Nikki, Kristina, Tilly? Can you help?

XXX,
Alison

P.S. That's www.prettythingspress.com

Nikki Magennis said...

Fair enough. I beg your pardon for using the quote in a misleading way.

Here's a stat from 'Mslexia', same article as Mathilde links to further up:

"Authors of books published 1991 (7)

65% Male, 36% Female. "

Comes to much of a muchness, really...

johnny said...

Alison - need defending, babe? How can I help?

Nikki Magennis said...

- I'm sorry, I'll stop with the johnny jokes.

Serious discussion, serious.

I'm knackered. Bloody hell. All this debating is exhausting.

Can we have a tea break? Huck? Biscuit?

Jenny said...

First of all, I have to say that positive discrimination is an oxymoron much like reverse discrimination. Discrimination is discrimantion and there is nothing positive or reverse about it.

It's my opinion that a publisher is free to publish what it likes from whomever it wishes. I believe if I want to start a club and only invite redheaded, green-eyed women to be members, that I have that right the blondes can back off. ;)

However, I for one am not ready to regulate men to the shed any more than I want to be told to stay in the kitchen! I love men!

And another thing, just because 'white males' have always been considered a majority, that doesn't give the minority the right to condescend when they have an axe to grind.

When I see these sorts of comments I understand where the bad rep my gender takes comes from.

Women, we've been tooting our horns for sometime now, claiming to be the 'higher' sex, and then when a man is asked his opinion you all descend upon him and pick him a part like a child does an insect.

The discussion is old and trite. If we are supposed to be tolerant of everyone, that includes men.

This argument reminds of the one had by my favorite sitcom characters in a remote cabin between four couples. It's worth a watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwhjX2Mum6g

Nikki Magennis said...

'Women, we've been tooting our horns for sometime now, claiming to be the 'higher' sex, and then when a man is asked his opinion you all descend upon him and pick him a part like a child does an insect.'

I have never, ever, ever claimed to be the 'higher sex', and I don't know anybody who has.

Plus, I think we're trying hard here not to pick each other apart, but debate the argument without getting personal. It's one of the things I like about this blog.

But to refer to your arguments, Jenny.

I don't believe I've been condescending to Huck or anyone else who's opinion happens to differ from mine.

If the argument is so old and trite, then how come we still have women-only publishers, and why does it still get people worked up? Is it perhaps that the problem of inequality is still not still not still not solved?

Right, off to have a look at youtube...

H.L. Berry said...

You all seem to be very pleased with having found this Mslexia article to prove that women have a hard time getting published, even though most of its statistics date back to 1991.

Here's another article which quotes statistics, this one rather more up to date and seemingly proving quite the reverse.

You can find it at Lulu here: http://www.lulu.com/static/pr/7_20_05.php

Interestingly, it seems to tally with Mslexia with regard to the 90s, so it's not that they are using different information. However, it does arrive at a quite different conclusion for recent years. Also, it specifically refers to fiction novels, which so far as I could see, Mslexia didn't.

Incidentally, I found this quite easily using Google. Did you stop looking when you found something that supported your argument?

H.L. Berry said...

You all seem to be very pleased with having found this Mslexia article to prove that women have a hard time getting published, even though most of its statistics date back to 1991.

Here's another article which quotes statistics, this one rather more up to date and seemingly proving quite the reverse.

You can find it at Lulu here: http://www.lulu.com/static/pr/7_20_05.php

Interestingly, it seems to tally with Mslexia with regard to the 90s, so it's not that they are using different information. However, it does arrive at a quite different conclusion for recent years. Also, it specifically refers to fiction novels, which so far as I could see, Mslexia didn't.

Incidentally, I found this quite easily using Google. Did you stop looking when you found something that supported your argument?

H.L. Berry said...

Okay, I'm not sure what happened there. Sorry for those of you who got all excited expecting two different comments from me. Well, three, now.

Nikki Magennis said...

Interesting article, Huck. Thanks.

Looks pretty encouraging too!

Mathilde Madden said...

This Write Sex Week is bloody hard going. I'm not sure if I can take another day of it.

Jenny you're right 'positive discrimination' is a silly term. It's not one I use. (I don't use the term 'the higher sex' either and I don't know anyone who does.)

I just feeling like repeating my first comment.

What is so wrong with women only spaces. Why do they make some men so angry? Why can't you just go play somewhere else and stop pulling our pigtails?

kiki said...

i'm getting lost with all the back and forth - but for me, i really don't care if it's a man or a woman writing. if the story is good, it's good.

sometimes i like a lot of description and foreplay. sometimes i just want to get off quickly and i want the author to get to the point.

i don't always know if i'm reading a man or a woman. sometimes *gasp* i don't even LOOK at who the author is...and really, who's to say if it truly is a man or a woman. how many men have female pen names? how many women have male pen names? do the publishers really REALLY know? these are probably stupid questions that if i were an author, i'd know that of course the publishers know. but i'm just wondering.

okay - and now i see that alison has said some of these things too. and i also need coffee!! strong coffee. espresso-y strong coffee. with honey. and a wee bit of milk. and some whipped cream. yum!

*beam*

Nikki Magennis said...

Thanks kiki. I think coffee is a great idea!

Madelynne Ellis said...

We've just been going along the discrimination angle so far, but is it really the only reason for imprints such as Black Lace? Is it not just because it's seen as a good marketing strategy?

Oh, and going back to the JK Rowling thing. Note the JK not Joanne. JK cause it's ambiguous and would be assumed to be male. It was only later than she was identified by her forename.

H.L. Berry said...

"What is so wrong with women only spaces. Why do they make some men so angry? Why can't you just go play somewhere else and stop pulling our pigtails?"

I'm not angry. I just don't happen to agree with discrimination - of any type.

I was asked to come and write this article because Nikki knew that I have a point of view that probably is the opposite of most of the contributors to this blog.

If you then try to pull my argument to pieces, well you can hardly blame me for responding.

However, if you feel I've overstepped the mark, then I apologise. And I'll bow out. Thanks for the opportunity.

H.L. Berry said...

Madelynne said: "We've just been going along the discrimination angle so far, but is it really the only reason for imprints such as Black Lace? Is it not just because it's seen as a good marketing strategy?"

Judging from this quote on the EWRA Call for Submissions page, it's a bit of both:

First things first. We accept submissions from female authors only, with no exceptions. We have found that, in this genre, authors tend to write better for their own gender. Besides, the fact that all our authors are guaranteed to be women is a valuable part of our marketing strategy.

Note how I included the full quote there, rather than just the bit that supported my argument! ;)

I'll also add that I came to Harry Potter quite late in the day, so I can't say with any certainty how long J.K. went before revealing that she was a woman. There's no doubt, though, that having done so hasn't hurt her sales one iota.

Madelynne Ellis said...

I don't think you've overstepped anything. You've just provided your opinion. That's the point of a debate.

Did I opt to sub to Black Lace cause it was a women-only imprint? No. I subbed there cause it was publishing similar things to what I was writing.

I'd have no problem with a male-only imprint. Except, I've a feeling I read somewhere that someone tried that and it didn't sell very well!

People are weird.

A friend of mine once told me he'd give a copy of one of his novels to a male friend as read. He writes under a female pseudonym. When he next saw his friend, said friend admitted that he'd stopped reading because he was disturbed by the thought of being turned on by words written by a man.

As I say, people are weird.

Jenny said...

There is nothing wrong with women only spaces or men only spaces or rich only spaces or poor only spaces or white only spaces or black only spaces...see what I'm saying? It's not pc to publish only stories from white authors about white people, but we have publishers who want only authors of color and stories about people of color. When signs that read men only post, doesn't that raise the hackles just bit? That we call discrimination. But when a supposed minortity does it, then it's supported.

Huck's main point is that he can write just as well and better than many female authors and he's rightfully resentful when his gender suddenly suggests that his work isn't marketable.

Now, as for the higher remark, I set aside the word ('higher') because it was a word that engulfed all the others I read in women's magazines and hear on talk shows. Each of you may not have used the word 'higher' per say, but you've certainly had the elitest opinion of our gender, which in some ways is surely justified. Just as in some ways men are the 'better' sex.

We all have something to offer and I think it's unfortunate that this issue prevades here, in a genre that has been fighting it's way off the fringes for many years now.

Yes, sometimes porn is disgusting, and degrading to women, but I don't think porn has anything to do with your guest 'speaker.' I'm sure you all took the time to read some of his work before pouncing? :)

Nikki Magennis said...

Nobody said you overstepped the mark, Huck. Of course we tried to pull your argument to pieces - isn't that the whole point of a debate?!

I like to play devil's advocate. I do also like women-only imprints, both as a reader and a writer.

It would be very interesting to see a male-only equivalent. And I don't think I'd feel excluded by that at all.

Nikki Magennis said...

'you've certainly had the elitest opinion of our gender'

- absolutely not, Jenny. There's not the slightest shred of me that believes women are better than men. Different, yes, of course. But not better, or worse.

Jenny said...

Ah, Nik, you've taken my comment out of context and much too seriously. It wasn't a put down.

"Each of you may not have used the word 'higher' per say, but you've certainly had the elitest opinion of our gender, which in some ways is surely justified."

You mean to tell me you've never made a man joke? Or rolled your eyes at some of their reasoning? Well, I can honestly say that I have and many times. I wonder at times how my man makes it from the bathroom to the bedroom without asking for help. Sometimes men are insensitive and just plain hard to understand. Just as we are. I'm sure my man wonders the same about me at times. It's human nature. I can't believe that you are so balanced and fair minded that you've never ever made a negative comment about men, never indulged in a bit of girl to girl man bashing.

Madeline Moore said...

Hmmm. Here's the thing - a lot of men think that since great strides have been made toward equality between the sexes in the last few decades, it is time to relax. Personally, I can understand why an intelligent, decent, creative man like our guest today might feel that way.

As a young feminist I absolutely believed in equality between the sexes. I was naieve. That naievity was shattered when an ex-con picked me up by the throat and shook me. The truth of it came crashing down on my head - he is wayyyy stronger than me. I managed, miraculously, to escape with my life, but while the ten fingerprints on my throat faded with time, the lesson I learned did not. Even a little guy is (almost always) stronger than your average woman. Physical strength.

What does this have to do with female-only imprints? A female-only imprint is like a female-only club. It's safe.

Scrolling through the comments I see that the very first comment posted applauds our guest's appearance. The first sexist lob comes from one of us - men belong in the shed. The reverse would have us spitting mad.

Well, we're spitting mad anyway, it seems. As Huck said, we invite a man to give his opinion and then tear him to shreds for it. I don't like it, but I understand it.

Women were angry. Women still are.
It really isn't a question of whether a male writer can describe the way a woman experiences sex. There's a lot of women writing gay male erotica. If we can describe how it feels for them, surely they can describe how it feels for us. We're talkiing about writers! No, it's about still needing special treatment, and it's about a sense of security, women among women.

I guess we still need to poke fun at men for being men, which I don't agree with. But I do agree with the need for women in the 21st century to be 'protected' because we are, physically at least, the weaker sex. Argue with me if you wish, but I remember when an angry little guy lifted me off my feet by my neck, and I'll never forget it.

My nineteen year old daughter harbours no such problem. She believes the answer to an agressive man is a kick in the nuts. I really fear that she, like me, will be disabused of that notion in a very nasty manner.

Women are still defensive, still need to make fun of the ways of men, still need special quotas to help get inside the still-white-male-dominated clubs.

That's the sad truth of it. However, that said, I think here, in our Lust Bites blog, we need to treat our guests with respect. That means not starting something (with jokes etc.) that we wouldn't like to see in reverse.

There are worse traits in a man than for him to think women have come further than we really have...
women can't relax when it comes to rights over our bodies, etc. because those rights can be taken away. Frankly, it's nice to have a place to submit work to that only publishes women, and it's nice to have a blog that only welcomes women as members. Someday maybe all that will be unnecessary but I believe, ultimately, it comes down to physical strength and that inequality isn't likely, in general, to ever change.

Jenny said...

Very well said, madeline.

Janine Ashbless said...

Madeline, your argument only implies that we need safe spaces in the physical world. Since Huck, or even Arnold Schwarzenegger, is completely incapable of lifting me off the ground by my neck as we chat online, or share a publisher, in what sense do I need a safe women-only 'club' in the virtual or publishing worlds?

Nikki Magennis said...

Jenny, you'd be surprised! ; )

Sorry, it's kind of hard to tell what's a joke and what's not when you're using this bloody computer.

And jokes are very welcome to keep us from shouting...

Nikki Magennis said...

Safe mental space, perhaps?

Janine Ashbless said...

What, because women are always kind and sensitive and non-abusive and sharing? Like us lot? :-P

Believe me, this is not a safe mental space just because most of the contributors are female. And, given past experience, it wouldn't be safe even if we banned male commentators altogether.

Jenny said...

You make a good point, too janine, but I think it's the difference in not only men and women, but also from one woman to another. I'm very secure in being involved with men online and face to face. I, in fact, work a couple of hundred men day to day. I don't begrudge anyone their safe havens. What I don't approve of is seemingly making one man or one group of men pay for the sins of their anscestors. The only way things are going to change is if we change them.

Earlier, I said the discussion is old and trite and the response, 'why are we still having it then?'

Because it's ingrained I suppose, but that doesn't mean it's not old and trite. It means we need to move on.

In the words of Don Henley, "Get over it!"

Did anyone watch the designing women clip? Now that's funny, and that's exactly what we sound like when we argue among the sexes. Admittedly the clip was bent toward females ever so slightly, but I think there were points made by both sides.

H.L. Berry said...

Janine said: "Since Huck, or even Arnold Schwarzenegger, is completely incapable of lifting me off the ground by my neck as we chat online, or share a publisher"

You underestimate the power of the Dark Side, Janine. Mwahhahahahahah!

Janine Ashbless said...

LOL!

Ah, I knew you were evil the moment I saw the beard, Huck. ;-)

*Likes evil beards lots*

Madeline Moore said...

I think it's very obvious from this blog that women still need safe spaces, safe clubs, safe blogs, safe publishing imprints. I think it's obvious from this blog that women are still very angry about the past. I think it gives a woman reader a sense of safety to know the story she's reading was written by a woman,(for example, if the character is going to be beaten, it's not as likely to be a beating that would, in real life, leave her crippled, if it's in a BL book.) And it gives the woman writer a sense of safety to know that her imprint only publishes women. (At least, it gives me that sense of safety because, it seems to me, a lot of male-written erotica features extremes that, if expressed in pictures, would be considered illegal porn, and I don't want to be lumped in with those writers.)

Yes, a safe mental space, but one that is still needed because there is still danger in our dealings with men. Because we are still angry, and because a lot of men are angry, too. This week, thus far, has unearthed so much anger I'm shocked, but after the shock, I'm not surprised. I think non-violent men don't get it. I don't expect every male to carry guilt for the way many of his gender think and act. But I for one appreciate it when, for example, I'm walking alone on a street and a man walking behind me crosses the street so he's no longer behind me. He knows he may be perceived as a threat, and so he kindly takes away that threat.

Maybe I'm confusing reality with the publishing world, but I truly have a sense that 'safety' is part of the issue.

Nikki Magennis said...

Well, interesting, Madeline. I think it might be partly true.

I have to add that I'm not angry with men. I'm angry with the system and the huge invisible edifice of inequality, but I do think men are as much a victim of that as women.

Now I'm going to get drunk.

- Thanks again, Huck, and I truly hope I haven't offended you today. I really appreciate you coming by and arguing your views. Kiss and make up again, huh?

; )

Janine Ashbless said...

I think men can write to Black Lace censorship/moral standards. That just comes down to house style. After all, we're edited by two men.

Janine Ashbless said...

Yeah, thanks Huck! You said on your blog you were feeling intimidated about today and I really hope it wasn't too bad.

"What does not kill us makes us stronger."

And leaves us needing alcohol. Lots of alcohol. I'm going for mine now. See y'all tomorrow for more of this ...

ohmygod ...

Smut Girl said...

*pokes in head*

I've been following this all day. With mixed emotions. Sadly, not to sound like a wuss, but I see all sides and I can identify with at least *some* of what everyone has said.

I want to give Huck kudos for hanging in and using his ever-present humor and polite manner. I think, had it been me today, I would have been foaming at the mouth long ago (or crying in the corner...it's a toss up).

I agree wholeheartedly with Kiki, often times I don't look at whether a man or a woman has written the story. If I remember a story, it's the story itself I remember, not the gender of the author.

I have no issue with women only publishers, just as I would have no issue with a men only publisher. I love that Lust Bites is a group of funny, talented women and I love to visit and read and comment. I also *on the other hand* love when Jeremy jumps in and represents a male point of view.

This sort of issue to me is much like other big topics. I think it all boils down to your life experience. I have never been discriminated against in my writing based on my gender. I haven't had that happen to me and for that I am grateful. I will point out, oddly enough, that this year alone, I've subbed to numerous anthos (this is strictly an example) and the only time I have had an issue and been given the run-around, so to speak was by a by women/for women/only women antho. To the point that I'm considering yanking the story. Which to me proves the point that women do not necessarily treat women any better or worse than a man would.

So, I have no idea what I just said as things like this tend to rattle me;) I've worked with Huck. I've chatted with him. He's a very pro-woman man from what I can tell. I do feel he was dismantled just a touch and I don't like to see that happen regardless of gender. If a woman were up today and things were going the same way, I'd be uncomfortable.

So, that being said! I understand that this is sort of the point of this week, so I follow enthusiastically, and it was a pleasure to see Huck and his opinions up today.

xoxo
S

Jenny said...

Smutgirl, you are the very essence hospitality. Are you sure you're not from the south?

Many of you girls have lain (laid? lied?) the inequalities of the smut world across Huck's shoulders. I think he expected a little opposition and little discussion, but I think he assumed that being professional women that I know for fact he's admired for some time now, he expected a little more than being told to stay in the shed. In all the discussion today, that remark will be the uppermost in everyone's mind, because it was a hurtful thing to say.

Mathilde said earlier: Equal Opportunities doesn't mean everyone gets the same. It means trying to give everyone what they need to have an equal chance.

You have to reach to acheive. All those stats about male vs female authors, the only way that would be an accurate picture of discrimination is to know the number of males vs females who attempted to reach that status.

As for there not being any big power groups to help women, blacks, lesbians & gays, here in America there have been many, MANY organizations to aid. NAACP, ACLU, ever heard of Gloria Steinem? WAA, The Rainbow Coalition, Affirmative Action...the list goes on and on.


As always, Huck, you were respectful and provided well thought out answers.

This has been a very stimulating and interesting disscussion. I've enjoyed it.

Jen

Alison Tyler said...

Now, seriously... nobody told anybody to go to a shed. Mat made a very funny remark:

Sometimes women need their own spaces. (So do men - they are called sheds).

You can't possibly believe that she thinks men should stay in a shed. Or that she meant the comment in a hurtful way.

Of course, if she'd said someone needed to be taken out behind a shed, then my ears would have seriously perked up and we might have had a different discussion entirely.... Quite perfect for me, as this is birthday week and not one person has offered me a birthday spanking!

Mathilde Madden said...

I get the feeling that the *shed* thing is not translating across the Atlantic.

It's more like the equivalent of 'the snug' or 'the den'. Or, erm, ''shop'

Huck's British. He knew what I meant. And he doesn't mind one bit. In fact, I'm meeting him later for a spot of recreational man bashing in a specially converted shed.

(No one tell Mrs Huck - Or Mr Mathilde for that matter)

Mathilde Madden said...

As for you, Alison Tyler, get back in your shed!

Alison Tyler said...

Yes, Ma'am...

(which is not a shameless plug at all for a new book edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. I swear, it's not. Because I never sink so low as to post shameless plugs on Lust bites)

XXX,
Alison

P.S. www.alisontyler.blogspot.com

Amanda said...

gosh i am so glad you raised this issue. i am constantly complaining about women's only calls for submission. i don't agree with it and as a woman, i won't support it. i don't buy books by publishers that have this restriction and i don't send my work to those kinds of calls. to me this kind of discimination, be it toward males, females or others simply keeps the gender wars going. and what about those who are transgender? where do they fit? i realize that gender inequalities exist, but in erotic fiction, it is the reverse to what has been going on...there are more women writing erotic fiction than men, and that includes women who write gay erotica with a male pseudonym. for fiction, i don't need "my own space" as far as gender goes, what i need is a good, well-written story and i don't give a great god damn who wrote it. to be honest, i never even notice the gender of the writer. why would i? if i were reading non fiction and wanted to know the facts, all kinds of details would be important, including gender, but fiction, especially erotic fiction is about fantasy...a woman publisher who banned males told me recently that she thought it was obvious...men could talk about what it felt like to have their cocks sucked better than women, and women knew more about how it felt to be women than men. i say balderdash to that argument. a writer must be able to use her research skills, her empathy, her observation and her imagination to create a world that is believable for the reader. for historical fiction, we can't go back and relieve an earlier century. why should it be thought that only women can write well about women. we have to stop discrimination and it has to start somewhere. of course women have been discriminated against and still are, but so are men. i see little girls with t-shirts that say "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them." i see the systematic portrayal of men on television, in the movies as either stupid idiots or viscious homocidal maniacs. it's got to stop and this can occur only if each of us takes a stand. should you include men in lust bites..you seem to already. i haven't heard any complaints about that. people are individuals. gender is only one aspect of their character and sorry, it has nothing to do with whether or not their fiction writing skills are good. i can describe what it feels like to have a cock sucked as well as i can suck one, which is very very well ;)

kristina lloyd said...

Oh, you’re all joking around and I’m arriving late to make a new point.

Which is: there’s an interesting paradox smut girl alludes to when she says she’s never been discriminated against in her writing. I’m taking this to mean erotic writing. And the paradox is that in porn/erotica the female voice has traditionally been in high demand because most of its consumers are male. Way back in the 18C, John Cleland wrote Fanny Hill: Or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The confessional female narrator, most of it male-penned, has featured strongly in the porno canon ever since. These days, you can get the real deal of women writing about their sexual selves, rather than a male fantasy version. I still think this is something many men are inclined to be very interested in.

Before I wrote for BL, I used to write shorts under a gender-neutral pseud. Once I was asked to change this by a mag supposedly for couples. They said their readers liked knowing when work is written by a woman.

Black Lace’s ‘by women’ identity is a stroke of marketing genius. It simultaneously appeals to women (hey, this is for you) and to men (come check out their dirty secrets).

Having said that, I’m glad BL exists as a women-only space, whatever the motivation behind its creation (financial). Alison says she doesn’t discriminate in selecting writers for anthos. Twenty years ago, I imagine there'd have been far fewer women subbing fiction, and she might have needed to if anthos weren't to be male biased. Alison publishes my work. She probably wouldn’t be doing if BL didn’t exist because that was the place where I was able to find my porno legs.

Hmm, I’m sure there’s a T-shirt slogan in there somewhere.

BTW, the shed porn book I linked to earlier is on Amazon US, described as ‘a silly, endearing, very British book’.

kristina lloyd said...

Amanda, I can't suck cock to save my life. Men are always telling me this and saying I need more practice round at their place.

Kate Pearce said...

Fascinating discussion as usual!
What can I add?
Not a lot, except thank you for visiting our blog and expressing your opinion. I expect it can be very frustrating to be a man these days. (was that patronizing? I hope not I'm scared to say anything these days I'm so un pc)

One point about female readers. From an erotic romance sliding into erotica viewpoint, I think the average romance reader does feel more comfortable trying out new titillating subjects written from a female point of view, because she/he unconsciously believes that the author will fulfill those unwritten expectations. That's my experience anyway, do with it what you will :)
that's not to say that the reader will then not go on and try new and different authors, but they have to start somewhere

Mathilde Madden said...

I have seen Kristina's porno legs.

I nearly went blind.

You also made a clever point (well done, dear), but you said porno legs.

Alison Tyler said...

"boys are stupid, throw rocks at them"

Another t-shirt for my collection?

Asks Alison, licking icing from her fingers...

kristina lloyd said...

And what is wrong with porno legs? They are like sea legs which sailors have to find. And when are we going down the docks looking for them?

Jenny said...

Mathilde, would we tell on ya'll? Naaaa. Btw, how do you spell Mr. Mathilde's name and does he have a current email? lol

Mathilde Madden said...

Oh it's

mr.mathilde@thatpoorpoorman.co.uk

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, Nikki, I just saw your statement:

The roots of sexism are deeply embedded, even in our language, our his-story.

Sooo.... I once had an author submit a story with all the "he" words turned to "shes," the "his" words to "her" words, etc.

Basically, the piece was unreadable, because the author went beyond changing "history" to "herstory." Even "the" was subject to becoming "ther" and "this" was "thers" -- when I said I couldn't publish the piece, she insisted I had been brainwashed by male-dominated society.

Alana said...

Hi Huck,

Thank you for visiting LB. I appreciate your commentary, and as I told Felix yesterday, I want to hear from men regarding erotica and writing and writing erotica.

Thank you for asserting your opinion and listening to those shared here.

Major Kudos, people. Discourse is imperative. Imperative I tell you!

I heard a rumor long while back that Cleis Press (Best Women's Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, etc) planned to publish a Best Men's Erotica, and I couldn't WAIT to get my hands on it. I so wanted to read that book because I couldn't wait to feel turned on and insulted all at the same time.

In my opinion, such a reaction to what I read is preferable. I like writing that makes me think, that makes me feel, that challenges my perceptions and/or assumptions. Good writers are empathetic and intuitive and brave, and they push buttons.

Anyway, misogyny is often the result of perception. What offends Jenny may not offend Sommer but what offends Sommer might not offend me, although it might offend Alison. (By the way, Alison Tyler is a hot spanky babe.)

If I were a man would that comment insult Alison, or would she take it as a compliment, a come-on, or funny? Maybe it depended on who the man was. Perhaps Alison or any of the rest of you consider "babe" a demeaning term. Or maybe you find it endearing or sexy.

Maybe you think I'm weird.

Some women are grossed out by the idea one female could find another a babe. Perception. Context. Delivery. Never black-and-white.

Talented writers don't have "the" answer. They ask a provoking question.

Alison Tyler said...

"Alison Tyler is a hot spanky babe"

That is my *new* favorite slogan.

Although I find it extremely offensive. As does Sommer, I think, although possibly not Mat. You'll have to ask Kristina. I think she's with a sailor. In the shed.

H.L. Berry said...

I see by the writing on the wall that it's time for me to gather up my shredded underwear, close down my smoking laptop and quietly leave the building. Thank you for a most stimulating discussion, and I do hope you'll have me back again sometime.

Huck xx

P.S. As I can see that shameless plugs are enthusiastically endorsed by at least one member of the management team, may I thank those of you that have today added me as your myspace friends, and let the rest of you know that you would be most welcome to visit me at myspace.com/hlberry. Thanks again!

Nikki Magennis said...

whispers: Is it time to post the hedgehogs yet?

kristina lloyd said...

A hedgehog interval - oh, yes please! Nikki, you are like the ice cream lady at the cinema.

Got to dash - I left a sailor in the shed. He just asked to see my porno legs.

Thanks for visiting, Huck!

Smut Girl said...

*Maybe you think I'm weird.

Some women are grossed out by the idea one female could find another a babe. Perception. Context. Delivery. Never black-and-white. **

Ah, Alana. This is why I love you. "Maybe you think I'm weird". Somehow you always have the balls to say what I'm thinking! :) And I think you're a babe. And Alison, too. A hot spanky babe.

Oh! I gladly volunteer to give Alison birthday spanks behind the shed. Whatever type of shed it is.
xo

Jeremy Edwards said...

Basically, the piece was unreadable, because the author went beyond changing "history" to "herstory." Even "the" was subject to becoming "ther" and "this" was "thers"

Alison, you forgot to plug the fabulous story you wrote on that "Search and Replace" theme!

By the way . . . as Tom at MySpace would say, please pay no attention to rumors that my appearance here tomorrow has been pre-empted by pictures of hedgehogs.

Alana said...

Guess what, Smut Girl? I think you're a babe too. Holy smokes!

It's a babe fest.

Jeremy, the hedgehogs have nothing on you.

Would anyone like to know what I'm listening to right now? Starland Vocal Band, "Afternoon Delight." I've no idea how it ended up on my I-Tunes playlist.

Alana said...

Alright, alright, I confess!

Guilty Pleasure 343: "Afternoon Delight." Guilty Pleasure 346: "Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell. Guilty Pleasure 350: "Summer Nights" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. And Guilty Pleasure 352: "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus.

Holy smokes! The dude had a mullet. A mullet!

Alana said...

Other infamous mullets. Chuck Norris. Mike Awesome. Pat Sharp. Richard Marx. Chris Waddle. The Bounty Hunter. Wolverine. Chastity Bono. Darth Vader. Abe Lincoln.

Smut Girl said...

Guilty pleasure period:

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot...who said that!?

Alana said...

Smut Girl, I love Gordon Lightfoot. Love, love, love. My dad had all his records. Carefree Highway and Sundown. Love those songs. XXOOOOXXX

P.S. Did he have a mullet?

Anonymous said...

As for men's spaces and sheds, about all I can figure is someone's finger slipped and coming off the e.

--Mat Twassel

Smut Girl said...

No. I think he had the Friar Tuck 'do. No hair on top but plenty on the sides. Sundown. Hmm. Forgot about that. Let's see...another. Sadie by the Spinners. :) 96 Tears by Question Mark and the Mysterians...I could go on but I hear people gagging...

Alana said...

Smut Girl, oh, oh,oh, I've got one. "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" by the Ohio Express. Someone snuck into my bedroom/office, got on my computer, and then bought that song and put it on my I-Tunes list. Can you believe the nerve?

jothemama said...

I@m going to add apostxcript in a whisper: I think it's more fun when it's just us gils...

kristina lloyd said...

Hey, joethemama. Me too. Ssshhh.