Porn vs. Erotica

I want to start this post by saying that I expose myself to porn and erotica about equally, which is to say not that often but I have no objection to either.

What I have an objection to is women who read erotica and rave about erotica and think that 50 Shades is the best thing ever and then turn around and get into screaming fights with their male significant other because they dare watch porn.

Now sure, there are a thousand and one reasons to object to porn. It demeans women, it sets an impossible standard, it’s skeevy, it’s an objectionable industry, it plays into cultural misogyny, the plots are laughably bad, the acting is hilariously bizarre. I don’t object to those reasons even though I don’t actually care about my guy watching it except in those handful of instances where it’s a matter of… let’s call it bad timing.

That doesn’t make erotica any better on the face of it. Even if we say, for the sake of argument, that good erotica is better than good porn and that reading is by default better than watching television — things I’m not willing to commit to outside of this hypothetical situation — that doesn’t mean that 50 Shades of Gray gets to be your holier than thou high holy book. It is the very embodiment of, let’s count it off: 1) demeaning women 2) setting an impossible standard 3) skeeviness 4) playing into cultural misogyny 5) laughably bad plots.

In addition… (in place of the objectionable industry, because I have no objection to erotica publishers) it’s patently derivative. I don’t have a problem with fanfiction — I often write fanfiction and you can find me on Ao3 — but I always feel a little bit uncomfortable when I hear a story of someone essentially self-publishing fanfiction after changing the names and places, as it were. Filing off the serial numbers, in fandom parlance.

Lastly (because there’s obviously no acting in a book), the writing is godawful. I don’t mean the plot arc (that falls under plot, after all), but rather the prose. The prose of Fifty Shades of Gray is just bad. I’m not talking about the sex scenes — heaven knows sex scenes are difficult to write and when viewed out of context are glaringly ridiculous, much like the sex act itself. I’m talking about every repetitive sentence, ever over-used phrase, every bit of stilted dialog, every over-long description. Bad.

You do not get to be angry about someone’s porn and then vigorously defend the literary value of Fifty Shades of Gray. I still value your friendship, but the next time you complain about your guy’s porn-watching, I am going to roll my eyes at you instead of support you like I used to, because this is a blatant logic fail.

Logic fail is bad. That has been your PSA for today.

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