Heading to Momentum: Making waves in sexuality, feminism & relationships. Looking forward to meeting old friends and colleagues. If you will be there, find me. Below is interesting article by our May featured reader – IJ Miller, “When Sex Isn’t Porn.”
The second annual MOMENTUM Conference takes place
March 30 to April 1, 2012 in Washington, DC.
The phenomenal growth of online communication has given rise to an amazing amount of sharing, learning and experimenting with different expressions of sexuality, relationships and feminism. MOMENTUM provides a safe place to listen, discuss and learn about sexualities and gender without the fear of reprisal or shaming. It is a space for acceptance and appreciation of diversity, including for those in the LGBTQ, sex-work, BDSM and non-monogamous communities.
During MOMENTUM we will discuss ways to bridge the baffling dichotomies our culture creates around sexuality. While on one hand we have unprecedented sexual freedom, on the other we continue to police sexuality with a frightening vigor. Abortion laws, restrictions on gay marriage, abstinence programs, medicalization of sex, fear of pornography and prosecutions for teenage sexting are examples of one side of the spectrum. The discomfort that strives to make us keep our sexuality hidden conflicts with the use of sex — especially the female body — to sell everything from food to cars to “performance enhancing” products.
The following article is written by erotica writer IJ Miller, featured reader for the Erotic Literary Salon, May 2012.
WHEN SEX ISN’T PORN
By IJ Miller
In 1964, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Potter Stewart, in his opinion on the Jacobellis v. Ohio obscenity case, wrote that hardcore pornography was hard to define, but that “I know it when I see it.”
In 1983, I published my first novel, SEESAW, with St. Martin’s Press in hardcover, Bantam in paperback, two leading mainstream publishers. The book is humorous, a little wacky, and about as explicit as one could be when focused on the sexual relationship between a twenty-five year old high school teacher and his sixteen year old student. It was reviewed in several leading trade publications, including Publisher’s Weekly and L.A. Times. The local orthodox rabbi once checked it out of the town library. It went on to sell 132,000 copies in paperback, primarily due to the cover art depicting a teen girl in her underwear.
In 2010, I published a novel called WHIPPED about a Long Island housewife and her family struggles, who happens to work part time as a role-play dominatrix. Newsday, a place where I’ve been published several times, took one look at the word dominatrix in the publisher’s press release and refused to review the book, stating they were a “family newspaper.” The librarian in my town glanced at the book’s cover (a woman in a mirror looking frail and insecure, another in a dominatrix outfit) and said she couldn’t stock the book even though I’m a local author. I recently sent my writer’s website link to my friend’s work email and when he tried to open it the phrase popped up: “Access denied. Potentially dangerous content!” Last month, the principal at my daughter’s high school pulled her story from the next issue of the literary magazine because it had the sentence “I’m going to screw his brains out.”
In these ever-changing times, pornography still remains hard to define.
But one thing that’s certain, despite the abundance of explicit sexual images we are all over-exposed to, from unwanted internet pop-ups to middle-schoolers sexting, despite porn being a multi-billion dollar industry, in America, sex is still a dirty word.
If I had to define when sex in any genre is not pornography, it would have more to do with whether there was any truth to it. And truth is something that should never be censored.
On TV, I recently saw a rerun of the 2001 documentary The Queens of Comedy, focused mostly on the stage show of four raunchy comediennes. I was initially struck by how many women in the audience (the majority) never did more than laugh politely at the first three performers, some clearly uncomfortable with the dirty jokes. But then Mo’Nique came on to close the show, the 2009 Oscar winner for her role in Precious, known mostly these days through her late night talk show. Mo’Nique made Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Lenny Bruce look like choir boys. With great conviction, Mo’Nique soon brought everyone into her world: the church ladies, the grandmas, the hip-hop generation. Women were out of their seats, raising the roof, shrieking uncontrollably, tears of laughter rolling down their cheeks. Mo’Nique found a crack in everyone’s dam, allowing all pretense and inhibition to leak out, as she regaled the audience with nugget after nugget of sexual material, climaxing with her bending over a stool, doing her voice and her husband’s, as she recounted and mimed the difficulties of having anal sex. Why did the audience react this way? Because beneath all of her humor, they saw themselves up on stage, they saw the truth in what Mo’Nique had to say…something I hope happens every time a reader opens my books.
Now sometimes even the truth is hard to define, but I sure know it when I see it.