Why, you may be wondering, should you care what this strange woman on the other end of the terminal connection thinks? I recommend checking out my web page - http://www.mamohanraj.com/ - for full details (probably far more than you wanted to know). For now, I'll just say that I'm a moderately well-known erotica writer. And yes, I'm really female. And sorry, I'm taken. Enough introduction (whoever thought that so little could be said in so many words?) -- on to the show.
The question I'm asked most often is "Why do you write this stuff?" 'Stuff' referring to erotica, porn, smut, that disgusting, filthy, child-corrupting garbage, etc. and so on. I've answered the question in various places, but I figure the more I talk about this, the closer I'll get to the truth...so here's another answer.
There are, of course, lots of reasons. Some of the simple ones -- it's fun. I like shocking people. I like challenging people to open their minds a little. It makes great dinner table conversation -- "What do you do, John?" "I work for Apple." "Gosh, sorry to hear that. If you need crash space, let me know, okay? And you, Sally?" "C2Net." "Neat little company. Nice encryption work. How 'bout you, Mary Anne?" "Actually, I write porn for a living." You can hear the jaws drop.
That's not really why I do it, of course -- it's just a neat by-product. That and all the cute chicks...you think rock stars get the babes? You should see them flock around writers, so cute and bubbly and enthusiastic, just begging to have a little sex story written just for them... (you think I'm kidding, don't you?)
Ahem. As I was saying. The real reason I write erotica is, unfortunately, political. I'd love to live in a world where nobody had to worry about that sort of thing -- where men and women, hets and gays and transgendered and other, old and young(ish) etc. could have joyous wet dripping sex and TALK about it as much as they liked without Mrs. Grundy getting all upset, and without having government people showing up on your doorstep to take their kids away. Since we don't live in such a paradise, I feel it's my moral obligation to change that.
Sure, there are a lot of other problems I'd like to fix. Let's get rid of racism and homophobia and classism and all the other isms while we're at it. But I sort of feel like I have a handle on a possible approach to this problem, and I have to admit that a lot of the others make me want to throw up my hands in frustration and despair. It's interesting -- when I talk about sex with strangers, they often go through a cycle of response.
First, barely concealed shock. What's this nice young Asian woman doing talking about sex??! Then barely concealed fascination. Then not-so-concealed. Then they get comfortable and let their hair down, and soon we're chatting merrily about where to buy the best dildoes (Good Vibrations) and do I like Pat Califia (gods, yes!), and does anyone think all the positions in the Kama Sutra are really possible? If they hang around me long enough, most everyone mellows out a little on the subject.
And I don't really think it's anything specific to me, y'know? It's just a lot harder to hold culturally-ingrained moralistic attitudes on subjects if you have to actually talk about them. Talk about them, and you may find that you don't actually believe what the world is shouting at you to believe. Talk about them, and you figure out what you do believe. Talk about them enough, and maybe you get angry enough to do something about the real garbage being shoved down our throats -- garbage like the idea that sex is something dirty, something to be ashamed of.
I'm not going to claim I've never had bad sex. Sure I have. But I've had bad dinners too (including a few I cooked myself), and I haven't given up eating. I definitely haven't given up trading recipes and cooking for my friends, and working on turning into a really good cook. You can extend the metaphor, I'm sure.
Occasional abuses (or simple mess-ups) of a thing do not mean that the thing itself is bad. Sex is simply amazing -- in the joy it can bring, the comfort, the pleasure. What a gift -- that we can so easily brighten another's day, or life. I believe we should be working to enhance our understanding and appreciation of the many aspects of sexuality...not shoving it into a closet and turning out the light. That's why I write erotica, and run the Erotica Writers' Workshop, and have offered to help moderate the new soc.sexuality.general newsgroup (right now at the Request For Discussion stage), and why I'm writing this column. I hope it helps.
- Mary Anne Mohanraj
July 2, 1997
Next Column - An Analogy
Columns and Interviews