A Change in the Wind
One of the things that I love about erotica is the fact that it gives writers an opportunity to challenge cultural expectations about sex and sexuality. For decades in American culture, simply talking about sex at all flies in the fact of acceptable mores. As sexuality has become more welcome in the public sphere, erotica continues to push the conversation by flirting with the edges of the unconventional and the taboo. As a proponent of sex-positivity, I very much approve of this this, since being exposed to sexual subcultures in any fashion helps normalize them; even if the reader never chooses to participate, it might make them more accepting of others who do.
Unfortunately, as much as we love erotica, it’s hard to argue that ideas coming from it might have a certain stigma attached. Luckily, though, in the last few decades we’ve seen cultural sexual conversation (particularly American sexual culture) expanding on many fronts.
For example, In the past few weeks, two articles have come across my newsfeeds addressing topics near and dear to my heart: female sexuality and polyamory. Now, it’s not unusual for online content generators to mine such topics for link-bait articles, but these articles are not such sensationalist jink. Indeed, they are frank, accurate, reasonable discussions about these so-called fringe areas of sexuality and are lent further legitimacy by their sources: the article on female sexuality is from the New York Magazine, and the polyamory article is in The Atlantic. Encouragingly, rather than being scandalized, people seem excited to use these articles as a starting point for open discussion. One friend in my poly-community said that the Atlantic article in particular is, quote, “The sort of thing I can send to my mom!”
Hopefully material like this–as well as the respectable research these articles cite–represents a coming seachange in how our culture views sexuality, and I for one am excited to be a part of the movement.