Aphrodisia Authors

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When is Sex Just Sex, and When Is It Porn?

Here’s a bit of good news for those of us who like to read the steamy stuff.

Did you know that Indiana passed a law (which was to take effect July 1, 2008) requiring sellers of “sexually explicit materials” to register with the secretary of state, pay a $250 fee, and provide details about the material they were selling? Hmm, can anyone say “censorship”?

Yes! On July 1 a U.S. District Judge (Sarah Evans Barker, bless her heart) struck down the law. Several bookstores, the Museum of Art, and the Indiana ACLU challenged the law in court, and they won.

The now-defunct law was supposedly targeted toward businesses that specialized in pornography (you know, that’s the stuff that no-one can define but you’ll supposedly recognize when you see it). However, the wording of the law was so general that it would arguably have included countless works of art as well as many romance novels – and no doubt every single title published in our Aphrodisia line.

For more information, check out stories in IndyStar.com (http://tinyurl.com/4nvage) and Publishers Weekly (http://tinyurl.com/5747tu).

The State is reportedly still trying to find a way to deal with “pornographic businesses.”

In this day and age, when so many romance novels (even ones in traditional lines) are sizzling hot, where heroines and heroes are having sex with vampires and werewolves, where ménages have expanded from trois to quatre and show no signs of stopping, where masturbation, sex toys, anal sex, nipple clamps, and bondage are increasingly the norm, where women are writing and reading male-male sex, I have to ask, What on earth is pornography, and what’s a pornographic business? Does the concept of “porn” have meaning any more?

Is there some kind of line that should be drawn somewhere? And if so, how?

I do notice that most publishers of erotica and erotic romance have drawn their own lines. Such as, no sex with a minor – even if it would be historically correct (like in the days when most girls were married by the time they reached the age of majority), and even if it’s perfectly acceptable in young adult fiction. Then there’s the issue of sex with shapeshifters. I’ve heard some people say, it’s fine as long as the shifter is in human form. Others say, a shapeshifter romance is kind of like Beauty and the Beast: the human has to accept “the beast” in beast form, which means making love with him/her in that form.

Is this complicated or what? Quite honestly, I don’t know what to think. The idea of kiddie porn appals me. But so does the slippery slope of censorship. What’s the solution? How do we protect the innocent but still honor freedom of expression?

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Posted by Susan Lyons :: 9:35 AM :: 9 comments

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