The erotic writer was concerned that she was writing 'mummy porn'.

The erotic writer was concerned that she was writing ‘mummy porn’.

Was there ever a more embarrassing job description than erotic writer? For, if ‘writer’ is synonymous with ‘person stuck up their own arse’ then ‘erotic’ is five hundred times more so. Unfortunately for someone who creates it, the term ‘erotica’ makes me cringe. It conjures up nipple tassles, the Joy of Sex, swingers, belly dancers and all sorts of wrongness standing behind a draughty stand at the ExCel centre.

Even so I’ll have erotica, erotica writers and erotic novels any day over the phrase ‘mummy porn’. Used to describe fifty shades of grey (henceforth known as FSOG), its followers and its target audience -the 30yrs-50yrs female readers, the phrase is wrong on so many levels I’m worried I won’t be able to fit both my argument and my bile in one blog post. My bile will just have to do.

For a start,the use of the word ‘mummy’. Jay-sus. Are you my child and are you under ten? If not, don’t call me ‘mummy’. Even my eleven year old is not allowed to call me that for fear of him sounding like a wuss. Mummy is a baby’s word. (or an upper class Englishmans word but thats another story) But don’t call this stuff ‘Mother’ or ‘Mum’s’ porn either because I can’t understand the odd need some folks have to separate the female parent from the rest of world. It makes us seem like a sub species who need special businesses, cupcakes, spas etc. I know it is marketing talk but honestly, does it work? Aren’t most women, sorry, “mummies”, offended by it? And why is there no equivalent for men? There don’t seem to be a rush to bring out daddy’s porn, daddy’s businesses and daddy’s cars etc.

Secondly, the term ‘mummy porn’ is downright confusing. Half the population still think that mummy porn is umm, porn featuring “mummys”. You know, in the same way, teen porn features teen and granny porn features grandmothers. Surely, it wasn’t wise to name it to something it kind of is but isn’t at all? Even internet search engines are struggling with it.

But the thing about mummy porn that really gets on my tits is actually the inclusion of the word ‘porn’. When I first started writing erotica people often used to ask me: “what’s the difference between erotica and porn?” and I had a glib response. “Erotica is stuff I like. Porn is stuff I don’t.” But actually, there is a perfectly clear description of porn that we can use:
“Porn is the visual depiction of individuals engaged in gratuitous nudity or sexual activity.” (Ok, so there are loopholes here a-plenty but its probably about as good a definition as it gets.)
Well, did you notice the word visual?

Visual.

Visual.

Visual.

When I last saw FSOG, I noticed it was words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Oh My. Not pictures. Not photos. Not images. (This argument clearly will need tweaking when the movie comes out.)

So why call a STORY-book porn?

Well, porn is increasingly gaining a second meaning. The paralympics was recently described as ‘inspiration porn’, I’ve heard of ‘food porn’ and ‘information porn’ lately too. So now porn not only means “Visual representation of sex – and umm some things that aren’t visual either”, but also “kind of things that are presented in a very interesting way.” So “property porn” doesn’t only mean three houses getting it on with a garage, or having a wank to Beany’s restoration nightmare but also might mean showing you something you will be ‘gripped or entertained by.’ Here, the word ‘porn’ is being used to sex-something up, to add a frisson to something which by most peoples’ standards, (apologies to fetishists), would normally be frisson free.

Now words evolve all the time, but they don’t evolve in a vacuum: I believe six foot lizards brought FSOG on earth, called it mummy porn, and only those sensible enough not to read it will survive the inevitable killer plants aka triffids.

Not really.
I don’t know why ‘porn’ is now the word du jour but we can observe the effect: I believe one effect of calling everything ‘porn’ even when it isn’t, is almost a sinister way of sanitising real porn, which for the sake of argument and because it sounds funny, I shall call porn-porn. (Are you still with me or have you gone off to watch some porn-porn this blog not being what you hoped for?)

So by using the word ‘porn’ to apply to anything and everything, well ‘porn-porn’ doesn’t look so bad any longer does it? In fact it seems pretty cool.
Imagine, in the bedroom of a modern day Neanderthal as his wife reads her erotic book in a scene replicated across the land.
“You’ve got your mummy porn and I’ve got my porn-porn, its the same, innit?”

No Mr Neanderthal, its not the same, see I know for sure that in my erotic story, no real person was abused, no one was unwilling, no one was high on drugs, no one was trafficked, no one has a history of mental illness, no one had an STD and no one was unaware of being filmed. Your porn-porn uses real life people to get off. Erotica is simply a product of the imagination. (Admittedly the imagination is a very strange place that you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley). And of course some porn-porn is fine and lovely and all about mutual consent and daffodils but about 85% of it is misogynistic, dark and nasty and putting the word ‘mummy’ in front of it won’t help. (Statistics made up at the authors own school of statistics which is where most statistics on this subject come from.)

So I am not going to look at some ‘holiday porn’, thank you very much, I am just going to check out some campsites. I’m not going to go to do-me some ‘Ikea porn’ later, I am simply going to buy a new sofa, and I am not, absolutely not, ‘writing porn’ (porn has got to be visual, visual, visual, right!) when I am writing erotica. In fact I am doing neither, I am just writing this blog.

I have also found a much needed alternative phrase to the cringey ‘erotic writer.’ My friend Katherine coined it (circa spring 2012). According to her, it is the genre of’extreme romance’ I like it. Not a yummy mummy or a Neanderthal in sight. But there might be lizards!?