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2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power


The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense


Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?


Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...


The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?


Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words


The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies


2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy


Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother
Sluts


Editorials

Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin



Porn and Perfect Shoes



It's time to close all the shoe stores.

No, I'm serious. We need to shut them down, now, before they become a more serious problem than they already are. They cause rampant corruption and vice wherever they open, with devastating effects on community standards and property values.

The first problem is addiction. Although shopaholics report spending too much on other things, shoes are a frequently cited mispurchase. Women especially, in flurries of overspending, buy the same style in several different colors, or the same color in several different styles, and many pairs never leave the box. Removing the source of the temptation would prevent a great deal of personal tragedy, marital discord and credit card debt.

Men are equally at risk, but for a different reason. So many women's shoes are bright, delicate, feminine confections of strap and sparkle, a deliberate effort to make the female foot and leg more sexually attractive, distracting men from their responsibilities with the sight of a carefully enhanced calf atop a long, slender heel. Even worse, some men are sexually attracted to the shoes themselves, rendering regular exposure to shoe stores a form of torture. Getting rid of shoe stores would help keep men from succumbing to the insidious lure of wares therein.

Even in the absence of psychological pathology, these shoes cause problems. They're a frivolous use of materials, diverting resources from industries where they might actually do some good. The end result forces women's bodies into contortions they were never meant to sustain, resulting in damage to the feet, knees, hips and spine that can become deforming and even crippling over time. Although these stores also sell sensible shoes, the ones they promote the most and sell the most are an actual health hazard. These shoes are causing physical injury to the wearers and should be banned.

It's not that people shouldn't be able to buy shoes, but there should be strict limits on their manufacture and sale. They might even be best sold behind the counter at department stores or perhaps even pharmacies, where a responsible person could monitor purchases for possible abuses. Styles could be practical, so there would be little need for variety and thus little need for storage or display space. Such shoes would be better for the feet and be far less sexually attractive. Firm restrictions on shoe manufacturing and sales could help solve a variety of social and health-related problems. Yes, it would mean job losses in some places, but the overall good would more than compensate. Naturally, there would probably be a black market in foreign-made shoes, but surely law enforcement would be able to handle it and once people realized how destructive their shoe habits were, they would be glad they were forced to give them up.

By now, you're either giggling or wondering if I've lost my mind completely. It's the same argument, though, that people are using with porn. A friend came over recently with a story about a crusade to shut down someone's local dirty bookstore. It followed essentially the same argument that I just did regarding shoes.

Can sexually explicit material cause problems? Yes. People can become addicted to sexual behavior and a few people have commented on the fact that it can create unrealistic expectations when there is no available reality check. However people can get addicted to all kinds of things, including shoe shopping, and Hollywood specializes in creating expectation problems in all areas of life. Anyone who has had a baby, for example, can attest to how very different parenthood is from what's shown on prime time TV.

What sets porn apart, I think, is a sense that our sexuality is a bit of a problem. It's certainly unusual, if not actually unique, especially in terms of variety. Although pretty much everything humans do can be found among other animals, no other animal exhibits our mind-boggling range or conflicted enthusiasm. We have multiple reproductive strategies, not just one or two, and some of them are morally repugnant not just to the opposite sex but often to ourselves as well. Not to mention the fact that we have a variety of non-reproductive sexual practices available to us. Certain of us actually prefer them. We are also capable of eroticizing pretty much everything, whether it was originally intended to be erotic or not.

Even worse, our offspring take so much time to mature that sexual relationships have to weather a lot more time and stress than those of most other animals. One child takes about twenty years to raise. Add one or two more, spaced a few years apart, and you're looking at one heck of an ordeal if mother and father are going to stay together for the whole thing. Obviously, they don't always, which causes problems of its own.

I think that when the anti-porn crusaders looks at this, they see a good deal of unnecessary heartache that could be eliminated by erasing about 80% of our collective sexual behavior. Boil sex down to reproduction and sufficient bonding to see the result to independent adulthood, and life would be a lot simpler.

They're right. It would be. I seriously doubt that raccoons, for example, spend a lot of time thinking about sex. Mostly they seem interested in how to get the lids off garbage cans. Elephants, when they paint, seem to go for abstract designs or flowers, not the alluring attributes of other elephants. It's humans who structure large chunks of our lives around sex. Raccoons hook up about once a year and then go their separate ways and elephants do essentially the same thing. This behavior in humans is considered by some to be grounds for divorce, or at least a certain amount of cursing at the telephone.

Once we find a mate, we then run into personality conflicts, priority conflicts, and the fact that just because we favor a particular sexual act or arrangement does not mean that our partner does, or that either party's inclinations will stay consistent. Throw in the normal wear and tear of life, and what's amazing is how many relationships succeed over the long haul, not how many fail, and the failure of a relationship can have long-term, catastrophic consequences for everyone within range, especially for any children. The stakes are high and the odds unpleasantly bad.

And then there's porn. Like fantasy, it's essentially a form of partnerless sex, the ultimate in non-reproductive sexual activity. A love affair between the body and the brain, smut is the ultimate evidence that sex is a primarily cerebral activity, not a hormonal one. It's said that the largest sexual organ of the human body rests between the ears, not between the legs, and porn is proof. Our sexual lives are fired by our imaginations, and smut is the primary symptom of that. Elephants paint flowers. We paint each other, even when we're painting flowers.

How much easier would it be if our sexual lives were simpler and everyone's role within them was crystal-clear? As tempting as that might sound, it takes only a few minutes of reflection to realize that this kind of life would be really boring. It's like sensible shoes. We know they're better for our feet, not to mention our backs. We know that our good shoes pinch, that the straps dig, that we have to polish them every time we wear them, but we wear them anyway because they look cool and it's fun to look cool for no other reason than because it's fun. Cool shoes are hedonism at its weirdest: pain for the sake of beauty for the sake of pleasure. Porn follows the same kind of demented logic. On the surface, it's exploitation and selfishness, but just underneath is something uniquely and bizarrely human.

Human sexuality is frightening in its complexity, and heavily laden with cultural and personal significance. What we do and who we do it with can, if we're not very careful, define us to ourselves and to those around us. As with shoes, our sexuality is both a personal choice and a statement; Birkenstocks and Manolo Blahniks, on the feet of a woman, mean very different things.

It's tempting to think that what we need is a Birkenstock sort of world, but would we really be willing to live in it? No unrequited passion, no broken hearts? That would mean so little music and poetry! We sing, play, write, dance and otherwise try to give form to the feelings our sexual lives inspire, and we try over and over because we fall so horribly short every time. A great deal of our play, our work and our leisure time revolves quietly and insidiously around sex, and how we dress, how we groom, and even how we move and speak are a mix of conscious and unconscious expressions of our availability and interest. Whether we like it or not, a good deal of our best efforts are attempts at articulating our desire. We are passionate about many things, but the word itself is a synonym for sex.

There's also the fact that we value most that which is hard-won and hard-kept. If our mating lives were easy, we would put about as much care into them as raccoons and elephants do, and then go back to the business of garbage cans and flowers. In a world where every relationship was honestly and lovingly polyamorous, polyamory would mean nothing; where every marriage was lifelong and monogamous, lifelong, monogamous marriage would be taken for granted. Whether we like it or not, it is the existence of unpleasant alternatives that gives what we treasure its value.

So we spend years groping our way through far too many options, trying to find someone (or someones) who can share our peculiar longings. A few get it right on the first try. Most of us take longer and some never quite manage to find that idiosyncratic mix of comfort and thrill. Most of the time, we get one or the other but what we really want is both and in spite of being told that it's impossible and that we can't have it, we keep looking for it anyway, because contradictory impulses are built into us. We don't have the luxury of having reproductive sex at regular, hormone-driven intervals and then going back to the garbage cans and flowers. Instead, we spend our time and energy in a search for something beautiful that fits, something exciting that doesn't pinch or cut, and it's the struggle to find it that makes us appreciate it so much when we finally do.

Just like a perfect pair of shoes.

______
© 2006 Ann Regentin. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

About the Author:  Who is Ann Regentin? Read her bio on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association.



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2006 Book Reviews

4 Erotic Ass-ets
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Amazons
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Bad Girls & More...
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The Best of Both Worlds
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The Black Masque
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Blood Surrender
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Bound
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Bound to Love
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Double Dare
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Forbidden Reading
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Leather, Lace and Lust
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Mr. Stone & Lessons
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Nina Hartley's Sex Guide
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Oedipus & Rode Hard
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Orgasms & More
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Passion of Isis
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Sex in Uniform
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Six Top Picks
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Stirring up a Storm
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Sunshine and Shadow
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Surrender & Dying for It
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Swingers
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