It just only now occurs to me that I could’ve saved this for a Valentine’s Day special. Oh well, can’t pussyfoot around the issue now. Time to take the plunge and go balls deep (okay, that’s enough).
Folks, today I’m going to talk about porn. There’s no sense dancing around this fact. But this isn’t your average everyday porn. So things might get not safe for work so if you’re at work or there are small people in the room as you read this, you might want to save it for later. Although why you’d be reading my blog at work is an entirely different matter unto itself.
(You have been warned.)
In Australia, our culture is mostly that of Western and specifically American, English and Christian sensibilities, especially when it comes to sex and sexuality. Sex is seen as a taboo thing all on its own, so its presence in the world of fiction and cinema is pretty sparse. Of course there are sex scenes in movies but nothing explicit is really permitted or able to be implemented without people saying “Oh. So it’s only just porn.”
Let me be clear about this right now so it’s not something I have to explain over and over again throughout this piece. Just because something contains pornographic material that does not mean that the sex stuff is the be all and end all of the story.
See, erotica is different from regular ol’ porn. For example take the cliche filled “Pool guy cleans out milf’s skimmer box” story line. In porn that’s just a thin excuse for the two unreasonably hot people to start a-bangin’, but you really don’t care because you get to watch. In erotica it’ll probably be following said pool guy as he realises just what he did and has to deal with the consequences of his actions, maybe how he only did so because his lack of finances are leaving his life in shambles. It’s a story you genuinely care about since, if it’s done well the erotic section of the story can also carry with it a sense of tension and foreboding since that said milf might just have had a husband that the poor pool guy might know. Or if they’re really unlucky, they might have to work with him.
There is a difference between the two, but neither of the two are inherently more valuable than the other. Sometimes you just want the action and not the story, and that’s the function porn fits perfectly. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something romantic, but a fluffy romance novel is just too tame, so you might reach for a good bit of erotica.
It’s easy to giggle and snigger about sex and porn (hell, I did it at the start of this article) but I think that has to do with the fact that most of us don’t really talk about it all that much or make an effort to learn about it, so it’s treated childishly and awkwardly since we don’t have much experience taking sex seriously. There are some people who can talk about sex frankly, but they tend to be the people who have already give The Talk to their own kids. Although it is perfectly reasonable to discuss sex in a non-serious way, just like almost anything else in human life. That being said, it’s a topic that really doesn’t get much exploration in literature and other media.
Historically, there isn’t much erotica in the mainstream of Western media, the most notable example in recent years being the undeniable popularity of E.L. James’
poorly written fanfiction book series Fifty Shades of Grey. However there are a few places where erotica thrives, most notably in Eastern culture. For the longest time before the end of World War II erotica had its own place among other genres of literature and was considered another facet of humanity that the writers felt should be explored. However, after World War II heavy censorship laws were enforced inspired by Western sensibilities, removing them from the public eye. These days erotica still exists in countless visual novels, manga and doujinshi, although they all generally include censorship enforced by the Japanese government.
But there is one aspect of Western culture that does have a notable presence of erotica. Webcomics! The internet is quite possibly the perfect platform for freedom of expression and many artists have taken it as an opportunity to explore the world of erotica, so much so that I wouldn’t be able to list every one even if I was given a year to hunt them all down. So instead I’ve decided to list a few notable ones that have caught my interest and attention and will hopefully capture yours.
oglaf – Fucking Hilarious
Originally starting off with a story but quickly abandoning it for mostly one-off jokes, oglaf is absolutely hilarious, especially if you happen to play Dungeons & Dragons or have much interest in the fantasy genre. It’s a fun read and also includes some safe for work material, although most of it is NSFW. With some clever writing and a constant level of humor, oglaf is a good comic to turn to if you’re in the mood for more than just a laugh.
Go Get A Roomie! – Strange and Uplifting
This comic is a bit weird. The main character known only as Roomie starts off in much the same way the comic does. A bit sketchy and one-dimensional but after learning more about her personality, friends and the world she lives in the art style begins to soften and change, giving it almost an ethereal quality, especially when it delves into the more abstract realm of dreams as supplied by the secondary protagonist and love interest for Roomie, Lillian (affectionately referred to as Lazy Tyke by most). It deals more with very alternative themes and characters which may not be for everyone but I found it was worth reading. I also felt surprisingly calm after reading, and I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Go Get A Roomie! is great if you want to just sit back with a pot of nice tea and let a little colour into your life, although Roomie might be a little grating to some people in the early pages.
Sunstone – Kinky and Kind
(Everybody hurts. But some like it)
Hoo boy, now we’re getting into the big ones. Sunstone is quite possibly the best romance story that I’ve ever read with some great comedy to boot, and it incidentally involves a lesbian couple in a Dom and sub relationship. Sunstone is a heartfelt story with well-rounded characters, a genuinely deep romance with some really nice artwork, but it is also grounded firmly in reality and shows the dangers that can come from what they do. Sunstone might turn off some people due to its more deviant content, but it is wonderfully informative and human about it. Sunstone has actually managed to get a print release thanks to Image comics, so it might not technically count as a webcomic even though a great deal of it is available for free on DeviantArt. While it does focus on a decent sample size of BDSM activities it never becomes too confronting or explicit, remaining accessible for people who curious about this surprisingly large and diverse subculture. Give it a read. You might surprise yourself.
Oh Joy, Sex Toy – Honourable Mention
(Just as well these things don’t go up to eleven…)
While Oh Joy, Sex Toy might not really be erotica for the most part, I can’t say I feel right mentioning all these other comics and not putting it on this list. Oh Joy, Sex Toy is a wonderful comic made by husband and wife team Erika and Matthew Moen. While mostly providing reviews on sex toys, literature and much more, the comic also does a great job of providing sexual education, how to properly use certain sex toys, details about sexual health and how certain diseases function, explanations on parts of modern sexual culture that some may be confused about and plenty more from guest artists. There are also interviews from people who are in the sex industry such as pole dancers and porn directors. The characters drawn in the comic are also wonderfully diverse, coming in a wide range of body shapes and sizes, even including those with prosthetic limbs which I can honestly say I’ve never seen before. It’s a joy to read and very informative. I can’t recommend it enough.
Hopefully through reading this you might have come to a bit more of an understanding that not only is erotica not just porn, but it is still alive and well in literature even if it is out of the mainstream. Besides, if you get caught with it you really can say that you’re reading it for the plot!
(And now you know where I got my name from)
Well, that’s all from me this week. But I’ll be back with more safe for work plot next time!