â€œWHERE DID WE GO WRONG?â€
I often hear my mother ask no one in particular. She is only half-joking.
If this were an actual joke, however, it might go something like this: What do you get when you cross two meat-loving Catholic conservatives?
A liberal vegetarian who writes smut.
Of course, Iâ€™ve been defying her expectations since the day I was born. My mom just knew she was going to have a boy.
â€œMrs. Peterson, itâ€™s a girl!â€
She always hoped Iâ€™d grow up to be a mystery-lover, but I gravitated to trashy romances instead. It was just one of many preferences that divided our tastes.
But the day I started penning erotic fiction, that was the last straw.
â€œWell, thereâ€™s only one thing left to do. Iâ€™m going to pray that you become a nun.â€ Again, only half-joking.
It wasnâ€™t until the day my first piece was accepted, though, that I realized my parentsâ€™ disapproval did not matter, at least to the extent that it was not going to keep me from writing what I chose.
Why should smut be societyâ€™s dirty little secret, or mine, for that matter?
Sex is so frequently cheapened by the media and hushed up in the churches, the widespread belief is that smut canâ€™t be art. Its only purpose is to get you off, right?
Once the subject is allowed to breathe on the page in the absence of societyâ€™s narrow mold, the emotions and the motives unfold into stories, often revealing us in our most fragile or empowering moments, but always at our most human.
And sure, smut has long been considered the realm of the male, but erotica has given womenâ€™s sexuality a voice, providing them a vehicle with which to express feelings and desires that, in the past, have sometimes gone unspoken, unheard.
The possibilities are endless as the positions, as new genres â€” erotic sci-fi, horror and suspense, to name just a few â€” flourish in an ever-expanding literary landscape. Likewise, there are preferences enough to suit every taste imaginable.
So look again. Behind even the most basic written encounter lies an invisible thread of narrative, scenes crafted out of words, woven together into a story, however seemingly simple.
And ironically, the first erotic content I ever laid eyes on came from the Bible:
My beloved thrust his hand into the opening,
and my inmost being yearned for him.
I arose to open to my beloved,
and my hand dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with liquid myrrh,
upon the handles of the bolt.
(Song of Solomon 5:4-5).
If thatâ€™s not art, then I donâ€™t know what is. And I suspect God would agree.