Last year, I took part in an author event with a fellow writer of erotica and we had reached the point, after our first few readings, where the audience get the chance to ask questions. Do you write from personal experience? Where do you get your ideas from? Do your friends and family know you write erotica?
We gave our answers and the atmosphere was relaxed and good-humoured. And then, I got asked the question that I was half expecting but which always winds me up. I know it shouldn’t, but it still does. And it often comes from a woman.
“Elizabeth, why do you write for a male audience, from a male viewpoint?”
I took a few deep breaths, as I could feel the stirrings of anger already. In a prickly voice I replied, “Are you asking me that because I write about submissive females and dominant males?”
There was an awkward pause. “Well, erm, kind of, I mean that is a male thing.”
“What makes you think that only men like to read about this?” I was aware that my tone was aggressive.
“I didn’t mean it as a criticism.”
I held her gaze. “I write about what turns ME on. I write what I like to read. And I write from experience.”
I nearly added, “And I have done the things I describe, in mutual love and trust, and it really pisses me off when some women think it’s un-pc for other women to be sexually submissive. That is who I am. And when you say these things you are attacking my sexuality, you are belittling it. You are doubting its validity and existence.” But the event compere, sensing my anger, hastily moved onto another question, addressed to my much calmer fellow writer.
I’m 50 now and don’t expect to justify myself like this, but when you write erotica and you are doing author events, I suppose you have to expect this kind of question. And handle it in a professional way if you want to get asked back. Perhaps I’m being hypersensitive.
When the event had finished, two young girls in their twenties came over to me and told me how much they love reading erotica about sub females and how the comment that had annoyed me had also annoyed them. That made me smile.
But I wonder how I will react the next time I’m asked that question.