Monday, July 19, 2010

Protected Sex

I live in America where there’s freedom of speech unless your words are considered "defamation", "fighting words" or "obscene". What do you consider obscene? I’m exposed to so much nowadays, I’ve become desensitized and the shock value of said obscene material has to be raised a few notches before I consider it obscene—in other words, “I know it when I see it.”

This coming from a woman who writes erotica; are you surprised?

According to the Supreme Court, obscene is three-fold after the ruling in Miller v. California, 1973:

a. “the average person, applying contemporary community standards' 
would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest

b.  the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law,

c.  the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or
scientific value."

Had it not been for Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, INC, 1985, I’d be in trouble. The court modified the definition of “prurient” to exclude works that may excite lustful thoughts but only provoke normal, healthy sexual desires.

Fuck is considered a violent word. Richard Dooling explores the history, power and fear of fuck in Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech and Sexual Harassment. Because of the feminization of words, men and America everyone’s become so damn sensitive. When uttered in anger, fuck is meant as a form of punishment or degradation and it usually involves someone’s asshole. When I use the word in a story, I don’t mean violence unless someone threatens to “fuck you up”. Rough sex may be implied in some scenes but if a character says, “I watched his lean body and brown skin shine under the setting sun and knew he had the prowess to fuck me into womanhood,” that’s meant in the least violent way possible.

There are those who would consider my work vulgar, profane, indecent or they may refer to my (fiction) writing as Rabelaisian (I thank you for the comparison). Yes, I do write about our baser instincts and “bold naturalism”. We are all products of sex. Test tube babies, your mother may have been implanted but your father was probably in a room with some magazines or video. Either way there’s some form of sex taking place. Sex is the reason we’re alive.

So we have sex and the words we use to talk/write about it that may or may not be considered obscene. I recently had an exchange with Abiola Abrams (@abiolatv) on Twitter about the word punany; I like it, but don’t use it nearly as much as I should. I’ve recently taken to using the term coolie-coo to describe the “goodness between my (or a woman’s) thighs”. The point of my book where I used the word fuck (and its derivatives: fucking, fucked, motherfucker) 67 times, pussy 72 times, penis 12 times but dick 127 times, was to be “prurient”. And I’m fully protected.

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