I feel like such a big kid now!
I just got an email forwarded by my publisher informing them and me that Amazon is pulling Juliet Takes Off from its shelves because it’s “in violation of our content guidelines.”
Those guidelines (as they pertain in this case)?
- Pornography We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
- Offensive Content What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.
My publisher expressed bewilderment.
Me? I’m not bewildered; I’m livid.
I’ve obviously read and thought a lot about the distinction between erotica and porn. We’ve thrown around a lot of definitions, but here’s the one that’s in my head right now: sex in the service of the story or the development of the character is erotic; sex for the sake of sex (or $) is porn. Does that cover it?
“Juliet Takes Off” is certainly sexual — it contains an extended scene in which a young woman loses her virginity, and a framing sequence that’s quite explicitly sexual. But it’s absolutely nowhere near the line crossed by something like 90% of the Erotica section on Amazon. (The work of present company, obviously, excepted.) But the whole story sequence is focused on the growth of the two characters and their coming to terms with each other.
Pornographic? I don’t think so. I’d have called it literary erotica — how successful its literary pretensions I can’t say, but that’s the intent. Porn? No.
What actually bothers me even more is the “offensive” bit. Obviously, I’m mortified to have offended anyone — and I assume that someone flagged the story as such. But I have NO idea what in the name of all that is sexy could have offended anyone about this particular story. It’s a story in which two adult characters of opposite gender who happen to love each other have sex. Twice. By mutual consent. And it’s all pretty straight sex, in every sense. Oh — I guess there is a very quick hand job. Still. Offensive?
Amazon says their definition of offensive is “about what you would expect” — which means… what? Me, there’s only one thing I find truly offensive: the glorification or romanticization of non-consensual sex. What does that mean, you ask? Thank you for asking: non-consensual sex means any sex involving anyone incapable of saying yes (children, animals, the mentally retarded, coma victims, sleepers, etc.) or who has said no.
There are other things that folks find erotic that really don’t turn me on — things that when I was reading and writing fan-fiction I was astonished to find where very popular. BDSM, scat, all of that. I don’t find those things offensive; they just don’t do anything for me. Turn me off, even. But rape — statutory or vanilla — portrayed for teh sex0rs? That I find patently offensive. Also illegal in most countries including the US of A.
And the Amazon Erotica category is FULL of those. Here’s the link to a search on “rape” in the Erotica section. And here’s the search on “non-con.” How about some “forced sex“? A few of those are about rape survivors. But most? :-p
“Bestiality”? We got that.
“Underage” shows up with only 17 hits. Yay!
“Chan” mostly shows Asian authors, which is a relief.
You want to know two things that really piss me off? Some of these stories outsell mine, for reasons that I can’t even begin to fathom; and these are all on Amazon but mine isn’t.
Ahem. Psst. As of this moment, Juliet Takes Off is still available on Amazon.
Oh, and the Goodreads page is here.
And what the heck. Here’s the trailer:
There. I’m still furious, but I’m feeling better now.