Thursday, 13 November 2008

When is pornography not pornography? When it’s Open

About a year ago a fellow writer and editor phoned me to ask if I’d like to contribute to a volume of erotica, to be written by South African women for women. ‘Is a battery-driven dildo shock-proof!’ I said.

I wrote an artful piece (I thought), involving a woman with bitten fingernails, a deceitful man, a tense scene in a grocery store, and a short but fairly steamy encounter in a shower.

‘Nice,’ said the editor when I submitted it, ‘but we’re looking for… oh, you know… something more… specific.’

‘I don’t think I can,’ I said, and I probably giggled in a silly girly way.

‘No problem,’ she said, professionally.

But after our conversation I thought about it, and what I thought was: fukkit. Literally.

So I just wrote a piece of pornography.

And when I submitted that, the editor said, ‘This, we like.’

For years I’ve written scurrilous articles for a variety of magazines, above and below the radar, under various pseudonyms – I have teenage children who find the fact that I actually have sexual organs ferociously revolting; far be it for me to even suggest (never mind in print) that those parts are still in use. So I asked for my contribution to be printed under one of my pen names.

‘Can’t do,’ said the editor. ‘We have a reputable list of respected women writers who’ve put their own names to their pieces; the least we ask you to do is the same.’

So I did.

When the book came out, I was dismayed to discover that the only piece in it that could honestly be labelled pornography was mine. All the others were erotica: pornography written by women for women (although some did skirt the boundaries – and you know who you are).

I spent the next two weeks hiding under my bed, coming out only to shower and drink a glass of red wine now and again.

But on one of my forays I checked my email, and was amazed to find that people – women, for sure; but men, too – were really enjoying what we’d produced. Sly essays on hidden sexuality, fantasies come to life, poetry in lascivious motion, tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes elsewhere) takes on daybed daydreams – and, yes, good old-fashioned pornography: they were all finding their mark.

And these women – the women who wrote the stories that made up this bizarre and beautiful anthology – didn’t just lie down and take it when their publisher didn’t give them the foreplay they deserved: they took matters into their own hands and, a year after the book’s official launch (when, lubricated by the fuck-youness of big-business, which is what publishing has become, the book’s appearance on the market didn’t register so much as a small groan on the public’s radar), arranged their own launch.

So do yourself a favour and go to the Oshun page on for all the gen. Or go to Tony Park's blog for a Real Man's review of women's pornography.

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settledowndude said...

I sell loads of silly products for a living....there its out.... Amongst these are some that are borderline smut. My rule is that its got to be funny and not need a battery, Think candy G strings, made of these vile sweeties that used to make your pee pink, and the preservative made your teeth furry. Now with added tartrazine. Or think Smartipants , panties with smarties as a theme. What is mildly facinating,being new to this industry (im a catholic school boy an all) is that I have now been approached by maybe not hundreds, but definately tens of reps , all wanting to sell me "aids" that are presented as "tasefull" and every one of these salepersons, owner busineses are women. And all Humourless. But the sillier taht product, teh better it sells There are no sleezy men in this industry, present company etc. And Try explaining that just because its in cerise pink does not make nice. Isnt sex just a little bit funny? Ok . Some of these things are other world, alien and a bit scary, . A dolfhins nose should not really rotate. Although it is funny. A bit

Muriel said...

I agree, settledowndude. Sex aids that look like animals? Hm. If you can't see the humour in that, you need your funny bone reset.

Johann said...

Muriel I think you should blog an excerpt from your story . . a teaser if you will! Just enough to induce heavy breathing and make us race to the book store. Pleeeeeze?

tonypark said...

Indeed, Muriel. In some of the other stories you couldn't get...err, I mean see the wood for the trees that were used to make the paper.

Yours was hot. And as a writer of gratuitous sex scenes I know porn when I see it. Well done to you (and all your sister-in-smut who wrote the other good stuff).

Jaybee said...

Hi! I had a look at your blog after it was recommended by Dirk, my brother, who apparently knows you. I don't have my copy of "Open" right here at the moment to look it up . . . but I do hope your story is the very first one in the book. I LOVED it! (I wrote a review on "Open" for an Afrikaans newspaper.)

Jaybee Roux

Muriel said...

Hi Jaybee. Yup, that one was mine. Glad you liked it! I'd love to read your review.