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The Reluctant Pornographer

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Important Note: Be sure to read the comment from Blog Catalog following the post!

Well, it finally happened–I’ve been thrown off a blog directory for violating community standards of decency. The Blog Catalog politely informs me that ”{u}pon reviewing your blog we are unable to grant it access to the directory.” A list of possible reasons follows; these include commercial purposes, too little traffic, and, the most likely culprit, “Your blog contains pornographic material.”

I’m not terribly upset or pissed off; in fact I’m amused—but should this become a pattern, I won’t be. Besides, it was my own damn fault: Dirty Laundry lived a serene unobtrusive existence on Blog Catalog for months, and then I went and ruined it with an update, adding “Adult” to my tags. This wasn’t a naïve or suicidal act: I added the tag because it’s become clear that when I promote the sexual aspect of my blog I attract more readers.

The Blog Catalog further informs me that I can “login to Blog Catalog and change anything which may have caused it to get declined. After updating your blog, it will be put back into the submission queue.” Should I go back and delete the “adult” tag? This is, of course, the central issue.

It’s a dilemma faced by anyone who writes pornography, erotica or sex journalism, and who also covers other areas of life and culture. Once you’re known for sex writing, whether it’s dirty stories or educational articles, readers expect it from you, and they rarely bother to look at posts like V-Day in Haiti—which, as of this date, has attracted precisely 3 readers, as compared to 64 each for Heidi Fleiss’s Stud Farm and Viagra For Her. Then there’s the small but cohesive audience who come to read Paid Family Leave in California (47 hits) and revisit later expecting more of the same, only to be hit by Sorta Sexy Poetry (790 hits) and flee in horror.

I was somewhat dismayed to see these familiar patterns occurring in the blogosphere. I fell in love with blogging for the precise reason that here I can write any damn thing I please, whether it’s sexually themed or not. Ironically, I’ve had more trouble during my so-called career getting non-sex-related writing published. I’ve written five mainstream (more or less) novels, none of which have seen the light of day. With non-fiction, I’ve written proposals that were repeatedly rejected, only to see their subjects turn into publishing staples ten years down the road. This happened specifically with motherhood issues, bisexuality, and transgenderism. Am I bragging that I was ahead of my time? You bet your ass I’m bragging–but I mention it to explain my frustration, and to show why I was so relieved to discover blogging. My problem isn’t with publishing erotica—I could always do that—it’s that I have a lot of things to say for which I’ve been told there are no readers. The beauty of the blogosphere is that there aren’t any agents, editors or publishers here telling me nobody’s interested in what I have to say.

Ah, but there is audience preference, as I soon discovered, and if they ignore my posts, what’s the point of writing them? I’m a writer whose chief motivation is communicating with others. It turns out that the pressures of the marketplace exist even in the blogosphere, without the publishing industry’s interference. And I hate to admit it, but the higher the blog stats climb the faster beats my heart. So I had to address the issue—which I did by instituting Erotic Friday on my blog, posting one of my previously published erotic stories each week. I’m also paying more attention to what’s happening on the sex frontier and putting up more sex related posts than I was previously. I certainly don’t mind writing about sex: it’s just that I’m interested in a lot of other topics too. (I’m glad to report that the baseball posts get a substantial number of clicks, and to a lesser extent so do the motherhood topics.)

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Above: Mixing It Up On My Blog

It occurs to me that mine is a unique situation. We hear always about writers and other artists struggling to get their sexual material out there, being stifled or censored—but when have you heard a writer complain about being pressured to write sex? Call me The Reluctant Pornographer. Inside this media whore lives an intellectual, a scholar, a cultural critic dying to come out. To be taken seriously as a writer rather than as a sex writer. To not be dismissed as a purveyor of erotica or pornography (though the publishing industry turned them into two separate genres, I’ve never made a big mental distinction between them). I’m tired of my books being relegated to the bottom shelf in a back corner of the bookstore. The equivalent in the blogosphere would be getting listed only on adult directories—so if I’m at all disturbed by my removal from the Blog Catalog, it’s because I’m worried it might become a trend. Should I end up in the back corner of the blogosphere, then I really won’t have readers for, say, “The Politics of Little League” (coming soon).

Still, even if only two people click on a post about Little League it’s worth writing—for myself if not for those two readers. One thing’s for sure: they won’t be coming here via the Blog Catalog.

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5 responses »

  1. I read your blogs FOR the variety. Even though I’m not much into Baseball…I learn something reading!

    Keep writing. I’ll keep reading!

  2. At BlogCatalog we hand process hundreds of requests a day and every once in a while one of the admins will let a good blog slip by.

    While we do not approve blogs with Pornographic content, I have reviewed your blog with a little more care and see that while you do post about “adult” material now and then your site does not revolve around pornography. I apologize for any mix up, keep up the great work and welcome to BlogCatalog.

    Well, well! What do you all think about this? We’ll have to give some kudos to Blog Catalog. I’m thrilled.–MS

  3. Good writing is just that; good writing.

    Bravo from me.

    Thank you from the bottom of my typing fingers!–MS

  4. The only thing I’m offended by on your blog is your posts about organised team sports. Sure, it is an activity of consenting adults but I don’t want to know about what these types are doing with each other… can’t you keep this stuff in a more appropriate place .. you know, a sports blog? For godsake I have the innocent, short-sighted eyes of a bookworm.

    Offended by baseball? (That’s the only sport about which I care or write.) I find that astonishing, not least because it’s my one interest that unfailingly leads to connections with people from all walks of life. Unlike conversations on politics or sex writing, I invariably have fascinating and good-hearted conversations with baseball people that rarely if ever generate rancor (except with an occasional humorless Red Sox fan). In fact, bluemilk, you’ve inspired me to dig up and post an essay I wrote several years ago, when I first got into baseball, that tells why I’d been wrong to dis it, on the basis of feminism, for so many years. Anyhow, what’s the problem? Just don’t read the sports blogs; they’re always obviously titled. I have no interest in managing multiple blogs.–MS.

  5. I hope my comment didn’t offend you, I was trying to be funny but I’m probably not very good at that. My comment was tongue-in-cheek and trying to speak in the same tone about sports writing that some people might speak about sex writing.

    Anyway, I’ll try not to be funny, especially when I’m writing late at night.

    Duh! Boy, do I feel dumb! Re-reading your post I see what you mean–it IS funny. Thanks for writing it.–MS

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