Saturday, June 29, 2013

Changing the world, one book at a time.


Up until around the 1950's America was known for it's very conservative nature.  Everything was, at least on appearance, safe and clean.  There was no such thing as S&M, open gayness, group orgies, & the like.  Or at least it wasn't talked about or known.  Even literature was censored and made safe.  Sure it was out there, like the Marquis De Sade, but it sure as hell wasn't spoken about aloud.

When the 60's rolled around we started see a culture change.  A change in racial relations, women's movement, political climates and sexual exploration.  The decade of Free Love.  A decade that I personally, would have wanted to be a part of.  How exciting to be on the end of something new and fresh.  To see how people opened up and changed the face of an entire nation is such a cool concept.

But like all great things we saw a step back in the 1980's with the involvement of the religious right.  And whereas this is not a rant or even a discussion about politics, it does play a rather large part in the world of sex and literature.  It was almost like anyone with any sexuality was being punished.  AIDS had just become known about and the population was under attack in the gay community.

Long gone were the days of the seemingly innocent 1950's.  Now people were dying because they had sex with the wrong person.  I was a young child when the 80's were around.  I remember an idyllic childhood.  But I lived in a normal middle class American neighborhood.  I played with friends of all colors and I never knew anything was different.  I didn't know that sexuality was under attack both from a disease and from a religious/political group.  I was the lucky one.

Flashing forward all these years ahead to 2013 and I look back at where we have been, and where we are headed.  Years ago there would be no such thing as "Mommy Porn", which for the record I find that saying offensive as hell.  I do not believe that literature in any form is pornography.  But that is a different rant.  We are in a digital age where any sexual appetite you might have can be sated with just a click on a mouse button.  We live in a world now, where books no longer have to have bindings.  You can read whatever you want and no one is the wiser.  

We have always had books that were taboo.  Think of Pauline Réage's The Story of O or Anne Rice who wrote under the pen name of A. N. Roquelaure's The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.  Those novels were completely taboo.  Now, we read them and don't even bat a lash.  I actually caught myself the other day reading The Story of O and wondering why it was such a big deal.  

Is there anything left in the world of literature that is taboo?  We see the S&M novels, which are sometimes accurate but more often than not are ridiculous.  We have every sexual stereotype out there from threesomes, to gay couples, to group paranormal sexual scenes.  We don't even have one class of romance novel.  Now there is contemporary, paranormal, historical, post-apocalyptic, erotica, and so on.  My mom told me that when she was my age all they had were "bodice rippers".  She was floored by how much more open things have become.

Is it really any wonder that no one is shocked anymore.  We are more shocked by character behavior in books than we are by character sexuality. 

Is it healthy to be this desensitized?  I'm not sure to be honest.  But I know that it might be what some people need.  In a world where something like 70% of marriages are sexless, maybe it is the only way to get your release.  Maybe it helps that gay kid who feels alone realize that it is not taboo or unhealthy to have sexual feelings for someone of their same sex.  And how can that be a bad thing?  I think books do more for sexual freedom than any politician we have ever seen.

Which makes me wonder if maybe now the biggest taboo is reading a conservative writer....

~B~

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts, B! You definitely gave me something to ponder!

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