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Is there a difference between “Non-con” and “Rape”?

If you read a lot of “non-con” romance, you will inevitably run across angry reviews making some version of the argument, “rape is rape.” I associate the phrase “rape is rape” with the efforts to raise consciousness of date rape during the late 1980s and ‘90s. For people born before the sexual revolution, "rape" was something that involved a stranger with a gun in a poorly lit parking garage. Especially after the taboos against premarital sex were lifted, it became clear that

Negative Reviews and Me

We have Anne Rice to thank for the latest flap over negative reader reviews. The grandmother of all things paranormal waded into the author vs. reader cess-pool on the author’s end, publicizing her support for a petition to Amazon to force reviewers to post under their own name—her cure for the plague of “parasites” and “anti-author gangsters” who are “gratuitously destructive to the creative community.” Instead of wasting time expounding why I think this is a horrible idea I

Why is it so hard to review smut?

(This is the fourth essay in a series that argues for considering erotic romance as an "emerging genre," and explores how the genre connects to the larger changes currently roiling the publishing world.) My last essay in this series took some easy pot shots at two-year-old reviews of a book I don’t want to review myself since that would mean I’d feel obligated to reread it. Confession’s good for the soul and all that. Now that’s off my chest, excuse me as I load up for my nex

Fifty Shades of Boneheaded or WTF is Wrong with Erotica Reviewing?

So this summer, one of those dear, article-sending friends we all have, knowing of my interest in erotica, forwarded me a review from The New Republic of Alicia Nutting's novel, Tampa, entitled, “The Phony Transgressiveness of Tampa” which caused a bit of a personal kerfuffle. Here is the author, Maggie Shipstead’s, opening paragraph: What makes a piece of fiction erotica? I’d say that erotic fiction is defined by explicit sexual content included for its own sake (not necessa

Goodreads Spawns Depraved Tentacle Monsters! Yippee!

Introduction This series explores how the recent censorship episodes at Goodreads and booksellers in England represent symptoms of the larger upheavals roiling the publishing world. In particular I am looking at how they each relate to what I will call ‘emerging genres,’ genres whose standards and conventions, critical reception, distribution and a host of other aspects are being actively negotiated and contested by a community of “stakeholders”: authors, fans, reviewers, cri

The Goodreads Kobo Censorship Debacle Gives Birth to Depraved Tentacle Monster Filth!

In the past month there have been two big censorship scandals, first on Goodreads and then at a variety of English booksellers over the selling of pornographic “filth.” The Goodreads issue is a bit more complicated and harder to understand without a lot of back story. Since this has been exhaustively and brilliantly covered on the blog Soapboxing, I will stick only to the barest facts: on September 20 a “customer care” rep for Goodreads announced on a discussion thread that t

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