With the current prevalence of 50 Shades of Grey and associated talk of erotic fiction in the media, I’m seeing a really gross term bandied about more and more often.
It seems I can’t read an article about 50 Shades without seeing it, and even on my twitter feed I am seeing more and more writers and editors using it themselves. And in my opinion, we really shouldn’t be accepting it. Putting aside any opinions I have about the 50 Shades phenomenon, the fact that in 2012 the very idea that women might enjoy reading porn is considered so shocking that it has fuelled an ongoing storm of media interest is offensive enough. That the media has decided to label this mummy porn just pushes it over the edge into downright disgusting.
By calling 50 Shades of Grey and its ilk “mummy porn”, the media is invoking the old cliche of bored, sexless housewives surreptitiously reading Mills & Boon novels to get their kicks. While men are expected to enjoy porn, and fantasies about sex and romance, apparently women only indulge in this if their own real lives are unsatisfying. This is offensive in two ways: the idea that a mother and/or housewife would necessarily have a need to turn to erotica (because mothers don’t have sex, obviously!) to indulge, and the idea that no woman without children and/or a husband would ever be interested in reading romantic fantasies involving sex.
I read romance and erotica. I have ever since I found my mother’s Mills & Boon novels and realised that there were ENTIRE BOOKS focused just on my favourite parts of stories: the romance subplots, the emotional tension, and the inevitable sex. I will also be married this time next year. My enjoyment of these genres has nothing to do with my marital status or my sex life and everything to do with how much I love love stories, love all the intense emotion of two people falling in love and fighting themselves and each other and the world but in the end, love and desire will always find a way.
Obviously, I like other genres too and I know pretty much any reader of romance & erotica does. Some of us like thrillers or crime, some of us love medical, some of us love the stories about rich oil tycoons and playboy princes. Others prefer our porn wrapped up in a paranormal backdrop, or urban fantasy… sci-fi, horror, you name it. There is so much more to all of us as readers, writers, and editors than a shallow, presumptive label like mummy porn.
Let’s not stand for it.