Sunday, 30 April 2017

In search of pornography by Seelie Kay (AO post)

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In search of pornography 

by Seelie Kay**
            You may have noticed that more than one book published by eXtasy Books involves characters who engage in sex. Not a big shocker for many, but unfortunately, it is disturbing for some. Certain people have, for example, advised me that my books would be much better without the sex.
            “Your characters are strong, the stories interesting, why do you have to put in all that sex?” they say. “That’s not erotica, that’s porn!”
            Aha! When will people learn not to toss about words that are in fact legal terms in front of a lawyer?
            Yes, I write about lawyers, love, and kink.  My short stories involve lawyers who participate in (mostly) loving relationships that may involve erotic play. My books are not about brother-sister relationships, nor do they pretend to be. My books are about relationships that involve consenting adults who happen to occasionally…wait for it…have sex, make love, hit the sheets, and/or do the doody.  And sometimes, in pursuit of sexual satisfaction, one partner may tie the other up, affix a nipple clamp, or apply a hand to the buttocks.  Just because that may shock you does not make it porn.
            As a lawyer, I can tell you that in the United States, the definition of porn has long been a subject of rather heated discussions among the legal community and in the courts.  In fact, its very definition remains somewhat vague and confused.  For example, in a 1964 case, Jacobellis v. Ohio, the nine-member U. S. Supreme Court was somewhat befuddled by what should be considered obscene and therefore, speech not protected by the First Amendment. The court offered four different majority opinions, none of which were joined by more than two justices. There were also two dissenting opinions.
            In that case, Justic Potter Stewart’s opinion in support of the majority concurred that the
the U.S. Constitution protected all obscenity except hard-core pornography.  Justice Stewart also wrote, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it….”
            No court opinion since that time has further clarified the definition of hard core pornography and as a result, the definition and state laws regulating obscenity remain a conspicuous muddle of vagary.
            Dictionaries also fail to clarify the matter. One dictionary defines erotica as “literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire” while also stating that pornography is “the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal.” Hmmm, get the difference? I certainly don’t.  Yet I would continue to argue that they are not the same.
            From my perspective, erotica is the portrayal of sensual, sometimes loving, relationships that may or may not include sex. Pornography is sex for sex’s sake. It has no purpose other than to portray a sexual act. In addition, I would argue that the use of the term sexual arousal as the end goal in dictionary definitions is somewhat disingenuous, because what causes sexual arousal in some may not result in arousal for others.  As proof, look no further than the multiple genres and heat levels offered by eXtasy Books.  Each one attracts a difference audience.
            I don’t expect everyone to agree with my definitions, in fact, I encourage others to put forth their own.  I suspect porn is truly in the eyes of the beholder.  However, while it is appropriate to agree to disagree, playing the blaming/shaming game is not. Lack of agreement is not about right or wrong, it is about failure to agree. Let’s face it, we each think we know porn when we see it and that’s why even the highest court in America can’t define it.
            In the end, tolerance of ideas different from your own is what makes a civilized society. Your erotica may not be my erotica, but I will protect your right to embrace or avoid it.

**Seelie Kay is the author of Kinky Briefs and the soon-to-be-released Kinky Briefs, Too and The Garage Dweller. For more information on Seelie, visit or

Who are we? The Love Weavers are a bunch of writers. We all write for Extasy Books and/or Devine Destinies and a lot of us write in other places as well. We write in multiple genres for general and adult readership. Many of our books are love stories of some kind or another, and we enjoy looking at love in all its wonderful variety. 
The purpose of this blog is to tell our readers something about our craft, our passion for stories, how we build our worlds, what characters we choose and why, how we use clothing, food, music, weather, colour, themes, symbolism, history, science, and (okay) love to bring these stories to life.
Some of our posts are suitable for general readers. These will have a big G at the top.  (G)Some of our posts are suitable for adults only.These will have a big AO at the top. (AO)Welcome to The Love Weavers' blog. We can't wait to share the love.




  1. Fascinating look at the legal side of this issue. Reminds me of the Ern Malley "Angry Penguins" obscenity trial.

  2. Very interesting look.

    From the 'eye of the beholder' point of view, a person I knew once had a screensaver of Old Masters paintings (Michelangelo, da Vinci, etc.) - a co-worker asked this person why they had 'porn' on their computer.....

  3. I remember the "Lady Chatterley's Lover" trial in the '60s, when the prosecuting barrister asked the jury "Would you allow your wife, or your servants to read it?" There was laughter in the court! In a landmark ruling the DH Lawrence novel was deemed not to be obscene (there's another word with numerous interpretations).

    1. Indeed. I've always felt the difference between porn and erotica is that in erotica (well, the sort I would read), everyone has a bangin' good time while in porn some of them don't. As one writer of my acquaintance said, erotica is fantasy. As I would add, it is fantasy that can make us happy without spilling into our real worlds.

  4. Love the dictionary definitions. Translated to legal-speak it no doubt means that "5+2=7" and is okay, but "2+5=7" is not okay and somehow illegal.

    Oh Puritans, did you ever think your legacy would last this long after your demise and your prudishness affect so many unwilling participants?

  5. All fascinating, isn't it?