I received a comment recently on a post I wrote about Gladiators from Lance Brewer of an organization called “Friends of Decency.” The Friends’ mission, according to their website, is to “stand together to promote decency.” And, as part of their efforts, they encourage banning books that they consider offensive. Now, Lance here strikes me as a rather misguided chap – after all, he’s asking an erotic romance writer to join him in banning books – but hey, I figured I’d find out exactly what indecent books have the Friends so up in arms.
Turns out, the top five current crop includes such miscreants as The Hunger Games, Twilight, and The Help. Yes, The Help. Say what? If you’re like me, you’re asking yourself why these books tower above all others in their egregious depictions of indecency. What’s so offensive about Twilight, for example, that I should exorcise it from my shelf? And seriously, The Help? According to the Friends, it’s because those books contain and/or promote such indecencies running the gamut from sexuality, lesbianism, “sassy” characters, defiance of authority and, in the case of Twilight, satanism. Sexuality and sassiness and satanism? Oh my!
To be clear, I’m hardly going to object to people not wanting to read erotic romance because they’re not comfortable – for whatever reason – with the kind of storylines, descriptions, or plots in those types of books. Hey, different strokes for different folks, right? For plenty of people erotic romance is too graphic, not compelling, or just plain “not their thing.” That’s OK. But Friends of Decency stating that what we write is “indecent” makes me want to stand up, get all sassy (doh!), and wave a scolding finger in their judgmental faces. Who you callin’ indecent, Friend?
The definition of “decency” declares it to be: “behavior that conforms to accepted standards of morality and respectability.” So if someone is labeled as “indecent,” so goes the thinking, her behavior would therefore be immoral and disrespectable. And that’s where I have a beef with the Friends.
Yes, our characters have sex. Lots of it. And we writers give readers a detailed play-by-play. Our characters also fall in love, are respected by their partners, and have clear consciences guiding them in the differences between right and wrong. Is it “indecent” if two women love each other? If two men do? If writers choose to provide titillating, arousing descriptions of lovemaking, should a group like The Friends of Decency decide that such books are immoral and should never see the light of day?
Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but there’s a huge free speech implication here as well. I’m sure the Friends of Decency would strongly object to someone telling them they can’t spread their message, just as we object to them telling us that we can’t spread ours. Moreover, to judge something as “indecent” solely because it promotes sexuality no doubt has Sigmund Freud rolling in his grave. After all, sexual repression, Freud argued, is the cause of many problems in Western society.
So Friends, call me indecent if you want, but I’m going to call you ignorant, foolish, and missing out on a lot of great books. Furthermore, because I’m just such a sassy gal, I might even re-read Twilight. After all, Halloween’s coming.
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