Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Your Readers Are Uneducated Morons

So...have I ever mentioned I'm alumna of the same college as Margaret Atwood? We weren't there at the same time, of course, (she's considerably younger than I) but it's still pretty much my only claim to fame.

When I was a kid, the one item that consistently appeared on my Christmas list was "a university education." Hahaha, yes, better than a pony, etc, but my mother would take one look at that and say, "It's all well and good to want a higher education, but I'll not be paying for it." And, true to her word, she didn't. And that probably comes across as bitter, but looking back I'm actually very happy to have been spurred to work hard and pay my own way. I think I probably value and respect my degree more than a lot of people whose parents paid their way.

(By the way, that bit about Margaret Atwood being younger than me was a joke. I'm actually not in my seventies. Thought I should probably clear that up.)

Why am I thinking of education? Well, an industry (un)professional recently “reminded” me that readers of erotica are “uneducated” so I should stay away from big words they’re unlikely to understand. I was kind of like… ‘scuse me? Should I even start deconstructing that statement? Because, seriously, we’ll be here all night. Suffice to say…well, two things:

  1. Education is not a barometer for intelligence. One of the most well-read people I know is my grandmother, who quit school at age 16, when she got knocked up and married her handsome soldier. Even now, well into her 80's and with seriously impaired vision, she reads voraciously and can carry on an intellectually stimulating conversation on any topic. Seriously--we've discussed everything from indie rock to opera set design to Iranian politics, and she always knows far more than I do about everything. Reading gets you everywhere, kids. It does.
  2. The proletariat does not have a monopoly on sexual desire. I actually took a course (don't laugh) called Sex and Sexuality in the Premodern West, and one of the many ideas I took away from it was that we've always sort of "assigned" sex, as one of our "base" instincts, to those "base" people in society. Sex is like anger or sorrow, or any intense emotion: it belongs with the stupid and the poor, people of the lower classes who don't know any better. To me, the concept that only the unwashed masses enjoy and explore sex and all its trappings is really insulting and just...inaccurate.

I’m educated and I write sex for a living. Why? Because I choose to do so. I've worked in other industries, in business and the arts, and I far prefer writing erotica. I've always said I write more for myself than anyone else, so I assume the readers who will most enjoy my work are readers who are somewhat like me.

Actually, I've had other authors disclose to me that they've had industry (un)professionals tell them exactly what I was told: that readers of erotica aren't very smart, aren't very educated, don't know a lot of words. Whatever you're writing, you should dumb it down for them. Don't want to confuse their little peanut brains. Well, here is my educated response: fuck that! Insulting readers by establishing this strange Us vs Them of "We the Educated Creators" and "They the Stupid Consumers" is not going to fly with me. I'm not going to look down on readers. In fact, I'm bowing low and offering the work up, praying to the gods of erotica that they will enjoy what I've created for them.

Like I said, we could be here all night if I let myself go on. So I'll stop now. But, who knows? You might have something to add.



  1. I very much agree, I am starting my education late (parents didn't pay for my college either)but I was an ardent lover of libraries growing up. I mean, who doesn't love being able to read and read for free? It was my one escape from my hellish life. As a side effect I believe that I have writing skills comparable to students closer to graduation than me. For example, years and years ago when I was in the sixth grade, I tested into college level English classes. Thank you for having faith in the reader.

  2. Good analysis. I think a lot of writers get hung up on writing the "Great American Novel" and if you think about your legacy as you're writing, that's a recipe for failure. No author of any classic has ever done that, they were just writing what they loved, and what they were passionate about. Life is too short to write about anything else.

  3. I've always said I write more for myself than anyone else...your comment rings so true for me! That's why writing will always be a hobby for me.

    Tory Richards