Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Erotica between the Sexes

Ellora's Cave announced they are opening up a new line - EC for men. As the name suggests, this line is erotica intended for the male reader. I find this new line fascinating. I'm torn between thinking it's a brilliant idea and thinking it's going to sink like a stone.

While I have no hard and fast data, I don't believe I'm out of line in saying that about 95% of erotica is written by women for women - and yes, I include m/m in that equation. Also, the vast majority of buyers of erotica are women, though ebooks have certainly made it easier for some men to read the occasional hot story without fear of being harassed by the other guys.

So, erotica for men... what the heck would that look like? I took the initiative to research the top 10 male sexual fantasies vs. the top 10 female sexual fantasies (I like to be thorough after all, no matter how difficult the task.) I was surprised to find that the lists are almost the same - the one consistent difference is that on the women's top 10 is the 'forced seduction' fantasy while for men, it's anal sex. Also, while threesomes rank very high with both sexes, men prefer the thought of two women while women prefer the thought of two men (shocking, I know.)

Still, costumes, voyeurism, sex in public/unique places, roleplaying, BDSM (from mild to wild) - these figure in  the fantasy life of both men and women.

So if it's not the fantasies themselves that need to be different, what do we have left? The attitude it is.

I've noticed that for women, even in erotica a romance and a happily ever after are expected. Yes, the erotic romance reader might want that love story wrapped in chains and possibly with more than one partner, but the love story is key.

Time and time again I've seen where women who write pure erotica - that is, a story that explicitly says there is not a romance or a HEA in it - have gotten reviews and letters from readers complaining that the story wasn't romantic enough and why didn't you get those characters together in the end?

Is that going to be the main difference in an erotica line geared for men - no expectations of romance within the story? More of a "Wham, Bam" mindset? The men not as heroic, the women more in it for the moment without thoughts of future cohabitation?

And if so, will female readers be more willing to follow a non-romantic erotic story if they know it's in a "For Men" line? After all, if this line is going to succeed, it's got to capture a healthy segment of the female readership.

What are your thoughts on this line? What do you think will be the big difference an erotica writer has to consider when creating a story with men as the primary audience? Would you be interested in reading those stories?


Fiona McGier said...

Since we have been married many years, my husband has collected erotica as much as I've collected romance novels. We read them to each other sometimes, or watch porn together. The focus on porn directed towards men is always making the man appear to be a sexual god, tireless and unemotional, but able to please every woman he encounters.
The focus in erotica is close to the same, but the woman is allowed to express opinions and make suggestions. And tenderness can be exhibited between them.
I'm not sure that men will be as receptive to another way to experience sex without a partner, since many are happy with on-line porn. I guess time will tell.
But it's not something I will seek out, since I prefer HEA.

Tina Donahue said...

Fascinating blog, Dani. Thanks for writing on a subject we don't often hear about. :)