April 24th, 2008

Angry commenters always love it when I mention sex and children, so let’s see how this goes over…

Regina Lynn put up an interesting post a while back about teens “creating adult content,” i.e. writing erotic fiction and publishing it on the internet. Her point was that angsty teenage erotica is totally normal, and I agree. What I want to ask instead is, is it kosher to read erotica written by underage authors?

When it comes to sex, kids, and age laws, the internet makes things fuzzy. Obviously I don’t condone adults engaging in cybersex with minors, but at what point online activity becomes illegal, it’s hard to tell. Cybersex regulars also know it can be seriously difficult to tell who’s over and under eighteen online. I’ve talked to forty-year-olds who type in LOLspeak and fourteen-year-olds who compose beautiful, coherent sentences.

That problem obviously gets more pronounced when you’re reading a piece of erotic fiction, not talking to someone online. How can you tell the age of the author? Sure, we can assume that immature pieces are written by immature writers. But what does it mean if we get turned on by a story written by someone under eighteen? Does that cross the line?

It’s an uncomfortable question, but one that’s got to be asked. Thoughts?

P.S. Fellow surrealism dorks get extra points for correctly identifying this photo.

Tags: children, erotica

21 Responses to “Reading Erotica Written by Minors”

  1. Spence Says:

    If it’s published on the internet, it’s fair game.

    It’s an interesting question. I take it you’ve seen or heard the Sonic fan fiction in search of love? I believe they were written by a 13 year old and then picked up by some posters at SomethingAwful.

    Surely the goal of anyone who self publishes, is to have their content read and enjoyed. Irrespective of the age or gender barrier.

    When you go to a concert, it doesn’t matter if you’re 14 or 40. You’re there for a common devotion and all barriers between you are broken.

  2. The Guy Says:

    Yeah, sex laws are there to shield minors from potentially mentally disorienting sexual encounters, as well as the usually safety precautions. If it’s a fanfic written by a minor there really isn’t anything you can do, other than enforce that the minor shouldn’t be writing such things in the first place (I guess).

    The only problem I see is if the reader has a personal problem with reading something of a sexual nature that was written by a minor.

  3. Soulofaqua Says:

    Hmm I shall tell that I am a minor myself(16) thoughts to say but no means to explain them so this is only part of it and probably a bit blurry.
    It is fiction it is not having intercourse with the writer and if the writer publishes a piece surely must he want his reader’s to enjoy it.
    Even then we are merely humans for example here in holland the typical person already had sex on the age of 14, if that is normal should it not also be normal to be able to enjoy a sexual fan fiction made by a person the age of 14?

  4. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Yeah, sex laws are there to shield minors from potentially mentally disorienting sexual encounters, as well as the usually safety precautions.

    Ok, but for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, let’s talk about pedophilia and voyeurism. If you get turned on by the image/idea of a minor (if you get aroused by watching one sunning herself/himself, for example, to reference Lolita), we generally consider that wrong, “sick,” especially if the minor in question in let’s say fourteen or under. Isn’t there a parallel here?

  5. Spence Says:

    Bonnie that was what I was thinking about. A problem could arise when people are actively seeking this material to fuel their own darker desire. There is evidence that some people become so deluded that the barrier between reality and fiction becomes blurred. What if they take it further?

    I believe the officials who search for sexual predators online on certain websites should also be taking into consideration websites and social networks that collate fan fiction written by minors.

  6. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Spence, you mean that people are specifically seeking out this fan fiction *because* they know it’s written by minors? That’s an angle I hadn’t considered, but a very weighted one. Have you heard of anyone like that?

  7. Steph D Says:

    Local law where I come from places the age of consent at 16 for both hetrosexual and homosexual relationships. So 16 would be to read their erotic fiction in my country but frowned upon in others?

    I believe the age of consent may be lower else where so would it make a difference to people if the person was legal where they lived but not where you lived to you reading erotic fiction they had created?

  8. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I guess my question is less one about specific laws and more one about social stigmas. Do we see something “wrong” or “sick” here?

  9. Steph D Says:

    I dont, however Spence does highlight an area of great concern to me. Reading erotic fiction from someone who is underage does not concern me however using it as a sort of erotic proxy to the writer themselves that worries me. I tend to distance the creator from the work and view each separately.

    If the story itself had underaged sexual participents I would feel morally wrong reading it.

  10. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Ah, and that brings us to issues like representing underage characters in animated images–which, for some, is totally morally suspect. But would we really be so shocked by, let’s say, a 15 year old girl in a hentai film?

  11. Courtney Taylor Says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with it, but then again that could be because growing up, I was one of those minors writing erotic fiction. I’ve been into erotica and cybersex since I was around 13 or 14, and that’s just the way it is for me. Granted, when I was younger the fiction was bad, and so was my cybering, but by the time I reached age 16 or 17, I could hold my own. So yeah, I suppose lines do get blurred. But it’s not like we don’t know what we’re doing. Even now that I am legally an adult, if it’s well written, I don’t have a problem with reading the fanfic. Because when you’re reading it, it’s not so much about the author. It’s about the characters. We right the fanfic to continue a story we liked, or to change a part of the story to show an idea we saw in the movie or book while viewing or reading it. The idea is to put our vision out there, and share it with others who may have had the same ideas. Age of the author shouldn’t be an issue, as long as they’re a good author.

  12. Steph D Says:

    Ah but in hentai the supposed underage girls all have DD breast sizes which is no more offensive then then an adult male/female dressing as (the classic example) a catholic schoolgirl for erotic roleplay. However in writing it is my mind that puts a picture together and that is icky territory for me. It would probably be less icky if I myself was younger. I myself did become intrested in my sexuality before the age of consent. I also did cybering when I was 12-16.

    To me I tend to take most representations of young people in hentai to be an adult roleplaying a young person (maybe its me being naive).

  13. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Like you guys, I too have been a cyberer since the ripe old age of 12–so my inclination is to stand up for the rights of sexual expression of young people. Still, the idea of “getting off” on something that comes from the mind of a minor sits ill with me. I suppose in general we rarely consider the idea of child as artist, be it erotic artist or otherwise…

  14. Duoae Says:

    I don’t see any problem with getting off on something that was written by someone else – age doesn’t factor into it because it has no effect on the author’s output, however, experience does. You could be the clich├ęd 40-year-old virgin who uses lol-speak and has only read/watched sexual encounters writing erotic fiction that’s just as descriptive as a 13/14 year-old’s.

    As for the possibility of people searching out EF that’s been written by minors, i’m having a hard time trying to understand this worry/logic. You get off on the story and the characters in the story (mind you i’m not really a consumer of EF to begin with so perhaps there are people who focus on the author instead?) not the author as you tend not to have any knowledge of them. It’s not like you’re reading a pictoral spread like the ‘errotic stories’ in the back of tabloids like The Sun and therefore aren’t focussing your sexual imaginations on the people but rather the mental images you conjure up to fill the roles.

    As such, if you are attracted to younger people then you could fill any EF character’s position by anyone you liked…. of course children aren’t likely to fulfill certain roles in society so perhaps normal EF just wouldn’t work for those individuals?

  15. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Another question to consider is, when a minor (or anyone for that matter) write a piece of erotic fiction and posts it online, who is their target audience? Are they thinking it will get read by other minors like themselves?

  16. Susan Says:

    When I was a kid – before I had Internet access, before I’d learned the rules of RPG’s like Dungeons and Dragons, before puberty even – we’d tell each other stories. Sometimes they were presented as true (with some changes for dramatic effect, no doubt), but more they were told as fiction, usually retellings of movies and books. When I think back on it, our stories sometimes had a subtext that adults might have disaproved of, if they’d known what we were saying. (Horror is good for this – think of Lucy Westenra in Dracula, Regan in The Exorcist, and so on. And as for my friend’s account of her visit to the doctor…). At least in my case, the target audience was other children my own age. I’m pretty sure that to an adult my writing/story telling would have just been bad, and the stories wouldn’t have worked because adults fear different things.

  17. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    So do you think that adults and children are turned on by different things, Susan? That’s another topic that almost never gets talked about, since the idea of children getting turned on at all is quite taboo…

  18. Susan Says:

    I think people’s sexual desire does change as they grow up.(I’m basing this on what I can remember of myself when I was younger, and what adults have said to me about their past: but our adult memories of what we were like as children/teens may be very unreliable. Also, there’s a whole lot of Freudian theory about the development of sexual desire).

    Erotic fiction has to carefully balance being exciting without being so explicit that it’s just gross. What works varies between people, but it also changes as we grow up. When I was (much) younger, adult sexuality was frightening to me, and I’d only like reading books that approached it indirectly.

    When I now re-read books I liked as a teen, I often interpret them quite differently than I did when I first read them: I identify with different characters, or see things I missed the first time round. Sex scenes, particularly, don’t last well.

  19. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I was thinking about this recently in terms of TV shows we watch when we’re younger–which, later on in life, seem just inane (Pete and Pete, why couldn’t you have stayed as good as I remembered?). We could theorize that the same applies for what’s sexually stimulating when we’re young. I wonder, is it really inane though, or just different?

  20. Susan Says:

    Inspired by this thread, I went searching through the crates of old notebooks in my spare room to see if I still had any of the fiction I wrote when I was in my early teens. The best I’ve found so far is one where I was recording my dreams. (Yes, including the erotic ones). The first wierd thing about it is seeing it written in the handwriting of my much younger self. The second wierd thing is how similar some of the phrases and images are to my recent writing. It’s as though I’m always returning to the same images, each time painted over with another layer of experience.

    I wonder if the same ideas where already there in the games I used to play with my dolls.

  21. Magz Says:

    Personally, I’d like to make a few points here. I was in that position when I was about 14-15 where I wrote erotic fiction. I wrote it because I enjoyed writing it. The point of writing erotic fiction, from the viewpoint of being an author, isn’t to get other kids off, or adults. I wrote erotica because I liked to. Now, why would I post it? I posted because I enjoy others enjoying my hard work. Erotica is not something teenagers should be chastised for in my opinion. Sure, it’d be nice if they maintained that childlike innocence, but any intelligent person nowadays knows nearly every teen has lost that at about 12-13. The way I see it, writing erotica isn’t like having sex. It’s a way to cope and refrain. As much as we absolutely hate to admit it, every teen should have a hand, a few toys, and some erotic fiction to keep their horny bodies in better check. The saying goes “An orgasm a day keeps the STD’s away” (referring to masturbation)

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