Monday, July 8, 2013

Is BDSM Erotic Romance Really Romance?

A few weeks ago I asked a service company to come over to look at our air conditioner. As I was watching the guy poke around the unit, he asked me what I did for a living. I said I was a writer. I didn’t tell him I wrote erotica. Nope. I also didn’t tell him I wrote BDSM. Instead, I said, “I write romance.”

That got me to thinking: is BDSM romance fiction really romance? It can be. It’s what I try to write. BDSM stories can end with a Happily Ever After, just like romance; a BDSM plot frequently revolves around two people (or more) ultimately committing to each other.

Readers of BDSM fiction have a hard time reconciling BDSM with romance when the interaction involves sadism. That’s unfortunate. There are all sorts of ways to love and be loved. I realized readers freaked about sadism when Sterling, a sadist character in my first novella My One was viewed as the bad guy. He wasn’t a bad guy. He just wasn’t the right partner for my heroine.

I signed up with a blog tour operation last year, and after dozens of requests to host (mainy) paranormal, I finally said yes. I agreed for only one reason: the novel had a sadist character who was also poly. I asked the author to blog about sadism or polyamory in legitimate BDSM erotic romance. She didn’t, preferring instead to write about her hero being a better Dominant than the guy in Fifty Shades. I was disappointed.

Speaking of Fifty Shades, I did read some of “Master of the Universe”, the fanfic that gave birth to the mega-selling trilogy. I admit that I don’t read a ton of BDSM romance, because I’d like to avoid having my own experiences influenced by the writings of people who just talk the talk. Fifty Shades is a romance. Beneath the paper-thin, dark sheen of BDSM, the obsessed hero of Fifty Shades harks back to the tropes of Gothic romance.

Some strange books have jumped on the Fifty Shades bandwagon. Many of them are neither BDSM nor romance. I read one of them. This novella, reprinted as a novel with a black cover to take advantage of the hype (and in extra large letters to make it appear meatier) was only an unending series of swinger-style sexual encounters with some overtones of control.

Ahhh, but I’ve also seen signs of progress. I recently saw a stack of “Story of O” novels at the airport bookstore.