Despite the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is old news–at least the book, the film doesn’t release until Valentine’s Day next year–and the door to free publishing of adult content has been thrown wide open since EL James’ book took newsstands by storm, critics are still claiming the downfall of human society due to the abundance of explicit content. Interestingly, it seems that only men are having serious issues with the fact that women write and read more adult-themed material in the mainstream.
There are a number of odd characteristics at play with criticism of erotica. First, it’s really nothing new. The fact that title like Grey can be purchased in Walmart are certainly different, but erotic literature has been around and available to those who knew where to find it for literally thousands of years.
What may be more astonishing–and therefore upending–to literary critics is that women are now the top-selling authors by far on a number of book retailers’ sites and self-publishing platforms, including Smashwords and Kobo, largely due to the popularity of romance and erotica. Names like EL James are often found beside Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, and HM Ward, just to name a few, and these women command many of the highest grossing spots at the moment.
Adding to the confusion for vocal wet blankets is the fact that romance writers and fans can no longer be lumped into the stereotype of the discontented, underappreciated housewife who sits in her modest home and devours these stories as a means of escape. According to an article for Pacific-Standard, Hilary A Hallett revealed that more men than ever are reading erotica, and that 42% of romance fans have at least a bachelor’s degree, which is higher than the average of 30% of women nationally who hold the college degree.
However, Hallett points out that despite the income potential of the fans and the bestseller status of the female writers of the genre, it continues to be an overwhelmingly male population of critics who callously dismiss the genre and its readers. And with the income potential of both female authors and self-published authors on the rise, it’s no wonder that mainstays of the industry are looking for ways to dismiss and discredit the popularity of a model which they don’t understand and cannot fathom appreciating.