BitchBuzz: The New Puritans

My latest column for BitchBuzz responds to a recent trend in lit commentary, including Alan Bissett’s book blog for the Guardian, the usual sort of ‘things have gone too far, and now the pendulum must swing the other way’ opinion. I think it’s got a way to swing yet, particularly because this has become a very gendered discussion, meaning that it’s women writers who have gone too far:

I was amused to read Alan Bissett’s blog in the Guardian this week arguing that “Literature is due a new era of sexual modesty.” It seems an odd pronouncement from a guy with a new book out on sexual addiction, but there seems to be a bit of this about.

It’s not the least bit coincidental that this call comes from a male writer. While trumpeting the new frankness of sexual writing that calls body parts by their common names, i.e. the ones we all know rather than the ones the doctors use, he signals a desire to step back from this frankness. ” Ironically, it is British men (and I’d have to include myself in this) who have been been more uptight about it all.” He details a number of books (preseumably his own included) that portray men as sad, deluded victims of their own libidos, like Welsh’s Porno and Stretch’s Friction…

Read the rest at BitchBuzz.


  1. Todd Mason says:

    Well, Some men, perhaps…you know, among the fiction published in the erotica annuals, and in the few sites I check (CLEAN SHEETS, mostly, since NERVE barely runs any fiction any longer), the male writers (apparently) don't seem to feel any lack of exuberance (though I hope young writers, particularly, of the new romance hybrids don't display something I noted among at least one or two of the romantic suspense fiction writers of half a dozen years back, wherein when they thought (or their editors did) that they were getting Too Intense in the suspense aspet of their narratives, they'd try and succeed in undermining their own effectiveness, for fear of alienating the theoretical shrinking flower romance reader.Ah, well. Haven't yet delved into WET (nor SNUFF or most of the other touted [anti-?]strokelit of late), so shall have to do so. So much to do, so little energy…

  2. K. A. Laity says:

    Well, of course I think he's full of it. As if sex is going to go out of fashion! I hardly think that's likely to happen. I suppose there is always a chance of a new age of Victorian prudery (although that of course masked a time of wild debauchery allowable only among the upper classes). I think editors — who know as little as anyone else about "what people want" — are often the source of these kinds of pronouncements. It's all a crapshoot.

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