Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Naughty and Nice

I've been thinking about the term "naughty" meaning sexual or erotic. As I've written I frequent a swap site where members think of swaps. Some are craftyl, like ATC [artist trading cards] many are "paper" like post cards or greeting cards of specific types and quite a few are writing oriented, letters, lists and short stories on themes. Doing the writing ones has been fun and is serving as a jumper cable to my own writing plans.
I've just finished the first short story I've written in ages based on a given line "the day care center and the nursing home were next door." Not a theme I'd have chosen but a challenge I felt would be good to attempt. Seven pages later, I have a short story that I think is competent if on the saccharine side -- nice. A nice story. In this case nice is veering from positive to pejorative. But I recognize that, in fact, I like to write stories with happy endings and that's usually of the "nice" sort.

An upcoming swap challenge is to write a "naughty" story which I did in one sitting -- no "interruptus" here. I haven't gone back to edit myself, I will wait to until the recipients are assigned and then I will read their profiles and try to judge by ages and comments whether it's too "naughty" and might need a certain amount of self-censorship. Meanwhile the term "naughty" reminds me of this rather silly postcard that has been in my possession a long time, I cannot remember whether I purchased it or someone gave it to me. It's the sort of "French post card" that I've read were a hot item a hundred years ago. Clearly it won't raise anybody's temperature today since considerably more skin is on view practically everywhere during the summer these days.

The word "naughty" is what bothers me. Children are naughty when they disobey parential rules. Things sexual are not childish -- of couse I know about Freud and his ilk and that children, too, are sexual beings. But to continue to use the term "naughty" to mean erotic is a demeaning enphemism really. All adults are sexual except those who, by choice, repress their sexuality, but it's still there. And eroticism is one of the many areas of possible sensory pleasure that our bodies and minds afford us. Nothing to be coy or childish about, nothing to titter over. Rather something to treasure and enjoy.

As an aside, in Lima, Peru there is a private museum displaying artifacts mostly found on a vast estate of the family who built the museum. It's a small and attractive museum with Inca and, if I remember correctly, pre-Inca items. Across the lawn from the museum is another building -- actually another museum which contains a collection of "erotic" statuettes, both human and animal. In this case "erotic" actually means sexual. Many of the figures were probably made for fertility rite uses, but some appear to have been made just for the pleasure of sexuality. Such items are rarely on display in any museums so it was refreshing to see that not everything had to have long-faced archeological explanatioins. We could smile at some that were clearly meant to be comic. Those black garbbed Puritans who settled in chilly New England did a number of the American psyche ... In a super sexed up culture where sex sells everything from cars to toothpaste we are still teaching young women to call erotic stories "naughty" as if they were being silly chldren, slightly out of hand, perhaps in need of spaking by a patriachial figure... Is this a tad perverse?

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