The chaotic erotic

A recent article for InsideHook, an online ‘guide for culture, travel, menswear and more’, proposed that It’s Time for Men to Start Reading More Erotica. The premise is that most written erotica is aimed at the female market because a. it’s assumed men prefer to watch rather than read erotica, and  b… well, that men don’t generally need erotica to get fired up in the first place. This binary concept of male / female difference is challenged by the article, which states that ‘literary erotica is simply another medium of erotic entertainment that can titillate readers of all genders…’ with a ‘healthy overlap’ in the gender of its readers.

I think the above-mentioned article has straight men in mind (I may be wrong). It raises wider points though. 

A few years ago, a UK survey found that 43% of British people read erotic at least ‘occasionally’, but with a prominent gender difference, i.e. that 53% of women read erotica at least occasionally, compared with 32% of men. It also appears to be particularly popular amongst Higher-paid managerial, administrative or professional workers, with 62% of this group reading erotica.

However, other research, however, indicates men can be just as aroused by erotica as women. So why the gender difference in readership?

Are men more visual than women, hence more likely to watch than read erotic scenes? Well, not all research supports that assumption, such as this study on nearly 2,000 adults, concluding response to visual sexual stimuli is independent of biological sex.

Is it down to the simple, evident fact that men read less fiction than women  – often in favour of factual reading, as noted by a Library and Information Commission survey in 2019?

Or is it social stigma – erotic fiction is considered as ‘for women’, and / or is marketed that way, making men (or, again, perhaps straight men) think ‘it’s not for me’? Along the same lines, is it a frequent overlap in fiction between erotica and romance that feeds this apparent resistance?

Not always explicit…

Who knows. But in the end, whilst some of this is about natural preference, it’s likely to be about perception, too.

Let’s take its definition as below:

Erotica, literary or artistic works having an erotic theme; especially, books treating of sexual love in a sensuous or voluptuous manner. The word erotica typically applies to works in which the sexual element is regarded as part of the larger aesthetic aspect.

So erotica is not pornography; it is not exclusively about appealing to the fleshly appetites. Nor does its sexual content have to be explicit – it can be as much about what poet and writer Avijeet Das called ‘the unsaid things’. Or as designer Vivienne Westwood put it, ‘The most erotic zone is the imagination.’

It is a broad term and thus a broad genre. Yet it appears to carry muddled assumptions. And I don’t think these are only from men. The below are, I think, some common views:
– Erotica is focused around romance – often, but not necessarily.
– It’s sleazy or ‘dirty’ – if that’s what you enjoy, then sure, you’ll find it – but it is not always the case.
– It has no literary merit – it depends what we mean by ‘literary’ or ‘quality’; however, there are plenty of examples of critically acclaimed works of erotica, books with sensual passages, and those that have stood the test of time.

In short, erotica can, and often does, transcend genre boundaries. It is not an exclusive preserve.

Image thanks
Main photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash
Smaller photo by Deon Black on Unsplash

17 thoughts on “The chaotic erotic

  1. I would agree Erotica is a genre read predominately by females, I’d suggest women’s minds are hardwired to enjoy reading romantic fiction, they’re attracted to engaging stories with perhaps only a little passionate sex. However conversely I’ve read many an erotic tale (poetry) ‘penned’ by female bloggers and one things for sure they have wicked naughty imaginations, writing erotic tales laced with desire and lots of filthy sex every couple of pages! I often wonder if they’re fulfilling a burning need in their own lives?……….. 😀 Shameless they are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess we are conditioned in some way as women to ‘expect’ or ‘want’ romance, not sure about hard-wired. Obviously of course, we’re (most of us) sexual beings. Shameless – or shame-free – erotica, just how it should be!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ………….now that’s the way to hold a banana!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. you are right… its strange but it is mostly women who reads erotica nowadays. Maybe because male brains are wired differently, and erotica for men should be more straight forward, without lots of *dreams, tears and smiles* 🙂 it must describe the intercourse from the male point of view.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good point on describing intercourse from the male point of view. In terms of the types of genres men / women / others read, it’s one of those areas where it’s hard to understand where conditioning versus biological determinism are the reason, I find.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, agreed. I find that a lot of erotica on the digital or real shelves are written for females tho… time to re-focus, maybe? :))


  4. it tells me that women are highly unsatisfied in XXI. or afraid to be satisfied, because men want what they want – sex… women want relationships 😂😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Women more often appear to want sex in the context of relationships when young, but it seems to change when they’re older – purely anecdotal evidence! I wonder if this relates to a ‘fertility window’? Again, generalising a lot as obviously, not all women want children.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True :)) I think that younger women read more romantic erotica (as I did 😂), and older females – erotica with no strings attached:) – pure action lol for satisfaction 🕺🕺

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That sounds about right! Sure there’s a gap in the market somewhere.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating stuff!
    Thank you for sharing this analysis 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Very interesting. But why do you think the research findings only apply to straight men? Or are you simply saying that those have been studied.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I mean those that have been studied – plus I perceive more on the market in terms of gay erotica.

      Liked by 1 person

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