Lesbian Cops: Erotic Investigations. Steam-powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories. No, these aren’t the names of my favorite hentai DVDs – they’re the titles of two fiction anthologies shortlisted as finalists in the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, and all I can say is why, God, why?
Now before you get all indignant, calm the fuck down; I’m not running down LGBT literature, and neither am I shitting all over the Lammys. It’s just that I’ve got serious problems with story anthologies that use my Google search history for their titles, and I just don’t know how I’m supposed to take these finalists seriously.
Tell me the first thing you think of when you see the title Lesbian Cops: Erotic Investigations. Did it involve cops? That are lesbians? Are they investigating things erotically? Is there dialogue like “busting the perp” and “get out the handcuffs?” By the way, does this police baton smell funny to you? Are you telling me that out of the hundreds of entrants into the Lammys, there wasn’t anything in this particular category that wasn’t just a tiny bit more subtle? And even if the stories within the anthology by some stroke of dumb fuckin’ luck not the kind of crap you can get for free at fanfiction.net, why in the Holy Hand Grenade did the editors decide to go with that laughably horrific and hackneyed title? Was Scissoring for Justice already taken?
And don’t even get me started on Steam-powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories. I hear the editors wanted to go with Powerful, Steamy, Steam Powered Lesbians, Who Are All Powerful, and Steamy, but it wouldn’t fit on the front cover. This one especially sticks in my throat, considering I’ve written in the steampunk/dieselpunk genre, and if any of you sick fuckos start demanding slash fiction with the Sarge I’m going to start throwing elbows like I’m at a Dropkick Murphys show (shameless plug time: Blowing Off Some Steam is still available, for free, if you haven’t picked up your copy yet).
Whatever happened to subtlety and art? When did erotica get replaced with hard fucking? I’m not saying there isn’t a place and a time for hard fucking, mind you, but for every Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sleeping Beauty Trilogy there’s a Lesbian Cops and a Steam Powered Lesbians. It’s like holding up a Georgia O’Keefe painting next to a panel from Moon Over June.
And are these titles really worthy of Lammys? Works with titles like these completely undermine the rest of the awards, and represent only a small but painfully visible percentage of the whole. It’s goofy shit like this that gives right-wing dickbags ammunition against LGBT artistic and literary creations, letting them say things like “See? It’s all about the sex with those people,” and then the next thing you know you’ve got legislation working its way through the Senate and the House of Representatives to ban anything besides missionary sex for the sole purpose of procreation.
Look, I’ve got no issues with the content, whether it be tame, slightly lewd, or hardcore BDSM. What I have a problem with is not even trying with the titles – choosing such godawful ones is just asking for negative attention; while it may drive sales, it’s doing the entire industry a disservice, and I don’t just mean LGBT fiction, either.
Marginalization is a huge problem in modern society, and we should all be striving to end it, no matter what group is encountering it. I spoke about this a month ago when I mentioned the Arkh Project as a great step towards spotlighting the problem of marginalization in the gaming industry. Somehow I don’t think that the project would have nearly as much positive impact if it was called “The Black Lesbian Video Game Titties Project,” do you?
Though again, that might help the sales figures.
Please, if you’re a writer, take your shit seriously. Even if you’re “just” writing lesbian cop erotica, make it the best god damned lesbian cop erotica ever – have a believable plot and create fully-realized, honest characters. The same thing goes if you’re writing lesbian steampunk erotica; make it more than two women fucking on an airship.
Moreover, if you have crafted a solid erotica short story, for the sake of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, don’t let it appear in an anthology with a title that makes it all about the sex. You’d might as well just call it BUY THIS BOOK IF YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT VAGINAS.
I might buy that one, actually.