Thursday Thoughts: Everything is Political and Politics is a Dirty Word

Thursday Thoughts: Everything is Political and Politics is a Dirty Word

Keep politics out of things when you're a writer just trying to get by and sell some books, we are told. You mean, like Stephen King does? Like Chuck Wendig does? There are writers whose politics I don't know, and there are some whose politics I do know, even though they never make mention of it.

 Every time I hear this phrase, this cartoon springs to mind.

Every time I hear this phrase, this cartoon springs to mind.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. If I remain silent, am I doing nothing? I want to entertain people and sell my stories. I also want to live in a world where I shouldn't feel like I'm going to be fined, jailed, or killed for who I am, what I believe, or what I create. Sure, I could act in private, but how many other people am I going to influence, that way? I have no compunction about making enemies.

Recently, Amazon removed all erotica from overall sales rankings.  Some speculated this was due to the SESTA and FOSTA bills recently passed into law in the U.S. These bills were ostensibly to curb human trafficking. This is obviously an admirable goal, right? I mean, who could possibly be against it? Because our culture is so fucking binary, however, if anyone opposed it because it conflated sex work with human trafficking, they would be painted as pro human trafficking. They wouldn't be seen as standing up for freedom, they'd be seen as immoral.

It was thought the sudden disappearance of erotica authors' sales and author rankings were due to these bills. Both Democrats and Republicans voted for this useless piece of shit simply because it made them look like they were doing something, and like I said, who could possibly argue against human trafficking? And yes, I absolutely am pro-sex worker, and long for a positive view on sex workers. Damn, look at those politics sneaking in. Hey, you wanna buy a book?

Except we all know by know (at least I would fucking hope so) that no bill is ever about what it says on the cover.

Conspiracies bubbled forth from the black pitch of our collective authorial imagination, the general gist of which boiled down to Amazon was shitting on erotica.

Again.

While some railed against what they assumed was moral high-handedness from Amazon, I had a different take on it. I don't believe Amazon actually cares about morals. What Amazon cares about is what any major corporation cares about: money and preventing liability. Related to that are aspects such as investor relations/perception and the cost of conducting customer service around a product.

They wouldn't even care about fraudulent authoring/publishing and Kindle page flipping farms if those activities didn't affect customers to the point of complaining. After all, the scammers are making Amazon rich, too. But only up to a point, and that point is where the costs of dealing with ripped off customers and angry authors grow too high, affecting investor perception. They don't want to deal with massive lawsuits. When you look at the "whys" of bureaucratic and corporate policy, it nearly always comes down to money and liability prevention, not morals.

My little conspiracy theory was that Amazon wanted to hide the impact erotica has on book sales overall, because it amounts to a chunk of revenue for them that, if we really knew about it, would give us drive to find some way to get better treatment from Amazon. My guess is the number one thing Amazon absolutely does not want is some kind of independent writers union. Except they treat indie writers so poorly (and romance and erotica writers even worse) that such a union might in fact be necessary. How else are indie authors collectively going to have the same bargaining power as a major publishing house? But if we can't see how much power we potentially wield, we'll never consider exercising it.

Of course, I was wrong.

The removal of erotica authors and books was an error that has since been corrected.

But it made me stop and think about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. It made me stop and think about how we allow the laws of this country to treat people.

It's impossible for me to imagine someone writing erotica and not being for the rights and freedoms of people who are in the minority when it comes to orientation/gender/sex/work issues. You'll make money off of them as a fetish but not care about their rights as actual human beings?

Fuck you.

I don't go out of my way to be political. I don't have to. Politics comes to me. It's not separable from life. I don't jump on every chance I get to preach to the choir and shit on opponents. But when it comes to me, I don't shy away from it.  I'm not going to say I don't care about politics as they ready the guillotine.