I have, over the last month or so, been forced to consider the penis a bit more than I would like. I mean, I have nothing against penises, but boy oh boy, do you guys like to write about them. And talk about them. And reference them. All the time. Every day. The amount of submissions we receive that are totally centered around the gratification of dick is… well, I should say it is shocking, but it isn’t, really. And one can argue all writing is masturbatory, all writing is navel gazing, but I don’t necessarily believe that. I mean yeah, maybe if this was the movie Wonder Boys or something (I did not read the novel).
I can hear the “not all men” knee- jerking as I write this; believe me, I know. Not all men, I totally know. For every piece revolving around wanton orgasms there are 5 pieces that are just beautiful, inspiring, shocking, amazing. I usually take issue with calls for submissions that read “send us your best work”; no shit we want your best work. Often, however, your best work rarely involves busty blondes drinking Jameson and realizing they were mean to a man in high school but he’s always been a really nice guy.
This is not meant to come off as anti-male, though I will admit this would not be the first time I was accused of being a misandrist. In fact, our founder, Matthew Guerruckey, posted when I took over: Time wasters and misogynists beware! The reign of Carney is upon Drunk Monkeys (or something to that effect). But I will say this: I have been in the editing world for a long time now, and it is always men who send in pieces with the terms “balls deep” or “heaving breasts”, it is always men who write pieces lusting over barely legal (and, once, not legal— Lolita already happened, fellas) bodies, it is always men who use the descriptor “influenced by Bukowski”, and it is always men who write back to a rejection, usually something defensive or snarky, and look, I just don’t have time for that. Never write back to a rejection, that’s just ridiculous. You are not entitled to the last word. And don’t tell me how many women are in your family, therefore your piece can’t be misogynistic. I don’t even talk to my own family; I don’t care about yours. I do not want to hear about your awkward boners, or read a fictionalized account of how you were “friend zoned.”
And please! Be mindful of who runs our Twitter account (it’s me, in case you were wondering).
I know that for many, especially for the older generation of male writers, it’s hard to accept that this world is changing, that we as editors may be looking for something beyond sex, that yes, we get offended by things, that yes, maybe we are SJW snowflakes hellbent on a PC world. I am sorry, but that is not going to change, so you should adapt accordingly.
Am I rambling? I have had a fever for three days. Who’s to know, anymore?
The impetus behind this letter, which I did go back and forth on writing, was, sadly, the last episode of Girls that I watched while sick on the couch this past week. I have a love-hate relationship with the problematic HBO vehicle, but “American Bitch” was an important half hour of television. (SPOILERS but also it’s Girls so I mean eh: ) Hannah is asked to meet with a male writer whom she admires, whom she wrote about in an article that alleges he is sexually inappropriate, using his status to lure fans into his hotel rooms. “How does one give a non-consensual blow job?” he asks. (Really, bro?) And of course, as he sweet talks her, her guard is let down, with just enough time to make her think she’s got him wrong — until he flops his dick onto her thigh.
As a woman in the writing and publishing world, I feel like men are constantly flopping their dicks on my thigh. I know I am not the only woman who feels that way. I know I am not the only one who is so tired of problematic (and often, worse, not well written) sex/rape/masturbation scenes that are gross and unoriginal.
Men have had the front seat in the writing world for so long; can’t we drive for a while? Don’t you want to take a nap?
Look: I have nothing against penises. Really, I am the furthest thing from a prude there is. Penises I have known, and I am very happy with the one I am involved with now. My focus was erotica when I was earning my MFA; I have written things that are, quite frankly, smut. But I have second guessed myself every time I have gone to send these things out, and I ask you offer the same courtesy to us, your editors, the people reading your work. Erotica, even smut!, is notoriously difficult to write successfully. Reading a Bukowski novel and rewriting it just will not do.
Send us your best work.