Why I Quit Erotica

Reflections from a reformed pornographer

Sayde Scarlett

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Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in BBC series ‘Fleabag’

For over the past ten years, I’ve kept a dirty little secret. Under many, many nom de plumes I wrote porn in the form of easily accessible, short digital books. I’m not talking about romance novels, I wrote graphic sex scenes, sometimes with very little romance involved. The type intended to get you off. At the time, I liked to think I wrote erotica, but I was, in fact, just a peddler of every kind of the lowest grade smut you can buy for your digital device.

An early user of Tumblr, having discovered the site at a particularly lonely period in my life soon after leaving secondary school and a somewhat lost adolescence, I would read through reams upon reams of x-rated material and use it as inspiration to write books anyone could purchase off Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. I never earnt enough money to quit my day job, but there were months where the extra cash helped this freelance journalist make it over the finish line to payday.

In 2019, I disengaged from my secret hobby when several monumental changes in my ethical and philosophical approach to life collided. The clarity these changes brought made me realise that I was part of something that was not an honest service to other women as I had previously thought. Instead, I was enabling behaviour that I would mock when I saw it being in indulged in by men. That is, escapism through online fantasy sexual relationships.

I also realised that what I was doing was not just harmless fun. Erotica and mainstream romance novels distort women’s perceptions of their relationships just like visual porn distorts young men’s perceptions of their relationships. Don’t believe anyone who tells you women like porn or sex less than men, they just consume it in a different way.

Erotica is almost exclusively the domain of women. Women write most of it and women read most of it (94% of erotica consumers are women, according to this study and 53% of the female population admit to reading it). Living in a fantasy world where the men are created by women can be a dangerous lie. Men are not like women emotionally. The men in erotic and romantic novels do not communicate or behave like men in the real world do.

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Sayde Scarlett

Author and poet by day; artist by night. Loves to tell stories and create art; loves to talk about stories and creating art.