I don't understand why it's become so popular in the last 1-2 years.
I'm guessing, since the readership for most erotica appears to be female, that it's primarily read by women. Which suggests it strikes a chord in the psyche and, presumably, the desires of many North American/European/Western-orientated women.
My initial thought when it first rose to prominence, around the back end of 2011 and early 2012, was that it might be a reaction to the economic situation.
The idea that a strong daddy figure could bring order to an unstable life, that the world could be reduced to a sexualised version of a father-daughter relationship that might serve the needs of adult women whose own lives were complex and chaotic, that it would simplify issues of identity, security and sexuality in one psychological archetype - that kind of made sense as a place where many women's heads could go.
And then we started having sex scandal after sex scandal. Women (and occasionally men) describing how they'd been traumatised through abuse by those who were, if not parent figures, then having some combination of being in loco parentis, having some kind of authority, or misusing influence and celebrity status that had resulted in their being trusted if not idolised.
Did that change the context of daddy porn? Does it mean we're looking at writing that tries to negotiate a way through the idea that some form of sexual relationship based on the authority, privilege and control of older males - and the dependence and voluntary subjugation of younger women, who are expected to not grow up - might be acceptable and even desirable to some women?
I don't know the answer to these questions. What I can say is that:
- in the sociology of literature there's a strand that considers the writing of any particular era as reflecting the 'zeitgeist', the spirit of the age - and its problems (though the how, why and what of this is contested).
- in the sociology of literature there's also a strand that says the 'zeitgeist' approach is reductive and that writing is always exploratory and imaginative, actually constituting new ways of being.
- in any psycho-analytical approach to writing, you have to recognise that there can be no legislation of desire. Desire is never subject to minor details such as whether the things held to be erotic are legal, moral, acceptable, and so on. In fact the reverse is often the case: things acquire erotic fascination and strength because they're illegal, immoral and socially unacceptable. Because they represent an 'other' that isn't part of how we live our day-to-day lives.
I'm sure there are many other literary, sociological, psychological, semiological, psycho-analytic and, for all I know, astrological and pataphysical theories. Not to mention post-structural variants of all of the above. So I wouldn't want to say this particular kind of porn is a direct consequence of the economic climate, nor that it's a conscious and deliberate working through of issues thrown up by abuse. But the ideas that there's some kind of link, something that underlies and explains the growth in this particular kind of porn, is tempting.
Then again, maybe it's just that one of my kinks is a need for theory.
What do you think?
In case you didn't know:
- pataphysics is 'the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments'. It was invented, if that's the right word, by Alfred Jarry, one of the forerunners of surrealism. The quote is from his book Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician.
- post-structuralism is not pataphysics. Or at least it's only a distant relation.