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Beautiful Cocksucker Anybody?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Posted in: Homophobia in Romance?

Apparently Barbara Sheridan wrote a book called Beautiful Cocksucker, which has managed to piss off a few people.

I must admit, I didn’t automatically equate the title with abuse generally hurled at gay men, but that could be because I’ve never been called a cocksucker, by people trying to denigrate my sexuality.

Not being a gay man, my point of view may be slightly skewered, but I have to say, I didn’t particularly find the title offensive. It was suggested that it would be like calling a book, Beautiful Nigger or Beautiful Faggot, but I don’t really buy that argument. I personally think that cocksucker is much more generic, whilst nigger and faggot are definitely more specific to black people and gay people. (Yes, I get the whole cock-sucking angle, but I’m much more likely to be called a cock-sucker if I’m being a dick, than a faggot, know what I mean?)

I wonder if there would have been as much offence taken if the writer had been a gay man, rather than a straight (I assume) woman?
For instance, I’m pretty sure that if a white person had written a book called, The Black Tax, there would be more of an outcry, than if the writer had been black. You see what I mean?

For me, the title seems to be more of a question of taste. I mean come on, it ranks right up there with that EC book called A Rock and A Hard-on. Pure bad taste, if you ask me.

I guess one of the reasons why I find it hard to be offended by the title is because the book is by a woman who’s passion seems to be writing M/M books. I think there are times when you have to look at things in context, without the obligatory knee-jerk “You’re a racist/homophobic/sexist!!” reaction.

It was also suggested that it would be similarly offensive to have used the term, Beautiful Pussy, or Beautiful Jugs, but I just don’t see it. I’m sure many women might be offended by such titles, but that’s because some people mostly make a career out of being offended by everything. It seems to me that it’s sometimes not even those directly affected who get the most offended. For example, Ann S seems to think that an inter-racial M/M book entitled Dark Chocolate is offensive and objectifying.
No it’s not. Not to me at least, if any other black people are offended by such a title, then speak up by all means.

Anyhow, without any of the usual PC bullshit, do you guys feel that title of the book is an affront to gay men, or an affront to general taste and decency?

You can follow the mini lovefest, here, here, and here.

187 Comments »

  • an inter-racial M/M book entitled Dark Chocolate is offensive and objectifying

    Karen, I was lectured long, hard and brutally by a whole bunch of PoC earlier this year about how much they hated being compared to chocolate, coffee and other edible substances (and how much mentioned Elvis upset them, just as a by the by.) You may not be bothered by it, but I can assure you, a lot of black people are (as witness at least one of the comments to my post.) As pasty white McWhiteyperson, I can only go by what they tell me.

    The cocksucker thing, again. If gay men tell me how personally offensive they find it, then I believe them. It’s not for me to say, oh, you’re being oversensitive. If a man told me that being called a ‘ho’ was a term of endearment, and brushed me off when I said it wasn’t, I’d be pissed off to hell too. Not all gay men are going to agree about the term ‘cocks*cker’ and not all black people are going to care about the chocolate thing. Does that make it okay for those *outside* those minorities to use the terms?

    That’s all I’m going to say. Please enjoy the clusterfuck you’ve set up, and say hey to Teddy when he turns up to tell everyone what a cunt I am.

    Oh, and Merry Xmas.

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  • Dorothy Mantooth
    December 30
    11:50 am

    I’m basically dittoing Ann. It honestly never occurred to me that “cocksucker” was a pejorative used against gay men; I’ve called quite a few people cocksuckers in my lifetime, and heard a lot of other people referred to as cocksuckers, but not one of them has been gay. But yeah…if it offends them, it offends them, and who am I to say they’re wrong?

    As for “Beautiful pussy”…Doesn’t bother me one little bit, but then, I suppose I’m one of the only people for whom it calls to mind Napoleon’s famous comment about Josephine, which has always struck me as very sexy and clever and femme-fatale-ish: “She had the most beautiful pussy in the world, but she lied too much.”

    *sigh*

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  • Nora Roberts
    December 30
    12:14 pm

    I think it’s a sucky title.

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  • I think cocksucker as a derogatory term is not a solely queer-bashing word. And in this case it’s no more derogatory than when, in the throes of some really hot, naughty sex, someone will call the other a slut.

    I have a character who regularly calls his lover a beautiful whore. It’s used as a term of endearment. From what I’ve seen, this is used the exact same way. In the heat of a kinky, BDSM-y sex scene.

    Being called dirty, otherwise offensive names during sex is a *really* common turn on for lots of people who’d be offended by it out of the bedroom. But in the bedroom…a lot of things go that wouldn’t go elsewhere.

    I think it’s really important to look at perspective in this case. I think it’s pretty ridiculous for anyone to accuse Barbara of being akin to a homophobe, when it’s clear she’s anything but. Homophobes don’t write as many gorgeous, positive m/m romances as she has.

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  • Mireya
    December 30
    1:49 pm

    Based on my first reaction, an offense on taste. The word “homophobic” didn’t even enter into my mental picture of this until you mentioned it. Then again, I don’t come from an Anglo background, but rather a Hispanic one. English is not my first language so there are some things that do fly right over my head. And for the sake of argument, even if I had thought that initially, I would have quickly changed my mind once I found out more about the background of the author. If she’s a m/m fiction author, no way I would have kept the notion that she meant this to be used with negative connotations.

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  • It would probably be just as much outcry if a man wrote a book called “Beautiful Cunt.” I think that word would do it for a lot of folks. Since “cunt” is a word that is used as a negative slur against women in much the same way that “cocksucker” is used against Gay men. That’s really the only other word that I can think of that is used a lot in erotica that the general, non-erotic reading public might have issue with seeing in a title like that. After reading lots of erotic, I can say I barely give a second glance at the the words “cocksucker” and “cunt” when I read them in the context of an erotic story. I don’t use them in my own work because most folks I know don’t use them in their everyday talk or sex talk. I just thought I’d chime in because I think if someone named a book “Beautiful Cunt,” feminists would probably protest big time. But I’d like to think that someone would read the book beyond the title and find out if the book itself, not just the title, is something to be alarmed about.

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  • Not a gay man so I can’t say if I’d find it offensive on a personal front.

    I have to admit when I first saw the title mentioned online, elsewhere, a while back, my first reaction was… wow, somebody named a book that?

    I had a similar reaction to the antho titled BIG SPANKABLE ASSES.

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  • Nora Roberts wrote, “I think it’s a sucky title.”
    LOL!

    Speaking strictly as a non-gay male reader I just think the title is ugly. Most times I’ve heard it (or used it) it was as an euphemism for a dude acting like a total jerk. Certainly not something to be used around women. (Yeah, I know that last sounds sexist, but it is how I was raised by two very wonderful parents.) Anyway, while I’d hate to see publishers caving in at every turn to the Commandments as set down by the god of Political Correctness, this isn’t a title I’d personally pick were I an author. Like that C word its just ugly and I can understand why it might turn off prospective buyers.

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  • Shiloh, my reaction to that other book title was strong, too. I think FIRM SPANKABLE ASSES is a much more appealing title, or TIGHT SPANKABLE ASSES, or PETITE SPANKABLE ASSES, or even PRETTY AND GRABABLE SPANKABLE ASSES. Hm, actually I really like that last one….

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  • I probably would have been less put off by the big spankable asses book if the ass on the cover had, indeed, been big and spankable. It was anything but. That bothered me more than the title itself, which I thought could have been kind of campy and fun if it hadn’t come along with the annoyance of “They call *that* a big ass??”

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  • I think the BSA cover was the saving grace to the title, lol.
    God imagine if it was book called BIG HAIRY ASSES and had a cover that perfectly synced? OUCH, our eyes!

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  • Ha, no please, no big hairy asses! LOL (no offense to those with big hairy asses intended :) )

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  • MB (Leah)
    December 30
    3:27 pm

    I’m not a gay male so I can’t say if it’s as offensive as the N word or any other term that has been clearly established as racist, homophobic, etc. That doesn’t mean it’s not.

    I’ve never heard of c*cksucker as being specifically derogatory to gay men as opposed to being a generic derogatory term like bitch, bastard and so on. So if it is so, then gay men haven’t done a good job of getting the word out because I’m very sensitive about not being offensive. Not that I run around calling people c*cksuckers all the time.

    Just type it in the Urban Dictionary. It’s mainly understood as a generic derogatory term with sucking a man off as only one of the meanings and that includes women who do that as well.

    Personally, at the worst I think the title is in bad taste. I wouldn’t call a book such.

    And I’ve read a lot of Barbara Sheridan’s books. The last thing she could be called is homophobic. She writes very good m/m and yaoi. And while I couldn’t speak for her, I can imagine that if she really thought that to be an offensive term to gay men, she would have never called her book that.

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  • Okay, maybe I sound really dumb here, but not knowing this author or the type of novel she writes, I thought it was a title playing on a first person novel written by a woman whose lover was gorgeous but a complete ass.

    But then it would probably be titled Beautiful C*cksucker with a Big Hairy Ass and an Empty Head…

    Sorry, not enough coffee this morning yet. But no, not offensive. Just…different. It’s up to me whether I choose to buy any book based on the title. And if I don’t like the title, I don’t buy the book. Simple equation.

    **Sucky Title! LOL!!!

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  • Anne Brighton
    December 30
    3:46 pm

    I think the title is in extremely bad taste…no pun intended…and I’m surprised the publisher allowed it. It is offensive to me and I’m a straight woman. Can’t you just imagine what’s to come?????

    Titillating Twat
    Sumptuous Snatch
    Pleasing Pussy
    Priceless Prick

    Some people have no moral compass whatsoever. A word like cocksucker is offensive no matter how you cut it.

    Yuck!

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  • That’s all I’m going to say. Please enjoy the clusterfuck you’ve set up, and say hey to Teddy when he turns up to tell everyone what a cunt I am.

    I did not call you any such thing! I don’t use that word.

    I also did not call you on having an opinion on the matter of the book title with Barbara Sheridan (Just don’t buy the damn book bitch!) or your opinion on the matter of identity with Josh Lanyon (Just don’t buy the damn book bitch!) etc etc etc.

    Where you step over the line is making public accusations without proof or implying motives without proof. That in my opinion is being (In respect for Karen for this nifty word I am using more every day.) a fucktard.

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  • I always thought calling someone a cocksucker–women included–just meant they were being jerks who would do something for you with an agenda of their own. Sort of like, “I knew you wouldn’t do something nice for free.” Sort of a take on “Indian giver”. (yeah, yeah, I’m Chumash, I can use that phrase if I like. Ironically, that one means opposing things to people, too.)

    Though I agree, I immediately thought of Big Spankable Asses too and thought, okay, they’re going for obvious niche markets in as tasteless a way as possible. It’s lame, but I wouldn’t have once thought it was a gay insult. Then again, where I grew up, I might as well be Randall in Clerks 2.

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  • West
    December 30
    4:35 pm

    I use cocksucker as an insult to moronic men (I also use cunt for *really* special women who have earned the insult). My gay friends don’t mind. They understand the context. So when I read this, I called Crazy Gay Boyfriend and asked his opinion. He said it’s all perspective. He personally would not be offended by the title alone. He would read the book and then decided whether it’s offensive or not. But he also said he can’t speak for all gay men everywhere, and that many of them would be offended. But he also pointed out that many gay men call themselves cocksuckers, and he think’s it’s a terrible doublestandard- either everyone can use the word, or no one can.

    Personally, to me, my issue is that someone thought this was a good title for a book. Why couldn’t they just call it “Beautiful Blowjob” or “Prettiest Boy To Ever Suck Me Off”? Oh wait! ‘Cause no matter how you phrase it, it’s a dumbass title.

    And seriously? There’s a book called “Big Spankable Asses?” What the fuck?!? Really.

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  • Hi, all.

    First, I would never title a story “Big Spankable Asses.” Too long. I’d use SPANKABLE, and put a nice, plump ass on the cover. I would probably offend a lot of large-assed women, but being one myself, perhaps I’d be forgiven. ;-)

    Second, Priceless Prick. A story about an expensive male gigolo who hides his pain behind a mask of haughtiness and disdain? He comes across as a real asshole, but in reality, he’s got a heart of gold?

    Third, Barb is not a homophobe. She’s a very talented writer who excels in the M/M erotic romance genre because she creates believable characters and stories readers love.

    Seriously, I apologize (again) to the people who found the title offensive. We didn’t choose BC to offend, and we didn’t choose it for the shock value. We chose the title because it fit the story perfectly. Those who have read the book know that to be true. The title came from a bit of dialogue between the main characters during a pivotal moment. Perhaps *the* pivotal moment in the story, both emotionally/mentally and sexually.

    Thanks, Karen, for the opportunity to speak here. I hope you all have a happy, prosperous New Year. :-)

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  • I don’t think that the title is homophobic or that the author or the publisher is homophobic by picking the title. I think it shows a lack of taste by author and publisher. I also think that it could be deemed offensive and insensitive.

    I certainly would object to a book called “Beautiful Jap” and if the gay community views “cocksucker” with the same condemnation, then I would have to cede the floor to that community’s interpretation.

    I’m not fond of anyone calling romances “bodice rippers” because that carries with it alot of negative connotations. Outside the community, it might not have any offensive value. It’s probably funny and true and honest to those outside the community.

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  • The cocksucker thing, again. If gay men tell me how personally offensive they find it, then I believe them.

    I don’t have a problem believing that it would offend some people, but just because it offends one person, or even many people, doesn’t mean I have to jump on the band wagon.

    For instance, just a couple of years ago, some far left liberal yogurt knitting tree huggers, decided that it was offensive to Muslims to have pictures of piggy-banks in banks, so they made one high street bank remove all their marketing collateral that included pictures of piggy banks. I mean, what the fuck? And you know what, when the local Muslims were asked if they had found the pics offensive, nearly all the people admitted to not actually giving it a second thought.

    The fact is, there is always somebody somewhere who is going to be offended by something, and these people are perfectly entitled to their feelings, just as I am perfectly entitled to not be offended, by something they find offensive.

    There will always be things that are generally accepted as offensive to particular groups of people, but there are also things that are more subjective. I think there are far more heinous insults out there, and for me, cock-sucker isn’t necessarily one of them. Or should I say, it depends on the context in which it is used. If a guy comes to rob my house, and I happen to call him a cock-sucker, as he runs off, believe me, I’m not talking about his sexuality.

    and say hey to Teddy when he turns up to tell everyone what a cunt I am.

    I’ve never seen him ever call anybody a c*nt, so I’m pretty sure, he wont do it on here. I think you and TP fight so much because you’re both so much alike.

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  • I certainly would object to a book called “Beautiful Jap” and if the gay community views “cocksucker” with the same condemnation, then I would have to cede the floor to that community’s interpretation

    The point is that argument against a book title can leave open the charge of hypocrisy and bias in this case. You cannot change the facts that noted and respected authors William S. Burroughs titled his book Queer or Larry Kramer titled his book Faggots and both are considered Gay Lit canon and both were written by Gay Men.

    Everybody has a right to their uniformed opinion but I tend to respect ones based on a little experience, research, and knowledge.

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  • @Teddy Pig – are you suggesting that Sheridan or her publsher did any research into whether the title would be insensitive to the gay community or that they should have done some research into it?

    I’m leery of abdicating PC-ness because I personally dislike being called certain names and I personally find that offensive. I was at a play last month and some guy behind me muttered “Margaret Cho’s in the house.” I viewed that as racially insensitive because he is basically saying, imo, that all Asians look alike, that we are one people without any differentiation. I no more look like Margaret Cho than I do Ellen Degeneres.

    I also think that the PC argument is an excuse to act insensitively. In recent news is the the passing around of a CD with Barack, The Magic Negro, song on it by a candidate for the chair of the RNC. Under criticism, Chip Saltsman and those who support this “gift” says its a parody and that people are too quick to jump on something based on racial insensitivity.

    To some extent, I’d rather be too sensitive when using epithets. Cocksucker has never had a good connotation. It’s never been laudatory. Yes, it can be transformed like the Vagina Monologues have tried to do with cunt and maybe it isn’t a community condemned term.

    I don’t think that the title was picked because it was subversive or purposely shocking like Queer and Faggots.

    While I agree that the usage of such terms would be more acceptable by gay men and thus that is a sign of bias, I also think that while two black men may exchange the “nigger” epithet lovingly, I don’t see a white man getting away with it. Yes, that seems to be unfair, but I think it’s a result of power of a white patriarchal society.

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  • I am saying I believe in simplicity in ones arguments.

    Implying Barbara or her publisher is insensitive to homophobia issues in using a “bad word” because they are (over generalizing here) straight woman but Frank Kramer is not because he is a gay man is inherently unfair.

    What are you requesting to address this offense? The book be pulled or public apology be made because of a “bad word” that you “feel” was used improperly?

    That is heading right smack dab into censorship territory.

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  • I’m still not sure I understand what you are saying. Saying a book’s title is insensitive because it is a commonly used epithet toward gay men is not simplistic?

    I’m not requesting anything be done regarding this title or by the author. I’m merely saying that I think that the title is lacking in good taste in my opinion. To others, it may be deemed insensitive to gay men.

    I wouldn’t buy the book because I think the title is tasteless and that implies something about the book itself.

    My other comments were directed toward the issue of PC ness as a whole which I think is part of the issue that Karen raised in her post.

    As for words that can be used by certain segments of the population with impunity, the question of fairness depends alot upon the power structure of the individuals using the words. I remember the Seinfeld episode where the dentist tries to convert to Judaism so that he can tell Jewish jokes.

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  • I’m still not sure I understand what you are saying. Saying a book’s title is insensitive because it is a commonly used epithet toward gay men is not simplistic?

    “Like A Girl” is also a commonly used epithet towards gay men. Should the word “Girl” fall into that list next? I don’t get your logic.

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  • Saying a book’s title is insensitive because it is a commonly used epithet toward gay men is not simplistic?

    Well, I would have to say it’s exactly that – simplistic – in that it oversimplifies and/or ignores the issue’s complexities and the context on which we based our decision.

    I’m merely saying that I think that the title is lacking in good taste in my opinion. To others, it may be deemed insensitive to gay men.

    And to still others, it’s arousing, or interesting, or most importantly, appropriately titled.

    I wouldn’t buy the book because I think the title is tasteless and that implies something about the book itself.

    I’m truly sorry you feel that way. So far, Barb has received very decent reviews for this story. Certainly, none of the reviewers have used the word “tasteless” to describe the book.

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  • Emmy
    December 30
    6:54 pm

    The title is definitely in bad taste, and obviously directed as descriptive of gay men.

    Honestly, do you think any publisher would come out with a traditional m/f romance called Beautiful C*cksucker in reference to the heroine? It would be equally appropriately titled there as well.

    I have read Barb and Anne’s yaoi and Dragon’s Disciple series. They’re well-written, but entirely too angsty for me. Books that make me want to slit emo character’s wrists for them to put them out of their misery just isn’t my preferred reading choice. I doubt Barb is homophobic.

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  • It is simplistic which is why I said I don’t understand TP’s argument. And I think that there is a big difference in context and meaning between Girl and Cocksucker.

    As for the title and my response to it, that’s part of what you get when you have a provocative title. Some are going to think it’s grand and some aren’t but it gets people talking and I’m sure that is partly the reason why it was chosen.

    There are people who won’t buy Harlequin Presents because the titles are offensive. I think that they are laughably bad.

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  • The issue of censorship and the question of whether the author has offensive attitudes towards gay men are, IMHO, irrelevant, or at least quite separate from the main issue here.

    I think there are far more heinous insults out there, and for me, cock-sucker isn’t necessarily one of them.

    But who is to judge? Your comment about the Muslims suggests you think we should leave it up to the group being insulted. So, the fact that “cocksucker” doesn’t offend YOU may be quite irrelevant if you are not a gay man.

    Or should I say, it depends on the context in which it is used. If a guy comes to rob my house, and I happen to call him a cock-sucker, as he runs off, believe me, I’m not talking about his sexuality.

    Context is certainly important, but if this isn’t the right context to question the use of this word, I have no idea what could be.

    The robber case is also irrelevant for this reason.

    Jane is right: this is about power. You can’t have these discussions without looking at the relative power social groups have over each other.

    If someone called me, a white Anglo, an “Oreo”, I would think it was kind of a silly nickname. But when a white person uses it to refer to a black person, everything changes. When the chancellor of the State of Florida university system used the term “Oreo” to refer to a black college president (as he did in 1999), he summoned the full power of a history of unearned white authority in judging black accomplishments, saying a black man who becomes a university president is “really white” because no one could be “really black” and be that good. We saw the same thing — although the discourse did not reach this absurdly low level until the recent RNC video, thankfully — with the presidential race in the US.

    Words have power, and it is not only up to disenfranchised minorities to “buck up and get over it”, but also up to the folks in power to recognize that oppression’s roots are as deep as the thoughts we think and the words in which we express them.

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  • Some are going to think it’s grand and some aren’t but it gets people talking and I’m sure that is partly the reason why it was chosen.

    What Jane said. I think the title was definitely a cynical attempt at generating sales through controversy.

    I haven’t got a problem with that, but I think Jill should just admit that that was probably a bigger motivating factor, than “it was a perfect fit”.

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  • My big question is when did cocksucker become a primarily gay slur? Most other slurs, racially—though comparing sexuality and race is a whole other argument—were thought up to describe a race or perceived traits of a race. Gays aren’t the only ones who do this particular act and I’ve read it in reference to women, like “slut” is used, all over the place. I’d think, to get offended by a word universally, the word would have to apply to you singularly.

    Or is that too simplistic too?

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  • Nope Dee, that’s the whole point.

    Actually I brought up the whole “Girl” reference because of this problem. Both “Girl” and Cocksucker refer to being passive sexually because stupid straight white boys think THAT ALONE is insulting. Men acting like women. Get it?

    So the assumption this is strictly a “Gay issue” because of the term Cocksucker is being used which might be used in a homophobic way, but does not have to be, is invalid in my opinion.

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  • What Jane said. I think the title was definitely a cynical attempt at generating sales through controversy.

    I haven’t got a problem with that, but I think Jill should just admit that that was probably a bigger motivating factor, than “it was a perfect fit”.

    I wish I had saved the IM between Barb and I, wherein we chose the title. I will admit this to you, Karen – Barb did say there would be people who would say (and I quote), “No, you did not!” – and I agreed with her. But she made that comment *after* we had chosen the title because it was a perfect fit. ;-)

    I expected a few “No, you did not!” reactions, but only because the term cocksucker is so blatant and “out there,” and I’m not speaking of it being used as a slur against gay men; I’m speaking in the general sense of the term.

    What I didn’t expect is for myself or Barb to be accused of being homophobes, or have demands made that we change the title and post public apologies for our choice. At least, not from the people who have made those accusations and demands. That’s the kind of reaction I’d expect from the same people who demand certain books be pulled from our libraries (such as The Joys of Gay Sex), because it offends them personally.

    To those people I say this: Challenge a book for inaccurate content, for its lack of truth, or for being poorly written. Anything else smacks of censorship, imo.

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  • Like that C word its just ugly and I can understand why it might turn off prospective buyers.

    Here’s where it gets subjective. I don’t find the C word inherently ugly at all. (The insult with that one is in the context.) In fact, I would argue that for a long time cunt enjoyed positive connotations that cocksucker never has.

    As for Beautiful Cocksucker and Dark Chocolate–I’d say the first is ill-advised, though I don’t personally see the negative connotation of the term as gay-specific. And I don’t find it offensive, exactly, but then I’m obviously weird in that I don’t find the word cunt offensive, either. The second title is just lame.

    I think many people are unable to apply the idea that words are fluid, and some (like cunt, or bitch, or in this particular case, according to the author and publisher, cocksucker) have both positive and negative connotations, depending on context.

    People are allowed to be offended, though. And as long as no one is forcing Ms. Sherridan and Ms. Noble to pull the book and change the title, those offended have every right to let people know it.

    Big Spankable Asses? Hah! I’ve got three words for all of you: Fuck a Duck. Hideously offensive to ducks everywhere…

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  • I don’t believe I’ve seen anyone here demand the title be changed. I must have missed that. Whatever my opinion of it, one is entitled to slap whatever they see fit on the cover of their novel.

    Whether or not one finds the title of the book offensive, tasteless, humorous or a ‘perfect fit’, the most obvious way to show an opinion of it is whether or not one spends the money to buy it.

    If I don’t like it, I don’t waste my money. If I do, I’ll buy it. And I believe very few sales in the overall scheme of things will be based on any controversy over the title.

    But I do believe ultimately, sales will tell whether the book is any good or not.

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  • so blatant and “out there,”

    And in my case at least true.

    Yes, I admit this horrible horrible truth TeddyPig has sucked many many cocks!

    Damn, my secret is out. I am also not a virgin.

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  • How is criticizing the title of a book in anyway censorship?

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  • And in my case at least true.

    Yes, I admit this horrible horrible truth TeddyPig has sucked many many cocks!

    Damn, my secret is out. I am also not a virgin.

    Say it isn’t so!!! Bwahahaha!

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  • How is criticizing the title of a book in anyway censorship?

    You really have to work hard at misrepresenting what I said don’t you?

    Here is the entire quote…

    What are you requesting to address this offense? The book be pulled or public apology be made because of a “bad word” that you “feel” was used improperly?

    That is heading right smack dab into censorship territory.

    Context, try it sometime.

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  • [...] Well, Jill Noble has just done that, more or less, to those people objecting to the fucking awful title she chose for an author’s book: To those people I say this: Challenge a book for inaccurate content, for its lack of truth, or for b… [...]



  • Robin
    December 30
    8:02 pm

    I haven’t got a problem with that, but I think Jill should just admit that that was probably a bigger motivating factor, than “it was a perfect fit”.

    What surprised me about Jill Noble’s comments, here and elsewhere, is the IMO total lack of affirmation that the word can be extremely offensive, and, more importantly, part of real acts of violence directed at gay men.

    IMO there is great power in saying to someone, ‘hey, I understand that you find this offensive, and I understand why. I will think about what you’ve said.’ Because IMO so much of these discussions erupt because people don’t feel listened to and/or validated in their feelings. And IMO doing that costs NOTHING; in fact, it can win friends and influence people, as they say, to show that consideration to someone who is saying, ‘hey, this term has been yelled at people I know while they are being beat on for being gay,’ So from a pure public relations and human perspective, I think that gesture can be extremely effective in getting people to take a chance on something they might otherwise find offensive and/or tasteless.

    I suppose the fear is that if you give anything in consideration you are saying that you did something wrong, which is too bad, really, if it factors into the equation. But it wouldn’t surprise me because it seems oh so difficult to have these discussions about the difference between offending someone and censoring/being censored. If someone says they object, calls of censorship break out, when the very core of having free speech is to be able to *discuss* and *debate* the relative merits of different types of speech. And accusing someone of being a censor can, in itself, become censorship quite readily.

    Similarly, no publisher or author should feel the need to censor themselves based on people being offended, but IMO they need to be ready to field some complaints. What does frustrate me, though, is this immediate accusation of “PC” because so many times I find that a defense of offensiveness without reason. I don’t think everyone in a traditionally empowered or traditionally disempowered group needs to feel one way or another about these issues, but I think it’s sad that we can’t respectfully discuss what it costs to be offensive, socially, personally, culturally, etc., because there are costs.

    The person offending may not want to pay those costs, or they may deny the costs, but somehow, somewhere, for someone, it costs. And IMO we would do well to be more conscious of those costs, because with our right to relatively free speech should come, IMO, an equally strong sense of stewardship over the benefits and costs of those rights and freedoms. But no one really wants to talk about this second part of the issue, even though IMO that’s just as important as having the right to speak freely.

    At least it’s important if the goal is to actually speak and be heard. Because so many of the challenges to free speech rights come in the wake of what I would characterize as the mindless wielding of thoughtless speech. IMO one of the best ways to keep speech rights the broadest is to be good stewards of the right, to be able to consider things, to think about what one says, to think twice about what someone else says, knowing that your rights are secure to say almost anything you want.

    I personally got quite an education in Paul Bens’s IMO eloquent and eminently respectful comments on why he found this title so offensive, and I was extremely glad he spoke up, because his comments made me reflect on my own sensitivities. Why is it such a bad thing to know what offends others? It certainly doesn’t inhibit people from stomping on those sensitivities, but I find myself wincing at the outright dismissal of people’s sensitivities. I think it’s completely fair to argue about those sensitivities, and to ultimately find another priority more important, but can they at least be acknowledged first? And if people don’t want to feel compelled to think twice about what they say then it’s difficult to demand any sensitivity in return — because everyone has an issue (or more) on which they expect others to be sensitive.

    As to the whole idea that you have to object to any title that’s potentially offensive to avoid hypocrisy on BC, that doesn’t makes sense to me. First, not all those titles are under discussion, and who knows what has and hasn’t been objected to in the past? But beyond that, not all titles are the same, and lots of things make a difference. Context is one of them, but even in this case I don’t think that gets BC off the hook because all I seem to hear coming from the publisher is ‘trust us, the context fits and the title is perfect.’ But the point is that trust is already an issue by the very use of the title, so telling readers to trust is only going to work for those who already did.

    Had there been a more extensive explanation given (i.e. they’re trying to ironize the title, or reclaim the word, or the word is given a lot of thoughtful attention in the book, or whatever) then you can have a discussion about whether any of that’s possible or whether the provocation outweighs the reclamation, or whether it works for different readers, etc. But from everything I’ve read on this title (and I may have missed some discussions, but I think I read the major ones), that didn’t occur — it was simply, ‘trust us, it works.’ And in the context of that response, I was not at all inclined to trust, because IMO the concerns of those who objected were not being validated at any level. Why, then, would I believe that the book showed more sensitivity? And I’m NOT saying it doesn’t — because I haven’t read it — I’m simply saying that *based on the online discussions alone* there hasn’t been enough presented to make me take the chance. And that superficial level is all most readers have to make those choices.

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  • @TP, you are right, context is everything. I was replying to Ms. Noble:

    To those people I say this: Challenge a book for inaccurate content, for its lack of truth, or for being poorly written. Anything else smacks of censorship, imo.

    And I hardly see how asking a question is misconstruing something.

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  • Jane is right: this is about power. You can’t have these discussions without looking at the relative power social groups have over each other.

    Preaching to the converted here hun.

    But who is to judge? Your comment about the Muslims suggests you think we should leave it up to the group being insulted. So, the fact that “cocksucker” doesn’t offend YOU may be quite irrelevant if you are not a gay man.

    Who is to judge? Pretty much anybody who feels like it I think. The question is, whose judgement will be taken notice of?

    During most of my teenage years, it was considered racist to use the word black in reference to a black person. Nobody ever asked me if I minded being called black, instead all the (predominantly white), do-gooders got together and decided that using the word coloured, was much more acceptable.

    I think that sometimes it is right to leave it up to minority groups to decide if they are offended enough to complain or act. There are times when outside intervention is necessary, if the group being maligned aren’t powerful enough to help themselves, but those times are usually a lot more clear-cut than somebody using the word Beautiful Cocksucker in this context, don’t you think?

    And the piggy bank thing? That whole episode was one big example of PC asshattery gone mad. As far as I’m aware, a piggy bank has always been a place where a child could keep his/her money, not a way of denigrating people who don’t eat pork. If you know otherwise, I’d be happy to hear about it.

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  • And I hardly see how asking a question is misconstruing something.

    Because you again skipped this part…

    What I didn’t expect is for myself or Barb to be accused of being homophobes, or have demands made that we change the title and post public apologies for our choice. At least, not from the people who have made those accusations and demands. That’s the kind of reaction I’d expect from the same people who demand certain books be pulled from our libraries (such as The Joys of Gay Sex), because it offends them personally.

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  • If anyone is deliberately misconstruing anyone else, I don’t think its me.

    A) I don’t think that critisizing a cover or a title for being insensitive is censorship or something that smacks of censorship.

    B) I find the title tasteless and it affects my opinion of whether I would buy the book.

    C) I don’t find it offensive, but can see someone else’s POV that they do find it offensive.

    That sums up my position in as simplistic of terms I as I can make it. How my position is censorship, smacks of censorship, or does a dance around the table of censorship I guess is open to interpretation. With that, I’ll just bow out.

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  • Robin
    December 30
    8:18 pm

    I don’t remember anywhere Jill Noble and/or Barbara Sheridan were called homophobic. Can someone give me the reference, please?

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  • Julia Sullivan
    December 30
    8:20 pm

    I don’t think the title necessarily reflects homophobia on the part of the author (or editor, or publisher). Presumably it’s got something to do with the content of the book.

    That said, it’s not a title I like or find attractive, and I don’t think that saying one finds the title unappealing or problematic means that one is an advocate of censorship.

    I’m a little curious as to why the “o” is replaced by a Star of David, though. And wondering what’s wrong with the cover model’s neck.

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  • I do believe that’s meant to be an asterisk. Depending on what font is used, each font has a different design for astersisks. I have about 2000 fonts in my graphics program and none of them use the same design for an asterisk. I’d guess that’s the design for that particular font.

    *shrug*

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  • I’m still trying to find where anyone demanded the title be changed or a public apology made…

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  • I don’t remember anywhere Jill Noble and/or Barbara Sheridan were called homophobic. Can someone give me the reference, please?

    I personally feel it is not a title which should have been chosen simply because it is a hateful, violatile word and for those who are not pro-gay, who will not bother to pick up and read the book and understand the contextual usage, who are simply looking to spew hate, they will simply see that usage and it will allow them to justify their usage of it in hateful ways.

    ~ Paul G. Bens from Elisa Rolle’s live journal.

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  • But I do believe ultimately, sales will tell whether the book is any good or not.

    Exactly. It’s Barb’s writing and the good reviews that are driving this book’s sales.

    And to Jane, I didn’t say criticizing the book’s title was censorship, or an attempt at censorship. I believe everyone has a right to their opinion. I actually enjoy the debate. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, it seems.

    My comments regarding censorship were in regard to comments made elsewhere.

    And to Robin, who feels I haven’t listened or done enough to validate the feelings of those who were offended by the title, I don’t know what else to say. Here, and elsewhere, I’ve apologized to those who told me they were offended – sincerely. I’ve stated unequivocally that we did not choose the title as a bash against gay men, and I’ve done absolutely everything in my power to explain why we did choose the title. I’ve admitted I expected a few “OMG” reactions because the word is so blatant, and that I expected some might hate the title (the same way some might hate “beautiful slut”). I’ve agreed that people are entitled to hate the title. I’ve done my best to “field the complaints,” and I’ve tried to behave professionally and treat others with respect.

    And having said all that, I believe it’s time for me to go now. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. And since you can’t always interpret “tone of voice” online, let me just say, I mean that most sincerely. :-)

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  • Here is a link to Paul’s take on Cocksucker where he goes for broke…

    http://gwailowrite.livejournal.com/157004.html

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  • Robin
    December 30
    8:38 pm

    I still see no accusation of homophobia. I don’t find that Paul Bens’s quote even close to such. Or his comments at his livejournal, for that matter.

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  • I agree with nora, sucky title. Of course I never liked the asses title either. And hell I have no issues with cussing.

    On the other hand the title of the post cracks my shit up… go figure. of course I am medicated. so ::shrug::

    hi karen ;)

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  • Nora Roberts
    December 30
    8:42 pm

    ~I wouldn’t buy the book because I think the title is tasteless and that implies something about the book itself. ~

    Exactly my reaction.

    I thought Deadwood was one of the best TV series ever made–and found their brilliant and repetitive use of cocksucker true and pretty damn funny. That’s dialogue. But they didn’t call the series ‘Cocksuckers of Deadwood.’

    When you put that word on a cover, it’s because you want controversy.

    So, you got it.

    PC, not PC, whatever. It’s an ugly, insulting and designed to be demeaning term. Sure, it can be used between friends or lovers as a joke or a rib, even affectionately–simply because it’s so ugly and insulting. But a book title isn’t a joke between friends.

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  • I’m sorry, but I still don’t see a demand for a title change or a public apology there either.

    Let’s face it, one person’s love is another’s hate. One person may think this title is absolutely appropriate for the content, another might not even care what the content is, the title is offensive enough to them.

    I don’t see anyone screaming censorship, I see people voicing a variety of opinions on it. I also don’t see any demands here that things be changed. Frankly, one can demand all they want, but it’s ultimately the author’s decision to change it or let it stand.

    Personally, I have no interest in this book and no amount of lengthy debate, diatribe or apology will change my mind. It’s not something I choose to read. Not because of the title (which I do find offensive, but that’s just my own personal taste) but because it’s not a genre I care to read much of.

    But I think it’s gone way past whether anyone here finds it an affront to gay men or to someone personally, into a much broader scope which could also include Uncle Tom’s Cabin…then where does it stop?

    Shall we burn all the books?

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  • Oy.

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  • I still see no accusation of homophobia. I don’t find that Paul Bens’s quote even close to such. Or his comments at his livejournal, for that matter.

    So you are honestly telling me that Paul saying things like “hateful word” and bringing up the title of the book and then going on associate that word to homophobic people is not claiming the title is homophobic?

    But as the title of a book? NOPE! See, I realize that there are many, many non-pro gay people — people who love to hunt gay folks — who will simply see that title — they will never read the book to understand the context, and if they did, they’d never want to understand the context — and all they will do is see that title and feel justified for their usage of that word.

    Oh and this… THIS is what really made me go WTF!

    Paul actually perpetuates a stereotype of Gay Men in his own argument that “WE ALL” feel the same way HE does so HE goes on to give “Straight People” and “Gay People” his advice.

    Because at the end of the day, if you use a hateful word as a title just to help you sell books, if you perpetuate stereotypes, then even if your intentions are good, you as a non-gay do not need to live with the consequences. I do. And so do hundreds of thousands of other gay men.

    Beautiful C*cksucker is not appropriate for the title of a book. I’m sorry, but it isn’t.

    Does this guy even know about William S. Burroughs or Frank Kramer or their books?

    Does he even know our relatively recent history as a community or those Obscenity Laws in the 1960s our US Government used to actually jail writers of Gay Literature they deemed as pornographic and publicly offensive?

    Nah, but it sure does make a great soapbox to personally attack another writer and publisher of Gay Romance.

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  • What does frustrate me, though, is this immediate accusation of “PC” because so many times I find that a defense of offensiveness without reason.

    I think people shout PC with good reason though Robin, because a lot of the time, the free speech that you advocate, becomes hard to live up to, because people are so frightened of offending others, they trip over themselves, trying to find ways of explaining their feelings without appearing to be racist/homophobic/sexist/ or just plain crazy. Then ultimately what you get are people saying all the right things, but in the back of your mind, you don’t know if what they’re saying is what they truly believe, or if they are just, at best, playing devil’s advocate, or at worst, being politically correct.

    I live in a country where we are being battered to death by political correctness.
    When songs like ‘Bahh Bahh Black Sheep’ are banned for fear of offending black people, or when blackboards are replaced by whiteboards because all of a sudden, it’s considered a derogatory term, then I do think that people who shout about pc bullshit, aren’t necessarily just using it as an excuse to be insensitive to minority groups.

    I’m part of a minority group and I’m sick to death of it. I understand the need for it in some cases, but there are some instances where PC gone mad, causes as much division amongst people, as homophobic/racist/sexist points of views do.

    IMO there is great power in saying to someone, ‘hey, I understand that you find this offensive, and I understand why. I will think about what you’ve said.’ Because IMO so much of these discussions erupt because people don’t feel listened to and/or validated in their feelings.

    I don’t believe that there should be a prescribed method for debating issues though. I’m totally for the free for all, and if things get too out of hand, then people always have the option of either leaving the debate, or the blog owner can close comments.

    Of course I guess the ideal scenario (as far as others are concerned) is that everybody involved in the debate acknowledges the other person’s point of view, but that’s a utopia that is always going to be hard to achieve, especially on a blog full of strangers. I personally think it’s a good thing when debates erupt, because then you sometimes get the unvarnished truth, rather than the sanitised PC version. How boring would Romanceland be if everybody minded their ps and qs, and went round saying, “I totally see your point, but here’s where I’m coming from”?

    All of us at one time or another have been frustrated/hurt because people either misunderstood our point of view, or they haven’t acknowledge our gripes, but that’s horses for courses as far as I’m concerned.

    Calm and rational is all well and good, but I personally think that passion (whether we agree or not) is also one of the essential ingredients required in an honest debate. Passion mixed with a calm rationale is probably the ideal, but if I had to choose one over the other, I’d probably pick a passionate commenter. But that’s probably because I’m such a black and white person.

    OK, back to the topic at hand now.

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  • Had there been a more extensive explanation given (i.e. they’re trying to ironize the title, or reclaim the word, or the word is given a lot of thoughtful attention in the book, or whatever) then you can have a discussion about whether any of that’s possible or whether the provocation outweighs the reclamation, or whether it works for different readers, etc. But from everything I’ve read on this title (and I may have missed some discussions, but I think I read the major ones), that didn’t occur — it was simply, ‘trust us, it works.’

    On the contrary. In the only two internet discussions I’ve read on this subject, Ms. Noble and the author have both explained exactly why the title was chosen, what the context was, and why it was perfect for the book. They went into the dynamics of the relationship between the two characters such that I know more about this book from their discussions than I know about many books I’ve purchased from reading their blurbs. I didn’t feel anyone tried to brush concerns off with a wink and a “trust me”.

    I think mentioning censorship in an online debate about books is rather like bringing up Nazis: unhelpful and largely boneheaded unless you’re talking about actual censorship or actual Nazis.

    I personally feel the title is ill-advised, in that I would not feel comfortable reading the book in a waiting room or on a plane. I wish they had called it something else, not because it’s offensive to gays, but because I would hesitate to purchase any book with profanity worse than “damn” in the title.

    That said, I hope the author and publisher stick to their guns and don’t change it.

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  • I so loved Deadwood.

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  • Oh by the way Ann S, can I ask why you got rid of your earlier blog post?

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  • Hi Syb, I hope you’re feeling better soon!

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  • I brought up censorship after reading Paul’s Rant on his Live Journal about the use of the word as a book title and the demand that people not use Cocksucker because he claims all Gay People find it offensive.

    Then he went on my own blog and explained his actions on Elisa’s Live Journal as such…

    The bottom line of this is I got an abbreviated answer from the publisher who directed me back to Elisa’s blog (mistakenly believing it was my blog) where she posted a longer (and to me, unacceptable) attempt at justification for my complaint.

    Jill did publicly apologize but Paul found it unacceptable.

    That is why I brought up censorship.

    Their was an apparent demand for actions being made of both the author and the publisher by Paul.

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  • When you put that word on a cover, it’s because you want controversy.

    The thing has bugged me the most about this are comments like the above, assumptions made by folks who don’t know me or what motivates me.

    Expecting there to be some controversy for having a title contain one of the legendary Seven Dirty Words is not the same as wanting controversy.
    I sold my first book ten years ago so I’m not a newbie trying to make a splash. I write because the characters come alive in my imagination and want their stories told.

    I’m thankful to the publishers who’ve contracted my work and appreciate the readers who’ve spent their hard earned money on my books.

    If anyone chooses to pass on this particular story because of the title or subject matter they’re free to do so. If anyone is prompted to buy it to see “what the fuss is about”, I appreciate the sale and hope they find it an entertaining read.

    Jill has already explained here and elsewhere the reasoning that went into choosing Beautiful C*cksucker as the title. We’ve both apologized if it was seen as a slur directed specifically at gay men.

    We went with a title that fit the book in spite of the expected controversy, not because of it.

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  • Well said, Barb. I read the book the first day it came out and I loved it. In fact, it’s probably my favorite of your books so far. I reviewed it and recommended it to all my m/m romance reading friends. The title never came up in any discussion.

    The title may be ballsy, but not homophobic or hateful. Anyone who’s ever read your books or spoken to you knows better.

    I understand and respect individual readers voicing their personal concerns privately or even in small circles, but there’s a big difference between “concerned individual” and “crusader on a mission”, and unfortunately it looks as though you’ve got the latter after you. Yet you’re standing up for yourself with grace and without losing your dignity. Kudos to you for that.

    I’ll continue to read your books and promote your work to my friends and fellow readers. Keep up the great writing!

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  • I haven’t read all the previous comments yet, though I’m going to… but as a woman, I’ve been called a cocksucker where the person was trying to use it as a pejorative. Kinda failed when my response was, “Yeah, what about it?” XD

    I don’t understand how it’s a “gay male only” offensive term, because I know PLENTY of women who have been called the name pejoratively. I really don’t think gay men get a monopoly on the word.

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  • Nora Roberts
    December 30
    11:03 pm

    ~The thing has bugged me the most about this are comments like the above, assumptions made by folks who don’t know me or what motivates me.~

    You’re absolutely right. I apologize.

    I’ll change that statment, because you’re absolutely right, to should expect controversy.

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  • You’re absolutely right. I apologize.

    Thank you, Ms. Roberts.

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  • I think you and TP fight so much because you’re both so much alike.

    So . . . are you implying, Karen, that Ms. Somerville is actually a gay man or that Mr. Pig is actually a straight woman?

    I think the blogs need to chew on that bone for a while. (Call me Beautiful Blonde Bimbo, but I do love free entertainment!)

    ;-)

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  • Grace
    December 31
    12:16 am

    Ms. Roberts, as always, you are a class act–and that’s said with absolute sincerity.

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  • can I ask why you got rid of your earlier blog post?

    A mutual acquaintance tore a strip off me for assuming you were doing your usual shit-stirring attention whoring, and more to show willing than anything else, I decided to give you the benefit of a doubt I didn’t at that point have.

    However, despite my reservations, I’ll give you credit. I’m impressed at how you’ve let the conversation go. Not impressed in the least by some of the statements I’ve seen here, but there’s no need for me to repeat opinions I’ve made clear here and elsewhere.

    There. Given you enough ammo to take a pop at me?

    I’d rather not carry on these lovefests into 2009.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    1:17 am

    So you are honestly telling me that Paul saying things like “hateful word” and bringing up the title of the book and then going on associate that word to homophobic people is not claiming the title is homophobic?

    So are you changing the accusation now to the title being homophobic and not Barb Sheridan and Jill Noble, which was how it was originally stated? Because calling a title hateful and accusing someone of homophobia are not remotely the same thing, IMO.

    I think people shout PC with good reason though Robin, because a lot of the time, the free speech that you advocate, becomes hard to live up to, because people are so frightened of offending others, they trip over themselves, trying to find ways of explaining their feelings without appearing to be racist/homophobic/sexist/ or just plain crazy.

    I disagree because I think PC has itself become an accusation meant to shut other people up, to make them feel oversensitive and therefore unentitled to their feelings. I think it’s good to debate the question of whether something goes too far, but calling PC doesn’t ever feel like that part of that to me, or an invitation to discussion at all.

    Also, I think it’s different in the UK and in Canada because you guys have actual hate speech legislation that many of us in the US are fighting tooth and nail against here. Unfortunately, being up to my ears every single day in this fight, I know that it’s the very speech that’s thoughtless that makes the fight harder. Not that I believe such speech should be outlawed; I just wish sometimes people thought twice before speaking.

    I don’t believe that there should be a prescribed method for debating issues though.

    I was talking specifically about what I think would have been a more effective PR stance for Jill Noble, but in any case, I certainly wasn’t prescribing anything.

    I personally think that passion (whether we agree or not) is also one of the essential ingredients required in an honest debate.

    I don’t think passion is the antithesis of reason. And I’m not a dissenter to passionate commenting. I am an advocate of thought, though, because IMO it’s often rashness that gets people in hot water, not passion. Not that people can’t or shouldn’t be rash. But if I think a lot of shit starts because people say stuff without thinking, and while that can certainly be damn interesting to watch, it doesn’t always promote a lot of understanding, IMO.

    On the contrary. In the only two internet discussions I’ve read on this subject, Ms. Noble and the author have both explained exactly why the title was chosen, what the context was, and why it was perfect for the book.

    I assume you’re not referring to the discussion on Elisa Rolle’s livejournal, where the explanation seems to be as follows:

    I see your point. And in a way the title is right, since Ray, that it should be straight, uses that epithet to Miki, only to see it reverts soon after to him… But Ray should have a straight “mind”, it’s in his character. — Elisa Rolle

    As for the title, Barb’s story was originally untitled. She and I did a bit of brainstorming, and during one of our sessions, we came up with BC. As Barb told you, the title is based on a bit of dialogue between the two main characters. If you’re an author, you know that sometimes, a book chooses it’s own title. A title that fits so perfectly, no other title will do. That’s what happened here. Taken in context, the title makes sense. It may not be politically correct, but it’s honest. . .
    And as previously stated, Ray – who is straight – uses the term first, only to have it used back at him a bit later. But even when Ray says it, it’s said during a moment when he is overcome by passion, and truly appreciative of his partner’s “skills.”– Jill Noble

    Most of the information there comes from Elisa Rolle, and I would hardly call that exchange informative.

    Look, they have every right to title the book that way and stand behind it. It may be completely appropriate for the book and it may have a completely unoffensive meaning in the context of the book. What I responded to in that exchange on that particular blog was the way I felt that Paul’s comments particularly were not taken very seriously. It just struck me that way, as someone completely outside the M/M Romance community.

    Interestingly and ironically, I just came back from seeing “Milk,” and there’s a scene in which Harvey Milk refers to a murder in the Castro, commenting on the guy who was stabbed fifteen times for walking home with his lover, saying that “the last words he heard were faggot, faggot, faggot.” That line had a stronger relevance for me after this issue arose a couple of weeks ago.

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  • Mr. Pig is actually a straight woman?

    Just call me Sue.

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  • I think it’s a sucky title.

    Roflmao. The next time someone asks me why I heart LaNora so much I’ll be referring them to this comment. Seriously.

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  • Amy D.
    December 31
    1:44 am

    Hello Karen, I am usually a lurker and rarely give my opinion on anything, but if you don’t mind I’d like to offer mine here?

    About that title, when I was a kid there was a book called “The Bastard”. My parents had a copy and I remember how my granny had a hissy when she saw it. But my mom told her to read the book before she judged it, and after she did Granny came back to the house with the book and told Mom she thought it was an interesting story and apologized for complaining to begin with. I guess my point is, a title is only that and really suggests nothing about what a story is about. But the reaction of who is seeing the title says a lot about them. Offensive words are only offensive if we allow them to affect us that way; my thought on the subject anyway.

    To the lady who has commented a few times (Ann Somerville): Ms. Somerville, if you want people to respect your right to an opinion you really shouldn’t be slinging the pot-shots when others speak theirs. You can’t force people to share your beliefs and coming in here and acting paranoid isn’t scoring any points for those beliefs.

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  • So are you changing the accusation now to the title being homophobic and not Barb Sheridan and Jill Noble, which was how it was originally stated? Because calling a title hateful and accusing someone of homophobia are not remotely the same thing, IMO.

    I am not changing a single thing I have said so far.

    I do not think that Paul meant anything else by his actions or his words in that rant or the way he continued on to me about Jill’s explanation being unacceptable to his complaint (Who does he think he is?) or when I watched him escalate the whole pile of crap into an “appeal to pity”.

    I am not the one leaping from being offended by the word cocksucker (Which is his opinion.) to claiming it as a slur used only for Gay Men (Which is highly debatable.) to claiming it’s use leads to greater homophobia and attacks on Gay Men (Which is unsupportable.).

    So if you choose to frame what he said in his post as a rational response without one bit of apparent hysteria all the while putting a firm target on Barbara and Jill then that’s your bag not mine.

    I don’t care to speak for all gay men, I just speak for myself.

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  • Emmy
    December 31
    2:01 am

    Careful, Amy D. you might become the next member of Ann’s patented Small Minded Bitch club. Because we all know Ann is nothing if not classy.

    On topic…I still hate the title, but I’m not sure what else Barb could say to explain her reasoning or motivations. Considering her backlist of slash, it would be a far stretch to suggest she is somehow homophobic or endorsing violence against gay men. I mean, she’s making money off multiple series about gay men. It would be incredibly stupid of her to go hating on her source of funding.

    Given the outcry, I also doubt she’s going to turn the book into a series, so we won’t be reading Sweet C*cksucker, Passionate C*cksucker, or Sensual C*cksucker.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    2:50 am

    I don’t know, Teddy Pig; given your recent comments and rants about Prop 8 and the churches, etc., I am baffled by your response to Paul and his comments.

    Careful, Amy D. you might become the next member of Ann’s patented Small Minded Bitch club. Because we all know Ann is nothing if not classy.

    What, exactly, do people think they’re going to lose if someone agrees with Ann or doesn’t share the opinion that she’s a horrible person who should not be listened to under any circumstances?

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  • I don’t think the title should be taken as an affront to anything or anybody. I, for one (and one is the loneliest number), rather like it, particularly in light of the author’s explanation. It’s original, evocative, and gutsy.

    WHOOPS, guess I neglected to take my sensitivity medication today.

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  • I don’t know, Teddy Pig; given your recent comments and rants about Prop 8 and the churches, etc., I am baffled by your response to Paul and his comments.

    What? Because I am not reading into things that are not there or publicly attacking what I think the title represents or what I think the author and publisher meant by it all?

    Fortunately I have some background and idea what is out there on the book shelves from hanging around Gay Bookstores and could really care less. I have seen things much much worse.

    If I was curious or alarmed by any of it I would certainly ask. There is always email too. Communication Technology is amazing that way.

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  • I think many people are unable to apply the idea that words are fluid, and some (like cunt, or bitch, or in this particular case, according to the author and publisher, cocksucker) have both positive and negative connotations, depending on context.

    People are allowed to be offended, though. And as long as no one is forcing Ms. Sherridan and Ms. Noble to pull the book and change the title, those offended have every right to let people know it.

    I think Kirsten nailed it.

    And I agree with Karen here…

    I think people shout PC with good reason though Robin, because a lot of the time, the free speech that you advocate, becomes hard to live up to, because people are so frightened of offending others, they trip over themselves, trying to find ways of explaining their feelings without appearing to be racist/homophobic/sexist/ or just plain crazy.

    But I also agree with Robin here…

    I disagree because I think PC has itself become an accusation meant to shut other people up, to make them feel oversensitive and therefore unentitled to their feelings.

    Too many people are afraid to say certain things for fear of being seen as racist/sexist/homophobic/whatever-ic. But then you’ve also got people who love to hurl out the PC crap just to shut people up.

    Personally speaking, I don’t care for the title. But I’m not into reading M/M~just doesn’t work for me, any more than westerns or young adult. So I guess my preference is moot.

    However, I can say that if I did read M/M, it wouldn’t be a title I’d buy…and the reasoning is this…(and it’s the same reasoning I had for Big, Spankable Asses)

    I have kids. Young ones. I tend to read in the evening when I’m trying to relax. I’m not very likely to pick up a book that if they catch a glimpse of the title will lead to questions I’m not ready to answer… explaining to the 7 year old what a c*cksucker is…no thanks.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t read erotic romance, I read plenty of it, in both ebook and print. But I’m cautious about the books I buy. Books with risque covers I buy in ebook format so I don’t have to worry about the kids seeing something they shouldn’t on a shelf.

    I buy plenty of erotic romance in print, but if it’s a nekkid threesome gangbang taking place on the cover, I’ll buy E or not at all.

    But even then I’m careful, because I know my reading habits. If I sit my reader down to fiddle with dinner, I’ll make sure it’s not in the middle of a big spanking scene, but I’m not necessarily going to to think to turn it off.

    So I don’t want them to glance over at my reader and see
    BEAUTIFUL C*CKSUCKER or BIG SPANKABLE ASSES right at the top of the page… again, explanations I don’t want.

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  • I am not the one leaping from being offended by the word cocksucker (Which is his opinion.) to claiming it as a slur used only for Gay Men (Which is highly debatable.) to claiming it’s use leads to greater homophobia and attacks on Gay Men (Which is unsupportable.).

    I probably disagree with Teddy as often as not, but I have to say this was my take, as well. I came away from Paul’s comments with the inference that anyone who would use the term (or continue to use it once they’d been “corrected”) was actively contributing to homophobia. What bothers me about cases like this, is there’s this unspoken judgement that anyone who is not offended by things like a book titled Beautiful Cocksucker is somehow a homophobe, or contributing to gay-bashing.

    I can understand why it offends someone. But just as people have the right to be offended, they also have the right to be totally okay with something. These are words, people. They have exactly as much power as we are willing to give them.

    What, exactly, do people think they’re going to lose if someone agrees with Ann or doesn’t share the opinion that she’s a horrible person who should not be listened to under any circumstances?

    I frequently agree with Ann, and I don’t find her a horrible person at all (however she might feel about me). Like virtually anyone, she could do more to “win friends and influence people”, and I don’t think it’s out of line to bring it to her attention any more than to do same for Jill Noble or Barbara Sherridan.

    I agree, glib comments are not helpful, but that doesn’t mean they’re coming out of nowhere, either.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:37 am

    These are words, people. They have exactly as much power as we are willing to give them.

    Except when Ann Somerville speaks them, eh? ;)

    I came away from Paul’s comments with the inference that anyone who would use the term (or continue to use it once they’d been “corrected”) was actively contributing to homophobia.

    Again, I would simply ask for a reference, because I just don’t see that in his comments at all.

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  • Again, I would simply ask for a reference, because I just don’t see that in his comments at all.

    From Elisa Rolle’s:

    No offense meant, but I personally feel it is not a title which should have been chosen simply because it is a hateful, violatile word and for those who are not pro-gay, who will not bother to pick up and read the book and understand the contextual usage, who are simply looking to spew hate, they will simply see that usage and it will allow them to justify their usage of it in hateful ways.

    From his own blog:

    These words are horrible, horrible things. I personally do not even like it when other gay men say them as a joke. They are not words to me that can be reclaimed. These are the words that were shouted at Matthew Sheppard as he was beaten to death while tied to a fence,

    C*cksucker is a horrible, dangerous word, one that should not be used lightly or thought of as a catchy little title for a book. It is offensive. And not until you have had it shouted at you by a group of rowdy, drunk teenagers in a passing car at night can you truly understand how damaging that word is.

    Because at the end of the day, if you use a hateful word as a title just to help you sell books, if you perpetuate stereotypes, then even if your intentions are good, you as a non-gay do not need to live with the consequences. I do. And so do hundreds of thousands of other gay men.

    Reading these passages, it’s difficult to apply any other context to the word “consequences”. And he doesn’t say, “It offends me,” or, “I find it offensive.” He says instead, “It is offensive.” He speaks in absolutes, as if there is no other valid viewpoint than his. As if he speaks for all gay men–or all human beings.

    Listen, I understand his point of view, I really do, but that doesn’t mean I have to share it, or that Barbara or Jill have to agree with it.

    I’ve been called a bitch and a cunt before, during circumstances that were less than pleasant for me. But because a man calls a woman a “bitch” while raping her, does that mean that Sarah and Candy are perpetuating hatred against women in their choice of a domain name?

    They’re words. Yes they have power. But they have the power we choose to give them, and no more than that.

    And yes, even when Ann Somerville speaks them. :P

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  • Again, I would simply ask for a reference, because I just don’t see that in his comments at all.

    Robin don’t get how you can read all that and still do not see it?

    Here let’s map out Paul’s exact words for you. I’ll highlight the parts you need to focus on.

    I don’t care that in the context of the story the characters call each other c*cksuckers. In text, in context, I would still bristle at it, but I would understand. But as the title of a book? NOPE! See, I realize that there are many, many non-pro gay people — people who love to hunt gay folks — who will simply see that title — they will never read the book to understand the context, and if they did, they’d never want to understand the context — and all they will do is see that title and feel justified for their usage of that word. I don’t care how romantic or loving the D/s relationship is depicted in that book. C*cksucker is a horrible, dangerous word, one that should not be used lightly or thought of as a catchy little title for a book. It is offensive. And not until you have had it shouted at you by a group of rowdy, drunk teenagers in a passing car at night can you truly understand how damaging that word is.

    Robin, read “non-pro gay people” and “rowdy, drunk teenagers” as your typical hypothetical homophobic boogymen. So here Robin is where Paul attributes Cocksucker to promoting homophobia by justifying it’s use with Gay People.

    Because at the end of the day, if you use a hateful word as a title just to help you sell books, if you perpetuate stereotypes, then even if your intentions are good, you as a non-gay do not need to live with the consequences. I do. And so do hundreds of thousands of other gay men.

    So here Robin is where Paul accuses straight people using hateful words in a book title… which was spelled out above as Cocksucker… and suggests that leaves “Paul to live with the consequences” implying yet again Robin that Paul attributes Cocksucker to promoting homophobia amongst the hypothetical homophobic boogymen.

    So there’s your reference.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    7:24 am

    I’m sorry, Kirsten, but I still don’t see it; IMO you’re reading an accusation into those words that isn’t there. Well, unless you’re someone who hates gay people and articulates and/or acts on that hate.

    And Paul’s first comment, which you didn’t quote, absolutely put his feelings into personal POV:

    I dunno. I’m a bit offended by the title (c*cksucker being a epithet many straight people use against gays). I dunno if I could overcome my hatred and the offensiveness of that word to even give this book a chance.

    As I said before, I’m very glad Paul spoke up, because I learned something from him about a word I had previously merely found unappealing, and I’m glad I learned it. That doesn’t mean I blame Noble and Sheridan for titling the book the way they did, but what came across to me in the discussion was that Paul was being politely blown off, and that made him feel even more compelled to articulate what for him are RL consequences of “just a word.” Just like those guys in the Castro dramatized in “Milk” heard “faggot” or some variation while they were being beaten to death while the police stood by and did nothing. What disturbed me more was the way so few people seemed to take what Paul was saying seriously. Given that, I’m amazed he stayed as civil and IMO respectful as he did.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    7:27 am

    Why don’t I get it? Maybe because it’s not objectively there?

    Actually, I would have highlighted those same words, especially all the *if’s* for my side of the argument.

    And again, TP, after your diatribes against the churches and anyone who dared to have an opinion different than yours on Prop 8, I seriously don’t get your position here at all.

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  • hypothetical homophobic boogymen

    You mean the hypothetical homophobic boogyman who just sent Paul a hate message, making sure to call him a cocksucker?

    You mean those hypothetical homophobic boogymen who decided gay people can’t marry and adopt?

    You mean those hypothetical homophobic boogymen who killed Matthew Shepard? And those hypothetical homophobic boogymen who made it impossible for you to serve in the Navy without hiding your lover and your sexuality?

    Gosh, I’m glad to know homophobia’s a myth. I’ll toddle off and tell Paul it’s all in his mind. He’ll be so relieved.

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  • then even if your intentions are good, you as a non-gay do not need to live with the consequences. I do.

    There’s a highlighted if, and it’s largely what got me. I don’t know how it could be interpreted any other way–that their use of the title, even well-intentioned, would have the negative consequence of increasing homophobia.

    What disturbed me more was the way so few people seemed to take what Paul was saying seriously. Given that, I’m amazed he stayed as civil and IMO respectful as he did.

    I didn’t see the responses as blowing him off. And I certainly think the weight of the sentiments at Elisa’s and at his own blog were firmly on his side, so I’m not sure where you’re getting the “so few”.

    Jill and Barbara both responded politely, considered what he was saying, said they understood it, tried to explain where they were coming from, and said they regretted that he and others were offended. I mean, what else would you have had them do?

    Unless the only way to “take someone seriously” is to agree with him and change your behavior to conform to his wishes.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    7:49 am

    There’s a highlighted if, and it’s largely what got me. I don’t know how it could be interpreted any other way–that their use of the title, even well-intentioned, would have the negative consequence of increasing homophobia.

    But what about the first part of that quote — where Paul specifies two things: 1) choosing a title just to sell books and 2) perpetuating stereotypes. And what’s the upshot? That gay men “have to live with the consequences” of those things.

    So you think that’s untrue? That there are not consequences to either of those things? Because I do. Although it certainly sucks to think about them. Which is IMO what Paul was asking people to do. Of course, I just spent two hours today watching “Milk,” followed by another couple hours discussing it, so I have a very vivid context for this conversation right now.

    I didn’t see the responses as blowing him off. And I certainly think the weight of the sentiments at Elisa’s and at his own blog were firmly on his side, so I’m not sure where you’re getting the “so few”.

    I should have made it clear that I was not just referring to Elisa Rolle’s livejournal in this comment but to other venues in which the discussion was occurring, too.

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  • Jill and Barbara both responded politely, considered what he was saying, said they understood it, tried to explain where they were coming from, and said they regretted that he and others were offended.

    Jill Noble’s actual words were:

    I apologize if anyone is offended, but we do stick by our choice of title.

    That is not an apology. That’s like me saying to Kirsten, “sorry you’re an idiot.” It’s a slap, not a peace offering.

    And I would like you all to reflect on the irony of saying how you’re not homophobes, while spending so much time smacking down a gay man and his concerns. Nothing validates a minority like being told they’re just silly when they raise their voices.

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  • 1) choosing a title just to sell books and 2) perpetuating stereotypes.

    Both Jill and Barbara have said why they chose the title, and that it was not just to sell books. I guess it’s your choice whether to believe them or not, but I’m willing to take them at their word.

    And what stereotypes are perpetuated? That gay men suck cock? Um, as Teddypig said, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t. In fact, from some statistics I’ve come across, more of them do that than engage in anal sex. So I guess pretty much every gay romance out there is perpetuating a stereotype that is counter to reality, don’t they? Or is the stereotype that people like to talk dirty to each other during sex? Nope, never engaged in that myself. All my lovers sang paeans to my beauty and fecundity while we did the nasty. No one ever called me a dirty little girl who–*ahem* Never mind…

    So you think that’s untrue? That there are not consequences to either of those things? Because I do.

    I don’t think the word “cocksucker” in a book title is going to make anyone beat someone up, no–unless it’s in a book called “Stomp all Cocksuckers”. I don’t think the word “bitch” was what led to me being sexually assaulted. Those words are often reflective of the attitudes that lead to such acts, but they don’t cause them. That is, I think they are more symptomatic than causal. And I seriously doubt the kinds of people who might be driven to beat up a gay man by reading the word cocksucker are not the kind who will be frequenting the GLBT section of bookstores–unless they’re already there looking for someone to beat up. I would guess they probably don’t need to read that word in a book title for it to be foremost in their mind.

    so I have a very vivid context for this conversation right now.

    I can tell. I think personal biases can sometimes be as fluid as language can be, and I may well feel differently about an issue like this right after my emotions have been engaged like that. I agree that people should think about these issues, and not take them lightly. And I believe (and have said more than once) that I understand why people are offended by the title. But I get the impression that anything other than changing my mind altogether is going to be seen as inadequate consideration.

    I should have made it clear that I was not just referring to Elisa Rolle’s livejournal in this comment but to other venues in which the discussion was occurring, too.

    Have you any links? I’d be interested in reading the whole debate. From what I’ve read, it’s condemnation of the title and dismissal of apologies for the win.

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  • That is not an apology. That’s like me saying to Kirsten, “sorry you’re an idiot.” It’s a slap, not a peace offering.

    Um, okaaaayyy…

    Barbara Sheridan’s apology, if brief:

    The title is taken from dialogue between the main characters.

    I apologize if it comes across as offensive when taken out of context to the scene it was drawn from.

    And Ms. Noble’s:

    I’d like to thank you all for your feedback, and offer my apologies if you were offended. I assure you, that was never our intent. I hope, if you read the explanation I provided on the above blog, you’ll have a better understanding of our reasoning, even if you still don’t agree or approve of the title.

    On Elisa’s LJ, Ms. Noble goes on to explain and explain and explain why in this context, with this book and these characters, they went with this choice of title. She didn’t insult anyone, unless politely disagreeing with them is to be construed as an insult. I’ve seen some brush-offs in this case, notably:

    Sigh. I appreciate the intent of your note, Jill. However, true apologies do not come qualified with the phrase “if.”

    I suppose Jill would have been better advised to use the word “that” than “if”. And an immediate pulling of the book so the title could be changed…

    Nothing validates a minority like being told they’re just silly when they raise their voices.

    It’s possible for a person to disagree with someone, or feel differently than them, without thinking or telling them they’re silly. Can’t we agree on that, at least?

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  • EC Sheedy
    December 31
    8:44 am

    What do you do when you buy a book with a title like this? Go into the bathroom, lock the door, and use a flashlight?

    Someone up thread used the word “ugly.” I second that. It’s an ugh-yuck title to me. I don’t want to analyze it beyond that . . .

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  • What do you do when you buy a book with a title like this? Go into the bathroom, lock the door, and use a flashlight?

    That’s my one issue with the title. Poor taste, yes. Homophobic, not so much, really.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    8:46 am

    Both Jill and Barbara have said why they chose the title, and that it was not just to sell books. I guess it’s your choice whether to believe them or not, but I’m willing to take them at their word.

    The point I was trying to make is that I don’t think Paul was speaking specifically about *this book* here, either. His livejournal entry had a much broader reach than Sheridan’s book.

    I think personal biases can sometimes be as fluid as language can be, and I may well feel differently about an issue like this right after my emotions have been engaged like that.

    Well, I’ve been feeling this way since I read the discussion two weeks ago. It’s just that today I got a visual of what Paul had been talking about, and it was amazing how well it lined up with his concerns. But my very first comment here was written before I saw the film.

    As for personal bias, this is all about personal interpretation, isn’t it?

    Have you any links?

    Try the third one Karen posted in her list above.

    I don’t think the word “cocksucker” in a book title is going to make anyone beat someone up, no–unless it’s in a book called “Stomp all Cocksuckers”.

    Why do these discussions always have to go to the extremes? It’s never so simplistic as this, is it?

    IMO it’s about climate. For example, after 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims in the US rose. Was it the Tower tragedies or was it more the eruption of a deep-seated suspicion and dislike toward Muslim people or Islam? I’d vote for the second. But I’d also argue that people like Ann Coulter arguing that “Arabs” in general, no qualification, “killed 3000 Americans,” referring to them as “camel jockies” surely added to the hysteria and hatred, helping to normalize it, to make it seem not so horrible, patriotic, even.

    We saw this same fear during the US presidential election with Obama being likened to a Muslim terrorist on some McCain campaign flyers. On the gay issue, we saw it in CA with the pro Prop 8 campaigners scaring parents by telling them their kids would be “indoctrinated” into homosexuality in school is Prop 8 passed. The polls showed that Prop 8 was going down until those ads started airing.

    So if the question is whether I think words matter, then my answer is yes. Perhaps not in a one word – one person way, but in terms of creating a climate of hatred or of tolerance, then yes, absolutely. Every time a man is accused of rape we see this. Every time someone has to check the “felon” box on an employment application. Yeah, I think words matter, and if they didn’t, the book “Beautiful C*cksucker” would not even exist. Because isn’t that the argument Barbara Sheridan and Jill Noble are making in support of the book’s title — that it’s *important* in and for the book?

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  • I’d vote for the second. But I’d also argue that people like Ann Coulter arguing that “Arabs” in general, no qualification, “killed 3000 Americans,” referring to them as “camel jockies” surely added to the hysteria and hatred, helping to normalize it, to make it seem not so horrible, patriotic, even.

    Maybe I’m just not lowbrow enough, because I think pretty much anything Ann Coulter says makes her look like an idiot, and I’m patently against normalizing idiocy. So, yeah, she can call Muslims “camel jockies” all she wants, IMO. It helps separate the morons from the rest of us.

    As I’ve said, though, I understand why people are offended by BC, and I think they have a right to be. But other people have a right to feel differently. My point was exactly that these issues are not black and white, that there are viewpoints that cover the spectrum of opinion and experience, and that people–including those who disagree with Paul et al–have a right to them, and that people who might disagree with Paul et al are not necessarily evil or homophobes.

    For god sakes, disagreeing with someone is not the same as dismissing them.

    Yeah, I think words matter, and if they didn’t, the book “Beautiful C*cksucker” would not even exist. Because isn’t that the argument Barbara Sheridan and Jill Noble are making in support of the book’s title — that it’s *important* in and for the book?

    The book would exist, I think, though the title might not. But the thing is, the title will always be read through the eyes of the person reading it. Me, well, I like the word “bitch” when it’s used in a female-empowering way, despite my own negative experiences with it. Ditto for “cunt”. Having never seen the word “cocksucker” hurled at a gay man (I guess I’m sheltered), but at plenty of straight men and women, I guess I never thought of it as a gay slur. But even if I did, I doubt I would view it differently than I view “bitch” or “cunt” (clearly sexist slurs)–the insult is in the context. I’ve come across readers (and publishers) who insist that there is no way they would ever read or publish a book that contained the word “cunt”, that it’s a terrible, irredeemable word that ought to be obliterated. I use it in my fiction as a no-nonsense term for a body part, while they can’t abide it even in the most benign of contexts? Who, I ask, is giving that word its power?

    I honestly believe in the case of this title, the context is not intended to be insulting. I honestly believe that people who hate gays will not need this book to convince them to hate gays.

    I hope the publisher and author do not bow to the pressure to change it.

    Try the third one Karen posted in her list above.

    Ahh. I would assume most of the people sounding off on Teddy’s blog would agree with Teddy–just as every single person on Paul’s blog, IIRC, agreed with Paul.

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  • West
    December 31
    9:25 am

    Perhaps not in a one word – one person way, but in terms of creating a climate of hatred or of tolerance, then yes, absolutely. Every time a man is accused of rape we see this. Every time someone has to check the “felon” box on an employment application.

    Robin, could you elaborate on what you mean by that? Maybe I’m missing the point since it’s late and I’m tired, but I’m not getting it.

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  • I would assume most of the people sounding off on Teddy’s blog would agree with Teddy–just as every single person on Paul’s blog, IIRC, agreed with Paul.

    Then try this
    http://community.livejournal.com/thisthingwedo/16088.html

    No one has said Sheridan or Noble set out to insult anyone. The bone being picked is their response – particularly Noble’s – when the offence was pointed out. Politely.

    And beyond that, I can’t say any more. I am so sickened by what’s happening to my friend – someone who is not motivated by hate or partiality at all, and who is being attacked simply because he’s gay – that anything I can add will only make Karen jump down my throat.

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  • someone who is not motivated by hate or partiality at all, and who is being attacked simply because he’s gay

    If he’s being harassed or attacked because he’s gay, that’s a terrible thing. I don’t know that anyone would jump down your throat for speaking up for him if that’s the case.

    I’m going to go read that thread…

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  • Robin
    December 31
    9:53 am

    Maybe I’m just not lowbrow enough, because I think pretty much anything Ann Coulter says makes her look like an idiot, and I’m patently against normalizing idiocy. So, yeah, she can call Muslims “camel jockies” all she wants, IMO. It helps separate the morons from the rest of us.

    Coulter was an easy example to reach for, but the anti-Muslim rhetoric was/is widespread.

    For god sakes, disagreeing with someone is not the same as dismissing them.

    Of course not. But that doesn’t mean both can’t occur within a discussion, and I believe that both have occurred in the BC discussions.

    I’ve come across readers (and publishers) who insist that there is no way they would ever read or publish a book that contained the word “cunt”, that it’s a terrible, irredeemable word that ought to be obliterated. I use it in my fiction as a no-nonsense term for a body part, while they can’t abide it even in the most benign of contexts? Who, I ask, is giving that word its power?

    I’m not sure this is a comparable situation, though. To me Paul’s issue is more akin to rape victims who find the trope of the rape fantasy in Romance horrible. While I do not share that belief, I get why they feel that way, and that awareness has shaped the way I interpret the trope, because rape is a violent act in RL that is often portrayed differently in Romance. When violence is associated with a word or image, I think we’re at a different level than mere insult.

    I honestly believe in the case of this title, the context is not intended to be insulting.

    It probably isn’t. But as I said somewhere else, I think some of what happened with Paul Bens’s comments is that he felt dismissed a bit and it made him feel even more like his perspective was important to voice. That it became almost less about the title itself and the sense that his concerns were deemed unimportant or irrelevant. IMO, of course.

    Robin, could you elaborate on what you mean by that?

    What I mean is that what we find acceptable in language is often reflective of our tolerances and intolerances. So we no longer tolerate the N-word, at least among white people, because it signifies something ugly, denigrating, and associated with violence (lynchings, particularly). A culture that found Jim Crow laws sensible and lynchings an acceptable form of community “justice” embraced that word.

    So words can be mirrors and they can be lenses of a larger cultural climate, a barometer of what we believe about groups of people and their worth. And that when certain words are circulated through the culture without question, their connotations both reflect and validate certain beliefs about and treatment of those who are at the receiving end of those words. Like how “Jap” was common during and after WWII, especially during the time Japanese Americans were seen as anti-American and were being rounded up and placed in camps. Such a word was more than a cultural descriptor, and if it’s said and heard enough, doesn’t it help any belief that Japanese people are less human, somehow, that they are merely “Japs” and therefore deserving of lesser treatment?

    And in terms of my last two sentences, I was just trying to suggest that we do have certain words in our society that have a strong impact on specific individuals. For example, in some jurisdictions, teenagers convicted of statutory rape (conceivably a seventeen year old boy who had consensual sex with his 15 year old girlfriend) have to register as sex offenders, which marks them very specifically. Employment applications routinely ask people if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony, a word that has a very specific stigma attached. And manufactured rape accusations can ruin someone’s life because the term “rapist” is so culturally loaded. So words can matter in very material ways, even past the general cultural climate to which they contribute and refer.

    I’m beyond exhausted, so I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s the best I can do right now, lol.

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  • Um, if I’m not completely clueless about unearthing all the collapsed threads, I’m still only seeing one person at thisthingwedo who had the temerity to disagree (sort of) with Paul. So I’m not sure where we’re getting this whole idea that his concerns are being brushed off. I’m seeing plenty of positive feedback for his POV.

    Although if he’s being attacked through private emails, that’s shitty thing to do, and anyone who engages in that kind of harassment ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    Okay, here’s the rub, from Paul:

    Of course, some may misinterpret, but as long as the author has constructed it well and it is clear that the intention is to help demonize these words rather than promote them.

    I think words should not be demonized, I think attitudes and actions should be. I think there is a difference between the word “felon” on a job application, and the word “bitches” on a website. Sorry, Robin, but I do.

    Again, from Paul:

    If I were to go about saying that I am a huge fan of women and of m/f fiction and titled my book Beautiful C*nt (the word I used in my other post) because the characters in my story use that as a term of “endearment,” I would expect people to be pissed off and call me on it.

    And I wouldn’t be one of them. I might put masking tape over the title if I wanted to read it at the dentist’s office, just like I would over nudity if that were on the cover, but I wouldn’t be pissed off. I suppose if the title was “Fucking Cunt” or “Ugly Cunt” or “Stupid Cunt”, well, there isn’t any possible way that could be construed as anything other than an insult. But even then I’m not sure whether I would be pissed off. I think, if the aim was to be subversive, I probably wouldn’t.

    But then, I’ve always thought insults are much more about intent than anything else.

    The bone being picked is their response – particularly Noble’s – when the offence was pointed out. Politely.

    What would have been satisfactory? Please, use precise language, so I don’t miss the point…

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  • While I do not share that belief, I get why they feel that way, and that awareness has shaped the way I interpret the trope, because rape is a violent act in RL that is often portrayed differently in Romance.

    I think that using these criteria and considering my particular situation, the word “cunt” would be entirely comparable to “cocksucker”.

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  • Um, if I’m not completely clueless about unearthing all the collapsed threads, I’m still only seeing one person at thisthingwedo who had the temerity to disagree (sort of) with Paul.

    I provided that link since you believed people were only agreeing with Paul in his LJ because it *was* his LJ.

    What would have been satisfactory?

    To me, something like:
    “I’m sorry I’ve offended you with the title. Though I didn’t intend to offend you, I’ll try not to repeat that, and will take your concerns into account when choosing my next title.”

    Now, how hard and demeaning is that? No one believed the author or publisher had set out to hurt or offend. No one wanted the book pulled. An acknowledgement of fault and a stated intention to do better is all that were required.

    Instead, Noble lectures Paul about how wrong he is concerning the history and usage of the word, tells him it’s not offensive to gay men especially though he’s explain why it *is*, and then tops it off with an insulting ‘*if* you’re offended’ non-apology. It’s the classic way to not deal healthily with unintentional offence.

    Not all gay men are offended by that word. It is used, like other insults, for other groups. But its *primary* meaning is a homophobic insult, and the fact that even *one* gay man is offended – and it was more than one – means an apology should be rendered. Because as Paul says, it’s not Sheridan or Noble who have to live with the consequences of people thinking ‘cocksucker’ is an acceptable word to use, nor does it have the special impact on them that it will do for a gay thing. Paul had a friend bashed into a coma, and the last words he heard were words like ‘cocksucker’. That’s far from an isolated example.

    Words have power. You can’t wish away what you’re uncomfortable with. Neither you nor I are part of the minority involved. So if a gay man says ‘hey, you’re hurting me’ the appropriate response is to shut up, listen, and learn. Not to say ‘you’re not hurting’.

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  • Karen Scott
    December 31
    12:59 pm

    I find myself agreeing with most of Kirsten’s points, and if I wasn’t currently trying to buy my NY’s eve outfit, I’d address some of the pertinent points that have been raised.

    Ann, you do know that I don’t live just for the sheer fun of getting people to pile on you at every opportunity don’t you?

    Just thought I’d make sure you knew that, because you seem to be operating under the assumption that my lot in life is to encourage others to slap you down and call you rude names.

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  • cs
    December 31
    1:31 pm

    BC was used as a title, and personally I was…’huh?’ maybe because half of me was screaming ‘Hello homophobic much’. But then this is Ms. Sheridan and that doesn’t make sense. However I have read countless times in M/M fiction characters calling each other: “Yeah you’re such a good little cocksucker” etc etc within the novel. So if we had such a problem with the word being used as a title, shouldn’t that also be applied when it’s used within the text?

    Personally I would have maybe read the novel, if it wasn’t published by a company I have never heard off. However I believe that if people are upset about the word, then they have every right to be. More often than not this word has been used to discriminate gay people. Because that’s the first thing I thought off when I saw it. Hell I feel uncomfortable when author’s use it within the text too.

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  • No one’s really paid much attention to me and that’s a good thing I suppose, but FWIW, I have a slight problem with the whole ‘felon check box’ on an employment application used as an example against the word c*cksucker.

    When one checks the box that they’ve been convicted of a felony, it’s usually because they have been. They are listed in the eyes of the law as a felon. That’s not a derogatory term. It’s a fact. And as far as I can remember (and I’ve been around a long time) I’ve never heard anyone use the term ‘felon’ as a derogatory slur.

    I don’t know Paul Benns. I’ve never talked to him. But I highly doubt he goes around telling people he’s a c*cksucker. He describes himself as gay. In this day and age, gay, straight, bi, they’ve all become a way of explaining sexual orientation and are used much more prominently in that context than they are as any kind of slur. *Not always!* But most often. And because of that, I accept when people use gay, straight, bi, to describe themselves if asked.

    I can’t imagine Mr. Benns describing himself to me as a c*cksucker. I would spew my coffee all over my keyboard because of the meaning of that word *to me*.

    The word c*cksucker to me is, and will always be, nothing but a nasty, vile slur toward whoever it’s used against and regardless of the connotation. I guess I must be the sheltered one here, because I can’t remember ever hearing it as a gay term of endearment. But because of that word, I find that the content of the book doesn’t matter to me, I would never buy it simply based on the title and my own connotation associated with that word.

    Still, that’s my opinion of the word, and I am only one reader in a huge sea of readers who all have different tastes. Like I said earlier, I’m sure some will buy the book based on the controversy surrounding it, but ultimately, the overall sales figures, not so much how it does the first week, or even the second, but the following weeks, when the controversy has died down, will tell whether the public liked the *story* enough to get past the title and continued to recommend it.

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  • And again, TP, after your diatribes against the churches and anyone who dared to have an opinion different than yours on Prop 8, I seriously don’t get your position here at all.

    If you do not like the fact I believe in the separation of church and state or what happened with Prop 8 then that is your problem.

    The point I was trying to make is that I don’t think Paul was speaking specifically about *this book* here, either. His livejournal entry had a much broader reach than Sheridan’s book.

    He was specifically was talking about the book it is right there is his rant.

    So what prompts this? An author has written a m/m erotica novel entitled “Beautiful C*cksucker.”

    So far I have been able to use quotes about what he said exactly to support my argument. You however obviously do not care.

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  • You mean the hypothetical homophobic boogyman who just sent Paul a hate message, making sure to call him a cocksucker?

    You mean those hypothetical homophobic boogymen who decided gay people can’t marry and adopt?

    You mean those hypothetical homophobic boogymen who killed Matthew Shepard? And those hypothetical homophobic boogymen who made it impossible for you to serve in the Navy without hiding your lover and your sexuality?

    Gosh, I’m glad to know homophobia’s a myth. I’ll toddle off and tell Paul it’s all in his mind. He’ll be so relieved.

    No, I am talking about the hypothetical homophobic boogymen reading Gay Romance or Classic Gay Lit who see titles like Cocksucker or Queer or Faggots and think “Hey I’ll go hurt a gay guy!”

    Because that is what Paul’s argument rests on. That those titles, those words support violence against gay people so they should not be used.

    I however think that if you took those words away those same folks looking to hurt gay people would just find something else to call us or just bash us without them.

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  • West
    December 31
    4:59 pm

    For example, in some jurisdictions, teenagers convicted of statutory rape (conceivably a seventeen year old boy who had consensual sex with his 15 year old girlfriend) have to register as sex offenders, which marks them very specifically. Employment applications routinely ask people if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony, a word that has a very specific stigma attached…And manufactured rape accusations can ruin someone’s life because the term “rapist” is so culturally loaded

    I disagree with you Robin. Employers have good reason to ask if someone is a felon. They were convicted of a crime, and depending on the nature of the job, that could have bearing on it.

    As for statutory rape, I personally don’t agree with an 18 year old being labelled for the rest of his life because he had sex with his 15 year old girlfriend, but it is the law. If she’s under the age of consent, then it *is* illegal. Maybe we think it’s harmless, but the law doesn’t.

    What really aggravates me is you pointing out “manufactured rape accusations.” First, they do happen, but they are pretty rare. Second, they may not be manufactured at all. Many rape victims will claim they lied because they change their minds about going through with the testimony- in courts they themselves at put on trial. They are accused of lying, of doing something to provoke the attack, of being whores. How do these things not attach a stigma to the women? It is not just men who deal with that.

    And I do agree words have meaning. They can be used to hurt, to help, to express love or hate. But ultimately, I agree with TeddyPig. Gaybashers will always find a reason to justify to themselves what they do. A book title is not going to give them any extra cause, nor will changing that book title stop them.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:05 pm

    I think there is a difference between the word “felon” on a job application, and the word “bitches” on a website. Sorry, Robin, but I do.

    Uhm, didn’t I make just this point but for the opposite side? That some words matter more because they are associated with violence and not mere insult?

    I think that using these criteria and considering my particular situation, the word “cunt” would be entirely comparable to “cocksucker”.

    Which is why you and I disagree. Well, that and you think everyone agrees with Paul Bens. Which even here isn’t true.

    I have a slight problem with the whole ‘felon check box’ on an employment application used as an example against the word c*cksucker.

    I’m not comparing it to cocksucker; I’m responding to Kirsten’s assertion that words have only the power we give them to hurt us. IMO some words have power beyond personal interpretation, felon being one of them.

    You however obviously do not care.

    Obviously.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:07 pm

    They are accused of lying, of doing something to provoke the attack, of being whores. How do these things not attach a stigma to the women? It is not just men who deal with that.

    No, it isn’t, and thank you for offering another example of how a word can devastate. That’s the point I was trying to make.

    And let me point out that it wasn’t very long ago when consensual gay sex was a crime, which is why, actually, I introduced the felon example.

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  • Uhm, didn’t I make just this point but for the opposite side? That some words matter more because they are associated with violence and not mere insult?

    I’m pretty sure you could find stories of hundreds of thousands of women whose husbands/boyfriends beat/stabbed/bludgeoned them to death who heard the words “bitch” “whore” “slut” over and over as they died.

    So why not ban those words too? They’re used in acts of violence a LOT more than cocksucker is.

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  • I’m not comparing it to cocksucker; I’m responding to Kirsten’s assertion that words have only the power we give them to hurt us. IMO some words have power beyond personal interpretation, felon being one of them.

    Yes, I agree, many words do carry a great amount of power beyond their original meaning however, you are using the word ‘felon’, a word pertaining to the law and whether or not someone has broken it and is rarely used as a slur, and the word ‘c*cksucker’ which in my experience has only ever been a slur and nothing else. The context for each word is entirely different and it’s an apple to oranges thing. At least in the way I see it. And I don’t know that I’m alone in that.

    If I call someone a felon, it’s because I know they are. They’ve committed a crime in the eyes of the law and society and, sorry if the label isn’t nice, but it’s true. If I call someone a c*cksucker (which in this instance is theoretical since that’s not a word I ever say), it’s my intention to degrade them in the worst possible way whether they are or not.

    There’s a big difference between the two.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:15 pm

    In fact, it was only 2003 that Lawrence v. Texas struck down the criminalization of sodomy, which at one time had been a felony in every single state.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:19 pm

    If I call someone a felon, it’s because I know they are.

    Okay, I’ll take one more pass at this before I’m done. The point I’m trying to make is NOT that every word is necessarily a slur. Some words have very positive powers associated with them. Doctor, for example, which bestows a certain amount of social privilege.

    My point with the felon example is exactly what you say: that the force of law is behind it. So when you outlaw and class as a felony, for example, mixed race marriage or consensual gay sex or the like, it’s not so simple as “well, a felon is a felon.”

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  • I’ve just popped over to the link that Ann S provided, to read some of the comments (And that’s a feat because I’m not so hot at following links) but I have to ask if anybody sees the irony of one of the commenters on there having an avatar with the words Dykes to watch out for?

    Is dyke, used in that context, a less hurtful/hateful word than cocksucker now? Because I don’t see anybody complaining about it.

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  • True, but sodomy and fellatio are still different things, lol and last I checked, one was never a felony. (ROFL, Guys would never be THAT dumb)

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  • Sorry, Robin, but now you lost me at the mixed-race marriage and gay consensual sex which are quickly becoming things of the past as far as any kind of felony is concerned.

    Use any other slur in the same context, but not something that isn’t.

    *Most* people would probably never think of calling anyone a felon as a generic slur. C*cksucker has been used as a generic slur for generations.

    Again, HUGE difference.

    And Dee, I didn’t check, but you’re probably right.

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  • The felon word is actually a good one although not comparable to cocksucker. The word “Felon” carries with it associations beyond that the person committed a crime in the eyes of society and the law.

    The word “Felon” brings with it the stigma of dishonesty, danger, violence, cruelty, inhumanity. It is quite hard for felons to obtain employment no matter what the crime is which actually increases the likelihood of recidivism and decreases rehabilitation. But, I suppose that is slightly off topic.

    The point is that words conjure up certain connotations to some people that are not positive regardless of reality. I.e., a felon could be someone convicted of manslaughter for driving while intoxicated and killing the passenger who was also intoxicated. If, after the requisite time spent in prison, is that felon still a danger to society? Is he or she still deeemed unemployable? Should that person not be allowed to clean hotels? or be near children? or work with the elderly? Tend a gas station? and so on and so forth.

    I understand that we can’t ban words. I am not for banning words at all. What I got from the post that Karen provided (and I have not read any of the links) is the question of whether a title of a book can be deemed to not only be offensive but to be considered a slur to a certain segment of society.

    If some segment of society views it as “hate speech” then the question is what would be the purpose of using it? Simply because it fits? And then the question becomes so long as a word is not universally offensive, just because it fits means that it is worthwhile to use as a title in a book.

    That sort of justification then provides that any term can be used with impunity because there will be some segment of society that will deem some words appropriate. When I was in the South visiting some family, a white person in the group referred to another group of people as niggers. I objected to the word, and was told by this person that the niggers don’t mind, they expect to be called niggers.

    So since, in that area of the south, that word was deemed acceptable by some segment of the population then a book entitled “Beautiful Nigger” would be justified because it fit when a white man was having sex with his black lover and whispering those words during coitus.

    I don’t think to saying that Beautiful Cocksucker is offensive is at all pointing that someone else is homophobic bc I don’t equate insensitivity with racism/sexism/homophobia. I equate insensitivity more with ignorance. Once some guy told me that my people ate a lot of rice so we would go to the China Buffet for lunch. I didn’t think that guy was racist, but I certainly thought he was ignorant.

    I agree that if Sheridan and Noble think that Beautiful Cocksucker is the best title that they could think of for Sheridan’s book that they shouldn’t back down, change the title or pull the book. But controversy is a consequence of provactiveness, as theo stated. And controversy is not equatable with censorship.

    I also agree that gaybashers will always justify their actions no matter how many books out there are titled tastelessly and contain gay perjoratives. But, if we are to rely on the minority group to stand up and say, I don’t like this, then doesn’t it start with just one person? In other words, how does greater understanding for one’s position come about without someone speaking up?

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:40 pm

    What Jane said.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    5:51 pm

    So why not ban those words too? They’re used in acts of violence a LOT more than cocksucker is.

    According to who? And why does this always have to be about “banning” words? Why can’t we have a discussion about the consequences of words, about what they contribute or don’t, about what they mean to different people, and about what price their acceptance may exact on us as a society without cries of censorship.

    I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who is more of a First Amendment absolutist than I (i.e. I think that free speech should remain as free as possible), but *because* of that, I think it’s important to be able to have discussions about words and language without people being called homophobes or racists and without unwarranted accusations of banning words and/or censorship.

    If we’re going to protect even the most offensive words legally, let’s decide thoughtfully how much and what kind of value they have to us socially, culturally, psychologically, etc.

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  • Jane, I agree with you completely on the word Felon.

    And if this book was titled “Beautiful Felon”, no one would have batted an eye.

    But one can’t plaster a generic slur with, for many of us, a nasty connotation, across the cover of a book and not expect everyone to keep their mouths shut, which is, I think, part of your point.

    And for the record once again, I have not in any way insisted the title be changed or banned or a public apology made. My comment was, as the author, she is free to title her book however she sees fit. But with such a controversial cover, she had to expect this type of reaction.

    And that is freedom of speech.

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  • That isn’t completely fair, she might have expected a reaction or not but who knows for sure

    I can’t assign a reaction or expectation to the author anymore than I think you can theo.

    And I totally agree with Jane’s last comment. People get offended by any number of things any no one needs to approve or ok it. You don’t need to agree with it or understand it. We don’t need to retire words because in the end we would end up with none left.

    But we do need to respect each other and discussion is the way to grow to learn how to do that of course that may have only of made sense in my head. If so just nod and smile ;).

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  • That isn’t completely fair, she might have expected a reaction or not but who knows for sure

    I can’t assign a reaction or expectation to the author anymore than I think you can theo.

    Fair or not, from what I understand, she is a good author and, from her posts, seems an intelligent woman and if she expected no reaction there wouldn’t have been such a lengthy discussion between the two as to the title of the book.

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  • Beautiful Felon would make a great western, just saying…

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  • I’ve never thought of this word as a gay slur. In my mind it’s more like calling someone a jerk or an asshole. But being that I’m not a gay man, I’m certainly in no position to tell them what to find it offensive. If they find it offensive, good enough for me.

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  • West
    December 31
    6:51 pm

    And if this book was titled “Beautiful Felon”, no one would have batted an eye.

    I disagree with you. I for one would batt an eye at that title, the same way I did for Beautiful Cocksucker. To me, and this is the main problem I have with the title anyway, is that the title is supposed to tell you something about the book. It’s supposed to draw you in, catch your attention, give you a reason to pick up the book. If a book was called Beautiful Felon,unless it’s a wrongly-convicted story, I would never read it, because the title tells me all I need to know. One of the characters is a felon, which I’m not interested in.

    Same goes for Beautiful Cocksucker. My problem with the title is not whether it’s a homophobic slur, whether it contributes to hate crimes, or anything like that. To me, it objectifies one of the characters. To me, the title boils the character down to one aspect of him. It’s personally a turn off for me. This may not be the case, but that’s what I see, and I would never read it.

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  • Beautiful Felon would make a great western, just saying…

    Or prison romance. Ooooh baby.

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  • @ West:

    Then what say you of the books with “Rake”, “Pirate”, “Scoundrel” and a dozen other adjectives in the title? Because each one of those objectifies one of the characters as well. However, none of those are generic slurs that carry with them what it to many/most, a nasty connotation.

    And there lies the difference.

    If a person has committed a felony, and the law has labeled him as such, then that’s what he must claim. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s redemption in the person at all! But I’m not calling him a c*cksucking felon which has an entirely different slant to the label, don’t you think?

    *sigh*

    What I don’t get when it all boils down to the very basic is this:

    If an author writes m/m fiction and is good, and has a good following, why would that author, who is writing about a specific group of people, want to give those who are hatemongers more ammunition??

    Which is *my* take on the whole thing and though it’s not everyone else’s, that’s the only way I can see such a derogatory term being used.

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  • Wow, go to bed and look what happens!

    I however think that if you took those words away those same folks looking to hurt gay people would just find something else to call us or just bash us without them.

    Yes.

    Uhm, didn’t I make just this point but for the opposite side? That some words matter more because they are associated with violence and not mere insult?

    Um, if you had been reading my comments, you would realize that I, at least, have every reason to associate the word “bitch” with violence and not mere insult.

    Which is why you and I disagree. Well, that and you think everyone agrees with Paul Bens. Which even here isn’t true.

    Where have I said that I think everyone agrees with him? What I have said is that I didn’t feel the argument that everyone was brushing him off was valid, because he has support in his arguments, here and elsewhere. I was unaware that thisthingwedo was Paul’s personal LJ, Ann. But one voice of dissent does not constitute a flood of disapproval, even if it happens on his own turf. He’s got plenty of support.

    So why not ban those words too? They’re used in acts of violence a LOT more than cocksucker is.

    Maybe not more, but they are certainly often used as misogynist slurs, and yeah, frequently accompanied by violence.

    but I have to ask if anybody sees the irony of one of the commenters on there having an avatar with the words Dykes to watch out for?

    I was rather fond of Dharma Slut, “slut” being one of those pesky words I would very personally associate with violence if I were unable to apply a case by case context to its usage.

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  • If an author writes m/m fiction and is good, and has a good following, why would that author, who is writing about a specific group of people, want to give those who are hatemongers more ammunition??

    I don’t see her giving hate-mongers ammunition any more than “Dykes to watch out for”, “Dharma Slut” and “Smart Bitches” are.

    I agree, if she wasn’t willing to defend her decision, she probably should have named the book something more innocuous. But I’m not sure she owes anyone more of an explanation or apology than she’s already given. I thought her initial response was adequate, although not being pissed off already, I didn’t ascribe a snide or dismissive tone to her words as others might have. Which is the problem when all you have are words, and you apply your own context rather than the one that might have been intended. (not saying that there wasn’t a snide tone, just that I didn’t notice it)

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  • Connor
    December 31
    7:21 pm

    @Jane: Word. Thanks for summing up my feelings on the matter quite nicely.

    Is it just me, or do these controversies always seem to be the same handful of people tirelessly arguing them out? I’m all for having a lively debate, but lately it just feels like the subject matter is secondary to which “side” will show up to blast the other.

    Or maybe that’s just my blog-fatigue talking…

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  • Which is the problem when all you have are words, and you apply your own context rather than the one that might have been intended.

    If you want my position on any kind of apology, it’s stated somewhere above.

    And unless one can get past the title long enough to read the text, what other context can one put on such a title except their own. And since many (not all of course) find the title offensive, what other context will they ever have about the title??

    And please, don’t tell me the author has explained because as many that read this blog, there are thousands more who don’t and will never see an explanation.

    And I think I’m done. Though I don’t often participate in these, I am finding I am repeating myself in this discussion to excess…

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  • Robin
    December 31
    7:29 pm

    Um, if you had been reading my comments, you would realize that I, at least, have every reason to associate the word “bitch” with violence and not mere insult.

    But that’s not how you were using it in the example you gave there. Although I think I’ve lost the general strain of your position anyway.

    And I gotta say, I’ve never been convinced that Smart Bitches rehabilitates the word “bitch,” no matter how smart everyone over there might be.

    He’s got plenty of support.

    Apparently not enough if we’re arguing about whether it’s valid for a gay man to find the title “Beautiful C*cksucker” offensive and the word inextricable, for him, from violence toward gay men.

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  • Jen
    December 31
    7:40 pm

    True, but sodomy and fellatio are still different things, lol and last I checked, one was never a felony. (ROFL, Guys would never be THAT dumb)

    Just jumping in to say that in Massachusetts, at least, consensual fellatio was prohibited under the anti-sodomy statutes until, I believe, the 1970s. And if Massachusetts criminalized fellatio, I’m sure other states had similar statutes on the books.

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  • West
    December 31
    7:51 pm

    Then what say you of the books with “Rake”, “Pirate”, “Scoundrel” and a dozen other adjectives in the title? Because each one of those objectifies one of the characters as well. However, none of those are generic slurs that carry with them what it to many/most, a nasty connotation.

    I’ve never read a book with Rake or Scoundrel in the title, probably for this very reason. I see it, and automatically dismiss. As for pirate books, I actually commented on this a while back when Karen posted a topic on it. I don’t read them because I don’t find piracy sexy.

    I don’t think she was using cocksucker as a slur, whether some people take it that way or not isn’t my point (my own gay best friend said he saw it as a term of endearment, and didn’t have a problem with it, other than it being a “stupid title”) . My point is that it objectifies the character, which bothers me a whole lot more. If this were a straight romance, with the comment being made about the female character, people would be up in arms about it. But no one’s mentioned that in this case. Is it because it’s a gay romance? Is it somehow more acceptable because it’s about two men? No. I personally don’t think so.

    If an author writes m/m fiction and is good, and has a good following, why would that author, who is writing about a specific group of people, want to give those who are hatemongers more ammunition??

    I’m not trying to defend the author here (I believe I’ve made it very clear that I don’t approve of the book’s title), but the hatemongers are always going to have ammunition. They don’t get it from books, or movies, or songs- it comes from themselves. It’s part of their very nature.

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  • I’m not trying to defend the author here (I believe I’ve made it very clear that I don’t approve of the book’s title), but the hatemongers are always going to have ammunition. They don’t get it from books, or movies, or songs- it comes from themselves. It’s part of their very nature.

    Explaining to me what a hatemonger’s nature is is…moot. You evidently missed my use of the word ‘more’ in that question.

    Never mind. It’s not worth it.

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  • Apparently not enough if we’re arguing about whether it’s valid for a gay man to find the title “Beautiful C*cksucker” offensive and the word inextricable, for him, from violence toward gay men.

    I never said it wasn’t valid, just that others don’t have to apply the same values to the word. My issue is not that he’s offended (I think I’ve said over and over that he has a right to be), but the implication that in its usage as a title for a gay romance/erotica book, that it perpetuates hatred and violence against gays.

    But that’s not how you were using it in the example you gave there.

    Um, I’m trying to say that if someone says the word “bitch”, I’m going to take the context of its use into consideration before I decide to be offended. That is, if it’s the header on a website like SBTB, I’m okay with it. If it’s being spat at me while I’m pinned down and groped against my will, well, that’s a whole different context, isn’t it?

    And again, I’m not saying that Paul has to view “cocksucker” the way I view “bitch”. Just that I shouldn’t be expected to view either one the way he views “cocksucker”–as nothing but horrible, violent, ugly, nasty words. I think if you’re missing my point it’s because you don’t want to see it.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    8:17 pm

    I think if you’re missing my point it’s because you don’t want to see it.

    Yeah, that must be it.

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  • While I think the word is ugly, really, I don’t think it was used in the title to disparage anyone or to get attention drawn for sales purposes. Unlike some titles that were brought to my attention earlier this week, it is at least original. And I think its unfair to insinuate the author’s motives for choosing of this particular title, especially when the C***S***** word has many meanings to different people. Even the word “Beautiful” means different things to all of us.

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  • “Just jumping in to say that in Massachusetts, at least, consensual fellatio was prohibited under the anti-sodomy statutes until, I believe, the 1970s. And if Massachusetts criminalized fellatio, I’m sure other states had similar statutes on the books.”

    Wow, that gives new meaning to “Cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

    I’m hereby corrected. Some men are, indeed, that dumb. :)

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  • anybody sees the irony of one of the commenters on there having an avatar with the words Dykes to watch out for?

    The person using it is a lesbian. She’s earned the right to call herself whatever she likes. Just as *gay* authors using ‘Faggot’ as a title is entirely a different matter from straight women writing m/m using ‘Cocksucker’. A point willfully ignored by Mr Pig and co.

    The group is entitled to use terms about themselves that those without have not. Why? Because it’s a choice they make for themselves, and they can decide on the consequences. They’ve earned it.

    It’s like black men using ‘nigger’ among themselves. Does *not* give white people the right or excuse to use that word. Used by the dominant group against a minority, it carries entirely different connotations than used within the minority group itself.

    And please don’t any of you tell me you’re too stupid to understand that or I will send you looking for the racism bingo card so you can check off your squares. Even Teddy’s not stupid enough to not to know this – but he’s so determined to cast Paul in a negative light, he’s contradicting himself right, left and centre.

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  • Or prison romance. Ooooh baby.

    Get it GIRL! You know you want to write it!

    Ok on the topic at hand: that title is just fucking craptastic! (and yes, generally in bad taste)…regardless of it’s negative connotation!

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  • And what stereotypes are perpetuated? That gay men suck cock? Um, as Teddypig said, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t.

    Did I misread this? Are you saying that we’d be hardpressed to find a gay man who doesn’t suck cock? See, that right there is a stereotype. I’ve never done a fellatio poll but I can think of 4 gay men off the top of my head who don’t do oral. Saying that all gay men do is like saying all women do. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you automatically like to suck dick. People are people no matter what they’re sexual preferences are and just like people vary their sexual preferences vary. Le sigh.

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  • West
    December 31
    9:47 pm

    Explaining to me what a hatemonger’s nature is is…moot. You evidently missed my use of the word ‘more’ in that question.

    Never mind. It’s not worth it.

    YOu missed my point. There really is no such thing as “more ammunition”. They already have it, they’re always going to have it, and nothing anyone does is going to change that.

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  • Did I misread this? Are you saying that we’d be hardpressed to find a gay man who doesn’t suck cock? See, that right there is a stereotype. I’ve never done a fellatio poll but I can think of 4 gay men off the top of my head who don’t do oral. Saying that all gay men do is like saying all women do. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you automatically like to suck dick. People are people no matter what they’re sexual preferences are and just like people vary their sexual preferences vary. Le sigh.

    She didn’t say every gay man does oral. Hardpressed in no way means ALL gay men do, only that many more do than don’t. So it’s not necessarily a stereotype, nor is it an absolute.

    And once again, this is the reason that title is so inappropriate to so many. To many, it’s a nasty word, to others, it’s not and to still others, they claim you need to read the book to understand it. If one can’t get past the title, how can one read the book to understand?

    Whether I agree with anyone else here or not, reading things into statements that aren’t there are what’s gotten this so heated in the first place.

    YOu missed my point. There really is no such thing as “more ammunition”. They already have it, they’re always going to have it, and nothing anyone does is going to change that.

    No, I didn’t miss your point at all. I realize there will always be ammo. Why make more available than is already there?

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  • There really is no such thing as “more ammunition”.

    Rubbish. What there is, is ‘aid and comfort to the enemy’. What there is, is validating the use of hate speech so that when someone speaks up, as they have now, to say it’s not okay and causes hurt, a bunch of clueless liberals say ‘oh, but X used it, and no one complained, so why can’t Y use it?’

    What there is, is promoting the use of homophobic insults in a range of situations, like using ‘gay’ to mean stupid, so that GLBT people find themselves subjected constantly to a stream of thoughtless, hurtful remarks which the speaker doesn’t know or care have special resonance to them.

    Of course using offensive words with such insouciance is giving ammunition to homophobes. You don’t *make* a homophobe that way – but you sure do help make it okay to be one and open about it. Why would anyone “who’s[sic] passion seems to be writing M/M books” want to validate homophobic speech?

    Though that’s a spurious argument in itself – plenty of men jerk off to lesbian or interracial porn without caring a damn about GLBT or black people’s rights. It’s actually a hot topic for debate in slash circles – that you can have people writing about m/m romance, who actively oppose gay marriage and think homosexuals will burn in hell.

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  • It’s like black men using ‘nigger’ among themselves. Does *not* give white people the right or excuse to use that word. Used by the dominant group against a minority, it carries entirely different connotations than used within the minority group itself….Even Teddy’s not stupid enough to not to know this – but he’s so determined to cast Paul in a negative light, he’s contradicting himself right, left and centre.

    Yes, but even among those black men, there will be some who think the word is fine when used in that context, and others who abhor it no matter who uses it or why. That’s my whole point. Whether a person feels one way or the other is entirely up to him.

    And among those who are not black, there will be opinions as well, and people are similarly entitled to them. Any person’s right to use the N-word is protected even here in Canada. If a non-black person used it, they would run the risk of losing my respect (and making me very annoyed), but again, I think it would depend on the context.

    I don’t really see Teddypig as contradicting himself, either. He feels a certain way about the word, he thinks he has a right to feel that way without being villified. I don’t see him saying Paul isn’t entitled to his own opinion, just that Paul’s opinion and his do not coincide, and he would rather not have Paul speak for him (or indeed all gay men) in this matter.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    10:40 pm

    Canada has some of the most prohibitive hate speech laws in the world.

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  • West
    December 31
    10:40 pm

    I stand by my statement. Homophobics have that hatred inside of them simply because gays exist. It doesn’t matter if they see them on tv, read about them in book, see them on the streets, or not. Nothing anyone does changes that. My parents are remarkably homophobic. I’ve spent years trying to get them to understand their attitude is wrong. They don’t know any gay people, they don’t watch shows which feature gays, and they would certainly never read a book called “Beautiful Cocksucker”. But they believe, and proclaim, often and loudly, that gays are evil and will burn in hell. They don’t think they should be allowed the same rights as straight people, and that they should not be allowed to show affection in public. But the fact that books or tv shows or what have you exists, do not give them more ammunition. The hatred comes from inside themselves (and their blind devotion to a book that claims to have been ordered written by God), and nothing anyone does makes their hatred worse. It’s as bad as can be. So no, I don’t believe that these things give them “more ammunition”. They have it all already.

    oh, but X used it, and no one complained, so why can’t Y use it

    They will always have a way to justify their attitudes. This is not giving them ammunition- it’s them using an excuse.

    And what’s more, I have heard my own gay friends use the term cocksucker about themselves and others. As my friend said, he doesn’t find it offensive. Not every gay does. His opinion is in the context for which it’s used, and I agree. In this case, I don’t believe it was used homophobically. It was used sexually, in a way that reduces the character to a sexual act, which is what I object to.

    And as for hate speech? It’s a disgusting thing that we have to put up with so we have the right to free speech. We don’t have to like it, and we can do everything we can to avoid it, but the sad truth is they have the right to say whatever they want, just as much as we have the right to say they’re assholes.

    Oh, and also, the people who write m/m romances, but actively oppose gay rights? Fucking hypocrites.

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  • So no, I don’t believe that these things give them “more ammunition”. They have it all already.

    No one is telling you not to stand by your opinion. I however stand by mine. After all, if you are facing someone with a gun, would you then hand him a knife, too, just in case the gun missed its mark?? If a small amount of propaganda would have served the Nazis, then why did they constantly inundate with it? Why did Korea continue broadcasting propaganda over the radio, using Tokyo Rose and singling out specific bases and military personnel if one or two broadcasts would have been enough?

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, as is anyone here. But so am I entitled to mine. And for me, this type of title just adds fuel to the fire, as evidenced by all the brouhaha that’s already risen in the past week.

    And that, to me, is most definitely ‘more ammunition’.

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  • Canada has some of the most prohibitive hate speech laws in the world.

    And despite them, would still be within my rights to use the N-word. The hate speech laws apply to the context in which I use it. Hmm….

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  • Andy
    December 31
    11:05 pm

    I can’t believe discussions about this book title are still going on. Ms. Noble and Ms. Sheridan, I hope you sent Ann S and Paul B a big giftbasket for Christmas because their silly, self-righteous tirades must have given the book plenty of publicity.

    That being said, I have to agree that it’s a very tasteless title just because the word itself is trashy and unappealing. I personally find the title icky,and I won’t buy the book for that reason. But the author and publisher have every right to call their books whatever they want as this is America, land of free speech and all.

    I’m curious. Had those so offended by the ‘homophobic nature’ of the title privately contacted the publisher to express their concerns, I’m almost sure the title would’ve been changed. This theory makes me think the whole argument made by Ann S and Paul B was just to make a public fuss in the first place, rather than address any real issues. That’s very sad because crying wolf detracts from true cases of hateful behavior.

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  • The person using it is a lesbian. She’s earned the right to call herself whatever she likes. Just as *gay* authors using ‘Faggot’ as a title is entirely a different matter from straight women writing m/m using ‘Cocksucker’. A point willfully ignored by Mr Pig and co.

    I think George Carlin would like a word with you about that.

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  • Emmy
    December 31
    11:28 pm

    Blah?

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  • And feel free to take Teddypig’s advice as well and go greet Carlin..in person, if you please.

    Why does it surprise me that the only person uttering wishes of actual harm, is a bottom feeder like you, Emmy. Found any more cancer victims to taunt lately? Or any more gay friends to humiliate?

    Okay. I’m done. Karen, I hope you’re happy with what you have wrought. Teddy, god knows what’s wrong with you, but I hope they have pills for it. Kirsten, I’m happy to say my first and only resolution for 2009 is to avoid talking to you completely, because you make the world a dumber place by existing.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    11:38 pm

    And despite them, would still be within my rights to use the N-word. The hate speech laws apply to the context in which I use it. Hmm….

    Numerous cases have come to trial (post arrest, of course) to *determine* the context. And then it’s an issue of interpretation and adjudication. I assumed that everyone knew of the MacLean’s scandal, but maybe not. And then there is the entire line of cases descending from Keegstra. Not to mention the rioting on Canadian university campuses over what can and can’t be legally said about other groups.

    And one of the most powerful ironies here, IMO, is that a number of Paul’s comments are in line with your whole “context” thing:

    There are words that one can not understand the implications of unless one is a member of the group those words are used as weapons against. No matter how much I believe I can understand the hatefulness of the word n*gger, I can not truly understand all that that word carries for someone who is black. Same as I can never truly understand hateful and hurtful the word g**k is for Asian Americans, or sp*c is for Latino Americans. I understand from an intellectual level how hateful those words are, how degrading to those they are used against, but I can not feel it or truly know it because I am not a member of those groups. Those words have never been directed at me or my people.

    And while I’m at it, I guess I’ll throw this in, as well, from the same piece:

    I don’t care that in the context of the story the characters call each other c*cksuckers. In text, in context, I would still bristle at it, but I would understand. But as the title of a book? NOPE!

    Because a title provides no context until and unless you read the book.

    But in any case, it strikes me that for Paul this issue is all about context — the context of being a gay man who has seen the word used in association with violence as opposed to the lack of context provided in a book title. If his premise is that one can only understand at a visceral level when one has experienced something, then how can he be accusing others who haven’t had that experience of being homophobic or whatever because they don’t share that experience? IMO he can’t and he’s not; IMO he’s simply asking for understanding that this perspective exists and that it perhaps warrants more than a ‘sorry you’re offended but we think this title is perfect.’ In fact, I wonder if the response had been just a little different, a little more ‘we still think the title is perfect but you have given me a lot to chew on,’ if the ensuing debate would even have taken place.

    More generally, though, if I believed for one second, Kirsten, that all you are trying to say is that you have a right to think differently from Paul Bens, I wouldn’t have spent the past however many hours arguing with you. Since we seem to be getting nowhere, though, it’s not worth however many more hours to me to keep it going.

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  • Robin
    December 31
    11:48 pm

    What Andy said. And feel free to take Teddypig’s advice as well and go greet Carlin..in person, if you please.

    WTH? Okay, this has reached a whole new — scary — level.

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  • Emmy said:
    What Andy said. And feel free to take Teddypig’s advice as well and go greet Carlin..in person, if you please.

    OK, this is the point at which I say that people seriously need to take a step back and breathe, because this has way gotten out of hand.

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  • EC Sheedy
    December 31
    11:54 pm

    If anyone is wondering if a *mind*, such as it is, has been changed by this discussion. I think mine has. My first reaction upon seeing the title BC was to look for a bucket. That reaction sill holds. I still think it is a yuck-gag title. (AND YES THE PUBLISHER CAN CHOOSE WHATEVER TITLE THEY WANT. YEA, FOR FREE SPEECH.)

    But the other issue, whether the title contributes to homophobia or in some way slurs the gay population. At first, I thought not, and simply chalked the title up to monumental bad taste; but now I’m not so sure. After reading so many opinions, I’ve kind of, sort of come around to thinking the title is insulting, at least, and insensitive, at best. Neither is a good position.

    Publishers can call a book Shit on a Stick, for all I care, but when they take a risk–even a small one–of offending people, why bother? Why not strap on a foil cap, attach an antenna and see if the universe can give them something which is equally as “good a fit” for the book–and doesn’t stick a pitchfork in some readers’ hearts. Why go for sensationalism when sensational will suffice?

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  • OMGWTFBBQ

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  • More generally, though, if I believed for one second, Kirsten, that all you are trying to say is that you have a right to think differently from Paul Bens, I wouldn’t have spent the past however many hours arguing with you.

    I suppose you are entitled to apply whatever context you want to my arguments (context being about the person receiving as well as the person delivering a message), and draw whatever conclusions you want about what I’m trying to say. But I’m going to have to leave the debate now, because I’m getting close to crossing the lines of civility, and I hate it when that happens.

    Cheers.

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  • Teddy, god knows what’s wrong with you, but I hope they have pills for it.

    What? Pointing out that George Carlin used cocksucker along with those 6 other bad words as part of his act for years as a stand against censorship? I mean those are facts and that is exactly what this argument comes down to.

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  • West
    January 1
    1:19 am

    Okay. I’m done. Karen, I hope you’re happy with what you have wrought

    Hey, this isn’t on Karen. Everyone here had the right to shut up and walk away. She asked a question. No one had to answer.

    Kirsten, I’m happy to say my first and only resolution for 2009 is to avoid talking to you completely, because you make the world a dumber place by existing.

    Is it possible for you to make a point without insulting someone?

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  • Andy
    January 1
    2:14 am

    “Kirsten, I’m happy to say my first and only resolution for 2009 is to avoid talking to you completely, because you make the world a dumber place by existing.”

    Ann S critizes a book title because it’s offensive and insulting to certain people, but here she is personally insulting and offending a person with her name calling. This completely discredits her argument with the title and, frankly, makes her a hypocrite from where I’m standing.

    Personal attacks against anyone are uncalled for and in poor taste, more so than a trashy book title.

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  • Andy
    January 1
    2:36 am

    Also, calling someone a “bottom feeder”? Very low class indeed.

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  • I’m with you, Andy. Between the insults on this thread and her recent blog post, it’s given me a very poor impression. There’s a difference between standing up for your opinion, if crudely, and personally attacking someone else. That line’s been crossed.

    Pity, too, as I’d been looking at her books and planning on buying them. Think I’ll spend the money somewhere else now.

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  • Keishon
    January 1
    3:40 am

    Hi Karen,

    I was checking to see if your blog was still stable and I see that it is. I didn’t come because of the controversy but that title, to echo a few other people, not the best. Hope you have a Happy New Year!

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  • Hey, this isn’t on Karen. Everyone here had the right to shut up and walk away. She asked a question. No one had to answer.

    Ditto on West. Nobody had to contribute and all Karen asked was whether others saw any sort of homophobic slur and hatred, or just poor taste in the title.

    EVERYBODY is entitled to view things in their own way. Just because they don’t agree with one particular viewpoint doesn’t mean they are wrong.

    Some people felt the title was homophobic. They are entitled to that viewpoint.

    As Monica J.once described it, people see things through their own filters.

    Some people felt the title was just plain ugly, again, viewed through their own filters.

    As far as I can tell, nobody once here endorsed any act of hatred against any person, group, sexual orientation, whatever…

    Ann, if this got out of hand on this topic, it isn’t on Karen.

    It’s on the shoulders of whomever took things too far. We are all grown-ups. We own our own actions.

    just as whoever said…(Emmy, was it you? Oye, you’re being bad…but if it was you, chances are you know you’re being bad and doing it just because you can… behave already!!!)

    What Andy said. And feel free to take Teddypig’s advice as well and go greet Carlin..in person, if you please.

    Whoever said that, owns it. Just as whoever else said anything ugly and demeaning needs to own.

    Ann, Just as whoever said that was being out of line, so were you…in a number of ways. Namely in the attack on Karen. Karen isn’t responsible for the behavior of others any more than you are.

    You can’t demand respect, sensitivity, acceptance, whatever, without giving it in return.

    I’m sorry if you had friends hurt in this debacle. But there have been a number of times when you’ve hurt other people in other blog spectacles.

    Demanding sensitivity but rarely giving it just makes you seem a hypocrite in the eyes of many.

    Sadly, although you’ve got a lot of valid viewpoints, opinions and insights, they all get lost. All because of your delivery.

    That’s the power of words. You’ve got a powerful voice…if you could learn to respect the viewpoints of others, you could do a lot more good than you realize.

    But because you only respect the viewpoints of those you like (sorry, that’s how it comes across), what you manage to do is alienate people, more often than not.

    Your message, far too often, comes across as this… either you agree with me completely, or you’re a moron and nothing else.

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  • words have power. Otherwise writers wouldn’t write and readers wouldn’t read.

    As a black woman living in the south, who still won’t go to certain towns, there is no acceptable context for the use of the N-word. IMHO there are words that should never be “owned” and those who have attempted to own that word have made their lot worse, but that is a socio-economic discussion for another time.

    I wouldn’t touch a book called Beautiful CS, C*nt, N*, Down With the Swirl, Obama’s Baby Mama, or Thong on Fire. The point is to get me as a reader to crack the cover, and those titles simply won’t. YMMV, and that’s okay.

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  • The person using it is a lesbian. She’s earned the right to call herself whatever she likes. Just as *gay* authors using ‘Faggot’ as a title is entirely a different matter from straight women writing m/m using ‘Cocksucker’.

    Hey, I guessed that she was probably a lesbian, but it’s interesting to note that Sheridan’s gender and sexual orientation seems to definitely be a consideration.

    I wonder though, doesn’t it give “aid and comfort to the enemy”, regardless of the fact that it belongs to somebody who’s earned the right to use it?
    Isn’t it “validating the use of hate speech so that when someone speaks up, as they have now, to say it’s not okay and causes hurt, a bunch of clueless liberals say ‘oh, but X used it, and no one complained, so why can’t Y use it?’

    I’m not disagreeing with you by the way, but it does beg the question, does it really matter to ‘the enemy’ who’s using the hate speech and in what context, like you seem to be implying?

    Is somebody who hates gay people more likely to look at Sheridan’s book title, and feel more compelled to use it as validation of their beliefs, than if they looked at that commenter’s avatar, just because one of the people in question earned the right to use her ‘hate’ word, and the other didn’t?

    Or maybe that’s just my blog-fatigue talking…

    Definitely blog fatigue methinks. *g*

    Okay. I’m done. Karen, I hope you’re happy with what you have wrought.

    This calls for a big old “Bitch, please!” methinks.

    Kirsten, I’m happy to say my first and only resolution for 2009 is to avoid talking to you completely, because you make the world a dumber place by existing.

    I definitely should have made this into a drinking game last night. I’d have been absolutely sozzled.

    By the way Ann, Number 1 and Number 2 New Year’s resolutions? Good luck with sticking to them for more than a month.

    Demanding sensitivity but rarely giving it just makes you seem a hypocrite in the eyes of many.

    Word, Shi.

    The truth of the matter is, there are many actions/words that are offensive in different ways to different people. Some of these feelings rise from the context of the specific action/word, others from personal biases, others from cultural biases, many from personal experiences etc, etc. If a gay man tells me that he finds the book title in this particular discussion, offensive, then I believe him, but I really don’t have to feel the same way that he does, in order to confirm my humanity, because we are after all different people, with differing thought processes/experiences/biases/hot buttons etc, etc.

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  • Yes, Keishon@171, Karen’s blog is still stable. LMAO. Happy New Year backatcha.

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  • I like the title. I’m very aware that the word is offensive, but the intent here is to celebrate an act, not denigrate a group of people. I think.

    I got in a bit of a dust-up (and I usually avoid them!) with a guy online over the use of the word “redskin.” Specifically, Redskin Magazine. I said the intent was a reappropriation, taking back the word and using it to celebrate Native American culture. He said I should go read Cunt Magazine and called me a cunt.

    So I understand how these conversations can get heated!

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  • dew
    January 2
    8:19 pm

    I am a straight woman. If I were to read a same-gender romance, I’d read a W/W book way before I’d read a M/M book. Everyone gets off to different things, but I don’t get why women enjoy M/M romance/erotica. But it doesn’t matter if ~I~ don’t get it, as long as it tickles their horny/romance bones, to each their own.

    I think the title is tacky, but I bet it sells a lot to the people that like those kinds of books. It’s very sensational — look at how many comments are on this post. If it wasn’t M/M, I’d probably read the book after all this controversy. That’s why I read DaVinci Code and the Twilight series. Oodles of controversy, heh heh!

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  • Normally I don’t bother explaining myself too much. However, something was brought to my attention and I feel like I should say something publicly.

    When I posted the above:

    just as whoever said…(Emmy, was it you? Oye, you’re being bad…but if it was you, chances are you know you’re being bad and doing it just because you can… behave already!!!)

    What Andy said. And feel free to take Teddypig’s advice as well and go greet Carlin..in person, if you please.

    Whoever said that, owns it. Just as whoever else said anything ugly and demeaning needs to own.

    I deliberately kept my comment directed at Emmy light for a reason. Emmy and I have chatted via email enough for me to know that she deliberately says things like this. A big reaction is exactly what she looks for when she says such things.

    I didn’t bother trying to track down where the Carlin comment came from-I’ve lost too much time getting caught up in blog dramas and I decided a while back that I wasn’t going to hunt more dramas down. So I don’t know where the comment came from, nor I do really care to.

    Yes, I can easily believe Emmy said it to Ann. She enjoys provoking Ann. It was an ugly thing to say, she probably knows that, but I also suspect she doesn’t care if people think it was ugly or not.

    When Emmy gets like that, I’ve learned either addressing it as I did or just ignoring her seems to work best.

    I apologize to anybody who feels I was patting Emmy on the head, condoning her comment/behavior/etc. That wasn’t my intention.

    I didn’t care for the comment, it was ugly, and there’s no denying that.

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  • Lissa
    January 4
    12:08 am

    Wow – very interesting converstation.

    For the original question – I don’t find the title especially insulting or offensive, though I can see how others would. I didn’t go directly to it being a derogatory term for a gay man mostly because I am not a gay man and I don’t really know all of the terms that are offensive to them. Put me in the camp that thought the term ‘cocksucker’ was used for anyone who 1) sucked cocks and 2) was a real screw-up.

    IMO it is not a good title for a book no matter how well it suits the story. Quite frankly, I would pass on the book because of the title. It is not a book title that I would read in public or risk having it around to be seen by my children. Too many explainations would have to be given and I don’t care to have to explain my reading choices to anyone.

    Surely there could have been a title chosen that was less controversal which suited the book just as well.

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  • Damn. There goes the title of my next MONK book…

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  • Lee, you are a very bad man. *g*

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  • Damn. There goes the title of my next MONK book…

    Both my characters are cops it could work…

    (What can I say? It was an opening too perfect to pass up)

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  • Rick Fellow
    February 22
    6:26 pm

    I love it when the guy I’m with calls me a cocksucker. I love to suck cock. I love it when he introduces me to a friend and tells his friend that I am a cocksucker. I am proud of my cocksucking skills and proud to be called a cocksucker. In fact I get to suck more cock because of that label. I don’t consider myself a gay man because I love women but more than anything else I love sucking cock.

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  • [...] I remember the discussion over at Karen Scott’s blog in response to the Beautiful Cocksucker title (BC II has been [...]


  • [...] the name (Paul Bens’ original reaction, Teddy Pig’s response, Karen Knows Best’s extensive discussion) but I also know that in BDSM play, some epithets that would otherwise be unacceptable [...]


  • [...] the name (Paul Bens’ original reaction, Teddy Pig’s response, Karen Knows Best’s extensive discussion) but I also know that in BDSM play, some epithets that would otherwise be unacceptable [...]



  • jay
    April 24
    7:44 pm

    I personally am not offended but it can be a turn on (to me) if used by the guy I’m with. Yes, I am gay and love sucking cock which means, I am a cocksucker and love it !!! This is of course, my opinion only. best wishes, jay

    ReplyReply

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