EROTIC literature in the country seems not anymore underground; it is going mainstream through pocketsize novels now sold in major bookstores nationwide.
Having seen how erotic literature has been widely accepted in the United States and other parts of the world, writing group LitErotika is promoting erotic writing, which would be a mix of erotica and “chick lit” (a literary genre aimed at young single women).

According to a report of the Manila Bulletin, LitErotika has published its first two books—“One Night Stand” by Sabel Prado and “Mingaw” by Frida Mujer.

“One Night Stand” tells of a woman who goes to bed with one man after another. The novel portrays the woman’s promiscuity as heroism, an attempt to find the right guy.

“Mingaw” tells of an a man who keeps his family together by working overseas. To bridge the distance between him and his wife, they exchange obscene e-mails. LitErotika, according to Obie Obias, the group’s editor, started in 2006 with a handful of professional writers getting and training together to promote the genre. In the beginning, very few felt that LitErotika would work. But it later managed to publish its first two books.

The group was surprised when the books sold out and people started asking for new titles.

But according to UST academician and writer Eros Atalia, the genre existed even before LitErotika entered the publishing scene.

“Erotic literature in the Philippines has always been here,” Atalia told the Varsitarian. “It was even more explicit in the 1970s.”

UST poet Ophelia Dimalanta agreed that erotic literature has always been around, but warned that it takes a good writer, with a command of language and with a fine sensibility, to handle it well.

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Standards must be observed in the writing of erotic literature, Dimalanta said.

“Eroticism can be applied if it is functional; if it is important to what you are writing about,” she said. She explained there should be a reason for erotic passages; definitely, they should not be for the sake of sensual arousal alone.

Reborn genre

Although eroticas has yielded various responses from the public, negative or positive, readers must be open but critical to the literary genre, Atalia said.

Atalia explained that people should be encouraged to choose what they want to read, and for scholars to study why people read what they do.

“We don’t have to take erotic literature away,” Atalia said. “If we do that, then there would be no difference this time from the time of the Inquisition (and) the book-burnings of the past.”

However, Dimalanta said that erotic writings that are “outrightly explicit” should not be considered as literature.

“There’s such a thing as propriety and taste when it comes to literature,” Dimalanta said.

For Obias, LitErotika books serve to open up discussions about sex and related issues in the country.

Obias said LitErotika works usually have characters aged 18 and above. Their sexual experiences may help the readers along.

At the end of the day, erotic literature must be treated with tolerance but also with critical discernment.

“This is a time of democratic space, of tolerance, of acceptance, and options,” Atalia said. E. R. U. Yu

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