Musing aloud today about the phenomenon of book review blogs that are voluntarily marked “adult content.” I’ve run across at least a half-dozen about gay or lesbian books that are; none of them are about erotica or sex. Seriously? A review of a book that is about lesbians should be sheltered from web browsers under the age of 18? Including reviews of books that are for young adult readers?
We’re decades along in a struggle to have the word “lesbian” not seen as a declaration of sexual activity akin to the F-word. We have taught ourselves and those around us to say lesbian in polite company and have it accepted as a label as descriptive and casual in conversation as “I’m a veterinarian” or “I’m American.”
So, fellow bloggers, are you afraid you’ll be accused of recruiting youth? Are you really trying to turn teens gay by talking about lesbian books? I know, it’s a silly idea. Only homophobes think that’s possible and they have no control over your site or its availability on the Web. You, on the other hand, have complete control over your site. Why are you doing their work for them?
If your blog isn’t about sex toys, explicit erotica or a detailed descriptions of the kind of BDSM one finds in Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s not “adult.” Just using the acronym BDSM is not “adult.” Reviewing a book of lesbian erotica isn’t de facto “adult” either. And trust me, book bloggers who review straight romance do not put themselves behind an adult filter.
Consider the sexual content and activity in the Twilight Series, categorized as suitable for ages 12-17. Is your blog actually more “adult” than the content of those books? If that’s not adult content, then the mere mention of passion and sex in a book about lesbians is certainly not “adult.” There’s plenty of passion and sex in the Bible. Last I checked, that’s available uncensored online, complete with rape, adultery, fornication and sex-motivated murder.
Besides, guess what? We are recruiting youth. Not their bodies, but their minds. Think about the LGBT young person at a public library that filters their Internet search results — and many do. That young person is looking for a review of a book, exactly the kinds of books you review. But because you’ve voluntarily told the search engines your content is adult, your site will not be listed as a result. Is that young person to be protected from your thoughts about the books you read? Seriously?
It’s true that filtering software may examine your site and decide it’s “adult,” but let the software make that decision; don’t do it to yourself! Homophobes and haters and One Million Moms may examine your site and decide it’s “adult.” Big whoopity doo.