This is a follow-up to a post by fellow male blogger/writer Exhibit A following the admission by the blogger, Sorcha Rowan that they are, in fact, a man. Part of the rationale for their actions that "Sorcha" gives is that they felt people would take his work less seriously if the knew it was written by a man. Exhibit A does a good job of debunking the arguments presented, so I'm not going to replicate those here, since my own views largely concur, but I did think I would share the results of an experiment I conducted on Literotica a number of years ago.
I first dabbled in writing erotica because I had read some truly awful male POV erotica on Literotica that might as well have been a description of a man using a sex doll rather than having sex with an actual other person and I was convinced I could do a better job. The result was that I have always tried to make all participants in my scenes be actual humans, regardless of gender; recognising that all participants (usually two, but sometimes more) have desires and needs that require to be satisfied and that it isn't all about the guy blowing his load.
But, back to that experiment...
I did notice that, typically, stories that were written by authors who presented as women tended to get more favourable feedback and higher levels of readership than those stories that were from male authors. Whether or not that was down to the quality (or lack thereof) displayed by the male authors is, perhaps, a matter for another discussion. With that in mind, I created a female profile on Literotica and posted a couple of my stories on it that I already had on my "real" profile. Surprise surprise, more people read the versions that had been "written by a woman" than the originals. The feedback that the "female" me received was also much more positive on the whole (and in more than a few instances, a whole load creepier). The experiment did, however, seem to support the notion that people tend to prefer erotica when they believe it to have been written by a woman. Why that should be, I leave to those with a greater understanding of psychology than I have.
The experiment concluded, I deleted the female profile and carried on writing as me.
Now, I accept that I could maybe have achieved a wider readership if I'd continued with the pretence of being a woman, but the simple fact is, I am not a woman; I am a man and I am a man that occasionally writes smutty stories. The fact that people seem to like my stories, despite the fact I am male, would seem to be a vindication of the way I write. Yes, more people might read (and hopefully like) if the thought they were reading something written by a woman but I quite like getting the credit for being a bloke who can write sex without it all being about how much the guy in question is impressed with the size of his cock, the power of his thrusts, his staying power and how easily he makes his female partner achieve orgasm. I also like the fact that I get kudos for being a guy who can write a female character who isn't simply an animated blonde, large-breasted blow-up doll who gives the most amazing blow-jobs, have a cunt that grips like a vice and always comes, without virtually any effort (other than a good hard fucking) from the male character. Humans aren't like that, sex isn't like that, so why pretend that this is the case?
In his post, Exhibit A alludes to the fact that, having entertained women with his words, he has had readers keen to discover if the reality of what he can do with his lips, tongue, fingers and cock is anything like what he writes. I can corroborate this pleasant by-product of being a bloke who actually writes with some though as to the reader's enjoyment. I to have had readers keen to find out if I am in any way similar to my male characters and, I do hope I haven't disappoint too many of them... This is one very definite fringe benefit that simply wouldn't happen if I'd pretended to be a woman.
So, what have I learned?
Well I've learned that there is a lot of truly awful erotica out there; written by both men and women (some of it is even deliberate). I've learned that there does seem to be a preference for erotica written by women but if you take the time to try and write a "good" story, people will appreciated it irrespective of the gender of the author. I've also enjoyed quite a few mutually satisfying erotica writers' "research sessions" as a result being one of those writes who tries to write a good story.
Ultimately though, I have learned that, yes, I probably could write convincingly under a female nom-de-plume, but I'd much rather get credit for writing as me.