* UPDATE (2012): PayPal revises their policies to allow legal fiction.
* UPDATE (2013): A quick post on why “erotica” isn’t “porn”!
In the meantime, I’ll be working on a couple of psycho thrillers.
My original post from early 2011 is left below (unedited).
* * *
ORIGINAL POST (March 2011)
In December 2010, Amazon started banning/deleting incest-themed erotica from their website. Several of my erotic stories/collections are thus not on Amazon.
In February 2011, some of the “sample buttons” on my books at B&N went missing (some are still missing, as of this date). Several other authors were hit (especially those writing erotica/erotic romance) — while many of their books’ sample buttons have re-appeared, several of my books are still missing the sample button.
No reply from B&N yet There was/is a technical glitch at B&N, which they are currently working on.
On 7 March 2011, I wanted to buy the following item from Etsy.com:
But I couldn’t purchase the item at checkout, because I had “limited access” to my PayPal account.
When I logged into my PayPal account, I saw the following message:
Mar 5, 2011: We recently asked you to stop participating in transactions that violated our Acceptable Use Policy.
(Your case ID for this reason is PP-001-231-349-997.)
I don’t recall being asked, as I received no prior email or warning about how exactly I had violated the guidelines.
This is what I can and cannot do with a limited access PayPal account:
Due to the limited access of my PayPal account, I am currently unable to receive money via PayPal, or make any purchases using my PayPal account.
After some clicking around, I got to the “PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy” page, which states:
(e) items that are considered obscene, are not allowed (highlighted in red)
After more clicking around, I found the guidelines for what is not allowed on eBay (which utilizes PayPal for transactions):
“Obscene materials, while not easy to define, aren’t allowed on eBay. For some guidance, we prohibit items depicting or describing bestiality, necrophilia, rape, scat, and incest (real or fictionalized).”
Isn’t the splattering of blood and guts via stylized explosions also obscene, whether real or fictionalized? Also, according to the above guidelines, Anais Nin’s books (classic literary erotica) should not be available for purchase on eBay. For the record, her books (I’m a huge fan!) are available for purchase on both Amazon and eBay, and her books do contain pedophilic, incestuous, as well as other deviant types of erotic content.
Since I have not had a reply from PayPal as to whether their eBay policy extends to PayPal as well (
since they are two separate companies — eBay actually owns PayPal, thanks @kashicat), I believe my incest-themed material that I sell directly from my website is considered by PayPal (as with Amazon) to be “supremely offensive.”
To my knowledge, I am not doing anything illegal (if it is, indeed, a criminal offence to write about taboo subjects, why is this not clearly stated in the law? How do people know if they are “breaking the law” if the law is not clearly stated in the first place?).
I have always chosen to focus on erotica over pornography (I always aim to include some kind of artistic, or social/political point, when I write erotic fiction). What is “obscene” and “sexually explicit” can vary from culture to culture and over time. But as long as companies’ policies remain vague and unclear, there’s no distinction between erotica and pornography when it comes to censorship.
I am currently “evaluating other options,” as I still fully intend to continue writing whatever I wish (for both erotic and non-erotic material). Erotica/erotic fiction is an art form I take very seriously, so I will seriously do my best to make sure it is always available for readers/customers to purchase (in the meantime, I apologize that customers cannot purchase directly from my website. Keywords = “in the meantime”).
What I actually condone and/or do in real life is separate from what I put on paper and/or express via the written word — a distinction that some people seem to have a lot of trouble making, lol.
P.S. Just bought the vintage red collar (yeaaaah), using a friend’s account.
Email Links and More Info:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (PayPal re: Acceptable Use Policy)
Email: email@example.com (Amazon.com, Executive Customer Relations)
+ Media Coverage on Censorship of Erotica by Erik Sherman on BNET +