My Take on the PayPal Controversy

Right.

I’ve been waiting to react to this for a few days now, since I didn’t have all the facts. But now that I know more, I’m going to try and make a comment. Your Mileage May Vary, of course. And apologies if I’m missing the point.

What’s the jist of it?

PayPal has forced its merchants that publish and distribute e-books to censor erotic literature. This entails that they have basically told publishers and retailers like ARe (All Romance E-books), Smashwords and Excessica that if they didn’t remove the offending content, PayPal would close their accounts.

What does PayPal see as offensive content?

Specific sexual fantasies that PayPal doesn’t approve of. Anything containing themes of – or implying: pseudo-incest (such as “daddy” fantasies, sex with step-relatives), incest, fantasies about non-consent, bestiality (widened to include non-human fantasy creatures, such as shifters) and, shockingly, BDSM.

On this last one, Selena Kitt of eXcessica publishing wrote on her blog:

That’s right – they weren’t just targeting illegal acts between non-consenting adults. Now they were targeting legal sex between consenting adults.

What do I think of it?

First of all, I think it’s odd that PayPal is choosing to do this. They don’t have any ties with literature, so why do they now feel important enough to decide what Indie publishers publish?

Do they even realize what they’re causing? I’ve already heard rumors that Republica Press might not survive this. You’re not just determining what we can and can not read/like sexually, you’re on the road to actually putting people out of business!

Also, it’s fiction! Correct me if I’m wrong, but is fiction in any way harming? It’s words on a page, words that depict a fictional world. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s Eden Connor, one of my fellow authors from Naughty Nights Press:

 It’s fiction, yo. That means it’s not REAL. It’s fantasy, it’s emotional exploration in the safest possible manner, in the privacy of one’s own home.

Yeah, if you didn’t realize it, it’s fiction. Fiction just like Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller and Vladimir Nabokov wrote. Would you ban them? (No you wouldn’t, because that’s “literature”, not “porn”….. )

Their argument that people who buy these books would eventually feel “buyers remorse” is bullshit. If they buy it knowing full well what’s in the books, are they really going to regret it?

What about people finding solace in our books? Maybe they can forget about their trauma by reading and knowing that they’re not alone? A lot of us write because it’s therapeutic. And a lot of us read for the same reason.

Where is all of this leading? Censorship of thought? Are they really going to let this turn into a Philip K. Dick story? Because if that’s true, I’m seriously checking out of the writing business. All I ever wanted to do in my life is to express myself with words. I finally found a way to do that and now this is all in danger of being taken away from me.

Excuse me while I go sit in a corner to cry and call for an adult.

A message to my fellow erotica authors and readers

For the love of God, raise your voice and stand up for your craft and what you write. Stand up for your right to think and put to paper whatever is in your head. Don’t let them censor your thoughts. Don’t let it come to this. Please.

Other writers weigh in

Raymond Frazee- Playthings in The Hands of the Arbiters of Decency

Eden Connor: Want Me Barefoot and Pregnant Too? An Open Letter to PayPal.

Remittance Girl: Two Bad Legs-  An Open Letter to Mark Coker

I’m sure there are plenty more out there, so feel free to leave a link to the ones you have read in the comments. This is just my opinion of the whole thing. As I said, yours might be different. Feel free to start a discussion in the comments, but do keep it civil!

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1 Comment

  1. I’m nearly 52, female, widowed, and I live in the most conservative state in the US (SC). I write erotic romance. I do not have an affected title. I’m a 9 yr account holder and former eBay seller. I wrote an open letter to Paypal on my blog. I’d love to close my account, but that’s how my royalties are deposited. I’m furious my debit card presumes to tell me what I may and may not buy or sell to READ. I’m horrified at the lack of outcry by authors. I’ve watched in amazement a vendors have reacted with a spirit of co-operation which I find almost as offensive as PayPal’s moralizing.

    Paypal moves my money. I don’t pay them to protect my delicate sensibilities. They have already expanded the definition of obscene well beyond any standard which would stand up in court. This isn’t just about us authors. It’s about us as readers. It’s about us as consumers. It’s about us as women who once again, are being dictated to as to what we should read, write and feel and explore regarding our own sexuality. And, they’re leveraging MY money against me to do it. It’s an insult of unheard-of arrogance and I’m outraged.

    Overall, in the writer’s groups I belong to–the silence is deafening. PayPal has the right to set their own TOS. They just do not have the right to reach beyond any legally accepted standard of obscenity and make new rules. They do not have the right to take my cash and then dictate to me what I may and may not use their service to spend it on, if what I wish to purchase–or sell– is legal. And they most assuredly do not have the right to treat me like a 12-year old who’s allowance is being withheld because I said the word orgasm in public.

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