Art vs. Pornography

By Nora Snowdon, author of Arsonists Anonymous and The Spanish Acquisition

The Spanish AcquisitionReclining on a small stand in my living room is a female nude sculpted by my brother. It is realistic and esthetically pleasing without being overly graphic. The first time I heard it referred to as pornographic was when I directed a play called Kind Lady in Toronto. The kind lady in the play has many great art works in her home and over the course of the play a con artist comes through and replaces her classical art pieces with modern crap. I used two of my brother’s nudes on set and was shocked at the moral censure from two people working on the show. I had thought the theatrical community would be more open to artistic esthetics, but apparently was wrong.

Then a few years ago I was selling my house in Vancouver. At my real estate agent’s suggestion, I removed much of the furniture to make the house appear more spacious. The sculpture and its stand were shifted temporarily to my sister’s house. Her husband was appalled and again that pornography word was bandied about.

Now in my writing career, I have to define my own creative work. My mother loved my writing (of course) but preferred I not include the sex scenes in the stories. I have written several books aimed at different markets. The ones I wrote for a Harlequin Presents contest were quite steamy and I adopted my title “Smut Queen in Training” while running those randy opuses past my critique partners. My paranormals tend to be less smutty making me wonder if I will soon have to relinquish my “Writer of Elegant Smut” tagline. (Sigh…)

The word “smut” itself often irks my fellow romance writers. I personally love the term as it evokes a sense of Victorian prudery over descriptions of sex between a man and a woman. There wasn’t then – or at least not openly – the writings with all the other possible permutations of sexual possibilities. To me, erotica often involves people playing with body parts that I’ve never heard of. (Okay, my grade five sex ed was perhaps a little lacking, but you’re not going to engage my emotions if I have to google what a word means.) I’m also not interested in multiple partners, different species and weird stuff, but that’s a personal choice. So what is the difference between erotica and pornography? I think the former is supposed to be about a woman’s sensual journey to self discovery and the latter is for straight sexual gratification. Feel free to correct me if you disagree. We’ve come a long way, baby, but it’s still hard to know where we’re at…

Read more about Nora Snowdon at
Her current book, Arsonists Anonymous, is available now where all fine e-books are sold including:
Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Where do you think the line between art and pornography lies? Share your thoughts in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Art vs. Pornography

  1. M.J. Schiller

    I prefer to say that I write “trashy romance novels.” I don’t know. It’s just sort of funny and downplays what people sometimes seem to take too seriously. Sex is only dirty because we’ve made it that way. It was created by God, like the Grand Canyon and baby’s feet, so it is beautiful and has deep meaning. That’s the way I see it. It is something we share privately, intimately, but it isn’t wrong or sinful because of that. In fact, that is what makes it special. To translate those moments in writing is another way of touching someone emotionally. I feel in a good romance that is what makes a love scene strong, the sharing of everything you are and leaving yourself vulnerable to someone you love and trust is very moving.