Régine Deforges, who has died aged 78, was a publisher and author known in her native France as "La Papesse de l'érotisme" (high priestess of the erotic) and stimulated a popular interest in sex on the page (much of it
sadomasochistic) almost half a century before the current obsession with Fifty Shades of Grey .
While she won praise from feminists for her exploration of the outer reaches of female sexuality, she was also criticised for her tendency to cast
women in submissive roles and for her lurid celebrations of sexual violence. Her novel L'Orage (1996), for example, chronicles the sexual adventures of a young woman who, as an act of homage to her dead husband, fulfils one of his erotic fantasies
by subjecting herself to a sadomasochistic tryst with the local village idiot, his father, brother and dog.
As a publisher of erotic literature she played a prominent role in a series of battles against censorship in the 1960s and 1970s, most
notably over her reprint of Louis Aragon's Irène which forced her into bankruptcy, but led progressively to relaxations of the rules on obscenity.
There's a discussion that's been heating up for a while in various corners of the internet, and now at a number of US colleges , about how we take in information, and whether that information should be treated with what essentially constitutes a
warning label -- so long as it's likely to impact anyone in an unfavorable way due to their personal background, emotional state and/or life experiences. We call these emotional disclaimers trigger warnings , alerting a consumer that the content
within might offend or cause distress.
This is triggering (and therefore requires a trigger warning) is a phrase you might see in the comments section of an online article that addresses racism, rape, war, anorexia or any
number of subjects about which a discussion may not leave the reader with a care-free, fuzzy sort of feeling.
It's a phrase that's been requested this semester by a number of college students to be applied to classic books -- The
Great Gatsby (for misogyny and violence), Huck Finn (for racism), Things Fall Apart (for colonialism and religious persecution), Mrs. Dalloway (for suicide), Shakespeare (for ... you name it).
Tijuana Baby , a novel by Robert Haukoos has been banned from the Apple iBooks store for supposedly 'inappropriate' cover art.
Tijuana Baby is a debut novel from Robert Haukoos and tells the story of two L.A. filmmakers who get trapped in
Tijuana trying to save a 14-year-old girl from being forced into prostitution by a wicked drug smuggler. Author Robert Haukoos said:
It's disappointing that Apple iBooks has chosen to ban this book. It's a
mystery why they declined to accept a serious novel with tasteful artwork that reflects the actual subject matter of the book, when their catalogue includes a broad selection of explicit and violent songs, movies and video games.
Publisher Oliver Fribourg of Les Editions des Equateurs told online news site The Local that
It's extraordinary in the year 2014 that this kind of censorship can happen. The company is so infuriated by what it sees as an act of censorship which acts against the liberty of creation, that it has called on France's Minister of Culture
Alan Shatter's novel Laura was written 25 years ago and was a bestseller at the time, but has
languished in obscurity until someone kindly complained to the then non-existent book censors. The complaint hit the headlines and it inspired a re-print of the book.
The Irish Independent has learned that the board, chaired by Cork solicitor
Shane McCarthy, met in late April and decided that no action would be taken against the book's publishers, Poolbeg Press.
The censorship board returned a copy of Shatter's book to the complainant, with a letter advising that it did not see
any problem with its content and that (the board) decided that no action would be taken against the publisher .
The novel Perempuan Nan Bercinta by renowned local author Faisal Tehrani was launched with much fanfare in 2012 by Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. At the book launch the PM made a point of saying that novelists have the freedom
to write in the country.
But it has now been banned by the Home Ministry last week, for purportedly promoting Shia teachings. Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed the book was likely to be prejudicial to public order .
was published by Institut Terjemahan dan Buku Malaysia (ITBM), and printed by Percetakan Nasional Malaysia Berhad, both government-linked companies.
Faisal told The Malaysian Insider that he was not sure why the ministry had decided to ban his
novel now, but noted:
I did hear then that Jakim (Islamic Development Department of Malaysia) was investigating complaints that it has Shia-related content.
The novel, like most of Faisal's writing,
champions the rights of the oppressed. The story is about a professor who becomes friends with a human rights activist and they both debate and have discussions on various issues. And the professor's views are non-mainstream Islamic views, which could
have sparked the investigation by Jakim.
Another magazine has put a breastfeeding mom on its cover , only to offend the easily offended. Hip Mama magazine opted to feature a self-portrait by Barcelona-based artist Ana Alvarez-Errecalde on the cover of its May issue. In the photo,
Alvarez-Errecalde is seen with a Spider-Man mask on her face, breastfeeding her 4-year-old, who is also clad in Spider-Man garb.
Editor Ariel Gore thought the cover image was gorgeous and she posted the cover to Facebook to let readers know the issue
would hit newsstands next month. That's when the trouble started. Vendors told Gore not to send the magazine; they wouldn't put it on newsstands. Then Facebook banned the image .
Hip Mama's distributor said they wouldn't be able to distribute the
magazine to half of their customers unless they changed their cover. It was the artist, Alvarez-Errecalde, who suggested highlighting the censorship on the cover. She suggested a dot to cover the offending breasts, moving their cover line
No Supermoms Here onto the dot to draw attention to the message.
Whether vendors carry the new image or not, Gore said she's buoyed by the support Hip Mama has gotten after the censorship of the breastfeeding mother has gone public.
Mama added extra coverage about the censorship included the comment:
As Ana points out in the updated interview in the magazine, right now this is about an image of an artist breastfeeding on the cover of a magazine,
but moms face this every day when they try to feed their children in restaurants or on airplanes or in other public places -- they are asked to go into seclusion to feed their kids.
The notion that the formerly mighty American publisher Reader's Digest would allow the Chinese Communist party to censor its novels would once have appeared so outrageous as to be unimaginable. In the globalised world, what was once unimaginable is
becoming commonplace, however. The Australian novelist LA (Louisa) Larkin has learned the hard way that old certainties no longer apply as the globalisation of trade leads to the globalisation of authoritarian power.
Larkin published Thirst in 2012.
She set her thriller in an Antarctic research station, where mercenaries besiege a team of scientists. China is not a major theme of a novel set in Antarctica. But Larkin needed a back story for her Wendy Woo character who was linked with the villains of
her drama. So she wrote that Chinese authorities arrested and tortures Woo's mother for being a member of the banned religious group Falun Gong.
Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of
condensed novels. Thirst would reach a worldwide audience in the English edition for the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.
But the publishers had outsourced its printing to China. The printing firm noticed
the heretical passages in Larkin's novel. All references to Falun Gong had to go, it said, as did all references to agents of the Chinese state engaging in torture. They demanded censorship, even though the book was not set for distribution in China.
Phil Patterson from Larkin's London agents, Marjacq Scripts, tried to explain the basics for a free society to Reader's Digest . To allow China to engage in extraterritorial censorship of an Australian novelist writing for an American publisher
would set a very dangerous precedent , he told its editors. Larkin told me she would have found it unconscionable to change her book to please a dictatorship. When she made the same point to Reader's Digest, it replied that if it insisted on
defending freedom of publication, it would have to move the printing from China to Hong Kong at a cost of US$30,000.
Reader's Digest decided last week to accept the ban and scrap the book.