The other day, on a Yahoo Group, someone posted this talking about her recently published book.
“It is a descent lesbian vampire story, that is to say it’s not pornographic. There are some tasteful intimate scens but none of them graphic just romantic.”
The spelling hasn’t been altered, and obviously she meant decent, and not that the lesbian vampires were all abseiling into some abyss (although I could be wrong)(and that would be a lot of fun). Sadly I couldn’t find a picture of a lesbian vampire.
But it irritated me. Stuff does. You may have noticed. Why does she think her book is “decent”? And what does decent mean to you?
To me, if I’d thought about it, decent almost has a negative connotation, too far in the opposite direction. If knurd is the opposite of drunk, then decent is the opposite of anything I want to be anywhere near. “Are you decent?” means are you not naked because I’m a coming in, ready or not. Decent means covering your arms and head to enter a church or temple. And I’m behind this, completely. But “Decent” can bring up pictures of disapproving fundies, Mrs Grundies with arms folded. Often, people like the Phelps’ call themselves decent, who are so not.
INDecent implies work one should be ashamed of, and that’s something I’ll never be, for all my sex scenes.
I suppose I was rather jolted by her implication that her work – to her mind, was “better” (moralistically) than mine, because mine had naked people in it, and sex, and bad language, and hers was decent, while mine wasn’t.
My Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it thusly:
Decent: a. Seemly, not immodest or obscene or indelicate; respectable; passable, good enough.
Decency: n. Propriety of behaviour; what is required by good taste or delicacy, avoidance of obscene language and gestures and of undue expose of person.
I suppose when it comes down to it, a lot of it is subjective. What you or I consider to be
“decent” fiction isn’t necessarily Mrs Grundy’s–or indeed the original girl who posted this about her lesbian vampires. (Although I have to say that I think Mrs Grundy might have a problem with lesbian vampires in the first place.)
It wasn’t meant nastily, I know, just an unfortunate choice of word, but still–what is decent? What does it mean to you?