Descent Lesbian Vampires

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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 abseiling vampires.

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?

Mrs Gundy

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

gratuitious gay snog

gratuitious gay snog

“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?

10 thoughts on “Descent Lesbian Vampires

  1. Tam

    Hmmm. To me its like good enough. “Is this shirt decent enough for a meeting with the boss?” Or I use it in the sense you mentioned of “Are you decent?” Meaning are you adequately clothed.

    I personally would not use it in the “not obscene” sense. It wouldn’t occur to me but perhaps that is a cultural/religious context? The way the author used it implies that somehow books that do include sex are indecent or inappropriate somehow. I’ve never heard indecent used in a positive context. “That shirt is positively indecent.” Is NOT a compliment on your wardrobe. So I can see her phrasing getting someone’s back up as a criticism of their book even if it wasn’t meant that way.

    As a totally off-topic aside, there was a movie called In Descent which had a bunch of women trapped in a cave with a bloodthirsty monster. Vampires perhaps? Lesbians? (not sure on that last point.) Hmmmm? Maybe she DID mean descent. :-) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435625/

  2. lazylfarm

    I am still wondering what a “tasteful intimate scen” is.

    Okay, I’m being snarky. But still, if someone can’t write a description of his/her book for general consumption, I despair of what I’ll find between the covers.

    L

  3. Ingrid

    Descent in this context sounds to me good enough, not excellent but just good enough to not be crappy.
    It implies that there are other books which are not just as good even worse.
    Also its the view of that poster. It might be that you think the book is the worst you have ever read.

  4. wren

    I think of decent primarily in terms of assessment: The movie was decent. That restaurant has decent food. And so on. A statement of okay-ness, not great, not bad. It doesn’t usually occur to me to equate decent with propriety, although the term indecent immediately connects to that.

    I was actually more intrigued with my knee-jerk reaction to the misspellings in the quote. I immediately made a judgment about that person because of that, not because of words she tried to use, nor the implication she might have been making. Such a snob I am!

    Also, I had to look up the word abseil, but once I knew what it meant I got a lovely image in my head of a host of vampires abseiling the skyscrapers of a city, landing among the unsuspecting mortals below…heh heh heh

  5. Ali K

    I’m inclined to agree with Ingrid – when I realized she meant ‘decent’, I assumed ‘good enough’ and thought ‘for whom?’

    Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer writers who make every effort to get it right.

  6. Kalita Kasar

    Decent, to me, also carries the “good enough” connotation. I’d hesitate to buy the book based on that description, partly because I’ve read enough ‘good enough’ but not quite good books to last me a decent amount of time, ;) and partly because of the misspelling.

    Perhaps she would have been better calling her book a ‘sweet’ romance as is the industry standard? Although I can’t quite see a lesbian vampire story actually fitting into that category.

    It seems there are a few publishers now, of the ‘christian’ ilk, which are accepting non explicit romance, paranormal (including vampires) etc manuscripts–still don’t think the lesbian tag would fly with them, though.

  7. Sean Kennedy

    I definitely read it as meaning the ‘okay’ sense – it wasn’t fantastic, but it was better than some of the others out there. Because they most likely wouldn’t be picking up a lesbian romance in the first place with the other kind of sensibility.

  8. Jenre

    *Thinks hard as to whether I’ve ever written ‘decent’ as an adjective in one of my reviews*

    Quite possibly, yes.

    Can I point out that I have a problem with superlatives? I’m always running out of them when I write reviews cos I hate repeating myself. I think I use decent to mean ‘well this was pretty good but didn’t send me into raptures of delight’. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve really thought of it as a bad word to use – it’s certainly better than the insipid ‘nice’. However, I can also see how an author may get annoyed by its banality when used in a review. You are right, it isn’t explicit enough and doesn’t really pinpoint what was good or bad about a book.

  9. Lee Rowan

    Abseiling vampires… well, I can recall Dracula creeping along the wall in the old Lugosi film, but he didn’t have a rope, so technically he wasn’t.

    “Decent lesbian vampires” gives me a mental image of a couple of befanged middle-aged ladies in long flannel nightgowns, holding hands.

    And–call me perverse–but I think it’s weirdly charming that a story about lesbians which includes a “tasteful intimate scen” is being described as “decent” because it is not sexually explicit… even though the folks who think they have a corner on the definition of “decent” would blow a gasket if they heard that used to describe either f/f or vamp/vamp or even “intimate scens.”

    The phrase ‘decent lesbian sex’ just makes me smile. It sounds like it would be great in a final line of an f/f romance: “C’mon, darlin, let’s forget about all these bisexual swingers and go home for some decent lesbian sex!”

    On the other hand, a writer who spells two words so badly in a two-line story description is not one whose work I’m going to rush out to read. And I hope that picture isn’t the cover, because it looks like an outtake from a porno film. Not at all descent.

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