Anne Rice backs equal rights for women to enjoy erotica

Writer of the Sleeping Beauty trilogy, which is being re-released after the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, says women have just as much right as men to enjoy sexual fantasies

As Anne Rice's erotic retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale is re-released in the wake of the Fifty Shades of Grey sales bonanza, the novelist has spoken out about how women have just as much right as men to enjoy sexual fantasies.

Rice first published the Sleeping Beauty trilogy in the 1980s under the pseudonym AN Roquelaure because she "needed the anonymity of the pen name to write freely, to pursue an authentic erotica without being inhibited or self-conscious". The books, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Release and Beauty's Punishment, are an erotic version of the fairytale, in which the princess is awakened with much more than a kiss and the prince's reward for ending her 100 years of sleep is "Beauty's complete and total enslavement to him".

All three are being reissued by Penguin's US imprint Plume this week, with a first print run of 350,000 copies, new covers and a new foreword by the Interview with the Vampire author in which she lays out a feminist argument for erotica.

"As a feminist, I'm very much supportive of equal rights for women in all walks of life. And that includes for me the right of every woman to write out her sexual fantasies and to read books filled with sexual fantasies that she enjoys," said Rice.

Although she criticised what she called "hackwork pornography", which is "written by those who don't share the fantasy, and they slip into hideous violence and ugliness, thinking the market wants all that, when the market never really did", Rice pointed out that men have always enjoyed all kinds of pornography, and asked: "How can it be wrong for women to have the same right? We're sexual beings! And fantasy is where we can do the things we can't do in ordinary life."

Rice said that since the trilogy, which she wrote "years ago because I could not find an authentic erotica in bookstores", was first published, people have come "out of the closet" as enjoyers of erotica. "The novel Fifty Shades of Grey has proved this. And I am discovering that the Beauty books, in spite of all their playful excess, are for the first time going mainstream," said Rice. "The whole world knows women are sensual human beings as well as men. It's no secret anymore that women want to read sexy fiction just as men do, and there's a new frankness about the varieties of fantasies one might enjoy. So many cliches have been broken and abandoned. And this is a wonderful thing."


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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