As a fan and author of Transgressive Fiction Genre, I read a lot of books and articles to understand it more in-depth. What I realized is that Transgressive Fiction is defined as Rene Chun in a New York Times article describes,
A literary genre that graphically explores such topics as incest and other aberrant sexual practices, mutilation, the sprouting of sexual organs in various places on the human body, urban violence and violence against women, drug use, and highly dysfunctional family relationships, and that is based on the premise that knowledge is to be found at the edge of experience and that the body is the site for gaining knowledge.
Not just as a Transgressive Writer but an educator, political scientist, and gender and equality researcher, I would agree that most of the transgressive literature includes those elements but limiting Transgression in the form of art to only sex and violence is limiting the potential of this genre. So, I've decided to write an article to expound on what I believe a true goal of Transgressive Fiction is, and if, as an author of this genre, you're not targeting this goal, I believe you shouldn't categorize your books under this genre. It may offend many of my fellow writers but well, ain't it transgressive?
What is transgression from a common societal point of view can be defined as an unwanted, destructive act of behavior such as the act of violating norms, laws, budgets, etc. Within the early French sociology of religion, the philosophical critique of modernity and art transgression believed that it often holds a revolutionary potential as it can alter the status quo, at least for a period.
Transgression is defined either in the legal, social, psychological, religious, or geological sense of the word refers to,
The process of an overstepping of a boundary. Etymologically transgression stems from the Latin verb transgredi which is composed by trans that means “through” or “the other side” and gredi which means “to go” (Barnhart, 1988).
Beyond this basic definition, I can say there are significant differences among disciplines in terms of how transgression is used which if you'd interested I can recommend you to take a look at "Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology" by Thomas Teo. Theorists like Durkheim and Bataille who are major theorists in the field of Transgression, both wrote novels and theoretical works focused on transgressive excess. In Betaille studies, he extolled in cultural studies particularly its violence. He explains only when there is an 'interdit' transgression is possible. In L'eroticisme he argues that 'the alternative between interdit and transgression is eroticism.
In an article, Tadeusz PALECZNY and Zuzanna Sławik define transgression from a different perspective explaining that the processes of transferring the cultural elements between different racial, ethnic and religious groups reluts in transgression. Hence, in their view, transgression is a kind of exchange and transcultural diffusion between two or more different cultural groups. The processes of common cross-cultural, two-directional influences lead to the creation of new types of universalized identity and create the transcultural forms of social as well as political organization.
Transgression and Norms
Following mentioned definition and brief ideas on what transgression may mean I can say, as a transgressive writer I see this genre as a tool to focus on social issues in different contexts. Words have the power to destroy and create and hence, literature is always used to explore social issues which normally would make many followers of those social issues, many comforters of problematic norms, uneasy and unhappy. As a transgressive writer, your duty is to raise awareness about what is called taboo. If the story you create contain nothing but the explicit sexual scene, drug abuse, and violence without considering a societal problem, in my humble idea, you should market it as erotics, crime, or another related genre that their goal is not targeting 'what is wrong with these people?'
I read many stories and novels from the new generation of transgressive writers and I can say, many of them, not all, are confused about this genre. They were perverted stories without any weight to it, without any depth. I can say that transgressive fiction beauty is the freedom it carries. As transgressive writers or readers, we don't give a damn about what normal people with the average mindset and sheepish beliefs may think. Our goal is to make a change. To raise awareness. To show what is wrong with this sick society.
If you love this genre, if you write it, please consider your position. Your job is not to help your reader to reach orgasm - at least it's not your main duty, but your job is to focus on problems that the average mind of TikTok conformers can't comprehend. If that's not what you want if you only are interested in writing erotic scenes or dismembering someone for no reason at all but entertainment - in your books I mean - don't categorize yourself as a transgressive writer. It offends us who are fighting the stupid norms, that trying to focus on various social issues.
"It's a Small World After All" and we all have a common bond which is our humanity, and the planet we share. While this is an admirable sentiment, it is easy to see that all too often, injustice and oppression within society prevent us from achieving that ideal small world unity. And so, literature has proven to be one of the best ways to understand and combat the difficult social issues or problems that affect certain groups of people in negative ways, that shape our world. A few of the social issues that literature primarily wrestles with are age/aging, gender, ethnicity, and human rights. Don't follow trends of what mass wants. They do not know, trust me. Use the power of words properly.
Thanks for Reading.