If you keep up in any way at all with the world of erotica and self-publishing, you’re probably very aware of the current firestorm going on involving the three large media outlets for e-books – Kobo, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble – pulling all e-books whose title, cover, or content they deem objectionable. Now, theoretically, objectionable means any book involving incest, pseudo-incest, and/or rape. I understand the objection. Frankly, I find those types of books pretty objectionable myself. However, I have a serious problem with these companies actions. Here’s why:

First, I don’t believe that as adults corporations have any business dictating what is acceptable or not acceptable to buy or read. However, they do, as private companies have the right to set limits on what they are willing to sale. If, as it has been alleged, these books are indeed violating the company’s policies, then the company has the right to pull those particular books that violate the policy. However, shutting down the entire division, website, or arbitrarily pulling books on the basis of covers or titles without regard to the actual content has nothing to do with policy violations. This is panic, pure and simple, and it’s ridiculous.

Furthermore, right now, Amazon is only pulling e-book titles that are either self-published or are published by small, independent publishing companies. In other words, this huge corporation is only targeting the people who have neither the money nor the means to fight back. Large publishing companies who could potentially give them a run for their money are not having their titles pulled, regardless of content, as far as I know. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems an awful lot like bullying, and I have a serious problem with that.

However, my biggest problem isn’t in the fact that it’s overkill or that it’s bullying. It’s the fact that titles are being pulled for the simple fact that they contain the word Daddy in the title and an awful lot of age play books are getting caught up in the crossfire. The mainstream response to that seems to be that age play is icky anyway so who cares. After all, isn’t it just another way of saying pseudo-incest and doesn’t it involve all that strange diaper fetish stuff?

For those of us, who know and/or are part of that age play community, the resounding answer to that assumption is: Absolutely Not!

Most of the posts I’m reading, even those in defense of age play, seem to make the assumption that age play is always or almost always infantilism and is always or almost always sexual. Neither assumption is true. The age play community is as varied and diverse as the people in it. Infantilism can indeed be a type of age play, but age players could also play a variety of other ages from schoolchildren to obnoxious college students. Age play is never incestuous, even if it is sexual, because both parties involved are consenting adults. It’s role play, and it’s not really all that different from the French maid or the stripper cop, and I don’t see anybody attempting to ban stories with those titles or fantasies.

Here’s the other thing that many, many people seem to be missing.Not all age play is sexual. My age play,for one, typically isn’t. Age play does not have to be sexual. In fact, in one of my current works in progress, Gillie, who has an age play fantasy, goes to great lengths to explain to her husband, Colt, just how this whole sexual/nonsexual thing works, at least for her.

“It’s called age play,” Gillie said softly, almost in a whisper.

“Okay,” Colt said. “Where did this,” he paused stumbling over the word, “age play or whatever you call it, come from? What brought this on all of a sudden?

“ It’s not sudden,” Gillie told him. “I’ve been thinking and reading about it for years, even before I knew there was the name for it.”

“Why didn’t you ever say something?” he asked. In his frustration, the words came out harsher than he intended, and Gillie flinched. “I’m sorry,” he said immediately, rubbing her arms. “I’m not angry. I’m just confused as all hell. I’m trying to understand.”

“How can you understand when I don’t understand it myself?” Gillie asked. “It’s not normal. I know it’s not. Most grown women don’t want their husbands to treat them like children. It goes against everything I believe about equality, but I can’t stop wanting it. I didn’t want to tell you. I was afraid of how you might react. I didn’t want you to think I was some kind of pervert.”

Never. Even with this crazy thing of hers, that was not a word Colt would ever associate with his wife. Gillie was his rock. She was loving and giving to a fault. She took care of everything and everybody around her. She didn’t have a sick or twisted bone in her body. She couldn’t. His brain just wouldn’t compute it. “Is it a sex thing then?” he asked carefully, grasping for something—anything—he could wrap his brain around.

“No,” Gillie told him. “Well, not exactly…” She sighed, twisting her hands in her lap. “It’s complicated.”

That had to be the understatement of the year, Colt thought, but all he said was, “How so?”

Gillie didn’t answer for a long moment. He could almost see the wheels turning in her head. He didn’t press her, grateful that she was taking his question seriously and trying to answer honestly. “You know how Arielle, in the story, could go into her ‘little space’ and really think and act like a child?” she said finally. Colt nodded. It still blew his mind, but he knew what she was referring to. “I wouldn’t want to have sex or do sexual things while I was in that space, but I am turned on by the idea and might want to when I get back to my ‘adult space.’

“So this isn’t just about calling me Daddy in bed then?” Colt asked lightly.

This time the answer was immediate and absolute. “No. I’m not opposed to doing that if you got into it and liked it, but this goes far deeper than that. Do you really think I would have hidden it for this long if that was all it was? I could have probably done that on our wedding night and gotten away with it.

Colt flashed her a wicked grin. “You could have ‘gotten away with’ just about anything you wanted on our wedding night.” It was true. He’d been just weeks out of boot camp, fresh from the hell that was Paris Island, and so desperate for her he could barely stand it. Then, another thought occurred to him, shocking him straight out of the teasing. “Wait a minute. You thought about this back then?”

Gillie nodded. “I told you. I’ve thought about this for years, most of my life really.” She laughed nervously. “Even as a kid, I always played the baby in all the house or family games.”

Colt couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so utterly flabbergasted. It was like being punched in the gut. How could he have been married to her for nearly twenty years and not know something like this? He’d never even suspected. Hell, how could he have suspected? He’d never known such a thing existed. “Is that what you want?” he asked hesitantly. “To be the baby?”

“Not exactly,” Gillie replied. “I don’t want diapers or bottles. I don’t go that little. It’s not infantilism.”

“Infanta-what?” Cade sputtered. It was like she was speaking a foreign language. He was trying to understand, but this whole conversation felt surreal, like he had stepped into some bizarre Twilight zone.

“Infantilism,” Gillie repeated. “Basically, it’s where someone wants to go all they way back to being an infant with diapers and bottles and all that entails.”

“Why would anyone ever want to do that?” Colt blurted, too shocked to stop himself.

Gillie shrugged. “There’s a lot of nurturing in caring for someone that way, and there’s an incredible amount of trust involved in allowing someone to care for you that way. For some people, that’s attractive.”

“But not to you?” Colt questioned. Privately, he was incredibly glad of that. The whole damn thing sounded utterly ridiculous. As much as he loved Gillie, there was no way he could do diapers and bottles.

Gillie shook her head. “No, not that little, 6 or 7 maybe, but not an infant.”

Unbidden, the image of Gillie at that age filled his mind. It wasn’t hard to imagine at all. Even now, she was petite and willowy, not much bigger than a child. Her big blue eyes would be even bigger in a snaggle-toothed little girl face. Her ink black hair was short now, but he could easily picture it longer and in barrettes or pigtails like his little niece wore. Bizarrely, it wasn’t an incongruous image at all. Somehow, it just seemed to fit.

For Gillie, and for a lot of us, the issue is far more complicated than just sex. There may be, as there is for Gillie, some sort of sexual component, but often is more the emotional components, the feeling of being safe, and protected, and cared for – the very opposite of any kind of sexual trauma. In fact, it’s not unheard of for survivors to use nonsexual age play as a type of therapy to heal from the violations they suffered in childhood.

To lump all age play together and ban it on the basis of a cover or a title, is not only an incredible misrepresentation and misunderstanding but also a real injustice.