Let’s talk about SEX

Why not? It could be fun.

Tell me about ze relationship you had wis your muzzer...
Tell me about ze relationship you had vis your muzzer…

Except when he is around. Freud just makes things weird. He isn’t invited to this conversation. Never mind that he would have a lot of fun with my mind because of the contents of the Nightly-Edition, but no, Dr. Freud cannot come to my party.

You guys are invited, though.

So, let us talk about that thing no one wants to talk about except in whispers or on television. Or in a Facebook chat. Or in a stern conversation holding a much loved VHS copy of that one awesome chick with the huge boobs and that guy with the really big…

Ahem.

Today we’re going to talk about sex and how it pertains to writing. And maybe real life. I’m not an authority either, I’m just offering up my opinions on the subject.

50 Shades was a phenomenon. Much like Twilight, it had no real reason for being what it was, but it happened and now the rest of the rational world has to deal with it. Swarmed with hordes of screaming fans as we might be. From then on it was as if the erotica section of WH Smith and Waterstone’s doubled in size. With 50 Shades as the headliner, suddenly I was seeing the same sort of books a friend of mine keeps on her shelf. The sort of drippy melodramatic romance novels that are so formulaic it’s almost painful. Right beside them were erotica novels that I had never heard of, some that I had, and others that looked questionable to say the least.

Why?

Why the sudden shift in reading? And screw the Time Magazine writer that touted to the world that 50 Shades was what women wanted in the bedroom. I’m all for S&M don’t get me wrong, but there was something seriously wrong with Christian Grey (or whatever the hell his name was) that had no business associating itself with sex. In any form.

There are problems here that are best dealt with at $150 an hour...
There are problems here that are best dealt with at $150 an hour…

Maybe there was a grain of truth in the matter. Maybe some women do want to be dominated in the bedroom, not for me to judge, but again; something seriously wrong with the underlying themes in 50 Shades.

I return back to my original question. Why? Is it because the mere idea of sex has been so pulverised by our Puritan ancestors that we’re suddenly making up for years of mental oppression with grainy camera feed and $15.99 hardbacks?

I like to think so.

Did they have ANY fun?
No alcohol. Sex behind closed doors but SHH don’t tell anyone! Did they have ANY fun?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with sex. It’s enjoyable. And, if you do it right, can be a lot of fun for both parties. Great sleep aid. Better than any medication out there. Relieves depression. The only downside is the whole pregnancy bit. And that’s only if you’re female. And it can be mitigated.

Anyway.

50 Shades opened up a world of writing that has been around quite possibly as long as the craft itself. And it really shouldn’t have. Another, more well crafted book should have been the gateway, but what are you going to do? From a writing standpoint, erotica opens up an avenue to be explored. I have an erotica novel planned with the same guy I’m writing Untitled with. It’s going to be awesome and totally screw up one of the best loved Disney movies of all time. And that’s half the fun.

But how much is too much? Is there a limit on erotica? A line that can’t be crossed? A lot of the self-publishing websites out there will not touch a book that speaks of rape with a ten foot pole. ‘No sir,’ they say ‘it’s got to be edited.’ But what if it’s crucial to the story you’re trying to write?

What if the rape scene *has* to be described because without the description, the scene loses its importance to the overall story and a plot point is missed?

Like with anything in this world, sex has a dark side. Hollywood would have masses believe that sex is all about love and happy feelings and omigod is he going to sleep with her? because he totally should! As if sex=love. As if it can be so black and white.

(c) Boogie Nights New Line Cinema Sleep with me! I think I love you!
(c) Boogie Nights New Line Cinema
Sleep with me! I think I love you!

It’s not about love. Well, all right. In the occasion of a healthy relationship; sex is the ultimate expression of love. It isn’t the basis of the relationship, but an extension of it. We are the only species on this earth-other than dolphins-that have sex for fun. Or use sex for domination (dolphins not included). Women have been using it to get what they want since the Middle Ages.

Virgin Queen? Maybe...
Virgin Queen? Maybe…

And still use it for their own gains today. Men too. Sex can be very good or turn very ugly. It is so intrinsically tied with our emotions that one bad experience can potentially screw us up for the rest of our lives. I’m not speaking just about women. Men can be hurt by sex. You just don’t hear about it as often because of our society’s stereotypes of men.

The Nightly-Edition scared the hell out of me when I was writing it. No joke. I scared myself. There were moments when I was going back over what I had written in order to refresh my memory for the next chapter, stopped with wide eyes and stared at the screen, not believing what I had written. I have an attempted rape in the book. I also have a complex antagonist that has some serious issues. Which manifested itself into split personalities with a tendency to use a strap-on. She, Tabitha, keeps a ‘pet’ of her own. Someone that is simply used for sex.

End of discussion.

Man or woman, doesn’t matter.

Also in Tabitha’s repertoire is the little girl that was molested by someone very close to her, who keeps reliving the moment. Again and again and again.

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t go back into the therapist’s chair and have a long talk about what the inner workings of my deviated little mind really mean.

And then I tell myself ‘I’m a writer. I don’t owe anyone a goddamned explanation’.

Least of all myself. Because I’m not sure I want to hear my reasons.

As it stands now, the draft features thoroughly described sex scenes. Not necessarily between consenting adults, because that isn’t what the story is about. The Nightly-Edition is about escape, not who wants to boff whom and the feelings behind it.

Perhaps the editing process will see some of these scenes tamed. Or, maybe the first tale in the Timepiece series will see Steampunk cross over into erotica. And not the good kind of erotica that someone who sleeps with someone else ends up ‘happily ever after’. The kind of erotica that’s akin to a train wreck. You desperately want to look away but can’t. stop. staring.

If it hasn’t been done before already, I might just be the first. I’m not sure how the world will take it, but we’ll see.

So, what about you guys? What are your thoughts? Is there or isn’t there a line in the sand when it comes to sex and writing? Would you cross it if there was?

Readers: how far do your tastes go? Is sex a draw to the book or a turn off? How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?

Toodles!

P.S.

If anyone is interested:

TICKLEBEAR(TICKLEBEAR)-SLEEPING_BEAUTY_TRILOGYSO much better than 50 Shades.

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9 thoughts on “Let’s talk about SEX

  1. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    Dolphins have sex for fun?? Who knew. πŸ™‚
    I have a gang rape scene in my first book. I don’t go into graphic details of the physical part as it is the emotional impact that carries through the rest of the story. But if that scene were edited out the whole book would lose its heart. The scene sets the stage for the future relationship between the victim and the main character. Don’t get me wrong – my book is not a romance, but the relationship between these two characters is vital to the novel.

    1. rjkeith says:

      It’s amazing what you find out at two in the morning, bored stiff and watching nature shows. I agree; had your gang rape scene been edited or even taken out, your book would have lost something. My hesitation comes not necessarily from the rape scene in my own book (as the act itself isn’t thoroughly described) but more from the sado-sexual relationship Tabitha has with her ‘pet’. Those I did describe in detail. But being that the relationship is very much key to the story, it leaves me to wonder what I should do editing wise. Looking back, I have to wonder about the inner machinations of my mind….

  2. Bubbe says:

    As a reader, I enjoy some sex scenes. They don’t necessarily have to be graphic but I don’t have a problem with graphic either. For me it’s the emotion behind it mostly. I WANT the happily ever after, even if it isn’t realistic. I was molested as a child and I am so grateful that I have a generally healthy attitude about sex. Too many of the people I was in therapy with had issues that kept them from enjoying anything like a normal sex life.

    As a writer, it was my intent to include sex in my novel. The main character was a woman in her 50s with all the self-doubt you’d expect in today’s society where the focus is often on youth and beauty. The sex would likely have been pretty average compared to what I’ve been hearing (and reading). In relationships today between real people, sex has a place usually. Especially older couples who’ve had previous relationships.

    Confession: I’ve not read 50 Shades nor did I have any desire to.

    Love this post RJ. I especially like the photos/images you chose to illustrate your points. Nicely done!

    1. rjkeith says:

      Thanks, Bubbe!
      I enjoy sex scenes as a reader. I also enjoy the romance and the happily ever after. I’m a sap for that sort of thing, my guilty pleasure. However, if it becomes too ridiculous or over the top graphic, I’m liable to put the book down.
      Sex is one of those difficult things, I think. It’s that one thing that could potentially screw us up for our lives.
      I’m glad you have a healthy view of it, Bubbe!
      You didn’t miss much by not reading 50 Shades, trust me.

  3. Jessica Burde says:

    I have issues with the idea of cutting out rape and other forms of sexual assault from fiction. Got into a debate with it with Ryk Spoor on his Live Journal a few months ago. Short version is: rape and other forms of sexual assault exist in the real world. And it is damn common. As such, I think it is important that they be depicted in fiction – and depicted as something wrong – because fiction is the main place people shape their views of the world. Cutting out rape scenes and such is contributing to the wish washing of sexual assault.

    Key phrase there: depicted as something wrong. I have stopped reading one of my favorite romances novelists (and ranted about it on my blog) because she kept depicting coercive sex as good.

    That said, this is fiction we are talking about – if the scene doesn’t serve a purpose in the story, it shouldn’t be there.

    In terms of S/m, BDSM – most of the long term BDSM community very much agrees with your take on 50 Shades – that shit is not S/m, it is abuse and seriously fucked up. I am told that some people have found BDSM and leaned about healthy S/m thanks to 50 Shades, so I suppose the old saying about a silver lining holds true.

    1. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

      Agreed. Our fiction must not be sanitized or it no longer resonates with readers. I am willing to label my work ‘adult’ so that those who wish to avoid such scenes have that option, but I will not hide the truth. Hiding the truth will never help us tackle those social issues that need to be dealt with.

    2. rjkeith says:

      I skimmed 50 Shades and was not impressed. The more I read, the more disgusted I became. It’s abuse. Straight up abuse that people think is okay because there’s a ‘love story’. Where that story is, I’m not sure, but I digress.
      I’ve been the victim of asexual crime, and I think that’s where a lot of the Nightly-Edition stemmed from. Where my antagonist stemmed from, anyway. She isn’t a healthy person, but then again neither was I when I was in the service.
      I agree with you, if the scene doesn’t play a role in the overall story, it shouldn’t be there. And I agree with Yvonne, fiction shouldn’t be sanitised because no he sanitises real life. Despite what the PR people want us to believe; real life is ugly.

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