♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Sex – It’s everywhere, television, even the news, in public, in books.
How do you deal with it? How do you feel about it?
Sex is everywhere. It’s like a free-for-all sexy time that puts ancient Rome to shame. Never before has so much titillation been at the fingertips of so many. Pardon the pun.
The sheer number of romance novels and erotica available chokes out all other genres (again with the naughty puns slipping in there…sigh, I just can’t stop). So how do I deal with sex? Pretty much I am passive about it.
As a feminist, I speak out about the unfair objectification of women (which is even reaching into the way we display young girls). If things were fair between all genders, I don’t think I would care. Ultimately, I really do feel it is the choice of the woman posing or acting (or whatever art they’re performing). However, when she makes that choice, she is inadvertently making the same choice for a lot of other women. How is that? Because men become conditioned to expect the behavior from all women. Celebrities are pretty much ambassadors for their gender, race and art, among other things. Young boys as they grow up have the women in their family and the women they see on television and in movies telling them what women are like. So they end up with a confusing mix of this idea called woman. Then they go out into the world, they think dating takes a couple times and the girl if she likes him will deliver—and should! None of this is ever said to them, it is all passively implied by our culture. And among cis male groups, they trade their stories and it doubles down on the message.
The sad part about this is that young men end up so confused because this is not reality and if they can’t adjust to reality, or get women to adjust to what they want, they become angry, maladjusted individuals and that can spell danger for them and the women they encounter.
Climbing down off of my soap box on that…
I believe that sex should be represented far more fairly and I try to do so in my work. I also make it clear that rape is not sex, something media blurs the lines on—a terrible mistake that leads to further confusion, maladjustment and violence. As an author, I feel it is my duty to make sure that these things are clear to my audience, otherwise I am betraying my own. As a survivor of sexual abuse, it is something very important to me. Consent is sexy because it means your partner is really into it and that means you’re going to really enjoy the moment. Communication between partners is also sexy. If you don’t want your partner to speak, then you need a blow up doll or a sock and not a human partner. It’s not funny to dehumanize others. Honestly, doing so makes you less of a person.
I guess I didn’t climb off my soap box. Let’s move along. (But one more thing…you know what I noticed when looking for images to include in this installment? A lack of diversity. The majority of images are white women in various poses and then straight white couples kissing. That is interesting!)
Sex in movies and television has gotten to be as common place as swearing. It’s in nearly every episode of a series and a movie is said not to be saleable to the adult demographic without some soft core scenes included. This is bunk, considering the film industry is suffering from lower attendance and have been for years. It’s not bringing people in. They’re waiting for the DVD or just sticking with TV. I think this is more due to the same reason people want thinner novels: they don’t have time. The rise of Netflix and Hulu and on demand have taken over the need to go anywhere and humanity is mostly patient, and will wait for something to come to them at their convenience. Besides, they’re working two and three jobs to survive in this modern age—who has the time?
The reason that sex isn’t a sale point in books or movies, or even television, is that it can be cheaply accessed at will on the internet through any device at any time. When someone wants to sit down to a book or movie, they are there for a story, not boobs (although your average 15 year old cis boy is game for boobs whenever you want to show them to him). Knowing this, I am not keen to sex up any of my books. For one, an author writes what they like, and, sometimes they have an audience in mind. They want to get their books out to a broad audience and sex limits that audience.
In writing my work, I gauge the inclusion of sex by how appropriate it is for the characters. Writing a book is like putting together a recipe. You have to have the right amount of everything or the end product is going to be terrible. Sex is a pungent spice, and it can easily overwhelm the dish. Take care with how you not only write it but how you use it in the story. It seriously isn’t all that necessary. For example, a reader commented on my book OP-DEC as being one of the sexiest books he’d ever read and there was NO sex in it. The tension between the characters was evocative of foreplay. Any sex expert will tell you that foreplay is the most important part of engaging in sexual activity. It’s what makes the moment and skipping it can ruin everything. The real driver is emotional investment (even though many will say this is neither here nor there to them).
In general, I avoid overt sex scenes in my work. It’s not worth it. They’re very hard to write in order to make them not sound foolish. Look at the blow back against 5o Shades. The most common feedback is how awful the writing is. If your book is all about the romance or eroticism, you will need to learn new ways to describe the various acts of love. Good luck with that and more power to you. I will stick to SciFi, fantasy, thrillers, history and the literature market.
My research is the most important thing and how I wend a story into history, or imagine new technology and worlds. Many readers agree that story is the most important thing, not sex. As I said before, sex is accessible anywhere in many forms. It’s over saturating our world and young people are becoming jaded by intimacy because of it—before they even become intimate with anyone.
Have you seen this? Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? Our relationship with others is being affected by the saturation of information. There is something to say about keeping things behind closed doors, sex positive or not. It adds to the titillation factor. Should it be available? Absolutely. All of what we have should remain available. But there should be less emphasis in everything and anything. In other words, it has its place. I used to suggest a .sex extension for websites that trade in pornography and other sexually explicit information, so parents can easily block their children and let them be children. Kids are curious by nature, let’s not set them up to be punished for that. It would be nice too, if we could grow up, here in the States, and teach proper sexual education to our children so they can make informed decisions when that time inevitably arrives.
We also should stop objectifying children and women. Not only is the ‘far too young’ grooming of girls a sick idea—it’s ruining their youth. And objectification of women and girls is just as damaging to men. Most of our lives are spent as adults. We get only a few short formative years and there are enough sickos out there trying to mess that up that they don’t need help from retailers and the entertainment industry.
And that is my take on the saturation of our world with sex. Scroll on down to see how some of the other authors answered the question. On your way, check out Stevie Turner’s Books:
Stevie Turner hails from East Anglia, UK, and attributes the countryside of her home with giving her the inspiration to write. She has found her unique voice writing the kind of novels women like to read. To date she has self-published seven books, mainly dealing with the darker side of relationships and always a bit of humor. You can find details of her books on the website: http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk/
Stevie is married, with two sons and three grandchildren. If she isn’t writing or working, then you’ll find her walking around her pretty country village.
Lela Markham says
There is something to be said for the singular focus of a man and a woman in a room together who are not bringing any psychic baggage with them … no memories of past lovers, no porn images, no erotic descriptions … just them and what they can discover about one another. That’s a sex scene I would be tempted to write, except that in doing so I would violate the very principle I’ve described.
And you are so right about how confused young men and boys are today. Our son is 16 and he feels a lot of pressure to be sexually active even though he feels he’s not ready for it. He says he’s not the only boy in his school who would rather get to know a girl before having sex with her, but that the girls often act like there’s something wrong with him when he wants to go slow and try to be friends before they are sexual partners.
Captain Maiel says
Your son is definitely not alone. So many young people feel exactly the same and our culture is trying to convince them that is wrong. That’s tragic because it often steals their choices from them. It sounds like he has good guidance from those around him, so I am sure he’s going to be okay. Even at 40 I sit here wondering if I made all the right choices or was caving to some pressure.
Tracy Krimmer says
Wow – what a great post. A lot of great information in here. Thanks for sharing.
Stevie Turner says
Great post. Internet porn and scantily-clad female celebrities have gone a long way in destroying a young boy’s opinion of women. Looking back, there was something wholesome about the women of the 1950’s don’t you think?
Captain Maiel says
Audrey Hepburn. Grace Kelly. Sigh. I really think leaving things to the imagination is so much more sexy. We don’t have to be repressed about it, but there is a balance, and things will settle into it. I feel very badly for young women growing up with these expectations and then the men who are conflicted. It’s not fair.
P.J. MacLayne says
Thanks for bringing up the concept of the “unequal” status on women vs men in the way sex is portrayed. I think we as a society are still partly clinging to the outdated notions that women shouldn’t enjoy sex, that we should just lay there and let the men have all the fun. If we enjoy it there’s something wrong with us.It takes a long time to change old, if mistaken, beliefs.
Captain Maiel says
I so agree with you! I hear so many men saying things like “put a bag on her head” or “gag her” and it is truly sickening. There are so many people who treat each other badly on both ends, but it is very much condoned that women be puppets for men’s pleasure–and we can’t win either–the virgin/whore dichotomy for instance. We’re truly set up to fail, on both sides.
Nicole Sorrell says
I agree that we should teach proper sexual education to our children so they can make informed decisions when that time inevitably arrives. A good sex education taught by non-family members and professionals is essential, but lacking in the US.
Captain Maiel says
It really is. This fear that it’s going to give them the green light to make bad choices is absurd.