Okay, so let me know if I’m boring you with the subject, because I could seriously discuss this topic for a while. It’s a fun, and squirm-worthy topic for many reader/writers and one people often avoid. I like to make people uncomfortable, it helps us get to know who they are for real. So get ready to be uncomfortable...well not really, I'm just warning you--we're talking about SEX.
The subject causes me no discomfort, so on we go…
So we’ve all been introduced to sex via books: Health education, people!!! Tab A goes into slot B and the instructor hums and haws, and that’s how babies are produced. Okay, thanks for that helpful insight, man, but what about slots C and D? No, I didn’t ask, but someone should have.
As readers/writers, we’ve all (if we’ve chosen to read/write about sex) have experienced that poor teachers discomfort. As writers, we aren’t trying to explain sex to 30 teens with hormones fluxing all over the place, but we are explaining it to people we don’t know who will inevitably judge us as writers.
The first sex scene I read, had me thinking that Kelley Armstrong had a damn good sex life. By the third sexed up scene in the book I was thinking: nobody’s sex life is that good. So yes, I judged the author and not the characters.
Her novel, Bitten, was the first adult fantasy novel I had ever read, and I really wasn’t expecting to see sex in it. So when I stumbled upon it on like, um…page 60 or so I was shocked.
It was like reaching into a picnic basket for an apple and pulling out a snake. My jaw hit the floor, I closed the book (leaving my finger in it cuz I certainly wasn’t going to let a little sex scare me away from it), I blushed and took a few deep breathes and went back to looking at the snake.
I went and read the scene twice. Once to get over what it was and a second time to analyze it. I need to know why I had to mentally prepare myself to look at the scene. Why I was so shocked to come upon it in a book. It was after all an adult book and I am no nun, I have to children as proof. And still I had to mentally prepare myself to read about it.
But Why? Sex is the most basic urge humans and animals have. The need to procreate is primal, genetic and the only way any species (aside from a-sexually reproducing protozoa) has to survive. And still we shy away from it.
Why do we shy away from this subject, in literature and discussion?
Because we are afraid people will judge us, the way I judged Kelley Armstrong. We are afraid people will think that we have done, or wish we could do the things we write about. These fears are legitimate.
Authors breathe life into our novels by infusing our life into the characters and/or situations? Is this a bad thing?
No. Not even when it comes to Sex. At some point in time our parents had sex and at some point we are all going to venture into those waters. But we don’t discuss it publically and that’s what writing about it is, a public discussion of a taboo subject.
And to that I ask Why? Why is it viewed so differently in Europe than in America?
Even way back when, in Charles Dickens’ day (British author) sex wasn’t so taboo that it didn’t slip into his novels in one form or another.
In Oliver Twist, one of the characters, Charles Bates, often referred to, by one of the many villains in the book—the Jew-yes this was what he was called—as Master Bates. Say it as one word. For those of you who have read the novel, did the name slip past you? If it did then the connotation of The Jew did as well. He was an older man who preyed on young boys and went so far as to call one Master-Bates. Charles Dickens was a sneaky author. I wonder how many of his readers back when the book was published caught the insinuation that the villain was a homosexual pedophile.
Oh, good question???? An even better one: How many of the people who have read it today or in the past century have missed the name and the connotation? I did upon reading it. My professor pointed it out. He was like that, always pointing out the scandal hidden very well in old literature.
Jane Austen is another example, but for the lack of sex in literature.
You will never find a scene with just one man and one woman together in her novels. There are always three (two women/ one man) or just one, never two of the opposite sex. She didn’t know how to write intimate scenes, or even just one man/one woman conversations because of the society she was raised in. Her life influenced her writing. Point for me, as I am a believer that an authors life influences their writing whether we admit it or not.
They are both British authors, but had very different upbringing. They lived in different realms and times yet in the same country.
So what does our fears of writing about sex say about us as authors?
That we let Puritanical views that governed the writing of Daniel Defoe and Charles Dickens still governs us? That we don’t know how to write intimate scenes because we haven’t experienced them ourselves? That we are afraid our parents will read them and find faults in how they raised us? That we fear our children will read them when they are old enough and judge us, or be totally grossed out by what their parents thought up?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. I just know that sex happens in my books and so what if someone judges me based on it. Hopefully, they read before they judge me or at least take the time to analyze why the sex scene makes them judge me.
My NaNo novel is written in first person from a man’s pov and yes he will be getting it on. Let’s see if sex ed taught me anything.
Happy Reading. Happier Writing. . . sex.J