I feel such trepidation using these two words together. It’s not because I fear a group of incel fuckboy trolls attacking me. No, I am afraid of the feminists.
Because no one is more severe on feminists than other feminists.
For example, I once described my Twific crowned jewel Bella’s Cowboy Romance (it’s been pulled but you can still find it in archives) as “Jane Austen in cowboy boots.”
Oh. My. Fucking. Goddess. I will never do that again. So much wrath.
Which is heart-breaking to me. We should be our greatest supporters, my fellow sisters.
I try to remember this whenever I scroll through my feed on Facebook or Goodreads or MeWe. I like things because they are there to be liked, and I know how scary it is to expose yourself to online ridicule so be a friend to have a friend. So like, like, like.
All of this makes me think about what the purpose of erotica is for women, how it is different than pornography, and how male-view is different from female-view.
I have started reading a new book, even though now I am reading four at the same time and I will need to clear the deck before the latest novel from James S. A. Corey lands.
Who am I kidding? I’ll probably read that in a weekend. Still, I shouldn’t start anymore books right now. Here is the one I began a couple days ago.
It’s funny, but it isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse.
There are several features from my writing, however, that do show the influence of a female writer who will accept nothing less than absolute equality with men.
1) Consent. Even in the story where there is a language barrier, Wild Temptress of the Scottish Highlands, the female must say “yes” first. Not just “no means no” but “only yes means yes.” I haven’t written a story with the female asking the male directly for consent, not yet. But that is just as important. The closest any story touches upon this is when Jholi explains to Javier what she wants to do to him in Quarantine Level 4.
2) Threat of Rape. This is a topic that deserves its own post, so I will just say that the only two stories that don’t currently deal with attempted rape, marital rape, rape by a family member, rape by an invading army, rape by a co-worker/friend, rape by strangers is The Pleasures of the Flesh and Quarantine Level 4. But the latter will eventually include that plot item as well. Why? Because we live in a rape culture. I have been taught all my life about what to do to avoid being raped, but it didn’t protect me from marital rape. So, I know of what I speak—I am a rape survivor. And I will not shy away from its unfortunate influence on so many women’s love lives.
3) Marriage, Pregnancy, Social Status, Child Support. Not every story deals with these intertwining topics overtly but they’re touched upon in every single story.
- Wild Temptress of the Scottish Highlands. Cullo is thinking about marrying his lover, despite the extreme gap in their history and social status, so at least Aoife and her babies would be taken care of.
- The Rightful Lord of the Castle. Sybil is okay with a secret marriage until the point she starts showing as pregnant at which time Hugo must acknowledge it openly. She runs the risk of appearing as incestous (like Gertrude in Hamlet) or conniving (like Gertrude in Hamlet), so she has reason to keep it quiet for now.
- Forgiveness Conquers All. James marries Sabine to protect her from the legal ramifications of her killing her brother in self-defense. So, once again, she is going to be okay. In fact, he’s the one who is going to be accused of being a gold-digger, not the other way around. Just as long as she doesn’t die in childbirth…
- The Pleasures of the Flesh. First time that birth control is mentioned directly. Dorothy doesn’t want to get married to Charlie or have any babies with him, not yet anyway. She needs to raise some social justice hell first. So she meets with agents of a nascent Planned Parenthood and frees herself from being only just a baby-maker.
- Wife, Lover, Abigail. They want to have sex. Now. But both of them need to assuage cultural mores and personal morality before they can get down to it. Overly simple solution, almost a deux et machina, but still—in a day and age when written records of marriage were frequently non-existent, as long as Henry will recognize the marriage (and, come on, you know he will) then Abigail is as safe as Sabine is in earlier story.
- Hellfire on Horseback. Kate has already survived childbirth, and she has a cover story that would be hard to disprove given the timeframe. Will’s intentions seem honorable, and I imagine he would make an honest woman of her if she’ll let him. In fact, when he realizes that he wants to sleep with Kate but shouldn’t because he needs to arrest her, he comes up with a creative way to have sex without actually having sex. I can’t say anything more about this story, because there will be upcoming twists, so SPOILERS.
- One Night at the Happy Rooster. We are all kinds of modern here. One-night stand, blow job, condoms, talking about Bob Dylan. Plus a real sweetheart of a romantic male lead in John/Doug and a real branding iron of a romantic female lead in Deborah/Nancy. Again, I can’t reveal much about this story, but don’t expect anything traditional.
- Quarantine Level 4. Sci-fi chic. It isn’t clear if either Jholi or Javier are on birth control, but since they are “humping in the holodeck” in doesn’t really matter. I imagine birth control for both men and women is as simple as a swing by sick bay for a hypershot, à la Star Trek. In truth, I have written an entire chapter about future sex practices made possible by Tqaki benevolence including nerve-weaving strap-ons and traveling sex gigolos in space. Because there is one more type of individual that the Tqak’tamu require every human spaceship to have, other than a pyschiatrist, and that is a staff of courtesans. Basically, think Inara from Firefly running her own training house on aboard the Starship Unity.
Personally, I don’t know a female who is interested in scifi and sexuality who doesn’t consider Inara Serra as a modern-day goddesss of love, a.k.a. Aprhodite.
Beyond all of this, feminist erotica means to me something different than pornography which is traditionally male-view. It even functions differently in how it gets me into bed.
And I am not alone in this. Even my mom would agree with me. See earlier post.
Women need to read racy stuff, and how racy they like it varies from woman to woman.
But we don’t read it to get off; we read it to get in the mood to get off. Big difference.
Personally, once I’m in the mood, then I can hop on board the male-view pornography train and enjoy the ride just as much as my partner. Other women, especially those from conservative backgrounds (e.g. my mom) are not able to go that far. For them, build-up erotica is even more important because it’s all they have to work with.
I mean, give a good girl a break. Don’t ask what caused her to initiate sex in the marital bed. Just say thank you and treat her like a goddess. Because she is.
Lastly, gentlemen, if the next time you think about foreplay as being something like pinching her nipples and licking her earlobes, don’t. Give her a dirty book to read and come back in a half hour with some wine (Or whiskey, tequila or vodka. Me, I’m a spirited sort of girl). Then fold some laundry while you wait for her to warm up, and start the god-damn dishwasher. Come back into the room with a smile on your face and kind words on your lips. You will enjoy the difference, and she will too. Just a suggestion.