This is my first time writing a response to an article I’ve read online but I couldn’t leave it alone and commenting on FB wasn’t enough.
So let’s talk about the Cosmo online article 25 Erotica Lit Tropes That Need to Die posted on 12 November 2014 at 1:29PM…
First things first — Erotica. Does the author of this article mean Erotica or Erotic Romance? For a long while, the two have been used interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing. Many industry people still use one to mean the other but Erotica is a separate genre from Erotic Romance. I could write an entire post about the differences, but it’s easier to just link you to Passionate Ink’s definitions. Since Passionate Ink is the Erotic Romance special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America© (RWA), I’m going to assume they know what they’re talking about.
Now the short response to this entire article is IT’S FICTION. We’re talking about woman’s FANTASIES. People read Romance (Mainstream and Erotic) and Erotica as an ESCAPE. Too much reality ruins the mood and the writing. But I didn’t start this blog post to give a short answer. Let’s jump into the article, shall we?
1. Women climax on demand.
If the title in question is a BDSM Erotica/Erotic Romance, then yes, she does climax on demand. I’m sure many women in the lifestyle could tell stories about having an orgasm on demand.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s talk about non-BDSM titles that include the same. The “demand” or “command” from the Hero is showing is alpha personality and how he’s in control of the Heroine’s pleasure. Since Romance is chock full of alpha heroes, of course he’s going to demand/command she orgasm and the heroine is going to listen.
2. “I come undone.”
I can’t say I’ve ever heard a woman say this, but then I’ve never had sex with a woman. Have I said it? Nope. To say that no woman has never said it aloud or otherwise is a gross generalization. “I come undone” is no different than saying “I lost it” or some other variation of that phrase.
3. Women come from penetrative sex.
The article author dismisses the notion outright. According to Dr. Justin J. Lehmiller’s blog post on the topic “researchers found that 55% of the women reported having reached orgasm during intercourse solely from penile movements at least once before…” Citing a real world study veers off the “it’s fiction” argument, but hey I like facts.
4. Women never have bad pain or hesitation when he wants to put something up their butts.
Granted this complaint is realistic. A lot of books I’ve read (hell I even wrote one before I did some actual research) just jump into anal without preparation. The human body doesn’t work like that and there are times when fiction has to bow before reality. This is one of those times. There are many articles on how to prepare for anal sex and they all pretty much say the same thing — take your time, go slow, and have lube on hand.
5. “My sex.” It’s called a clit.
6. “His length.” It’s called a dick.
I’m tackling these two together because my argument for both is the same. Euphemisms, synonyms, and allusions keep prose interesting. Every editor everywhere will tell you that word repetition is a HUGE no-no.
Let’s see an example from my Contemporary Erotica title Wine Service using the above mentioned suggestions:
Now here’s how it appears in the actual title because the above hurts to read and I know my editor is probably itching to correct it…
I’m sure you noticed the difference. Which do you prefer?
7. Men are infinitely more sexually experienced than their partners.
[Begin Sarcasm] Because there’s nothing I want to read about more than two people fumbling their way through sex. [End Sarcasm] When the Heroine is a virgin (and she usually is), the Hero needs to know what he’s doing. On those rare occasions when the Hero is the virgin, the Heroine needs to know what’s happenings. In either scenario, someone needs to have some kind of experience beyond “the colors of the wind.” (See Disney’s Pocahontas if you don’t get that reference).
It’s also a sad commentary on our society that we expect men to be experienced while women stay chaste. However the chaste woman who has never done this before ever should totally be a natural, because that’s how sex works. (<- more sarcasm)
8. Quivering thighs caused by sexual arousal.
To answer the article author’s question — HELL YES. If your thighs aren’t shaking/quivering/quaking, then you’re doing something WRONG. There should also be toes pointing, eyes rolling back into your head, and heavy breathing bordering on panting too. And I’m not referencing books on this one. I’m talking real life experience and I’m sure several women would say the same.
9. Climaxing from almost nothing, like, he blows on her nipple.
I’ve never had it but a psychological orgasm is a thing. Ask anyone in the BDSM community. A skilled Dom/me can make someone climax from words alone. A single touch or blowing across the skin can trigger it as well. It’s all about preparation, anticipation and possibly blindfolds.
10. No one sees anything when sex is had in a car.
I gotta agree with this one. It’s all part of writing not to have characters get caught when in real life they would have been brought up on public indecency charges, but that’s the fun of fiction. No one gets caught unless it’s part of the plot. Is this something I think should stop just because it lacks realism? No. This goes back to the women’s fantasies argument again. And maybe the car has really dark tinted windows.
11. Desire “pools in [a woman’s] belly.”
Ummmmm… I’m not sure how else to describe the sensation. Arousal causes certain physiological responses in a woman’s body from a tingling sensation to a dull ache (voice of experience). And the “pool” comes from the vaginal walls lubricating in preparation of the intercourse to come. Since everything in that part of the body is inevitably blamed on the stomach (or belly), that’s where the sensation is described as happening.
12. UTIs don’t exist.
Yes this is Erotica/Erotic Romance’s worst lie and everyone knows that. Leave it alone. While I would never write an anal-to-vaginal scene without a condom change, those who do aren’t going to talk about possible yeast infections et al in the middle of a sex scene or after. Yuck. Talk about ruining the mood. WOMEN’S FANTASIES. No one gets a UTI unless it’s a plot device. Just like no woman who’s been letting the hero go bareback for the entire book ever gets pregnant unless it’s a plot device.
13. The “sex god” likes to wash her hair when they take showers together.
Not every guy in the world is a hound dog only concerned with sex. As one person said on my FB wall when I posted about this article there, her fiance not only washed her hair (he offered), he also shaved her legs.
14. Shower sex is the HOTTEST THING EVER I COME UNDONE OMIGOD. Shower sex IRL is never as good as regs dry sex.
This is a matter of OPINION. The article author is allowed to have said opinion but to enforce that Erotica/Erotic Romance authors should stop writing about it because her experience with shower sex wasn’t that great is ridiculous. I wouldn’t do it. Knowing my luck, the hubby and I would end up in the hospital from a slip-and-fall accident. But I’m sure there are plenty of couples out there that swear by shower sex and would have it all the time if their water bill and water-heating bill allowed it.
15. The couple does it like seven or eight times a day and still has time to go out to eat and work at jobs.
FICTION! Enough said. Is it realistic? I don’t know. There might be a couple out there who has managed to fit in seven to eight sessions of sex in their schedule. Maybe they work from home or have quick-quickies. Maybe they have no kids and thus can have wake up sex, after they get ready sex, lunch break sex, after work sex, before dinner sex, after dinner sex, and pre-bedtime sex.
16. Women have magical orifices that are not only resistant to infections but also require no lube ever.
The original #16 had two typos I corrected. But moving on… Speaking from personal experience again (TMI ahead)… I don’t need lube. I get plenty wet all on my own. Soaking panties, dripping wet. Since that’s what I know, that’s what I write. Not all women are like that. Some women don’t create moisture (or not enough) and require lube. Some women (like me) create plenty on their own and lube would just be redundant.
17. The relationship is always love/hate.
It’s called conflict. Last time I checked, lack of communication was one of the top issues in any relationship. So if the heroine is beating herself up and hating on the hero for something “she made up some stuff in her head about him” then that’s falling in line with real life.
18. She always loves giving blow jobs. And swallowing. She acts like his penis is a damn cupcake or something.
This is SUBJECTIVE. It took me two seconds to find an article by a woman who LOVES giving blowjobs. It’s not my thing but there are women who love doing it. There’s a whole line of flavored condoms to backup the idea that women (and men) want to suck dick. I’m betting one of them is cupcake-flavored.
19. All guys are really super excellent at finger-banging. Finger-banging is like the vegan, gluten-free pizza of sex acts. It’s never your first choice from the menu.
SUBJECTIVE! Again subjective. There are videos all over the Internet about how to bring a woman to orgasm from “finger-banging” alone. The man (or woman) who knows how to do it properly has a partner who is ordering that off the menu first, last and always.
20. Finger-banging in public — like, you’re at dinner with his boss — is common.
See my comments for #10.
21. The man always has impeccable and sexy fashion sense.
What author is going to write about a slob unless he’s a fixer-upper for the heroine? In which case, My Fair Lady here we come.
22. And can dance really well at da club.
Unless bad dancing is a character trait to make the hero endearing, then yes, he will know how to dance. What’s more the heroine will know how to dance as well. Gender has no bearing on ability to dance. Youtube has proven this many times over.
23. His penis is always the size of a firetruck.
Going back to the women’s fantasies argument again. Most authors aren’t going to be writing about a guy with a half-inch dick. Sorry guys. Hard truth.
24. The characters get aroused and speak with periods. Between. All. Their. Words.
It’s. Called. Emphasis. Sometimes italics don’t cut it. There are certain things that have to be punctuated in weird ways in order to properly convey how they are spoken in real life. It’s not the like hero is saying, “Come. Period. For. Period. Me. Period. Sexy. Period.” You don’t read the periods as part of the speech. Just like you don’t read commas or question marks either.
25. Everyone orgasms every time they have sex. The man, the woman, the woman again. If. Only.
FICTION. WOMEN’S FANTASIES. What about that is so hard to understand? You’re reading this for escape from reality. As such, yes, everyone orgasms every time. The only time someone doesn’t orgasm is if it’s a plot device. Why would a reader keep buying an author who has sex scenes with no orgasms? I won’t even go into the personal side of always having sex and never having orgasms. That sounds like a conversation to be had with your partner and his/her inability to satisfy you.
That’s my response. Thoughts?