This Bog Hop (created by Grace R. Duncan, please check out her page and the other participating bloggers!) is meant to promote positive discussion about sex. A lot of what we see and hear and read about sex is negative, and this hop aims to counter that.
For my contribution, I’d like to acknowledge that reading sex for sex’s sake is just fine. Writing it is too. I guess what I wanted to post about today is, just because I’m always talking about why and how sex can serve plot, doesn’t mean I think it always HAS to.
I’ve never known what to respond with when someone says “Sex in fiction serves no purpose” or “sex is just included for the titillation value.” So I come up with defenses, reasons why sex is important to plot, why is is worth more than “just” titillation. And I stand by those defenses.
But I’m thinking now… Why? Why did I feel like I had to defend it against those accusations at all? What if I instead answered: “So?”
I mean, so what? “Sex is only there for the titillation.” And? Why is that a problem?
I realize now that by constantly defending the validity of sex scenes, I have only been feeding the assumption that sex scenes are kind of wrong and therefore in need of defending. So, going forward, I am saying: Plot is great, but “just sex” is enough. It really is. Sex for sex’s sake has become something of an insult in Romance, and it shouldn’t be.
I’ve already blogged many times (here, here, and here for a few) about why it is not only totally okay but actually valuable and desirable to include on-page sex scenes in Romantic fiction. I strongly believe that explicit sex scenes enhance both character and plot development in Romance. But you know…even if they didn’t, or even when they don’t, those scenes are still okay to include.
Is every scene strictly necessary? If nothing has changed in the plot or the characters after a scene, some would say “cut it.” But how many times are non-sexual sequences cut for such reasons? Rarely. More likely, they are not questioned.
Why describe a sunny day? Or follow the motions of a character preparing a meal? Does every little thing move the plot? Really? Unless you are writing in a very minimalist style, which most Romantic genre fiction is NOT, chances are there are many scenes which serve only to provide mood, atmosphere, humorous breaks, worldbuilding details, opportunities for dialogue, and yes, entertainment.
Maybe the fight scene stayed in because it was cool. Fun to read. Thrilling and suspensful, even? Who decided that “funny” or “suspenseful” are okay feelings to attempt to rouse in readers, but “sexual thrill” is not?
I say it is.
I write a lot of sex. I write Romance, and I believe that good Romance contains sex. I also write some Erotic Romance (which definitely needs explicit sex) and even some Erotica (more sex!!) I surround myself with people online who support and encourage this kind of writing. My facebook wall is a blur of sexy images and explicit excerpts.
In the writing groups I belong to, sex in writing is often discussed. And most of the time, it’s all good “as long as it serves the plot,” and I tend to agree with that, and everyone gets along just fine. Except… Why? Why is it so horrible to have a sex scene that doesn’t move the plot forward? I’ve looked carefully at plenty of stories, and many of them have multiple non-sexual scenes which, strictly speaking, could be cut with no ill effect. Why are we so critical of sex scenes specifically? Why must they never be “gratuitous” or “vulgar”?
I realize that not every reader wants to read a ton of sex scenes, and I respect that. I myself get irritated when reading a story riddled with unnecessary sex, especially when I’m most interested in some other aspect of the story. The sex then can feel like an interruption. But some stories, usually in the Erotic-Romance and Erotica genres, have lots of “unnecessary” sex, and they’re pretty great. Fun to read. Thrilling.
From now on, I’m going to make a better effort to celebrate these stories. To celebrate sex in writing in general. I’m going to try to ignore the “sex is weak writing” and “sex sells” bullshit, and be proud of the sex scenes I write and read. I’m going to stop defending. Sex scenes don’t need defending, because there is nothing wrong with them.
Slightly unrelated, but if you want to visit a really nice sex-positive website, I suggest makelovenotporn.com It’s pretty awesome. And this particular post made me fall in love with Dale Cooper a little bit.
Please also visit the other great bloggers participating in the Sex Positivity Hop!