Monday, January 31, 2005

The Filthy Truth about Sex & Love ~ In Fiction

The Naked Truth ~ SEX HAPPENS!
Love is far more rare...

Love may or may not ever show up, but SEX HAPPENS all the time. EXCEPT in Fiction.

In Fiction, it's the other way around.

Love is all over the place - and well-written accurately portrayed Sex is much harder to find ~ even in Erotica, but most especially in mainstream Romances

Why is that?

Where's the Real Sex? 
The problem is, SEX is still a big Taboo.

The only places anyone can find out anything about Sex is through Porn (guys) and Romance novels (gals). And neither of those sources covers the whole truth. Erotica comes close, but not close enough. 

Why not? Because--
Real Sex doesn't Sell. 
Neither the porn companies nor the publishing houses are in it for Humanity's sake - they're in it for the CASH. (But then so am I, so I'm not about to point fingers.) It's just the way it is.

The Truth about Real Sex is out there, but it's deadly dull --and uncomfortable-- reading. It tends to be messy with inconvenient bodily functions, less than perfect settings, and extremely raw emotions. 

If you are interested in Reality, I suggest reading this book:
My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies
This a 1973 book compiled by Nancy Friday, who collected women's fantasies through letters and taped and personal interviews.[1]  --Wikipedia
Rather than truth, most people would rather read Fiction. It's cleaner and much prettier.

Mistaking FICTION for TRUTH.

Porn teaches that Sex is a Physical Need.
That's TRUTH. Unfortunately it also teaches that you can't have good sex with someone who is not spectacularly Un-Human in appearance. *sigh* 

Hence, the popularity of boob-jobs.
Romance novels teaches that you should Trust the person you have sex with.

That's TRUTH. Unfortunately it also teaches that Physical Attraction means you are falling in Love AND you can't have an orgasm unless you're In Love. *sigh*
Um... No. Physical attraction is simply that: Physical. Just because someone is good looking, and smells nice, does not mean you love them. It means they have good genes and better grooming habits. You can easily be attracted physically to someone loathsome. 
Case in point; most of the big-name psychopathic mass-murderers were considered very good-looking--and their followers defended them because they were in love with said killers.
Love is about feelings--not appearances
Everyone loves their parents, their pets, their siblings, their friends... That doesn't mean one wants to have sex with any of them.

Here's a hefty dose of REALITY: 
Sex is a Physical Imperative.

Your body is an animal, like every other fur-wearing critter out there, and All animals have the same Physical needs - Food, Shelter, and Sex.

You think all those copulating animals KNOW they're getting pregnant? Not Hardly! They just know that it's that time again where they get to make whoopee! Puppies and kittens are just that other thing that happens in the spring.

Humans, clever beings that we are, know how to avoid pregnancy and STDs, so we can enjoy our Sexuality without having kittens in the spring. Isn't that nice?

Sexual Truth in Romance Novels?
Not Hardly. 

The average Romance novel uses Love rather than Sex as its basic core ideal. However, Love is where the Romance Novel diverges from the Truth about Sex.

In a Romance Novel, Sexual attraction means that you are In Love, and being In Love means that the Sex is going to be Fantastic! 


Good Sex Does NOT equal Good Love.
Bad Sex makes for Nasty Divorces
(no matter how much love is there).

Luckily...! People have finally figured out that Sex is Just As Important as Love.
In fact, Sexual Incompatibility is the BIGGEST issue in marriage counseling.

To avoid potential Marital (sexual) Issues, it has become common practice to Test-Drive a potential mate for sexual compatibility BEFORE they decide if that person is potential mate material. Good Sex in addition to Good Love has become that important.

However, FICTION has yet to reflect this need for Sexual Compatibility along with Love.

Why Love over Sex?
Because the Publisher said so - that's why.

American Publishers will NOT publish a tale about a woman that goes from Lover, to Lover, to Lover, regardless of feelings of love, unless of course, each former lover DIES. You have to go to the Erotica books to get those stories. Even Erotic Romance publishers prefer publishing books with LOVE as the core ideal.

As an author, I write to eat, so I'll write whatever the publisher asks for - and then spend my checks on my latest boy-toy. *grin*

Most American publishing houses do not feel that books that feature Sexual experimentation, before falling in love will Sell.

For the most part, they're right. *huge sigh*

The Victorian Moral Majority
Rules the Publishing Industry. 

The bulk of the Mainstream Romance reading audience are Housewives with antique Victorian Morals. You would not believe how many of these old-fashioned, prissy-fingered prudes don't want Sex in their Romances. They seem to have this weird belief that LOVE is the ultimate goal, and Sex is completely unnecessary.  

Makes one wonder what kid of sex they are not getting at home. 

This "Love is All You Need" crap birthed the twisted Romantic concept, of the Heroine Loving the Hero enough to ALLOW the Hero to have sex with her--like it's a gift, or something. 
Having Sex is Bad, see?
If the Heroine LIKED having sex with the Hero, well that was explained by her being in Love. 
Can you see the Love = Orgasm correlation here?
I got news for those "Love is All You Need" prudes - 
Love may or may not ever show up - but SEX HAPPENS all the time. Wake Up and Smell the Java people! This isn't the Victorian Era where people died of old age while still virgins. 
This is the Modern Era. Sooner or later Everyone Has Sex - and then deals with the consequences; pregnancy, STDs, and broken hearts. THAT'S the Naked TRUTH.

Sex is as much a bodily function --and Physical Need-- as eating and defecation. (Ask your doctor.) But then, how many Romance novels have YOU read where the Heroine went to the potty? See my point? 

Sex being Enjoyed for its own sake didn't come about until "The Wolf and the Dove" by Rebecca Brandywine, the founding Goddess of Erotic Romance. However, even her heroines didn't have sex without at least a strong case of 'like' -- and the death of the previous lover.

Yeah, yeah, I know I don't like reading sexless "Love is All You Need" crap either, but unfortunately those book-buying biddies outnumber the rest of us book-buyers, so marketing swings their way, not with those of us who like sex.

My guess is that they can't GET sex so they Settle for Love - and then take it out on the rest of us by demanding all the sex be washed out of the fictional love relationships.

BUT - Romances point out one TRUTH that is present nowhere else -
Love doesn't happen without TRUST, and sex shouldn't either.
Sexual Truth in Erotica?
Well, mostly... 

The Erotica you find available in the bookstores shows some sexual truth in the fiction, but these books concentrate only on the physical gymnastics, the Having of Sex – and that’s it. They forget the whole other half of the equation to good Story Craft: EMOTIONAL CONTEXT. 
These books are written with barely any of the emotions and drama that makes Fiction worth reading.
No Emotions = NO DRAMA
No Conflict = NO PLOT

Hello!!! NO PLOT = NO BUYERS!!!

SEX is a Physical Need. Well, it is, just like needing to eat and going to the potty. Realistically, when people get the itch for sex, they go out to a club and get someone to scratch that itch for them. The common term is: Fuck Buddies.. (All very familiar themes in your bookstore erotica.)

But in FICTION, something has to provide the Emotional Context to keep the readers connected to the characters and interested in the tale's outcome.

The problem is, 
writing a story with Emotionally Dramatic Sex  
is really, really, Hard

First you have to find an Emotion, and then you have to add Sex to it...

Way too much hardcore Porn uses the emotion of - FEAR.

Now you know why BDSM is so popular in porn. The feelings of fear and embarrassment that comes with being tied up and spanked gives an otherwise boring story an emotionally dramatic kick.

Erotic Romance uses the tried and true emotion of - LOVE

This is why Erotic Romance is selling so well. The Romance provides Emotional Content with their sex, without grossing-out the reader with weird shit.

Once More – With FEELING!
- Erotic Romance

The eBook industry is producing good quality books that cover many more sexual issues, styles, partnerships and relationships than can be found on your bookstore shelf. The key phrase here being: Relationships.

Erotic Romance stories are Character Driven rather than Event (Sex) Driven. While there are lots of interesting sexual positions to be found in Erotic Romance, what the readers seem to find the most satisfying is the Emotional Depth in these stories. (Even the BDSM is done with Loving partners.)
Erotic Romance is Not Boring. 

But it’s not perfect either. Too many of the Erotic Romance stories STILL tout the Orgasm = Love thing... *big heavy sigh*

But they are learning.

Even with the sometimes too heavy romance themes, eBook adult-fiction is clearly improving with every new issue, unlike what's available in the bookstores, which have not improved in quality since I started picking them up in '78.

The Good News

Lately, the Brick and Mortar Publishing industry has begun allowing more realistic sexual relationships in their mainstream fiction books. They finally figured out that the modern reading public is less than satisfied with fluffy "Love is All You Need" Romances (and completely chaste everything else). 
They finally figured out that the reading public has been going to the Internet to get what they can’t get on the bookshelves - Sexual relationships in their stories!

This change of heart is not altruism, trust me.

The brick and mortar publishing houses are getting a little tired of seeing all those sales go to the small presses and not to them. BUT! If things keep going as they are going, it's just a matter of time before Fiction begins to reflect Sexuality more realistically than it ever has before. 
Won’t that be nice?

Morgan Hawke


  1. if sex is nothing but a physical need, it explains why it's written so badly so often. Without love, hate, or any other emotional thing going on, it has as much drama in it as in eating or going potty. We don't see the heroine going potty because it's boring. If she has sex with no emotions in it, it's the same.
    But at the same time -- why would one need to read about sex without great romantic love -- loveless sex can be had in Real Life:)

  2. I am over 50. I can still get sex thank you very much. I DO like sex in books as long as it's well written sex. I have fought against Victorian values all my life (being of the free love generation).

    What do I REALLY want in a book? A plot, dear. Something to make sense of those sizzling sex scenes. Because without a plot its just porn, regardless of whether or not your protagonists are in love.

  3. Go Tracy!
    - You wild woman, you!
    It's always nice to meet a romance reader NOT part of the Victorian Moral Majority.

    I absolutely, positively agree with you about the need for a plot, especially in romances. Sex only goes so far.

    Unfortunately too many traditional romance publishing houses do NOT encourage plots in their stories. They want "Boy & Girl fall in love" - against a pretty backdrop, and not much else. BOOOOOORING!

    Real Love never happens in a vacuum -- why should a Romance story?