I Am Not An Erotic Writer

I don’t write erotic fiction. I used to, a long time ago – well, I started a long time ago, then wrote in fits and starts for a few years. I don’t any more, though sometimes I want to.

I have thought about writing new erotic fiction. I’ve thought about it while I’m fantasizing, thinking maybe someone else might enjoy this as much as I do. Sometimes I will send a fantasy to its object, and usually that person enjoys reading it. But it never makes it into solid narrative form.

Today I was thinking about why that is. I am generally of the opinion that a strong narrative needs a compelling visual element, and my sexual arousal is usually not very visual. That is, when I’m imagining pleasure, I’m not thinking of the cut abs, angular cheekbones, and throbbing manhoods that represent sexually appealing masculinity (ok, so maybe I’m thinking about throbbing manhoods sometimes). What I’m thinking of is a person who makes me feel good. I’m thinking of the feel of their lips brushing my neck, the weight of their body on top of me, or the sounds they make when they’re about to orgasm.

Much as they make me drool, I’m not thinking of Sean Maher, January Jones, or John Barrowman. I’m not imagining a beautiful body, I’m imagining the beautiful things that a person can do to me, and the ways that I can make someone feel.

I think about the powerful, direct jolt from the nape of my neck straight into the depths of my pussy whenever someone buries their fingers in my hair and pulls, hard. I think about the way their tongue feels on my nipples, or their fingernails digging into my hips when I’m getting fucked from behind.

Photo by Molly Algernon

Photo by Molly Algernon

I don’t really think about the look of a body. I don’t dream of perky breasts or long legs. I am conscious of such things, and even somewhat adept at describing them. My old fictions can attest to that. But those descriptions always read as disingenuous, because the way a body looks is never what draws my interest or fuels my desire. I will admit that looking into someone’s eyes and seeing lust in them certainly does move me, but that look, no matter the writer, is one that can’t be truly shared in print. Words never really capture that flame that hides behind the iris and says “I want you, you take my breath away.”

Something seems to be missing from my story when I share the touch of a hand, the grip of teeth, the strength of a thrust, but my reader can’t see us. If I’m sharing with a person while I’m fantasizing, it’s easy. I am me, and you are you, and the image is ready-made. But for a wider readership, I want to be able to offer something real, something tangible, not the passionate affair of ghosts.

So I don’t write erotic fiction, though I still want to. I find myself inspired by another writer, who intersperses his sexual interludes with bits of internal monologue, sometimes wandering along tangents for several paragraphs, before reminding me that he’s got a woman’s mouth on his cock. That kind of narrative makes me feel like I’m inside his convoluted mind while he’s fucking, rather than being an observer. I love that. Perhaps, if I can capture that feeling within the context of my own experience, it won’t matter if my actors have no visages. We’ll see.

Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater – Sexual Hygiene and Advertising

One of the issues that often gets all wrapped up in feminism and empowerment is vaginal odor. How are vaginas supposed to smell? How are we supposed to clean them? These are surprisingly fraught questions, considering we don’t think that hard about any other part of our bodies. I don’t see a lot of political groups campaigning against deodorant or shampoo, though sexism is rampant in those ads as well. But feminists get really angry about advertising for any sort of vaginal hygiene product. I’m not going to say that those ads aren’t regularly sexist, because they are. The difference is that instead of attacking the sexist ad campaign, people are opposing the product being advertised.

deodorant adHere’s an example. This is a men’s deodorant ad. It’s a fairly typical sexualized rendition of a woman, with the added bonus that she is rendered non-threatening by cooking a turkey in a 1950’s style oven (subtle, right?). The tag line, “Can she make you lose control?” tells us how desirable she is, and that this deodorant is SO amazing that you can look at her and not get all sweaty. Right. I’m not going to even bother with the issues of male sexuality and their depiction in mass media in this post, so that’s enough said for that ad.

deodorant ad2

Click through to see the full-size image and read the text.

Switch to a women’s deodorant ad. Here we have…well…a fairly typical sexualized rendition of a woman, though in this case she is posed to be less “come-hither” and more “look-at-me!” But here we’re supposed to want to BE the woman, because she is brave, and look at how she waves that scarf around. We’re ready to expose our skin because this product has made that skin acceptable to be seen in public. (Don’t even get me started on advertising for razor blades along those lines.)

My point is, we can look at these ads and say “why yes, those are sexist and stupid,” without throwing away all our deodorant.

Here’s my stance on the whole line of vaginal hygiene products. Douching, and anything that is designed to rinse out the inside of your vagina is scary and dangerous and bad for you. Don’t do it. However, a lot of the companies that make douches also make body washes designed to be used externally, that clean your vulva without interfering with the natural pH levels the way soap does. I think that’s pretty great. Eve Ensler wrote, in the ever-famous Vagina Monologues, “I don’t want my pussy to smell like rain.” I don’t either, Eve. However, I also don’t want it to smell like I just came home from the gym – you know, after I come home from the gym. I don’t want lingering male fluids getting unpleasant after I have sex. And I don’t agree that “just water” is the right way to clean it. It’s true that soap is harsh and you shouldn’t use it. But for fuck’s sake, it’s 2013, and science has produced products that you CAN use on your vulva and not screw up your pH balance. And you can buy ones that smell like nothing. Not like roses, or rain. They have no scent at all. They just clean off the gym-sweat or the cum or the stubborn blood stains during shark week, without making me smell like I’m trying to perfume away my natural vaginal odor. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

summersevead

Click through to see the full-size image and read the text.

On the other hand, there is something very obviously wrong with the way these products are sold to us. They aren’t pitched for the uses I described above – they’re not just another soap or deodorant. Having a clean vagina, we are led to believe, makes us better women.

This is not an article in a magazine that just happens to have a Summer’s Eve ad underneath it. This whole page is the ad. Yes, that’s right, they wrote up an entire bogus article on being a strong professional woman, only to turn it around at the end and tell you that the best way to be successful is to have a pleasant smelling vagina. Thank you, Summer’s Eve, for reducing my worth to my sexual organs and their hygiene. Fun fact: unless a woman is suffering from a serious infection, a vagina cannot be smelled from across the room. I promise, no woman’s boss will ever judge her based on vaginal cleanliness, unless said boss is fucking her. And that just made this ad go from annoying to creepy.

Summers-Eve-Helen

Click through to see the full-size image and read the text.

This one I just…I hardly know where to begin. Helen of Troy was already the most beautiful woman in the world, but if only she had tried OUR products! Really? Did that really make it into print? The most legendary beauty in Western history: well, she was pretty great, but she would have been better if she douched. A woman’s value, in this case her beauty, once again dependent upon how she cleans her vagina. What the hell.

My point is, these ads are stupid and terrible, but so are those deodorant ads. Just because the ideology that a product is trying to sell us is complete sexist tripe doesn’t mean that the product itself is worthless. A woman shouldn’t measure her value by how much her vagina smells like flowers, or soap, or vagina; but that doesn’t mean she necessarily ought not to use a cleaning product. The Secret ad is trying to sell me self-confidence, and I reject their shallow notion of confidence, but I’m still going to buy deodorant. Summer’s Eve is trying to sell us self-worth, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t just buy body wash.

Privacy in Polyamory – I love you, Please go away

This blog was originally posted in Life on the Swingset on April 11, 2012.

I am a people person. While I wouldn’t quite call myself an extrovert (I hate strangers and get anxious in crowds) I am the sort of girl who is happiest when I’m surrounded by people who I care about. When given the option of going home for a quiet evening alone or going out to the bar with friends after work, I’m at the bar every time.

That said, there are a handful of things in life that I really prefer to do alone. And because my significant others and I work opposing schedules, I typically have about three hours of alone-time during the afternoon every day when I can take care of my alone-time activities. I didn’t really think much about how valuable that time was until the past few days, when my husband has been working from home and suddenly I found myself in the presence of at least one other person at all times, for a span of almost a week.

My husband’s girlfriend said to me once, after a particularly long and busy stretch of days, that she wished she could find time in her life when she wasn’t around anyone she’s sleeping with. I’ve got a pretty solid late-night social life after all my partners are abed, so I’m pretty lucky in that respect. I do get time with my friends. When schedules are normal, I’d say I get a pretty good division of time among complete solitude, partner-time, and social-time. This has just been an abnormal week for my husband’s work schedule that threw a kink in my routine.

As I was getting frustrated with this problem, I decided to ask my step-husband-in-law for his input, because he not only has multiple significant others, but also young children. He told me that he makes a point of spending some time alone every day in his “man-cave,” but that he almost never gets the house entirely to himself. That made me feel a little guilty for complaining about my one week of getting peopled out, but at the same time I realized that our home really doesn’t accommodate privacy very well. Especially for the sorts of things that I like to be private.

To be specific, in polyamory, I live with my husband and his girlfriend. We have one bedroom with one bed, and we have an office with all three of our computers in it. There is a door to our bedroom, as there ought to be, but our office is a pass-through for the rest of the apartment. This means that if other people are at home, computer time is not private time, and really can’t be without inconveniencing the rest of the household. “I’m sorry, you can’t walk from the living room to the bedroom because I want to be left alone in the office,” is not a terribly practical request.

I am a nervous writer. If I feel like someone might look over and say, “Hey, whatcha working on?” I can’t focus. I can’t deal with people looking at anything I’m working on before it’s finished. My computer is a desktop, so sadly I can’t just retreat to a room with a door and work with my computer in my lap. It’s the desk or nothing.

More importantly, I like to masturbate. I don’t care how many sexual partners I have, how often we have wild orgasmic sex, or how satisfying they are, I like the release that comes from solo sex. I suffer from performance anxiety, and that occasionally spills over into my sex life. Masturbation is important to me, because it’s completely pressure-free. The only person I need to please is myself. I don’t have to be aesthetically pleasing, I don’t have to be especially loud or quiet or quick or slow. I can just get what feels good. Even if I were to close myself in the bedroom, solo sex is a little less solo when there’s someone home to hear my orgasm noises. Obviously I have no shame in my husband hearing my orgasm noises, but it seems a little mean to not invite him to the party.

To bring this back to the “man-cave” and at-home privacy, I am hoping that when we furnish our second bedroom, we will be able to turn it into a sanctuary and escape when one of us wants to get away. Currently that room is a big pile of boxes, but to be fair we’ve only been in our current home for about six weeks. Eventually it will get cleaned up and made into an actual bedroom, and any of us can use it as a personal getaway. Maybe I’ll find a keyboard for my tablet and be able to write more portably. This is an optimistic idea.