Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Let's Talk About Sex, Baby"

Because like Salt 'n' Peppa (and if you don't get that, look it up), I believe honesty in sexuality is key.

I've run into a lot of people on the web that say sex in a novel is "boring" or "unnecessary" in a novel.  For me, one of the big benefits of fantasy is that we can include sexuality in our characters.  I'm not talking about a one handed read for the sake of one.

Sex is an important human act.  Don't put it in just to spice the book.  Make it come straight from the characters and become part of their emotional landscape.  A girl losing her virginity may very well be awkward and in pain, and not have much fun.  She can also do it just to not be a virgin.  People don't have to have good sex.  They don't even have to have loving sex, or sex they are happy about later.  Or maybe it is a beautiful moment that shows a progression in a loving relationship.  At any rate, sex is a solid part of our identities.  If you don't respect that, you aren't respecting your character's whole being.

That and it pisses me off that in my writing I can show someone getting their head blown off amidst shattering, bloody, wiggling goo, but if I show a blow job everyone freaks!  That's a creepy flip about positive and negative.

The other great thing about fantasy is that it has a long history of being open about homosexuality.  I grew up with gay and lesbian influences.  I actually didn't understand that homophobia still really existed for years.  I thought it was a joke.  Homosexuality, from a major factor to a minor mention, makes it's way into every single one of my books.  I didn't plan that way, but I believe gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues permeate our lives.  Ignoring that would be like avoiding any other factor in my characters' lives, or my worlds.  I do not believe that is a platform of any kind.  I believe it is life.


  1. It sounds like we're in the same world, then.

    I grew up in a homophobic environment, so the idea of accepting (or even really talking about) the sexual lives of others seemed wrong somehow. I'd read about sex in plenty of books (always straight!), so I had a good idea what went on, but it was a very limited perspective. It wasn't until I read Mercedes Lackey's "Magic's Pawn" series that I was exposed to the idea that same sex love could be normal. I was still slightly bothered by it--I was only 15 or so--but I cared so much about Vanyel that I was able to enjoy his happiness more than I was bothered by his sexuality. Once I recognized that--that I was celebrating his very human love for another man--all sorts of walls fell down for me.

    I've gotten into some hot water with my family in recent years when I finally came out as a straight ally--some of them are intensely homophobic. I agree with totally about the importance of writing about sex and about being honest about a character's sexuality. Unlike you, though, I grew up in an environment that did not applaud those ideas.

  2. "That and it pisses me off that in my writing I can show someone getting their head blown off amidst shattering, bloody, wiggling goo, but if I show a blow job everyone freaks!"

    I agree. It's a squicky double standard if you think about it. I know that I've expressed concerns about explicit sex--but not because I think it's bad in and of itself, but because I want to see the book published. But it's a messed up world where I can see a guy get his head blown off on regular television but you can't even see a naked person's genitalia.

    I do think it is important that sex contribute to the book, specifically the character development. I've read a number of books that I swear just threw in sex because it's, well, sexy. Except a lot of times it wasn't even that--it was just gratuitous. But if sex comes about because of important character development--then yeah, we shouldn't shy away from just because it's, well, sex.