…in wanting to write about sex that is fun?
I was asking another author about this yesterday, specifically about this Fifty Shades trend for wimpy, innocent female protagonists and strong, controlling, creepy men. Why, I asked, would this be popular? What about the female psyche is drawn to this shallow, awful prose? I can understand the need for escapism, but come on – who would want to escape into this?
She shrugged, and returned to her frappuccino. “It’s very clear, Shay,” she said. “Women are under a lot of pressure. They have responsibilities and stress, and they want to give it all up for a while, no matter how ultimately unfulfilling it would probably be in the long term. Of course the stories involving the strong, controlling men do well – those stories always involve the man taking care of everything, so the woman doesn’t have to worry any more.”
I huffed and went back to my espresso, unconvinced.
“I’ll let you in on a little secret, though,” she added. “Men want the same thing. Why do you think dominatrices are so popular among high powered businessmen? They want to let go of their responsibilities and escape the pressure for a while. They are just as human and needy as all those housewives reading Fifty Shades. And it’s worse for them, you know, because they’ve been told all their lives that they have to be strong to be a ‘real man’. They don’t even get things like Fifty Shades to read, like women do, because ‘men don’t like those books.'”
“Are you telling me I should start writing the male equivalent of Twilight?” I asked.
“No, the market isn’t there yet. Maybe in a few years…”
And then I imagined an older guy in a business suit, crying into the lap of an elegant, leather-clad dominatrix, while she pats his hair and tells him that he’s a pretty princess. I didn’t tell my author friend this, of course.
My problem still stands, however. I want to write about sexytimes between men and women in a variety of combinations, and I want to make it fun, because good sex IS fun. Am I going directly against the market, and thus should expect to languish in obscurity forever, because I’m personally irritated by women’s preference for male love interests who are borderline sociopaths?
It feels odd saying this, but I don’t think erotica is all about the sex. The sex is an important part of it, yeah, but everything surrounding the sex is what makes it worth reading at all. You can have porn without plot, as they say in fanfiction, but it’s just not as satisfying as porn WITH enough plot to make it meaningful. So I can write the sex, but I’m just not sure I can write the surrounding stuff like that, no matter how much it’s in demand. I can’t write a story where the guy is controlling and manipulative and it’s presented as a good thing.
…holy shit. I think I’ve just turned into a feminist.