Commentary From A Non-Sex Goddess


CoupleIt happened again yesterday. I was having a perfectly fine conversation with a male acquaintance when suddenly things went very wrong. The cause behind this unfortunate turn of events? Alas, ’twas my chosen profession.

You see, as a writer – and reader –  of erotic romance, I keep it hot. I like writing love scenes between the hero and heroine that scorch the pages, and I want my readers to enjoy reading them. Sex can be a big, beautiful, complicated bundle, and it’s interesting for me to explore within the confines of erotic romance how relationships begin and build, and how the chemistry works between the players, igniting them to some really great places. But that, men of the earth, does not mean that I’m a lusty, raunchy, turned-on-at-every-minute bonafied sex goddess. In fact – hard as it may be to believe! –  I’m not a sex goddess at all. What I am is a mild-mannered writer by night, corporate slug by day. Nothing glamorous, nothing titilating, and certainly nothing that should make your eyes light up with a weird, I-never-thought-of-her-like-that-before look.

Learning about my writing should not cause you men to leer, or give me a knowing grin. What is it that you know, anyway? Do you think I’m going to need a partner to practice my scenes with? Thanks, but I’ve got my husband for that. Sometimes men who learn of my writing will want to hear my story ideas. Or so they say. What they really want to hear is me describe – in detail, no doubt – the sex scenes. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

One is the most frustrating things to me about men’s reactions in hearing that I’m an erotic romance writer is that they completely overlook that very thing. I’m a writer. I think up stories. I bring thoughts, ideas, characters, plot lines, and action into one cohesive body of work called a book. I think about pacing, dialogue, point of view, and character development. I suffer anxiety about whether any editor’s going to want to publish my work, and if I’m so fortunate that they are, then I suffer further anxiety as to whether the readers are going to enjoy it. It’s the same journey, with some variations, that all writers take. But just as soon as guys learn that my writing happens to contain steamy sex scenes, the conversation goes to hell in a handbasket.

So guys, please. If we happen to have a conversation that turns to the fact that I write erotic romance, don’t think it means that I’m loose, a nymphomaniac, or available. I’m not going to give you a sneak preview of the sex scenes, and I don’t need your input on what I should write about. I’d love to have an intelligent conversation – which I have, and it’s been great – about what guys like in romance, what doesn’t work for them, what their viewpoint is on building a male character from a guy’s point of view. If we can do that, awesome.

OK, that’s about it. Sorry for the rant, but I just had to get that off my heaving bosom. Now, if I could just get this bodice off. Maybe if I rip it . . .

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13 Comments

  • madelineiva
    February 27, 2013 at 8:26 am

    You tell a man what you write. Not in a flirty way–it just comes up. His eyes glaze over briefly. His voice lowers, “So what’s your pen name?” Like I’m going to tell you, my landlord, my co-worker, my brother-in-law. Ew.

    My friend insists that it’s a biological reflex with men. They have to ask, it’s involuntary on some deep evolutionary level. She’s probably right. My women friends don’t actually ask for my pen name usually.

    I don’t mind responses like “Well that sounds FUN” or whacky, or crazy, etc. I don’t mind it if people instantly want to know if I’ve made bank. It’s something about that immediate shift in a guy’s eyes that seems totally impersonal, yet lust-glazed and automatic that makes me want to get about four feet away instantly.

    So I feel for ya, E.

    • cmkempe
      February 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

      It’s not a biological reflex: it’s a cultural construction. On Twitter @everydaysexism has done a LOT to call out this knee jerk habit of controlling women by intimidating them by sexualising interactions.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      February 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      That’s exactly what happens. That sudden change in the eyes, a raised eyebrow, a goofy grin. Ew. And no, it doesn’t come up in a flirty way, it comes up because that’s what I do. A friend of mine, who’s extremely supportive of my writing, will tell anyone within hearing distance that I write erotic romance. Because she’s PROUD. But then suddenly when a guy hears that it’s like my friend may well have said, “she’s a porn star!”

  • Col Bury
    February 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Good post.

    I write about crime, but I’m not a criminal. 😉

  • LizEverly
    February 27, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Oh yeah. From time to time I get those same responses. Once when I was on a train ride to NYC. OMG, I was so happy to get off that train. 😉 I rarely tell anybody what I write, now, if I don’t know them well–and even then, I hold my cards close. I’ve gotten some funky on-line reactions from men, too. But there’s also the OTHER reaction, you know, the snooty one. I have to admit that’s been less and less recently. And I think we might have 50 Shades to thank for it.

    • cmkempe
      February 28, 2013 at 7:56 am

      I think you’re right. Whatever people may think of the books themselves, they mainstreamed erotic reading for women.

  • Miriam Newman
    February 28, 2013 at 8:06 am

    It’s a J-O-B. For some reason, though, most men don’t get that. Cultural conditioning, I guess.

    • madelineiva
      February 28, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Hey Miriam, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! A lot of husbands seem to get the job part–at least the part that deals with hearing the ‘cha-ching!’ and wifey earning money. ;>
      –Madeline

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