Last weekend I spoke to a standing room only crowd about sex. The topic of the panel was: Romance, More Than Just Sex. Which is true, romance is about far more than sex, but I want to dive into something deeper. Something that resonated with me both during the talk and long after, something that’s bugged me for a long time, but I’ve only just now been able to dial in after being on that panel and taking part in the conversations it incited.
On the panel I was the funny one, the single writer behind the table who not only wrote open door sex scenes, but explicit ones. I was sandwiched between some amazing writers who for whatever their personal reasons–and for some of them it was the genre that they wrote in–they’d chosen not to write about sex. The panel was fantastic and I made everybody laugh with my ballsy, irreverent comments (no surprise there!) and interestingly enough, a lot of the questions were for me.
Q: How do you deal with family members when they learned that you wrote about sex
A: You mean, when they asked for tips?
Q: Why do you feel like you need to write explicit scenes? Why not close the bedroom door and let the readers’ imaginations fill in the blanks?
A: I’ve exposed every rawness and vulnerability my characters have, I’ve made them face fears and doubts. I think it’s a disservice to my readers to leave them out of the most vulnerable moment two people/characters can have.
Q: How much sex was too much sex? Sometimes I worry about whether I should have her straddle him or not… Is that crossing the line?
A: Having her straddle him is always the answer. Always.
The panel was great and I made a bunch of people laugh about a topic that made a lot of them nervous.
As the day wore on, girls continued to come up to me and say, “Wow, we will never read your stuff, but we love you. We love that you’ve embraced who you are that you’ve wrote about sex and you’re okay with it.” We laughed and it was lighthearted and funny, but after about the sixth one, it really started to bother me.
Why as girls are we not allowed to be sexual?
Why are we not allowed to talk about it? Read about it? Want it?
Most of the women in that room (and probably the guys) were married–married people usually have sex. (Never as much as they’d like to, but they do.) So, (taken in that context, where as a society, we’ve said sex is okay/good/proper) why is talking about sex so dirty and shameful and awful?
A friend of mine posted an amazing video of a couple of women who pole dance for a variety of reasons. It’s not their career, they do it because they love it, because it makes them feel sexual, because it’s fun. (BTW, I’ve tried it and holy shitballs is that a lot of work. Also, I’m very good at it :)
When I shared it to FB, my comment was simple: Women are sexual creatures. Women are beautiful. Get over it.
Which sparked a massive conversation about why all the shame, the secrecy, the ignorance that IT. IS. OKAY. FOR. WOMEN. TO. WANT/HAVE/NEED. SEX.
It’s okay for us to love our bodies, to touch our bodies, to share our bodies. Period. No shame. Ever.
It’s time for women to own their sexuality, to own that we are sexual creatures. That we enjoy sex, that we’re allowed to have sex. I don’t want this to become a conversation of “not until marriage” or whatever, because I have a whole different stand on what that looks like and that’s a topic for another day.
But back to writing, why is it so wrong for a woman to want to write (or read!) an explicit love scene about two characters who love each other? Maybe they’re going into war together and this is the last time they’ll see each other. Maybe they’re not, maybe they’re just incredibly attracted to each other on so many levels. Why is that shameful, why is it wrong?
Love is why we’re here. Connection is why we’re here. Love + connection usually = sex. It’s what we crave, it’s what we need, it’s how we’re made.
It’s time ladies.
It’s time for us to own our sexuality. It’s time to stop shaming each other because all that does is divide us. It’s time to embrace each other and maybe we weren’t raised in a household that talked about sex, or for it to be okay to be a sexual creature with needs and desires. But we can change the conversation.
We are sexual beings.
It’s why we’re here.
(and as an aside, without sex, none of us would be here…)
There’s no more intimate moment then when you’re naked and vulnerable with another human being. That’s okay. It’s okay to be sexual, it’s okay to want things that our society–people who don’t know anything about us or who we love or how we want to be loved–has made rules about. Rules about how we get to be loved and how we get to talk about sex and how we get to talk about love and lust and bodies.
It’s time to change the conversation.
It’s time for me to be able to stand in a room of a couple of hundred people and talk about sex and not have a single woman in the room feel ashamed that she wants to read about it, write about it, be it, live it, have it.