(Wow, it feels odd to not be blogging about publishing on a Friday, it’s been so long! The summer series is over; no more interviews, no more posts. I’m sure I’ll keep blogging about it on occsion, we’re just not doing it regularly anymore.)
So someone on one of the message boards I’m a member of posted a question the other day, about emotional intensity and sex scenes. The gist of it was, if a man is in a very low, unhappy place emotionally, is it taking advantage of him for the heroine to, ah, take a tip from Marvin Gaye?
I was frankly stunned that this was even an issue. perhaps if the situation had been reversed and the heroine was the one feeling terrible (you see how sexist I am) I *might* have felt a little differently. Maybe. But my response on reading it, and still is, “Huh? But getting laid makes people feel better.”
This is a MAN we’re talking about here. And it’s not like the woman is some total stranger who got him drunk and molested him, she’s his romantic interest in the story.
But everyone else seemed to think it would be better to have one or both of them stop things, and wait until they were in a more centered place, which bugged me a little because hey, emotionally traumatized sex = hot sex. I wrote a scene in the PD sequel the other day that, hopefully, will scorch your eyeballs, but without the emotional content–specifically raging, screaming fury–would be rather humdrum. It’s not even a particularly long scene (although it’s not short). But it allowed my heroine to explore some new depths in herself. It allowed my hero a chance to show how well he knows her and how he feels without actually having to utter any of those potentially embarrassing words he’s too scared to say.
Does he take advantage of her in that scene? Well, yeah, I guess he does. He could easily have helped her by talking, or offering her a pillow to hit, or inviting her to go for a job, or even a shoulder to cry on. He didn’t have to sneak up and start putting his hands all over her in ways he knows she particularly likes. Maybe a less selfish and oversexed type of man would have done any or all of those things.
But I think it would have omitted so many of the clues buried in the scene. I think it would have made him far too wholesome. He’s a guy. He wants to have sex. He thinks, “Hey, she really needs to feel better right now, and I bet some sort of physical activity would help…say! I have an idea!”
Who wants to waste all that good emotional uproar on ice cream, for fuck’s sake, and then have sweet, rational sex the next day? When you could have your characters brutally use each other instead? No contest, at least for me. Why have them smile when they could be devouring, why have them be tender when they could be desperate?
No, it’s not right for every scene, obviously. But it seemed to me that in worrying about “taking advantage”, the writer was losing an opportunity to really strip her characters to the bone. Which in large part is what sex scenes should be about. Yes, it should be hot, and not every scene needs to heal traumas or create new ones–sex for sex’s sake doesn’t bother me if I like the characters and they’re hot together–but a chance like that doesn’t come along very often.
Not to mention the fantastic opportunities for conflict represented by sex like that. Imagine that scene, where she’s worrying she took advantage (silly, but whatever) and he’s afraid he revealed too much…it’s the stuff dreams are made of, IMO.
But I admit it makes me wonder if I’m some sort of sociopath, in that taking advantage wasn’t even on my radar here.
Monday I want to go more into this, especially relating to that ultimate taboo of taboos–hitting girls.