Sex. Many feel it simply has no place in fantasy, and when they find it there, it’s just like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial – hey! You got sex in my story! – but without the happy resolution. It all depends on the story being told. A person can write a rip-roaring tale of heroes caught in romantic adventures without having to find a way to describe bodies bumping. Others may differ.
Does sex matter? Sex is part of most of our lives, and certainly not an unimportant one. Our government sees fit to legislate where it can and cannot occur, and what percentage of nipple can appear on our television screens. It’s codified, controlled, and explosively popular: sex propelled Fifty Shades of Grey to the bestseller list and earns the pornography industry $14 billion a year. I would say yes. Sex matters.
There are many ways to talk about sex in books. One is the craft of the actual scenes which I suspect would be boring to read about. Another is the purpose of sex in the book – what it is meant to convey. Yet another is the societal overtones of that sex, from unconscious Puritanism and sexism to post-colonial biases.
So where does one begin to unravel sex in our literature? Certainly the temptation is to leave it be. Art is not exactly meant to make sense of our lives – only ask questions or find beauty in it. The great mystery of sex – what it means to each of us and to the characters and world of a book – is only one of a great many riddles in any good story. And yet there persists the worry that something harmful could be there, something twisted, that begs to be opened and put into the sunlight. (more…)Read More...