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What Boys Think of Girls

Men Write Horrible Sex Scenes and Receive Awards For This

Every year, the Literary Review makes the decision to honor great moments in bad sex writing, because there is so darn much of that in literature, and it needs to be celebrated! This year’s most high-profile nominee is none other than Stephen King himself, for his horrible sex writing in his latest release, 11.22.63, which featured a passage about whispering jeans. What? And that’s why we have awards!

We haven’t read it, but here is the full passage that qualified King for this dubious honor:

“She was wearing jeans. The fabric whispered under my palm.”

Now, that’s just stupid. Jeans don’t communicate! King’s fellow nominees include James Frey (The Final Testament of the Holy Bible), Haruki Murakami (1Q84), as well as Sebastian Barry, Peter Nadas, David Guterson, and Jean M. Auel. Oh, it’s true: these authors and more are now eligible to win an award for the Best Bad Sex Writing, because such an award actually exists in this world we live in.

Past nominees have written things like this:

From Rhyming Life and Death by Amos Oz:

She holds him tight and squeezes her body to his, sending delightful sailing boats tacking to and fro across the ocean of his back. With her fingertips she sends foam-flecked waves scurrying over his skin…

Attentive to the very faintest of signals, like some piece of sonar equipment that can detect sounds in the deep imperceptible to the human ear, he registers the flow of tiny moans that rise from inside her as he continues to excite her, receiving and unconsciously classifying the fine nuances that differentiate one moan from another, in his skin rather than in his ears he feels the minute variations in her breathing, he feels the ripples in her skin, as though he has been transformed into a delicate seismograph that intercepts and instantly deciphers her body’s reactions, translating what he has discovered into skillful, precise navigation, anticipating and cautiously avoiding every sandbank, steering clear of each underwater reef, smoothing any roughness except that slow roughness that comes and goes and comes and turns and goes and comes and strokes and goes and makes her whole body quiver.

You had me at “seismograph,” Amos Oz. (Nerd.)

From A Dead Hand by Paul Theroux:

Her hands were all over me, four hands it seemed, or more than four, and as she touched she made me weightless, lifting me off the table in a prolonged ritual of levitation. She went lower, her hands and lips – multiple mouths – taking possession of me, not giving what I wanted, but offering urgent promises.

Mmmmm, hot, hot octopus sex. Also:

‘Baby.’ She took my head in both hands and guided it downward, between her fragrant thighs. ‘Yoni puja – pray, pray at my portal.’

It should be noted that these do not come from current nominees. Past winners include such illustrious scribes as Norman “Coil of Excrement” Mailer, Tom “Otorhinolaryngological Caverns” Wolfe, and lifetime achievement award winner John “Spurting Glans” Updike. Last year’s best bad sex writer was Rowan Somerville for The Shape of Her. It should be noted that there have only been two female winners of the Bad Sex Writing Award: Rachel “Moth Caught Inside a Lampshade” Johnson and Wendy “Dorsal Subluxation” Perriam, and only two nominees this year are women.

Jezebel seems to be upset — maybe facetious — about the lack of women being singled out for their glorious achievements in bad sex writing, but maybe it’s a matter of women being burdened with the utter inability to write a completely ridiculous sex scene. Feel sorry for us! Or we are just better in touch with our emotions and sexual feelings and are better able to express ourselves in writing than men are. Or, if you want to be a downer about it:

I’d like to think that the overwhelming presence of male authors on the lists of winners and nominees has more to do with the fact that, since women had (and often still have) to actively wrest control of their own sexuality away from a patriarchy that often determines how the female body is used and represented, they are able to speak with greater comfort and authority about sex when they achieve sexual autonomy.

I’m sure this is exactly what romance novelists think about when they write about heaving bosoms, throbbing members, and erect nipples. The patriarchy. Actually, I think they’re thinking, “I’m probably not going to talk about excrement when I write a sex scene because I’d really like to sell books.”

And that’s why boys are different than girls.

(BBC News via Jezebel)

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  • Lisa Jonte

    Otorhinolaryngological Caverns?

    Wait, really?

  • Nichole Filbert

    Could be a lot of reasons. But agreed, we should be up in arms about this! What about Stephenie Meyer, wasn’t there a description of teh vamp-sex?

  •!/haversam [A]

    “She was wearing jeans. The fabric whispered under my palm” HAHA that’s….that’s something..

  • Mika “Ipstenu” Epstein

    Not as such.  I mean, there was no mention of portals or throbbing turgid manhoods.  Just the concept that ‘and sex happened and it was teh awesome.’

  • Shard Aerliss

    Clearly the people who decide who wins these awards have never read an yaoi, Japanese or OL… ’cause, you know; there are some tragically bad sex scenes written by women, for women out there, from the plain old just badly written to the, well, bizarrely written.

    Wait, wait… Haruki Murakami? Surrealist sex scenes… fun times!

  • Cate Pedersen

    I was going to say: Well, Amos Oz is translated from Hebrew (and Hebrew to English translations are notoriously bad) so it probably sounds better in the original. And then I read the paragraph.

    I think this is probably the first time anyone has mixed their scientific-sensor-equipment sex metaphors in a single sentence. Ever.

  • John Wao

    What’s the name of the award, “the Burning Loins” award? 

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to go with Jezebel on this one… It sure seems like The Literary Journal is targeting high-profile projects that just happen to be written by mostly men. There are plenty of sex-scenes written by women that are just as bad. They’re just not as famous.

    And targeting King at all just seems unfair. I mean, have you ever seen the cuss-words he concocts for his stories? He may be a master storyteller, but imagery has never been his strong suit.

    Does The Literary Journal have an equivalent honor for legitimately GOOD scenes? How would such a thing be defined.


  • Anonymous

    I love the Amos Oz passage.  It’s like the printer got his sex scene jumbled up with a page from a Tom Clancy novel.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see an award for good sex scenes. If only because romance novels get a bad rap but the good ones do a great job of exploring sexuality. They need some more mainstream celebration.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Steve-O looks to be in the midst of a horrible sex scene himself, there.

  • Lucy Woodhull

    “Actually, I think they’re thinking, ‘I’m probably not going to talk
    about excrement when I write a sex scene because I’d really like to sell

    Ha!  Yes, as a romance author, this is exactly what I think.  Rule number one in romance:  no wet farts.  Romance is the genre most often spat upon (see above re: bodice ripping), but if you want to read compelling sex scenes, it’s the genre you should check out.  As well as some fantastic writing, great stories, exciting adventure, etc.  The hot sex is just the icing on the cake!  The one or two crappy books you’ve heard about are no more indicative of an entire genre than Twilight is proof that all YA is horrid.

  • John Seavey

    Actually, I’m going to stick up for King here. Try running your hand over denim–it does, in fact, make a whispery sort of sound, and calling it that is an evocative phrase. I cannot, in fact, think of a better way to descibe hands running across fabric.

    Not going to defend describing a man as like a piece of sonar equipment, though. :)

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    And thank you on behalf of us all for taking the hit by reading it in the original Hebrew. At least I’m going to imagine it sounded cool if you read it aloud.

  • Anonymous

    i agree.  this passage is nothing compared to some of the crap ive waded through while reading “wizard and glass”.  (seriously roland, quit your emo reminiscence and get to the damn tower all ready!)

  • Graham Whittaker

    When you can pop through a portal into 1963, own a vicious vehicle like Christine, spontaneously combust classmates or carry an atom bomb in a wheelbarrow, surely jeans can whisper!

  • Anonymous

    Huh, fancy that..  An organization run by women rating bad sex scenes singles out almost exclusively male writers..  Hmmm..  I’m quite certain that these ladies aren’t looking very hard and I truly doubt that they’re judging impartially.  As a child I often read my mother’s Harlequin romance “novels” and I can tell you that the bad writing appearing above is nothing worse than what was between those syrupy pages.  At least the above passages draw on a modicum of creativity, whereas the scenes in the Harlequins were just sad uninspired retreads.

    This is a sexist award, holding absolutely no value as a legitamate indicator of anything other than the judges bias.