After Sex

NSFW: The Importance of (Reading) Good Sex & Erotica

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I spent a good chunk of my Fourth of July reading romance novels, but the one I finished cover to cover was The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.

Hoang’s debut novel it tells the story of Stella Lane, an economist with Aspergers who is looking to practice sex safely in order to get more comfortable with forms of intimacy. As a result, she hires an escort, Michael Phan, who agrees to help Stella with her extensive checklists: oral, foreplay, more than missionary. Naturally, they fall in love, in this amazing gender-swapped version of Pretty Woman, and have amazing sex.

Not only is the book very sweet and romantic, it is sexy as hell with some really amazing sex scenes. What was amazing about them wasn’t just that there were hot and used all the key sex words that check my boxes, it was because it had the thing that makes or breaks sex scenes for me: empathetic lovemaking.

That overwhelming desire to lick, suck and devour your partner not just for your satisfaction but because you both get lost in the mutual throbbing sensations you give each other. The need to consume each little sound and noise for your own and the patience to help get your partner feel as good as you.

Sex in books can sometimes be good, but there is a reason there is an annual “Bad Sex in Fiction Award” given out by Literary Review every year since 1993. Let’s look at some of our most recent winners, shall we?

Christopher Bollen won the 25th annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award:

“She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles.”

Erri De Luca won the 24th:

“My prick was a plank stuck to her stomach. With a swerve of her hips, she turned me over and I was on top of her. She opened her legs, pulled up her dress and, holding my hips over her, pushed my prick against her opening. I was her plaything, which she moved around. Our sexes were ready, poised in expectation, barely touching each other: ballet dancers hovering en pointe.”

And the 23rd winner was none other than Morrissey:

“At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.”

While the award does not consider romance or erotic literature, what’s fascinating about all of these sex scenes is how violent and uncomfortable all of it sounds. Also, there is one-sided pleasure and no communication. It’s not just weird and cold, but it also seems boring.

Build-up and foreplay in sexual novels is just as important as in regular sex, and seeing it performed that way in erotic stories normalizes these acts. In The Kiss Quotient, the build-up for Michael to perform oral sex on Stella takes three pages of teasing for him to even lick her clit, because she’s not used to be pleasured that way, and it is that slow burn of him teasing her that makes the act so erotic.

It’s also a character-building moment, because Stella has not has oral sex performed on her before, and is allowing herself to be pleasured, rather than just being a vessel for use.

Two fingers worked into her, and her eyes rolled back into her head. He began a steady rhythm as his tongue flickered over her, and she couldn’t prevent her hips from rising to meet his thrusts. Oh God, she was riding his hand, smothering his face with her sex. That had to be bad. She told herself to stop. She couldn’t.

Somehow, she found her hands tangled in his short hair. Her body was coiled tighter, grasping at his fingers, so wet now she could hear the slippery sounds every time he drove back into her.

“I’ll stop, Stella. Clearly …”  His tongue rubbed over her fast and hard, and she clenched helplessly around his fingers. “Clearly, you hate this.”

Michael.” That breathy, needy voice was hers. She didn’t care. She rubbed her hungry flesh against his tongue, nearly sobbing when he took her back into his mouth.

While this scene alone doesn’t do justice to the build-up of 168-pages to get to this point, what I love about it is how it focuses on Stella’s mind while she’s being pleasured and that duel “oh fuck this is amazing” combined with “am I supposed to be this messy?”

When we talk about cum we are mostly talking about male ejaculate, we aren’t thinking about in terms of female pleasure. Women getting slippery, dripping, and completely in our own sexual grind is not highlighted unless it’s dealing with certain types of female ejaculation like squirting.

Not to mention the fear that we might be taking too long to orgasm and that what comes out of us is dirty. To quote a line from After Sex: “It’s a moist cavity between your legs!”

Well, that’s some bullshit. All parts can be gross if they aren’t washed, but women’s privates always get stigmatized as being more disgusting than men’s. Vaginas sweat and smell, but so do men’s private parts, yet you don’t see people seeing balls as inherently musty in the same way we talk about vaginas.

It’s okay for women to be messy and if your partner doesn’t enjoy getting their face coated in your … (remembers she is at work) excitement, then find someone else who will.

This isn’t to say that all people need foreplay or that good sex can’t just be two mounds meeting and fireworks, but the majority of women I’ve spoken to, queer or straight, have talked about the importance of good foreplay and the ability to really listen and communicate with your partner about what you want. To tell when your partner is aroused and when they are drying up faster than Spongebob Squarepants under a heat lamp.

And reading good sex, empathetic sex, is a good beginning to learning how to be a kind, thoughtful, and patient lover.

Also male writers, please, please, please stop describing your dicks as bulbous. First of all, it makes me think of Bulbasaur and secondly, if you are trying to say you have a fat dick or thick cock, just say that. A thesaurus is an enemy disguised as a friend.

What are some of your favorite erotic romances/fanfiction scenes? What are some of the worst?

(via Fox)

(The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, image: Supino Pictures)

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Author
Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.