Realism in Erotica

The more I overthink things, the more I have doubts.

I’ve been pootling about on the internet a lot reading about sex. This is of course nothing new. What is new, however, is that this time it is for “research”, rather than purely for pleasure. I’ve had a story idea in my mind for the last couple of weeks that doesn’t lend itself to being immediately written. It needs thought, and factual checking, and to be honest I am not sure it’s ever going to get written.

I did a bit of research for Morning Glory, specifically related to the mechanics and sensations of the male orgasm, and at the time I could not help but “cum” across similar pieces about the female orgasm. I was reminded of the fact that, if the internet is to be believed, only around three quarters of women achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. Guess what? I’m one of them. It is also estimated that 10 to 15% of women struggle to reach orgasm at all (thankfully, I’m not one of them!).

Yet it seems standard practice in a lot of erotica that the female protagonist achieves multiple orgasms merely by looking at her partner (yes, E.L. James and her highly orgasmic virgin springs to mind here). I’m probably as guilty as the next person here (although I deliberately avoided this when I wrote Construction – the eagle eyed among you may have noticed that Jo did not orgasm at all).

Then there’s the thorny subject of safe sex. Sometimes the fumble for a condom can make a good literary device, whereas a more fantasy setting might do away with the messy real-life business of contraception.

By doing this, am I just as guilty of perpetuating myths about sex as, for example some might accuse mainstream porn of? Is it obvious enough that fiction is fantasy and should be taken with a pinch of salt?

Finally, how well can I get away with practices I have not experienced myself? At the risk of mentioning “that book” again, E.L. James has come in for a lot of criticism for the nature of the BDSM relationship between Christian Grey and Ana Steele, especially from those who do live in a “true” Dom/Sub relationship. While she has admitted that it is a fantasy of hers, I don’t recall her admitting she had direct experience of a lot of the practices. I don’t have experience of a male/male relationship, for example, but I have an idea floating around in my head that might involve something like that. Does the fact I am unqualified mean I should not bother?

There are two ways of looking at things I suppose; rule number one of writing anything is supposedly “Stick to what you know”. All well and good, but if that were true there would be a lot less historical fiction, crime fiction and certainly no fantasy! A good writer should overcome these obstacles and be able to transport you into a fictional world that either a) seems realistic or b) makes you suspend disbelief enough to just go with the story.

I should probably stop thinking and just get on with writing though, shouldn’t I…?