My guest today is Zelda Jones.
Relevance of Sex in Literature
I have mixed feelings about the relevance of sex in literature. I think I was first made aware of it when I was in years 11 and 12 at high school. I had an English Literature teacher who seemed almost obsessed with sex and sexuality in literature. Miss T was probably one of the first people to dress in a kind of steam punk/ goth fashion. She had long, naturally black hair, big brown eyes, wore lots of thick, black eye make up, and dressed flamboyantly; often wearing a dead fox with beads for eyes, around her neck.
She got us to read books like D.H.Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterly’s Lover. She would then give us lengthy questionaires to answer; the majority were about the sexual symbolism and connotations in each book. She would then encourage class discussions about these topics. Although I respected and looked up to Miss T in other ways, these questions and discussions made me feel really embarrassed and squirmy. At the tender ages of 16 and 17, in the mid 70’s, I don’t think I was really ready to engage in discussions about sex and sexuality in literature yet.
The year I left school, I encountered Miss T in the local gym one day. She was wearing nothing but a skimpy little tank top and a pair of extremely revealing leopard skin g strings. It was something I could not unsee. I guess she just had no shame.
Personally, I prefer sex in literature to be merely hinted at and not explicit or graphic. I prefer romance, kissing, hand holding, heart beating and emotional scenes. I find it quite dismaying that so many women these days seem to be right into erotica; where it pretty much seems like anything goes. I was once asked to review an audible historic erotic novel. I only got part way through, and simply could not go on. There was very little actual story line. Every single scene just concentrated mainly on graphic, explicit, no holds barred sexual activity. People’s sexual organs and what they were doing with them were described, again and again and again. It actually made me feel physically ill, and also bored, from the very repetitiveness of it all.
Another popular theme these days seems to be the covers of erotica novels, and even some romance books. A lot of these covers depict so called sexy men with bare chests and exaggerated“six packs”plus scantily clad, buxom ladies swooning around them. I feel like these covers are an insult to people’s intelligence. When I see a cover like that, I just cannot take the book seriously, and think that it’s probably trashy and not worth reading.
I worry about how seemingly intelligent women get pulled in by the Fifty Shades Of Grey novels; which promote male dominance and violence towards women. Have women come so far, only to go backwards again?
So to sum up my thoughts and feelings about sex in literature: I don’t feel comfortable reading novels that read like soft porn; full of graphic and sometimes violent sex scenes. I prefer there to be an actual story line, where relationships develop naturally, and sex scenes are more subtle and not graphic. For me, this creates a more finer, delicate balance.