Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.

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When was the last time you read a book about sex? Or a book with a sexy scene? Not necessarily hardcore erotica, even a YA book that features coming-of-age sexual relations??

Laura at She Loves To ReadΒ is hosting a week long readathon called Sex Me Up (#sexmeupreadathon) with the aim of dispelling the myth that all books that contain sex are “wrong”, “dirty” or are always badly written for the desperadoes of the world.Β The readathon is happening 21st-25th July, and you can sign up to take part here. Laura will even email you a list of suggested titles, in case you aren’t sure what to go for (check out my readathon TBR here).

I’m going to put this out there – I love sex in fiction. I love stories that have relationships, intimacy, romance, and sex. That doesn’t mean that I always read erotica to get my fiction sex-fix. There are TONS of YA books out there that deal with age-appropriate sex storylines, and I think it’s about time the taboo surrounding sex in literature got lost.

We watch it in movies, we sing about it in songs, hell – music videos these days have more nekedness and gyrating than your average adult novel. So why are we embarrassed to read about it? I’ve included a link below to Laura’s #sexmeupreadthon video, and to the title-song, just for fun.

πŸ˜‰

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37 comments

    1. I’m the same with my taste in books, I go through genre-phases! And I definitely promote more open-minded reading across all genres too! Will you be taking part?? R x

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  1. This is the first I’ve heard of this readathon, but I think I’m going to sign up. I soooooo agree with you. I don’t understand why people get so weird about sex in books. Like you said, it’s in movies, music videos, songs, and we certainly talk about it.

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    1. It’s everywhere, but if you read about it it’s somehow a “bad” thing?! I think depicting it realistically across all genres is only a good thing. Sign up! I can’t wait to see what people read for the week and review πŸ™‚ R x

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  2. In all honesty, I think reading a book that details a sex/raunchy scene is much more alluring and vivid than watching it on screen. The descriptive quality, which forces you to use your imagination and visualise in your mind’s eye what is, ahem, going down (pun intended) is very powerful indeed! I don’t think it’s about the sex scenes being seen as just ‘dirty’ or taboo – I think it’s more that people may think that the inclusion of sex scenes may undervalue or compromise the integrity of the writing. Which is a load of bullsh*t! Sex is a very normal and healthy part of a relationship – if a book is going to explore a relationship, for whatever reason, then sex has gotta be in there somewhere! What annoys me more is the (sometimes) obvious reluctance or half-hearted attempt on the author’s part to write a sex scene in all its sticky, sweaty and heavy-breathing glory!

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    1. Hmmm… I still like me some on-screen action too though, but I get ya, it’s more suspenseful. There is the argument that it undermines the writing quality (and yes, badly written sex scenes will undermine the writing quality, but that’s not because of the topic!), but across the book blogging community and beyond erotica, sex scenes in genres that aren’t classed as erotica, and sex in young adult literature is still frowned upon as taboo or embarrassing to read, so the readathon is just as much about broadening horizons and trying something new as anything else. Do you think sex scenes in novels are realistic though? Or are they glorifications??? R x

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      1. What I was getting at, was (the perception) is that the inclusion of sex scenes could undermine the integrity of the writing in general (of the entire book), because of the taboo/awkward/embarrassing status of sex scenes. Some people (and authors, I guess) may think that the inclusion of detailed sex scenes would ‘cheapen’ the overall writing/message.

        Are we really gonna enter into debate about the nitty gritty of sex scenes in books, on a public forum?!

        Yea, let’s do this.

        I’ve read a few YA books recently and I gotta say that I felt the overall descriptive quality of the writing (in one of the books), where the sex scenes were concerned, was somewhat anti-climatic (life imitating art, eh?!). I could almost feel the author’s embarrassment and reluctance to actually ‘go there’ and use the appropriate terminology. The natural process required to get from A to B in the ‘ol sack was also bluntly ignored i.e. foreplay. Did I just say ‘foreplay’?? Yes, yes I believe I did. From that perspective, it was most definitely NOT realistic.

        Chaffing anyone??!!

        I didn’t think it was glorified though. Just lacking in substance and too ‘pink and fluffy’.

        50 Shades of Grey may not be considered a shining example of literary genius but I have to admit that the sex scenes in that book were spot on. Even if you don’t agree with/approve of/like BDSM, the terminology (no matter how cringe-worthy) enticed, intrigued and roused. Roused, I said ROUSED. It may not be classified as YA but that doesn’t stop people of that age bracket reading it. The author had the b@lls to just go for it with her detailed writing of the many sexually explicit scenes (never mind the extremely taboo subject of BDSM) and I say bravo to that!

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      2. Haha. Yes, of course we are!

        I’m going to be pedantic, but those were New Adult (a genre that is plagued with bad reports for focusing entirely on the bad-boy image, shy but gorgeous girls who don’t know they’re gorgeous, and lots of sex) which tends to have that style a lot. Because they aren’t/don’t want to be classed as “erotica” they skip over the massive nitty gritty a lot of the time, but have more sexual content than your average Young Adult, which has a lot of rainbows and butterflies, handholding and insta-love.

        Haha – I think what I’m getting at too though is that sex in books can often be goooood. Now, I’m not trying to say my sex is wack, but is it realistic to portray sex the way it is in the novels (I guess we do in movies so why not??)? I’m talking virgins having an orgasm their first time (now look what you’ve done, saying “foreplay” has opened this comment right up!), men clearly knowing what they are doing, and women having no concerns about their body image what-so-ever. Do we need an injection of Bridget Jones-esque sex in fiction? Or do we like the fact that the sex is good and possibly not-at-all realistic??

        I wonder if anyone in the YA bracket did read it, probably, but at that age I think it would have shocked me. I read it at 22 and it shocked me. But it opened up this whole new genre and reading experience to me as well, but at least at 22 I could relate better than I could at 16. I know there is a TON of hate for 50, and I get it, I do. It’s not exactly the best-written novel of all time, and no, it didn’t “deserve” to sell more books than my beloved Harry Potter, but it got a generation talking and reading about sex, in fact multiple generations, and I’m sorry not sorry damn it, the sex was good. Besides that I think too many people gave up after book one. I HATED Christian by the end of book one, but there is a storyline in there, and it does get better!!

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      3. Wait, I’m swiping all the worms off my lap, from the big, HUGE can that has been ripped open, quite like the way Christian Grey ripped open his 1,478th condom!!

        Ok, ok I’m getting my ‘genres’ mixed up. But you’re missing something of particular relevance too: at what age are young girls having sex? How many sexual partners does the average 18 yr old have these days? You might be shocked at the answer. New Adult/Young Adult; it’s irrelevant. Realistic portrayals of sexual encounters need to be in there. And if that means including the sometimes awkward and disappointing encounters (I’m not thinking about my own personal experiences here, no sir-ee…), then so be it.

        I’m also concerned that there’s this attitude that a book that includes sex is coined ‘Erotica’. What a croc! Sex is part of every day life! Good, bad or indifferent! A few paragraphs here and there, detailing a sexual encounter, does not Erotica make!

        Sorry, would you like a refill? Some crisps n dips, maybe?!

        50 Shades didn’t just get multiple generations talking about sex. It encouraged multiple generations to consider the subject of fetishes. To not feel awkward or ashamed of their sexual preferences and to possibly embark on a little exploration of their own. And that doesn’t necessarily mean inflicting pain on someone else (in a consensual arrangement). Dominance/submissiveness/role-play etc. doesn’t automatically equate to inflicting ‘pain’. That book achieved a lot and on many different levels.

        The first book was awesome. The way it ended infuriated me and yes, I hated Christian Grey towards the end. BUT!! I was still intrigued and titillated by his overpowering masculinity and dominance.

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      4. I dread to think what Google search terms are going to bring people to my blog now LOL “Hi!” *waves*

        Ok, if I side-step my personal opinions for a minute, the number of sexual partners an average 18 year old has would probably scare the crap outta me, I then cross the predicament of – should books inadvertently promote promiscuity etc. by containing sexual content in younger genres?! I’m not sure. I’m very conscious of age-appropriate material. I wouldn’t necessarily include explicit content in YA, but I would touch on it certainly. As for NA, the age range for it is more acceptable, but it’s a relatively new genre, so everyone jumped on the sex bandwagon with it (except my wonderful Colleen Hoover, have you read it yet? Have you?! I’m a book pusher!!). I think it was assumed that NA age persons are all about the sex, but without crossing the lines into erotica. But the genre is picking up now, there are other issues being included in books about the 18-24ish protagonists.

        I think there will always be the “sex is amazing, always” scenes in some books, and that’s fine, but it would be nice to see some more realistic portrayals too. Generally speaking (I could be wrong – other people please join in!), if it’s very descriptive or detailed sex that makes up a lot of the storyline it is called “erotica”, I guess for classification purposes it needs to be. Graphic sex in movies have a rating, so I consider erotica to be the warning label for juicy content.

        Very true. Ann Summers’ sale of those ball-things trebled within a few months. I saw a really good documentary about it actually, I should find the link and post it on here. Oh yea, if I wasn’t intrigued I wouldn’t have read on, but by the end of book one I was all, “son of a…”. That changed sharpish πŸ˜‰

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      5. Does ‘realistic’ content automatically equate to ‘explicit’? It doesn’t have to be explicit to be ‘real’. And does having a certain number of sexual partners by the age of 18 make you promiscuous? Including sexual content in YA books doesn’t need to be explicit for the sake of being explicit – I agree that it needs to be age appropriate but including a realistic sexual encounter (especially the negatives) doesn’t mean the book is encouraging promiscuity (especially if it’s focusing on one relationship). You could argue that it’s actually being responsible. We all need the ‘pink and fluffy’ in addition to a more realistic portrayal of sex. It’s getting the right balance.

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      6. I’m not sure if I’m missing something – some realistic content can be explicit, and should be labelled as such for the consumer, but also I use “realistic” when referring to sex scenes that don’t glorify first time experiences, or play down the emotional aspect of sex, or make it seem as though sex is ALWAYS this amazingly passionate, wonderful experience every time. That’s not realistic. We’re going off on to a separate tangent here with the promiscuity conversation – everyone probably has their own reference figure, but I think promiscuity by definition would include number of sexual partners, not just at 18 but in life in general. My point with encouraging promiscuity in YA is exactly that, that it should be age appropriate and realistic, whereas a lot that I’ve seen glorify it and dress it up – which is kind of false advertising and could promote negative relationships with sex and false representations of sexual relationships to young and impressionable minds, which is probably why authors shy away from it.

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      7. SOME realistic content can be explicit! Yes, I agree. SOME! I’m using the term ‘realistic’ in exactly the same way as you. Yes, I agree that sex is most certainly not always hearts and butterflies – and it doesn’t need to be explicit in order to accurately portray this in a book. But in NA books they could also push the boundaries a little and instead of jumping straight from ‘his lips brushed against hers’ to ‘and then he thrust his hips and gyrated until he was spent’, does not do it for me!! Haha For me, the book/author loses credibility but that’s because I place a certain amount of importance on realism. You might find that some readers don’t give two hoots.

        Yea, I think the promiscuity issue can be parked. And for no other reason than it’s a separate discussion altogether.

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      8. I agree with that in NA. NA books don’t always have to contain sex at all (which the industry is now learning), but when they do, they can push the boundaries as it is essentially “erotica” (I know you don’t like using that term) but with a younger protagonist. I’m going to be reading a few books for this readathon (and I know you’ll want to read them after me), on the hitlist so far is Wallbanger, Beautiful Bastard and Collide. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t read a huge amount of erotica/NA with sex in it (so far) so it’ll be interesting to see if the boundaries don’t often get pushed, and what other sex-fiction/writing styles there are out there, because it can be difficult to write and cringy to read at times, especially when body parts get called all sorts of strange euphemisms!

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  3. I’m so excited for the Dirty Dancing gif!! My favorite movie of all time! Embarrassing confession – I used to skip to the sex scenes in my mother’s Lavyrle Spencer romance books… Gotta learn somehow! πŸ™‚ Totally agree that there’s nothing wrong with sex in books. George RR Martin said once that it’s dumb not include it in fiction because that’s what people do in real life.

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    1. Haha – I’m in love with Johnny Castle, and same for me, I can quote the whole movie and used to skip to the final dance scene. I agree with George! I get that it can be incredibly difficult to write well, but I’m all for reading plenty of it to find my favourites πŸ™‚

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  4. This isn’t something I’ve really thought about before! Interesting topic though. I think my thing with sex in YA novels is the combination with insta-love – I really think sex is for strong relationships rather than for strengthening relationships, so when the characters go all out within their first couple of weeks of romance, it could give the wrong idea? I do agree that it’s candid to write about sex, but I don’t think it’s something we should over-trivialise because it’s something that can be seriously emotionally damaging.
    It’s cool that you guys are promoting an unashamed truthfulness among readers – I totally agree that no-one should be ashamed of what they read πŸ™‚

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    1. I think sex in YA can be a tricky issue, I don’t think it should be avoided, but there’s probably a subtle line between honestly exploring sex in books aimed at teenage readers, and promoting promiscuity and an unhealthy relationship with sex. Certain books will always be at polar end of the scale, but it would be nice to see more of this in writing and for more people to be able to be open about what they read – whether out of curiosity or because they love it!

      Do you think you’ll be signing up???? πŸ˜€

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      1. Agreed πŸ™‚ I’m actually on holiday that week so won’t be doing much (if any) reading. I’ll definitely check out the recommendations though, and will be interested to see what comes of it! πŸ™‚

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  5. Thank you for posting about this. This is exactly the kind of thing I am interested in taking part in. Mostly because I would be reading books about sex anyway, so why not join a readathon all about it? Also, it’s good to help people get a bit more comfortable reading about sex because it is a natural thing that people shouldn’t be ashamed for reading about.

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    1. Hi Becky, thanks for commenting. Go sign up! There’s a few bloggers I follow taking part (Brandie is a Book Junkie is one – I hope!) so it will be great for us to discuss as well as take part in the readathon as it happens πŸ™‚ I think I want to promote an attitude of try it before you knock it, and also if you enjoy reading about sex, feel free to say so! My stats went through the roof yesterday with this post – so CLEARLY people are interested in sex in fiction! πŸ˜€

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