Thursday, 14 October 2010

Ponderings on Sensuality and Sex

The burning question of the day is: what does the sensuality rating on All Romance E-Books really stand for?

It’s a question I’ve pondered for some time, mainly as a means of avoiding doing housework. I find that one cannot ponder and do domestic chores at the same time. Pondering is an art that requires long periods of sitting perfectly still, moving only to replenish one’s coffee cup and grab another biscuit from the tin. So, getting back to the question, what is the sensuality rating on Are really meant to convey to readers?

My personal interpretation of sensuality is of something understated, a slow build up of sexual tension, looks (possibly smouldering) kisses, caresses, touches and something left to the reader’s imagination, but then, apart from the occasional scene or two I’m a fade to black kind of writer when it comes to sex. That’s just the way I work, but it leaves me with a dilemma when it comes to rating my own books for sensuality. I think the sensuality in my stories comes from something other than sex. It’s to do with language and description.

I think the sensuality rating on Are should be replaced by a straightforward sex rating because that’s what it really means, it’s a measure of how much graphic sex is contained within a story. I think calling it a sensuality rating is being a bit coy.

I also don’t care for the lips motif that accompanies the sensuality rating, what is it supposed to mean? A representation of how much oral sex is contained in a story?

I think the lips motif should be replaced or at least accompanied by a cock motif. A single flaccid penis could indicate no sex and then there could be a set of penises at various stages of erection to indicate that things are hotting up. Five fully erect cocks would clearly tell the reader that scenes of rampant rutting and graphic grunting are liberally sprinkled throughout the book. Of course it might not work for lesbian fiction, some other motif would have to be employed for F/F stories.

Another question: when does a sex scene stop being erotically arousing and become pornographically off-putting? I read a fair amount of erotica in all genres, I enjoy it, but I’ve noticed that sex scenes are getting more and more hardcore and taking up more and more of a story. The characters and storyline become something secondary, something to be manipulated solely to facilitate sex. I recently read a story where a sex scene was so graphically described and in such base terms that it revolted me. I had to wash my hands afterwards. I wouldn’t have minded so much but it was a Postman Pat story and really he shouldn’t have been doing those things with Jess the cat! (Not really)

Judging from things that I’ve read by other authors and from emails I’ve gotten from fans I think there’s a growing feeling that sex is becoming the only criteria for selling books, but not everyone is happy with that state of affairs. Some folk like their romance to be well, romantic. They prefer to have their imagination supply the graphic details rather than have the graphic details supplied in glorious technicolor.

Enough pondering, my coffee mug is empty and I’ve eaten all the biscuits.

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