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In Defense of Smut...

In defense of smut…
(or why I write the naughty bits)

An anonymous member of my flist replied to a comment of mine recently and asked “You write great smut, how do you NOT get embarrassed?”

A simple question, really; but one that made me think. Why is it that I can write about the most intimate of human relations in graphic detail? Some reading might say “Well this is the internet! These people don’t know you.” Not so true in my case, my sisters have read my adult fiction, even my mother read a tiny bit in my first ever fic. (Mom said it wasn’t her cup of tea, though.) I have given my stories to friends and co-workers. I truly have no shame.

But why? Why does a Midwestern American girl raised in the Evangelical tradition with a Seminary education not bat an eye when describing a female orgasm? Shouldn’t I be appalled at myself? Am I just some deviant let lose on the unsuspecting internet Potter fans? I hope not. Do I lack moral fiber? I don’t think so. But in order to fully explain myself I feel I need to give my loyal readers a bit of background and information about LadyTory (aside from the fact that she occasionally enjoys talking about herself in the third person).

Let me take you back to the above mentioned seminary education, which happened at a VERY conservative school. One of the classes that was required of all students was entitled “Human Sexuality.” I took this class with about 100 other students of all ages and both genders. The very first day of class the professor posed a question: “Has anyone here read the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence?” And being the good little student who had a B.A. in English Ladytory raised her hand. (Although she neglected to say that she had actually given an oral book report on it as a senior in high school.)

Now I must mention that I have always had a bad habit of being late for class, hence I was sitting in the front row. It took me a while to notice that I was the ONLY person in the room who raised their hand. And so the professor posed another question to me, after explaining a bit of the plot to the class, “What is the problem with this book?”

To which I answered: “It is the story of a woman’s sexual experience, but it was written by a man.” There were audible gasps around the room.

I realize that this was an extreme environment to be discussing sex in, but I bring you this story to illustrate a point. (Other than the fact that LadyTory was a very well read high school senior.) Sex, which has been happening since the world began, is still very taboo in wider society, especially among the evangelical Christian faction of the American population. I heard stories in that class about married couples who were in therapy to learn how to enjoy sex because they had been told all their lives that sex was bad and dirty and that good boys and girls don’t so that sort of thing.

The fact of the matter is that there is bad sex, and we should feel sorry for the people who never get the good kind. There is also dirty sex that can be good or bad, depending on what cracks the sand gets into and how close you are to a shower. But sex is not wrong. I often wondered if all these good Christian boys and girls had just sliced the Song of Solomon out of their Bibles. (Some very beautiful erotic poetry there if you have never read it.)

Sex is healthy and normal. It is a wonderful and natural way to express love and passion, relieve stress and sorrow, and even say “I’m sorry.” We use sex to comfort, encourage, bond and even celebrate (birthday sex, Valentine’s Day sex, anniversary sex, etc.) Sex is the most integral part of life, it is what keeps life happening. And isn’t that what writers try to do? Make their characters come to life? And some of us choose to do that literally by writing erotica.

I admit it: I revel in the fact that I am a woman. I revel in the fact that I am a sexual being. I love trying to write realistic sex scenes, rather than glorified simultaneous-orgasms-the-first-time-we-ever-did-anything sex. I truly enjoy trying to write sex from men’s perspectives; I find it intriguing to put myself into that mindset. I think that writing about sex has taught me a lot about myself and my relationship with my husband.

I have been married for six years and I love having sex with my husband. I don’t see anything wrong with the fact that I enjoy sex. And I don’t see anything wrong with writing about something that can be so beautiful and meaningful. Sex is part of being human; and writing and reading about it is just another way to enjoy that aspect of ourselves. And if I inspire someone to take the time to enjoy their partner; all the better. After all, my husband tends to inspire me to write quite often, it is all just part of the amazing cycle of smut.

So, I guess I don’t get embarrassed because I really don’t see that there is anything to be embarrassed about.

And to my fellow smut writers on my flist, I invite you to respond to this question as well. I think that it could be an interesting discussion topic, but then again sex usually is.



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2006 04:20 am (UTC)
y'know, i havent read ANY of your smut at all. so obviously, now i have to. *sneaks off to do the deed*
Feb. 2nd, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)
I love it! I wondern who asked you that? Hmmmm. ? I had to memory it. Brilliant girl...just brilliant! ;) An, I've been married for 6 years too and I agree totally, it's wondeful having a nice sex-life. I certainly don't get embarassed reading smut... no, it's reading it out loud or trying to write it... Maybe I'll have to try to be more like you... and be inspired. ;)
Feb. 6th, 2006 01:17 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this - I'm most definitely going to take a peek at your smut now, as mizufae is doing above, and I also just want to wonder at how similar your reason is to mine, or at least, how similar I want it to be. It's great to hear from a woman who's not ashamed in the least of writing, reading and enjoying sex in a way that we've mostly been raised not to.
Feb. 6th, 2006 06:03 am (UTC)
Here via the Snitch.

I have to admit, when I read the title of your essay, my first thought was, "Does smut need defending? That's like defending chocolate, or gin, or anything else that is wholesome and good." But then, I wasn't raised to believe that sex was bad. Go mom.

I like smut. I read it. I write it. I live it. I've been married for 18 years and the sex is still good, though with four results of the aforementioned good sex roaming about, relations have become more stealthy. I try to incorporate a sense of realism and fun into my fics because, while I love a good PWP, I think lemons work best in the context of an interesting relationship.

Off now to check out your stories. :)
Feb. 6th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC)
Cheers to your mom!
And best of luck with the stealth! I got a 9 year old step son when I got married so THAT was interesting LOL. Now he is 15 and I am worried to death sometimes that he might be scarred for life if I don't go with the stealth setting!

Anywhore, hope you enjoy my stories! Thanks for leaving your comments!
Feb. 6th, 2006 09:46 am (UTC)
Word. Vair nice. When I write smut (only just starting, oddly...) I'm never embarassed, more frustrated because I can't write it the way I want it!

Although having said that, I would be uncomfortable if my parents or family read any of it, or anyone but my close friends (who are also in fandom). Read into that what you will.
Feb. 6th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
I don't get the whole being embarrassed about sex, unless your my 10-year old, and he's at that age where everything to do with sex is uncomfortable.

I think I write sex well, I try not to become too repetitive in how I phrase certain things or how I have the situations come about. I know some of my readers think I can be a tad bit blunt -- I've been told I use crude phrases, but I don't find them so. I think if it's something you'd say or do in sex in sex (and I enjoy ranchy dirty sex) ten to one others do too.

Feb. 6th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
I write sex with embarassment, to some degree. It is freeing to have this internet audience who is appreciative and agrees that sex is lovely, and so is imaginary sex on paper and imaginary sex in one's head, but outside of that audience, I don't tell everyone I see that I write smut because, yes, I expect their reaction to be one of surprise, maybe even disapproval. It's getting easier as time goes on, though.

And I only became capable of writing it at all through repetition. I recall being a teenager, longing to write the sort of scenes I enjoyed in romance novels, but embarassed to death to even imagine it. I was writing the lead-up to a cut scene and I couldn't even do it. I got to the place where I had to write "...and pulled her to the..."--I wrote the letter b, had to leave the notebook and run about for a while, came back and wrote the letter e, ran away again for even longer, steeled myself, came back and wrote the letter d, and almost tore the whole thing up in mortification. So how did I get over that? I kept writing and it got easier. That's all.
Feb. 7th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
I never shy away from writing sexy scenes either.....
however, I think that the most impact is made when the sex is part of a longer story. In other words, I never write sex just for the sake of writing sex. I've always thought that there should be a reason for writing an explicit scene.
Feb. 7th, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)
This is very thought-provoking to me. I am a pastor's wife (well, I'm more than that, but sometimes I feel like that's what defines me) and I try very hard to stay anonymous. My first five stories or so didn't even hint at sex. Now, I am finally writing a story with some very vanilla smut, and it's hard. Part of me feels very liberated by it. I just wrote a chapter that was pretty much one big sex scene, and it was the easiest thing I've ever written. But another part of me is embarassed, and worried about what people who really know me would think if they found out.

Anyway, thanks for writing this. I hope that I can keep writing and lose the shame.
Feb. 11th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
I bookmarked this essay a while ago in the hopes of reading it when I was in the mood and had the time to.

Now that I have, I'd wonder WHY smut needs defending but as other readers have said, it depends on your attitude to sex really.

I was raised with a religious upbringing, and while we never talked about sex I was aware of it. Then I got into the Harry Potter fandom and started reading fics. Then I discovered slash and smut, and well, I was a convert ever since! So although I've been raised to wait, I still enjoy reading about it as another way of exploring it before I enjoy it. If that makes any sense.
Feb. 13th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
Wow. I think I love you for your mind.

Added this to my memories. :)
Feb. 14th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC)
Wow. Thanks!

Glad that you liked it.
Feb. 14th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
Oh and feel free to love me all you want.
Feb. 14th, 2006 12:47 am (UTC)
Mar. 19th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
LOL, as a person who just started writing smut, I loved this essay.
Here in Ireland sex is not something we talk about, though I've never felt that sex was wrong, despite my Catholic upbringing. So it is a little strange writing about it now.
Also, I can't let my boyfriend read the little bit I have started. It's too strange. He feels very odd about it, I think he's worried that it might be too familiar to him. And maybe I am too...
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )