What Happens in Bed


Bed *

Once again, a novel served as inspiration for this blog post. And once again it wasn’t in a good way, so novel and author shall remain unnamed. This time, we’re talking about sex. In books. And in an abstract way. (Yes, it should be work safe.)

Some level of sex is part of most novels. And I readily admit that I love romantic fantasy and enjoy it when the heroes end up in bed together at the end. Yet once again, the devil is in the detail.

The novel I read the other day dealt with demons. And I know that demons very often seduce people, plus there were lovers with a huge problem. Of course, I expected things to happen in bed. And I wasn’t disappointed. But then … disgust hit big time.

I really, really dislike the use of pornographic expressions. There are terms for certain body parts that – at least to me – belong to that category of writing and should not be used in a novel that is meant for mainstream entertainment. Maybe I am a little … naive, but these expressions catapulted me out of the story immediately. I dislike porn. I don’t need graphic detail in sex scenes, either. I do not feel the need to watch people having sex in real life, so why should I enjoy it in novels? And after skimming over the scenes in this particular novel, I felt dirty.

Personaly, I think it’s a shame when a tale that’s quite okay otherwise is rendered practically unreadable for me because of scenes like this. I’ll delete this particular novel from my Kindle.

Of course, this whole experience raises more questions for me. Back in the Ayla books by Jean Auel, sex scenes were quite prevalent. I tended to skip them, since they were all the same. They also didn’t feel as much like porn as I’ve seen in more recent tales. Yet Jean Auel once said that she only wrote those scenes because the publisher insisted on them. The argument was that the novels wouldn’t sell without them. Is that true? Will books not sell without graphic sex in them? Are those scenes really the main selling point?

And I have even more questions. How do you feel about sex scenes in novels? What do they mean to you? Do you think it makes a difference whether a man or a woman reads them (mind you, women are buying far, far more books than men, but the publishing industry still seems to be dominated by men)? I know those are tricky and difficult questions. Yet today, they seem important to me.

Picture: Kjetil Bjørnsrud, Original at Wikimedia Commons

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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