The season of the backyard barbecue is freshly upon us, and already I find myself getting into… Well, let’s call them discussions. Discussions of my work, discussions of romance and erotica in general, discussions of sex and sexuality that only go as far as the backyard-barbecue-kids-milling-about atmosphere allows. They’re not generally heartening discussions. There’s something about a woman writing about sex that makes people want to treat her like a wayward child, and that’s always so fun to experience.
Most recently, because this is the common consciousness touchstone for any kind of romance beyond Harlequin right now, I found myself having a conversation about Twilight. I know, it should happen more often with how this ten year old book for teenagers remains a reliable punchline, but I run with a moderately older crowd these days so it’s been largely Harlequin comparisons. Be that as it may, I was having a Twilight conversation and it went where Twilight conversations often go: “I, as a straight guy raised as straight guys tend to be raised, do not understand Twilight. Therefor it’s garbage and nonsense and why do people care about it? I mean- Hey, where are you going?”
Because this is my blog and not a somewhat-too-chilly-still-to-have-a-pool-party party with kids squawking around, I will reply at length: You don’t get Twilight? Of course you fucking don’t, guy I’ll call Craig. I dare say you don’t get it because you (speaking generally of the kind of guys who talk down to me about writing about sex, not about Craig in specific) are part of the reason Twilight exists, part of the reason it resonates so well with so many women. Confused? Let me break down what Twilight is a fantasy about. Not the sparkling dude, not the nonsense magic rules, not the sex house in the woods, not the vampire Mormon baseball game, the real heart of the fantasy that Twilight and stories like it tap:
Twilight is at its sparkly heart a fantasy about a partner who, despite being programmed (supernaturally, biologically, socially, whatever) to destroy you, about a partner who could do so without effort and without substantial personal consequence. I think that might be as far into the fantasy as Craigs allow themselves to go, because Craigs aren’t a people who like to mix with others and take in their experiences. Craigs won’t realize that, yes, it is about this monstrous Bad Boy partner, but it’s also about something that’s hard to capture unless you’ve come to a very human understanding of women and their experiences and anxieties. These partners are monstrous, sure, they are monstrous by a design that they could not control, but they resist their monstrous design. It’s the fantasy of a partner who could destroy you, and would if he succumbed to his programming, but chooses to instead hang out with you in fields of wildflowers and tell you your hobbies are worthwhile and interesting. That’s the fantasy.
Is it a progressive fantasy? Dear, sweet, crispy Christ, no! I think the word currently in vogue for this kind of thing is ‘problematic,’ because we at some point inflated the market on ‘fucked up,’ to the point that it became worthless. I see a lot of amateur takedowns of problematic things, and a common thread in such takedowns of Twilight purports that the books are full of these awful, absurd, harmful things that could corrupt the minds of young women. These criticisms ignore one key fact: Plenty of young women, plenty of older women, and yes, plenty of men already believe all the shitty things Twilight suggests. We are, one and all, tacitly and explicitly taught these things. Girls learn to fear and distrust boys, boys learn to pursue and control girls. We all hear that boys will be boys and watch perpetrators of sexual assault go unpunished. We are not dead to this, but it’s so ever present that it becomes our normal. Twilight and stories like it play on a fearful interpretation of the world in which we are all complicit. It’s an ugly, lopsided compromise like a lot of erotica tends to be.
I say this as someone who loves erotica, as someone who writes problematic and occasionally twisted stories: We make some fucked up compromises in our fantasy lives when we believe that being hurt, being shackled, even being destroyed, is the inevitable consequence of sexual entanglement. These fantastical compromises generally fall into two camps:
“I will find the single mystical exception who resists or surpasses his programming.”
“Subjugation and ruination are inevitable, but that experience is satisfying.”
That Twilight happens to fall in the first camp by virtue of having been written by a woman who very clearly believes the tacit social narrative that necessitates the compromise is not terrible. These ideas were not Twilight’s alone. The book’s sustained popularity and influence bear this out. Twilight works because it speaks in an earnest, pitch perfect way to the anxieties of so many girls and women. I’ll never try to tell you it’s perfect, but I’ll never let you tell me its success is inexplicable.
With his soccer practice cancelled, tow-headed college sophomore Eric finds himself with nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon. A curious creep through the cleared out class buildings, however, turns up something unexpected: A secret society of masked students operating out of a basement classroom. They take an immediate interest in Eric and decide to initiate him – one way or the other!
Man or monster? Why decide when you can read 5 stories about men who embody the alluring factors of both? From furry to scaly, there must be something for you.
-The Horny Little Merboy
-The Black Flame’s Prize
-The Beast’s Boy
-To Dragon’s Bound: Mated to the Prince
Warning: This erotica collection contains themes of bondage and abduction, and a few other monstrous acts. Consider it carefully if you don’t care for things getting a little beastly.
On a related note, my latest gay tentacle story is free today!
Matt’s graduate student life is a quiet and peaceful one, but he’s never been the outdoors type. When an older professor advising (and employing) him drags him off to a secluded swampland in search of a plant that was once central to pre-modern fertility rituals, he doesn’t expect the vines and flower heads to take it upon themselves to perform the ritual on him!
Warning: This erotic short contains themes of bondage, tentacles, and sounding. It’s a little messy to say the least!
Do you prefer a big, brooding belly or the sated sighs of a freshly seeded lover? In this package, you can have either, both, and a whole lot more. Included are four stories:
-Sister Moms Abducted
-Pregnant and Probed
-Fuck the Magic Dragon
-The Billionaire’s Breeding Bride
Warning: This collection contains themes of bondage, extraterrestrial escapades, and dubious financial agreements with gorgeous and charming men who want babies bad. It’s a big, bouncing bundle of fun if that’s what you’re into!
What an absurdly long title. At least it’s descriptive? Thought I’d dip my toe into the waters of chastity after all this excessive spunk I’ve been writing. If you’re into that, sit tight for the second installment of my sword and sorcery BDSM experiment.
Mark’s tried to bully his girlfriend Maria out of putting a condom on him for the last time. When she runs out of their college’s secret makeout-and-more spot after slapping him across the face, he doesn’t expect her to text him out of the blue the next night. What he doubly doesn’t expect is for her hardcore older brother to step out of the shadows intent on teaching Mark a valuable lesson in patience and keeping his emissions under control.