Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All You Sexy Beasts

by Kathleen Bradean

As many of you know, I write a fantasy thriller series under another name. A character in the third book in the series suffers from arthritis so severe that he can barely use his hands. He's an elderly gent, recently retired, and still has an eye for the ladies. I got a very sweet thank you note about that.

While I wrote him as elderly, I knew a guy in high school with this problem. His fingers were permanently curled into fists even though he had several operations to cut the tendons in the hopes that his fingers could straighten out. And they would, for about six months, before slowly clenching again. A teenager stuck with the hands of an old man. Everyone past a certain age knows what it's like to feel like you're twenty or thirty until a mirror cruelly reminds you that no, you're not. Inside, you're a very different person than you are on the outside.

We don't see enough people like this erotica. We don't see them in real life and definitely not in our stories. In real life, we can't seem to bear the idea of anyone with physical problems being a sexual person. It seems a real taboo.

I'm not fond of fatal disease porn, those romantic stories about angelic people teaching important life lessons before dying from cancer. Mawkish sentimentality I think is the usual critique, but I think it's worse than that. It makes being ill and bearing it bravely all a person is. It makes illness seem like a key to higher insight about the human condition. It takes away a person's right to be furious that their body is betraying them just when things are getting good. And it might make a normal person who might have a real reason to complain about their plight from time to time feel as if they're somehow experiencing their life wrong.

So while I don't advocate that approach to characters, I think we need to push boundaries this way. We need to examine why the thought of a differently abled person having sex makes us so uncomfortable, and why sexy is the hardest attribute to accept for them.


8 comments:

  1. One of my books has a blind hero. The heroine is a gorgeous Latina who has always had her pick of men. But when she tries to seduce a blind man, she's thrown off "her game", since he can't see all of the parts she knows how to use so well. He ends up being the only man who could save her from herself. And his blindness becomes irrelevant to their romance.

    I can't understand why anyone has such hang-ups about anyone having sex. It's a perfectly normal bodily function that all living beings enjoy, so why is it such a huge source of controversy? Relax, people! Enjoy some good sex and feel better about life in general, immediately.

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    1. I agree, but it's a powerful taboo. Part of it is the worry that people are being taken advantage of, but that denies those same people the right to enthusiastic consent. It's good to know some writers, like you, aren't afraid to write different types of characters.

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  2. Does anyone here remember Ann Regentin, who used to post erotic stories on the ERWA (Erotic Readers and Writers Ass'n)lists? Most of her central characters had a disability of some sort, and she showed the characters as much more than their disease/injury. Often the disease/injury was part of an intriguing backstory. Showing that sex is not only for the gorgeous, the young and the robust seems like a worthy goal. However, this is one area where I am afraid to tread. I would be nervous about describing a physical condition I haven't experienced.

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    1. I was tempted to mention Ann Regentin and Sharon Wachsler (?) who also wrote from a position of knowing (Although Sharon once reminded me she was only an expert on her own issues - which is a good point I took to heart) I'm glad you mentioned Ann.

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    2. Ann is an amazingly gifted and insightful writer. I miss reading her work. Her piece "Meltdown" in Nobilis Reed's anthology COMING TOGETHER IN FLUX will stick with me forever. She draws an extended comparison between her own sexuality as a disabled person and the landscape around Chernobyl as it recovers, strangely, from the accident in the eighties. It brought tears to my eyes.

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  3. I have a story where the hero is an older Dom who is half-paralyzed with a stroke. He's still incredibly sexy. And then there are Xan West's stories... highly recommended for a non-abled viewpoint on sex.

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    1. That reminds me. I wrote another story about a Dom who had been hit by a car and was so frustrated by his injuries that he'd basically given up. When he drops the rubber ball he's supposed to use to help exercise his grip, the sub gets a sudden insight to pretend to be a puppy retrieving the ball like puppy play. It's not what he or is Dom are really into, but it's a way for them to step outside their existing relationship and for the sub to force his master to use his hands because a puppy can't open doors or pick things up with his paws.

      And I enthusiastically add the cheers for Xan West's work.

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