Hello there! When Nat asked for guest reviewers I jumped at the chance. We’d been tweeting about face-eating zombies, which led to dirty jokes about dining on other body parts, so of course I decided this would make a good topic. Then I remembered that I’d already covered it. Twice.
But I can always delve deeper, right?
Last week Rep. Lisa Brown was barred from speaking in the Michigan House of Representatives for using the word “vagina” in a debate about reproductive rights. This led to a lot of vagina-tweeting (my favorite!) and questions about why we’re so uncomfortable with female anatomy.
Warning: strong language ahead.
For romance readers, this isn’t a new topic. The word “cock” is widely accepted in mainstream romance, but graphic terms for lady parts aren’t used as often. For every “pussy” and “clit” there are a hundred vague euphemisms like “down there” and “pleasure spot.”
I’ve had to soften the language in my sex scenes a few times. I was once asked to change “clit” to something else because of Harlequin Romantic Suspense guidelines. I can’t remember what I used instead, but it didn’t even occur to me that I could switch it to “clitoris.” I thought of clit as a shortened clinical term, not crude slang.
If the word “vagina” is offensive, what about clit or clitoris? Or vulva? I’m afraid the House of Representatives would explode upon hearing those words, and not in ecstasy.
Which brings me to the TMI portion of the guest blog. If you don’t want to know about my wild sexcapades, click away! I have personal reasons for believing it’s important to have candid conversations about our bodies and use specific terms. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has hosted an interesting discussion about the misplaced hymen. I’m more concerned about the missing clitoris. As a young woman, I read a lot of romance novels in which the virginal heroine reached multiple orgasms from penetration alone.
I thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t have these elusive “vaginal orgasms.” In fact, I didn’t have orgasms at all (with a partner) for many years. I’m not blaming romance novels for my own ignorance, but I do feel that they contributed to the problem. The depiction of romantic sex as always perfect and effortless with the right man didn’t help, either.
Later, when I started writing romance novels, I did some research (the book kind) and found out that the majority of women need clitoral stimulation for orgasm. What? I’m normal? But even after learning this, I wrote a sex scene in which the heroine climaxes from penetration alone. It’s a strong fantasy, and authors tend to write what they read. Stereotypes are perpetuated this way.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women who can orgasm on command, or by fantasy alone, or from g-spot stimulation. My truth is that I cannot. And I don’t want to make women like me feel as if they’re failing in the bedroom. So I’ve decided to write sex scenes that involve some sort of clit action. For me, it’s more accessible, and I prefer a side order of realism with my romance. Perfection is unattainable; satisfying sex shouldn’t be.
Vaginas are important! But the clitoris is the center of female pleasure. It deserves an honorable mention.
Thank you for your support.
Questions: Why are we more comfortable with male parts than female parts? Do you appreciate frank language or prefer softer terms in love scenes? Is female sexuality powerful and scary? Have you ever felt let down or confused by romance novel sex?