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26 December 2011 @ 04:37 am
Why I Have Trouble Reading Het!Sex Scenes  

I don't know what it is about the holidays that brings out the nitpicker in me. Maybe it's the extra time on my hands. Anyways, I'll here bring you the three reasons most heterosexual sex scenes in most forms of media squick me.

The Hymen Myth (aka WHY DO YOU STILL EXIST, DIIIIIEEEEEEE!)

This just makes no sense to me. I get that people way back, when the general knowledge of anatomy wasn't on the same level as we have today, could imagine that a "virginal seal of approval"-thing existed in every woman and that it broke permanently once penetration had been achieved.

However, that has long since been disproved. There is no way for a medical professional or anyone else to look at a woman's "hymen" and see if she's had penetrative sex some time in her life. The only reason some women bleed the first time they try that, is because they're nervous and it's a new experience. You're body just isn't used to it and you might not be wet enough.

But there is nothing that permanently breaks!

If you bleed, you bleed, and then you heal. And once it's healed, no one will know there ever was a scratch (unless there was some serious trauma, but then the woman was most likely raped, tortured or both - or attempting one of the more advanced moves in the Kama Sutra). All those doctors doing "reconstructive surgery" on misinformed girls and women are either lying through their teeth to make money or also misinformed.

It's enough to give me nightmares for weeks and thus, the hymen being mentioned in something that's supposed to turn me on, really has the opposite effect; it just reminds me of how many women go around thinking penetrative sex is supposed to hurt.

That's depressing, not sexy.

The Personality Change (aka Why is Daniel Jackson topping Samantha Carter?)

The above pairing I chose simply because one of my more Stargate SG-1 obsessed friends suggested it. I don't have anything against women who enjoy being submissive in bed. Hell, I'm a bisexual woman who prefers to top, so if there were no women out there who'd like to do the opposite, I'd be very out of luck.

I also don't mind women (or men) who're dominant in other situations, but enjoy being submissive in bed. You can't be the same person in all situations. Actually, I kinda like that contrast in a character, as long as there's some sort of a build up to it or comment on it. There's nothing wrong with liking any aspect of BDSM. There's also nothing wrong with being uninterested in it (because not everyone is into "on person takes the lead"-sex, which most fics seem to forget).

What I do mind, is when a woman is assumed to want to be submissive in bed just because she's a woman. And I'm speaking as a woman who has no interest in being held down and ordered around – it'd rather do the opposite.

So the question is really why, like it says in the title here. Why does this or that character enjoy being submissive? Explain it to the reader! It's just so unsettling when a character goes through an unexplained personality change as soon as sex is mentioned. It's like the seme/uke thing in yaoi fandom. It's silly and stereotypical, but in this case I haven't see much reaction to it, which freaks me out even more.

With the seme/uke-dynamic, there have been many discussions of how unrealistic and rape-y it is. When it comes to heterosexual sex with the same mechanics, I have so far found no one protesting it, outside of a rare few blogs (does anyone have any interesting links on the subject?)

But I'm not arguing that heterosexual D/s and Male!Dom should be banned! Absolutely not. And I'm not complaining that there's too little FemDom or vanilla sex – if I want more of that, I can just write it myself. Each to their own kinks.

No, what I am saying is that there should be some awareness about the "woman = submissive"-stereotype. Don't assume the reader will agree with your choice of who tops and who doesn't, just because one of the characters happens to be a woman and the other a man.

Instead of motivating the characters' actions (and yes, I do want the characters' personalities to shine through during sex – otherwise I'd just be reading porn starring Random Person 1 & 2), many authors fall back on the stereotypes. For example: You know the classical "sex pollen"-situation that couples tend to end up in, in fics? There's a very interesting pattern to those stories that I've noticed:

A) The person affected is a man who's attracted to a man. When under the influence of the sex pollen, he'll either be written as needy and begging to be fucked or aggressive and bordering on rapist. In the end, either of the men in the couple might be worried he raped the other guy, or the two of them might just shrug it off as a fun night.

B) The person affected is a man who's attracted to a woman. When under the influence of the sex pollen, he'll either be written as aggressive, bordering on rapist, or as about-to-lose-control-but-holding-back. During the second scenario, he'll eventually lose control with enough teasing from his partner and pin her to the bed. Once it's all over, the guy thinks he's raped her and she has to reassure him she enjoyed herself.

C) The person affected is a woman who's attracted to a man. When under the influence of the sex pollen, she'll be written as needy and begs the guy to fuck her. She might be a little aggressive at first, but only until the guy "loses control" and pins her to the bed. Once it's all over, the guy thinks he's raped her and she has to reassure him she enjoyed herself.

D)...yeah, I've yet to find a sex-pollen fic involving two women. I might not be looking hard enough or shipping the right pairings.

Another few examples are acts that fall under the BDSM categories. It's very rare to find a woman in fiction who tops because she likes it. She's either paid to do it because the guy likes being submissive (and he's often portrayed as humorous for wanting to submit to a woman) or does it because she's trying to tease the hell out of her man, so he'll throw her down and fuck her long and hard. Men, on the other hand, can be both Doms and subs – but subs tend to be written less "pathetic" if they're subs to another man.

(There is also the problem of sub!women being thought of as abuse victims, when everything done "to them" really is consensual, but that's another rant for another day).

Clearly, this pattern has more to do with the characters' gender than their personalities and preferences. Surely all women in fiction can't be passive and submissive? All women in real life certainly aren't, so it's hardly a biological thing. Cultural maybe, but not biological, so seeing it be treated like that over and over in fiction really irks me.

To me, the stereotype of always!sub!women enforces the belief that sex is something dangerous for women and that guys have strange rapist urgest just waiting to be let loose. Yes, more women are raped in real life than men and rape is a horrific act, but does it really have to be brought up as soon as a guy and girl have sex? Is every heterosexual sex scene just a rape scene waiting to happen, or could we possibly just have sex that's fun and guilt free? You can break someone's ribs if you hug them too tight – does that mean we have to worry every time we hug someone?

Yeah, if you're slapping your partner in the face during sex, or spanking them, or doing something else that involves force, you should have some way of checking in with him/her that you're not hurting them for real. And, violence in bed is very much something you shouldn't try without discussing it with said partner beforehand. There is of course some leeway in fiction, because, hell, it's fantasy. That's not the issue. The issue is the fact that no one seems to be aware of what they're writing.

Rape might not be mentioned all the time, but it's there in the background, in the "I'm-sorry-am-I-hurting-you"-attitude from the fictional men. Guys can get hurt during sex too, you know. They can be raped. You don't see women in fiction asking their male partners "Did I hurt you? Did you really want that?" after giving them a blowjob, unless they actually managed to bite the guy or he shouted "ouch!" or "stop!". Why should a man have to ask a woman those questions, unless she gives some outward sign that she isn't having fun? It boggles the mind.

Speaking of rape, that brings me to the last header of this rant:

The Unlabeled DubCon (aka Lie Back and Think of England)

Unlabeled dubious consent is far too common in fanfics.

If you've been a couple for some time or if you've discussed your personal kinks and preferences with the person(s) you're having sex with, this isn't as much of an issue. If you know your partner likes to be held down, ordered around or simply likes to lie back and let you have most of the (apparent) control, you can surprise them and have sex the way you both like it, without having a "what do you like?"-conversation before each encounter.

But a lot of fics I've read involve first time sex. Not virgin sex necessarily (which, as I mentioned earlier, I usually avoid due to the creepiness that is the "breaking of the hymen"-bullshit), but the first time for the couple.

What happens in far too many of these fics is that for some unfathomable reason, no matter who the man and woman are, the sex scene goes something like this:

Without discussion, the guy takes charge of the whole situation. He might not pin her down and order her every move (though that does happen), but there will be some elements of it; insulting her, telling her what to do, stopping her from touching him/herself, or maybe even introducing some force, like spanking and slapping. All the while just expecting her to lie there and accept it (which she does).

It's a stereotype I like to call "passive sub!woman + aggressive dom!man = vanilla sex". And it's so very, very wrong.

Some people might think that it's some form of BDSM instead, but I'd have to disagree on that. This is a situation with two people, where one person suddenly decides to start ordering the other person around, pinning the other down and maybe even insulting the other person (name calling like slut, cocktease and whore, for example). No discussion, no agreement, no safewords, no nothing!

That is not BDSM and it certainly isn't plain old vanilla sex – it's dubcon at best, rape at worst.

I know the whole "forced to have sex by and with a hot person"-fantasy is a very common one, but please put some damn warnings about that in the summary of your story! You wouldn't throw blood-play or a golden shower into a fic without warning the readers, so why should this go unlabeled?

The lack of warnings is actually the squickiest part of the whole thing. It mean the author doesn't realize s/he's written a scene where the consent is dubious.

Also, a lot of women in fiction tend to be very reluctant and almost scared to have sex. Realistic in some situations, yes, but there's a time and place for it (and the hymen myth rears its ugly head again as well).

Though I think this has to do with the fact that a lot of fanfiction writers are female. In most cultures, women are raised to think of sex as a scary thing, with pain and rape as potential outcomes, as well as the threatening stigma of having been raped (aka "ruined forever", as many see it). Men, on the other hand, are more worried about embarrassing themselves in front of a partner or being laughed at, than they worry about pain and shame.

Those are, sadly, the facts we live with. Which is why I think it's so important to point out that women too can have sex without worrying about pain and rape. Even if it's "just fiction", writing women who enjoy sex, who take active part in sex (either by doing things to their partner or asking their partner to do things to them – not by just lying back and expecting their partner to read their mind!) and who don't find sex to be shameful or embarrassing, helps change the view people have on women's sexuality in general (and make the sex scenes less squicky for a lot of people – among them me).

As a final note, what's with the "someone has to lead during sex"-thing? Does everyone have to be into BDSM? I know I am, but that doesn't mean I don't like other kinds of sex as well. People say that vanilla sex is the mainstream form of sex, yet it's so hard to come by in fanfiction; which is even more confusing when few authors bother to label their stories as BDSM or rough sex when they clearly are. Fancy that.

Maybe it has to do with the general belief that the person "being fucked" automatically is submissive to the person doing the penetrating? Or that women in fanfiction tend to be surprisingly easy to turn on and the men very slow to come, when it reality it tends to be the other way around? Or that the man tends to be seen as responsible for both his own and his partner's orgasm when having sex with a woman, while the woman has no such responsibility at all? Food for thought.

What to you think, gentle readers? What are your opinions on this subject? I'd love to know!

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Listening to: The Love Cats - The Cure
 
 
 
Lady Drace: Writing: Naughty plot bunnies!lady_drace on December 26th, 2011 05:34 am (UTC)
Generally, I just wish people would think before they write. Granted, none of us can cover all bases and I've probably myself been guilty of a few of the above scenarios. (Not the hymen one at least. Phew.)

Not that I write much het. In fact, I can only find 1 fic that I actually posted and frankly, I fell into the "guy-loses-control" category. But as you point out, if I explained it right, it should still make sense.

I see all your points as very valid. I have many of the same problems with some of the larger fandoms, even though I read 99% slash. There are some sterotypes that are followed almost to the point of being caricatures and I (like you) have to turn away when it becomes so bad that I might as well read "person A fucks person B".

With that in mind, I'd like to add that when I write het (or indeed sex in general) I draw mostly from personal experience and I can't be the only one. So maybe the more worrying question is: "how many of these writers have actually experienced these things and perceived them as normal?" That's really scary.

I could go on about this for quite a while, but alas, my toddler is now awake. Must go. *sigh*
Nonesane: Lemon eyesnonesane on December 26th, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC)
So maybe the more worrying question is: "how many of these writers have actually experienced these things and perceived them as normal?" That's really scary.

THIS. This is exactly why a lot of het!sex in fics squicks the hell out of me. When the author is a woman and still seems to think it's "natural" for a man to push a woman around and give her orders, without there having been some sort of agreement beforehand or a discussion what both the people like, I feel sad and creeped out.

I think most authors draw from their own experience or at least from their own opinions, if they haven't had a lot of sex (I'll admit to not being that experienced between the sheets, but enough to know what I like). That's how it is with all other aspects of fiction, so why should sex be any different?

And it's therefore especially disturbing, when you realize the "passive sub!woman + aggressive dom!man = vanilla"-dynamic seems to be the accepted one in real life, with women as well as men.

This doesn't only keep alive the idea that women should be passive and somewhat scared when they have sex (come one people, sex is supposed to be fun!), but it puts an insane amount of pressure on the men.

Yes, on the men. They have to be mind readers, who get no feedback whatsoever from their partner and no reciprocation. All of them might not even want to be on top! Stranger things have happened.

As much as I myself love being on top, if you have a partner that doesn't communicate what s/he wants, it can be scary as fuck. The risk of doing something very, very wrong is extremely high and really not productive for a good time.

Fantasy is fantasy. In fiction, sex is often insanely perfect, where both people know exactly what to do to drive the other insane and where all involved come at the same time or multiple times.That's just how it is. But when 90% of the het!sex scene I encounter has the exact same, very unhealthy dynamic painted all over it, it's says a lot about real life that is very disturbing.

Sorry for the rant, but this is a subject I could discuss all day :)
Lady Drace: Mixed: Spontaneous Orgasmlady_drace on December 26th, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
Don't you dare be sorry, because I could spend a few hours on this as well!

I understand why people like the pure fantasy sex where there's practically mind-reading going on, because that's what the whole point about fantasy is. But as I've gotten older (or maybe gotten fed up with too much fantasy sex, I dunno) I've become a lot more interested in realistic sex. Even when the people involved have some supernatural or alien power, I most enjoy the scenarios where the sex isn't perfect and there's a lot of fumbling going on. Because no matter how good you are in the sack, when ever you're with someone new, you will have to be prepared to deal with something unexpected.

Maybe the only position you can get off in is the only one impossible for your partner to pull off? Maybe this person is someone who needs a neck rub to get sexed up, but is too shy to ask? Maybe your dick is just too big and you'll have to compromise? YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY KNOW!

Sex is indeed supposed to be fun! And it really saddens me that both school education and media seems to forget this bit entirely between the safe sex lectures and the semi-porn to bring in the buck.

And yes, no matter which way you swing it, an unequal sexual experience will be horrible for both. My ex was horribly insecure in bed, so if I ever had any illusions about men being total studs as soon as the blood rushed south, they went away really fast.

But here's the thing... I didn't mind. In fact, it opened up some really useful channels of information and we did SO many fantastic things in bed. And... as it turns out, we didn't fit the Dom!Male Sub!Female image either. We switched. (And holy fuck is it hot being on top...!)

Oh, and one more thing... I'm sure you've heard of this backwards idea that's flourishing in the US these days that as long as there's no penetration, you are in fact not having sex. I would just like to express my deep deep displeasure with this notion, because it makes everybody fucking confused and makes SO many poor souls take steps they're not ready for or would never otherwise take, because somehow society has decreed that the only sex worth mentioning is "insert tab A into slot B".

What I would really like would be a het sex scene with no penetration. A couple getting together for the first time, crazy for each other but not feeling the need for (or maybe just not having the option of) penetration and getting each other off some other way. Because there are SO many other ways. So very many other ways....
Nonesane: Lemon eyesnonesane on January 1st, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Don't you dare be sorry, because I could spend a few hours on this as well!

Awesome!

I think the reason perfect fantasy sex gets boring after a while is because it's so repetitive. 80% of all the heterosexual erotic out there has the exact same dynamic

Also, mind-reading-without-actual-mind-reading gets creepy when you actually think it through. “Yeah, holding this woman down and sticking your dick in her worked out fine this time, but what happens when the man does it to a woman who's not into that?”-sort of thoughts tend to ruin the fun.

But I think a lot of it stems out of the very unhealthy views on sex and sexuality that seeps through most human cultures like toxic waste. The lie that penetration is supposed to hurt the first time for a woman, the lie that men will get a yes from a woman who's said no to dating him if he just badgers her enough, the lie that women don't actually want sex they just put up with it to get emotional intimacy, the lie that women don't actually mean no when they say no, the lie that all men are after just one thing, etc, etc. (Yes, I've been reading a lot of feminist blogs this week. Will post more on that later).

It all boils down to a lot of people who grow up with their heads packed full of lies about how things are “supposed to be”. It's really not strange that we see it so much in media, written or otherwise. But it is sad and disturbing.

What I would really like would be a het sex scene with no penetration.

The world needs more of this! Penis-in-vagina-sex is fun and all that, but people in general seem to forget (or not know) that there are other fun ways to have sex as well!
Lady Drace: Trek: Broken brainlady_drace on January 1st, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
It all boils down to a lot of people who grow up with their heads packed full of lies about how things are “supposed to be”.

God yes. This exactly. Nothing can throw me into a blind rage like someone on TV going "You're supposed to do it like this."

One glaring moment was in Primeval when the ditzy girl on the team told the cute nerd "girls don't like comic books!" as an explanation to why he couldn't get a date.

...

I just spent several minutes simply staring at the keyboard, trying to phrase all the ways this is horrific, but then I remembered who I'm talking to and thank god, for once, I think I don't have to.
Nonesane: Acting lessons.nonesane on January 1st, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
One glaring moment was in Primeval when the ditzy girl on the team told the cute nerd "girls don't like comic books!" as an explanation to why he couldn't get a date.

...

RAGE!

Yeah, I agree, that and everything similar to it, is horrific. And the reason why can't be summed up in one comment, but I'll do my best.

See, every time someone (girl or boy, man or woman) says something like "the reason you're not getting laid/a date is because boys/girls don't like X", they lie through their teeth, whether they're aware of it or not. And these lies alienate woman and men from each other.

When someone (heterosexual) asks "Why can't I get dates?", the automatic reaction from said person's friends and family will be to reassure him/her that it's not his/her fault.

If it's a 'him', people will tell him he's just 'too nice' and that girls his age just haven't learned to appreciate 'niceness' yet or they'll go with "you like X and girls don't like X, so...".

If it's a 'her', people will tell her all boys her age just want one thing (i,e. sex), instead of relationships and that they'll come around eventually.

All that is of course lies. Yes, some girls don't like comics/sports/computers. Some men only want sex. But far from all. And some boys don't like comics/sports/computers. Some girls only want sex.

There are many reasons why you don't get dates. One could be that you don't ask people to go out with you (this is a big one). One could be that you've yet to be attracted to someone who finds you attractive (this does not mean you're ugly - it simply means people have different tastes). One could be that the person you likes is just as shy as you and got asked out by someone else before you two could start talking about dating.

But no one ever reminds young people of the real reasons they're not getting dates. Nope. Instead people lie, to save that person's feelings, and thus that person runs a risk of starting to hate an entire gender because of it, on completely false grounds.

I'm going to write an entry all about this, actually, that I'm thinking of calling "How not to be a Nice Guy or Clingy Girl". It's just such a big problem in today's society that it deserves a discussion all on its own.
Lady Dracelady_drace on January 1st, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
I'll be cheering you on from over here!
Nonesane: Secrets and Liesnonesane on January 1st, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
Why thank you! I'll do my best to write something worth reading :)
viherviherkyn on December 27th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
This is a very interesting subject and I would really want to say something thoughtful and productive but university has made sure there is not enough brain activity left for me to engage in any deeper conversation than what we're going to have for dinner.

But I will say that though I don't read that much het-sex!fics but I really don't understand people's fascination in making every sexual relationship hierarchic. Not every relationship has a clear top and a clear bottom and people can also switch their roles. Related to that is my annoyance towards how in many same sex fics the more traditionally masculine person is the "natural" top.

And of course there is, as you said, the idea that the person penetrating is the top. I mean, what does that say about our society and the way we STILL view gender roles? And though I do think that the media is to blame for reinforcing the ideas of one type woman and another type man, I still think everyone should sit down and think for themselves how they view women and men, and what gender roles they assign to people either consciously or unconsciously.

To get back to fics, I would really like to read more stories where the relationship consists of two people who are equal, no matter what their biological or social gender is.

I hope that makes some sort of sense, I have a bit of tired-buzz going on right now.
Nonesane: Lemon eyesnonesane on January 1st, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Agreeing with you! I don't get why there has to be a top/bottom situation at all. Can't two people have sex without D/s-elements involved? Why does one of them have to be "in control" of the other?

I'm not saying a bit of dominance/submission-play can't be fun and consensual. I love that stuff! What I am saying is that there has to be sex where no one is "on top" or "bottom" too - right? Or would that sort of sex lead to too much confusion? With two people having sex, does one of them really have to take the lead and one be more passive? Not in my world, but I might be delusional.

More equality, FTW! Because a consensual, healthy relationship has people acting like they want to and feel comfortable with, not how society and culture has told them they should act.

Some people want to top. Some people want to bottom. Some people want to switch. Some people don't want there to be any D/s and controlling going on at all. And they all should get the sex they want and feel most comfortable with. Simple as that.

You made a lot of sense. Feel free to make more comments and observations when you've rested :)

Edited at 2012-01-01 11:12 pm (UTC)