By stancutler,

  Filed under: The Arts
  Comments: 4

Why is explicit sex rarely described in fiction? If everyone is interested in the subject (a safe assumption) why is such writing uncommon? I am truly baffled by the differences between pornographic writing, romance writing, and erotica.

The literary world is increasingly female – agents, writers, and readers are far more likely to be female than male these days. Is raw sex objectionable to women on moral grounds? Does it make them uncomfortable? Repel them? Do women fundamentally respond differently to sexually explicit material than men? As a man, I am not aroused by romance and erotica. Yet I can easily be stimulated by detailed descriptions of heterosexual intimacy.

Is that a genetic difference or a cultural one? Is there a market for male-oriented, sexually explicit writing? Or has the availability of video porn supplanted the literary version?

I am interested in your take on these questions.


  Comments: 4

  1. your blog turns me on!

    • Thanks, Tyson! Feel free to offer your opinions. I’d love for the blog to become an idea forum. I need to learn how to use a social medium to alert participants. That’s the next step. Any advice?

  2. I feel somewhat mute in the face of this topic as I’m not sure how anyone who has a wife and daughter can chat easily about literary sexual stimulus or representation. However if I talk about my younger self before I was grown up, it may be safer. Just don’t tell anyone or my wife will interpret anything as insight into character malformation.

    Let’s start with the touted description of John Updike as a penis with a thesaurus and your position that itemized mechanical description is arousing. Not necessarily so. I still remember the scene in Updike’s 1977 ‘The Poorhouse Fair’ where the girl steps out of the car at night into the headlights and bares her breasts. Was the novel about anything else? I don’t remember the details. So action and setting would seem paramount and the minute descriptions of skin and expression and body parts although eagerly filling in the outlines, are perhaps just prolongation of the fascination we all have for the exquisite moment.

    If you don’t remember the novel, here is it’s NY Times reception:


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