My Sex Nitpicks With '50 Shades of Grey' & Other Smut Stories

Rant 9

Now that Fifty Shades of Grey has essentially mainstreamed erotica (seriously, I recently saw Anne Rice's early BDSM Sleeping Beauty books repackaged and sold at Fred Meyer with the tagline, "If you loved Fifty Shades, you'll love this!" Which might be true, or it might be kind of a big old surprise for readers who had no idea those stories involve, among other things, pony play), can we talk about the recurring sexual characteristics in these sweat-soaked tales?

See, I was reading Sylvia Day's Crossfire series recently -- I can say this now, right? Since we're all freely admitting we read smut books? It's not like confessing you stuffed a leather whip in your butthole to look like a sexy Appaloosa pony? Okay then! -- and I was thinking about how these types of stories involve the same themes over and over: the rich, dominating, emotionally-resistant-yet-helplessly-falling-in-love man. The clumsy, doesn't-know-her-own-beauty woman.

But in addition to the Edward-and-Bella vibe, erotic romance books always dole out the same sexual revelations. Some of which are seriously damn hot. And some of which are ... not.

For instance, the man-taking-forever-to-orgasm thing. I mean, hey, I get the fantasy of a lover who's so attuned to your needs and so in control of his own that he can hold off for as long as he wants. It's just that taken to the extremes it always is in these books, it all sounds so exhausting. It's like Sting, you know how he's supposed to be this bigtime yoga tantric sex fiend who can get it on for eight hours at a time? (I think this myth has been busted, actually, but just go with me.) BIGGEST TURNOFF EVER. Seriously, after the first hour, wouldn't you be bored out of your mind? "Oh, you're still -- you haven't? -- um, okay. Mmm, so hot." Hour three: "I'm just ... don't mind me, I'm just going to catch up on a few emails, here." Hour five: "Yeah, actually, I've had to go to the bathroom for like 45 minutes and Modern Family is on, so ...?"

Ditto the instantly-being-able-to-go-for-round-two thing. Men in romance novels never experience a moment's worth of wiltage, which, okay, it's sexy to think about a dude who's so hot for it he's just sporting a forever boner, sure, but also OMG can we take a break? I need a glass of water! I need some carbohydrates! Put that thing away for a minute, jesus.

There are plenty of scenarios that seem rooted firmly in the land of if-only, of course. Like, say, instantaneous vaginal orgasms. Or wildly passionate no-condom sex that concludes with both partners casually going about their fantasy-world business, like pulling down their eveningwear and strolling into the benefit gala without a moment's consideration for the ... um, cleanup job that would normally be necessary.

But what's with the semen? Can we talk about the semen? (I'm sorry to keep saying semen.) Why do so many erotic novels focus with laser precision on the amount and constancy thereof? Yes, I want to imagine a hearty, well-enjoyed orgasm, but no, I don't want to visualize how much DNA evidence it might leave behind. Christian Grey and his ilk are like virile human firehoses, and the idea of that never fails to take hold of my escapism vehicle and pull it in a hard right turn towards WetWipeVille, a decidedly less attractive fantasy destination.

Finally, there's the Inevitably Awkward Birth Control Reference, which my Internet pal Temerity Jane describes perfectly:

It’s obviously not a very big deal to write books in which adult women make adult choices to have sex. Yet in several -- many -- at least in the last two or three in a ROW -- of the books I have read, when the whole condom/birth control/etc moment comes up, the lady mentions or explains, either out loud or in expository text, that she’s on the pill to regulate her period. This is supposedly to explain why she would be taking the birth control pill when she doesn’t currently have a steady sex partner.

Authors. It was 2012. It is now 2013. You are sexually evolved enough to be writing and publishing sexy books for ladies comfortable enough to be buying and reading them. Your lady hero can just BE on the pill. She can just take it. She can still be on it from her last relationship. She can take it just because. She can take it to regulate her periods and not say so. She doesn’t need to explain it to the dude about to bone her -- because he doesn’t care -- and she certainly doesn’t need to explain it to the readers. Because we’re ladies and we’re reading a sex book and we’re not judging her.

HEAR HEAR. Please stop faux-apologizing for your main character's choice of birth control, smut-book authors, because buzzkill.

In conclusion, I'm all in favor of more dirty choices for my library, I just have a few recommendations for how to make those adult novels even more appealing. Also maybe just once the girl could be the rich, powerful one? That would be a fun change.

What are your contemporary erotica pet peeves, assuming you read such filth?


Image via Someecards

erotica, fifty shades of grey, turn-offs

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Lbpch... Lbpchelle

I can't read period smut pieces because of the hygiene of the times. Every time there's a sex scene all I can think of is bad teeth, hairy armpits and pubic hair ungroomed. Blech! Book over...

ysmeine ysmeine

My biggest problem with 50 shades is it glamourizes unhealthy relationships. Christian watched abuse and now can't seem too get off without mimicing it. That is a serious turn off. It would be different if it was a couple in a healthy relationship exploring something new. 


Other books are unrealistic when the heroine suddenly goes from virgin to nympho. I have also noted that certain authors have a playbook on how it goes down. Mix things up.

Craft... CraftyJenna

I can't stand the virgin to sex goddess thing. Where it never hurts to loose your v-card, you are never sore after, and can have sex like 20 more times. Also how in some books it's implied they do that every night- seriously? Go to sleep. 

hexxuss hexxuss

Haven't read any of them, or even heard of the Anne Rice bit until I read this article. Really though? Bored after an hour?  I think you've been with the WRONG people, because the ready-to-go-again after the 1st (or even 3rd) is NOT always a bad thing, but I'll admit that after 6 or so hours that people DO get tired - and around 7 or 8, legs are jell-o when trying to walk lol.  Seriously though - if you're bored, he's doing something wrong. =)

jessi... jessicasmom1

I have seen tidbits on them but never fully got into them

nonmember avatar Jess

First of all to writer of this article, Im not sure who you have been sleeping with in your lifetime, but ive had my share of sweaty hot steamy again again again 8 hour sex... and i WAS NOT BORED! and yes there are guys out there who CAN go many more times after "finishing" its not 8 hours of not "finishing" its 8 hours of "finishing" over and over and over again, and yes you get tired.. and take hydration breaks and smoke breaks, then go at it again.. and ive had partners who DO care about me "finishing" before himself.. and a partner who has put me on a pedestal like christian to ana, so this does exist.. clearly you have been with all the wrong people. Yea, maybe the book is a little far fetched and out there, but its not supposed to be a reality show! its supposed to arouse your imagination and put you in a far off place that your mind wouldnt typically go. You dont need to criticize the author for your opinion on how she wants to write her books. If you dont like it, dont read it, write your own best seller. But before you go and sum up every guy in the world stating that sex is boring and cant happen 8 hours at a time, you should try it out.. because it does happen. been there, done it , loved it, no he didnt have a helli, or a billion dollars.. but he was damn sexy, tall dark, handsome, wealthy, good head on his shoulders, a pure gentlement, and would not "finish" until i had. thank you very much!

rhps2000 rhps2000

I don't know about this latest crop of "smut" books, but I was turned off by Ann Rice after reading Exit to Eden. Male to male rape after gladiator style game, in particular. One of the last blogs about the terrible writing of Fifty Shades really cracked up. The comments were hilarious. Didn't need to read book after that.

nonmember avatar Janelle Adamski

I didn't like how Ana kept referring to her "sex" as a word for her vagina...made it sound prude in steamy erotic novel...and I agree about period pieces...I like the up to date tales that relate to the now.

Jenn Telesco

Exit to Eden has the rich, dominant female and submissive man.

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