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The S-word, male vs. female authors

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Misfit
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The S-word, male vs. female authors

Post by Misfit » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 2:14 am

It has been much too quiet around here so what the heck...

I have tried to start this thread several times and bailed out of it every time. I was afraid the point I was trying to make might seem more inflammatory than I intended, so I'll just throw a small ball out and see where this goes.

As a female reader, how do you react to sex as written by male authors? Do you see their female characters acting like you would? Do you roll your eyes when they have to stop and have hot sex before they break lose the chains and escape from the dungeon? Do men really really rise to the occasion every time they glimpse upon their beloveds face (and other parts)?

Since I am not a male reader I don't know what questions to ask, but as a male reader, are there sex scenes from female authors that send you up the roof?
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Post by boswellbaxter » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 2:52 am

I honestly haven't noticed much difference, but then most historical fiction I've read lately is by female authors. Jude Morgan and C. W. Gortner are about the only male novelists whose books I've read recently, and neither's love scenes (which I remember as rather restrained) induced any eye-rolling on my part. It might be different if I read more action-adventure-type historical fiction.
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Post by Divia » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 3:02 am

Well I remember Gladatrix and that was filled with rape, lesbian scenes and stuff like that. I can't recall any love/sex stuff in there. But you could totally tell the book was written by a man.
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Post by Telynor » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 3:21 am

There can be a real difference between authors of different genders when it comes to writing about sex in historical fiction. I've noticed that women tend to write about the emotional feelings (but not always), and men more about the physical actions (but not always). I tend to get annoyed when it comes down to what makes sloppy erotica read bad. As a judge famously said, I can't describe what it is exactly, but I know it when I see (or read) it.

To be honest, badly written sex can cause me to throw a book at the wall. Most of Bertrice Small's work does that to me these days.

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Post by LoveHistory » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 3:23 am

In my limited experience I would say that male writers are more straightforward about it. Less in the way of attempts at poetic description of body parts and sensations.

I don't think either gender has a monopoly on bad sex scenes. Anyone of either gender can be clueless or merely unable to write it well. Then again, as I said my experience in this area is limited.

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Post by EC2 » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 6:14 pm

I would say that there do tend to be general differences if you are using broad brush strokes. This doesn't take into account those male and female authors who cross the bridges easily. C.W. for example, as Boswell has said.
I think when it comes to the hotter stuff (erotica in fancy dress) it's usually written by women. It isn't always more emotional than male stuff, but it is often a lot more descriptive and prolonged in terms of foreplay and ummm imaginitive euphemisms. Volcano of honey anyone?
Where sex is concerned in mainstream, men tend to get down to it faster and be more visceral. Sometimes they do not get the emotional subtleties in scenes, but then they know their audience who mostly don't want the 'frilly bits.' Male writers tend to come and go (sorry!) even when there's a lot of it in the book. The first Con Igguldon Ghenghis Khan book has a preposterous rape scene - can't remember the details, but the way the girl acts afterwards is pure fantasy. The sex scenes in Pillars of the Earth are very much male fantasy driven - an observation. I am well aware that some of the hot stuff between the pages of other historicals is female fantasy driven.
I recall a supposed love scene in one of Sam Llewelyn's novels (not a historical) where the hero's tongue on the heroine's neck is described as a 'hot snail.' Euuuwwww! That's what I mean by visceral. DH Lawrence was a bit like it too. I always wanted to go and wash after reading his rude stuff.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 6:33 pm

An effective sex scene for readers who are past the 'first hundred exposures' stage is all about relationship. Always taking into consideration the overlapping bell-curve in male-female abilities, on average women have a better grasp of relationship subtleties than men. One of the few male writers who seems to get it right for women is Nicholas Sparks. In his stories, (whatever you may think of the plots) the sex is always about relationship first.

In novels targeted primarily at a male audience, a good sex scene usually enhances the character of the protagonist engaging in it -- show, don't tell-- he's either a creep (rape scene) or he's a super-competent studly guy all the babes fall for.

I can't say as to the erotica genre, I've done too much lay marriage counseling to want to put those images in my head. They sow the seeds of trouble for any real sex, an activity I'm rather fond of, thanks.

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Post by Margaret » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 9:08 pm

I'd agree that both men and women can write good or bad sex scenes. With the good ones, men and women tend to write them in a similar way, with more emphasis on the emotional relationship than on the mechanics of the sex (though a physical detail that meshes well with the characters' emotions can be very hot), and both the sex and the emotions will be realistic. Bad sex scenes, I think, are characterized by a wildly unbelievable lack of realism, often because the protagonist is a thinly disguised stand-in for the author, who is writing the scene as a wish-fulfillment device.
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Post by Misfit » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 10:43 pm

I'd agree that both men and women can write good or bad sex scenes.
I knew there was something I forgot to mention, and that is yep women can write bad sex scenes too. Let us not forget That Tudor Vampire Book *shudders*

I've just read two books by John Jakes, and while he really doesn't go overboard with the sex scenes I was a bit put off by the men always getting *hard* looking at the beautiful bad girl, i.e. even to the point of one man thinking he'd never had one so big or similar. Plus the bad girl was always grabbing at every man's crotch. After a while it gets rather repetitive and I was wishing he'd make his point in a better way.

Then I had one by a long forgotten author who had to have his pair stopping for hot sex before they get his chains off and rescue him from the dungeon. Hero watches deranged madman stripping a woman to kill her and he stops to notice her creamy back and full breasts. Couple of quotes,
“..Richard fought against the chains, craving to be closer to her, deeper into her, taste her, feel her, be her.”

“A flame was working its way up between her legs, caressing her, licking her very core into a hot swollen burst. She gasped and tasted moist leaf and lichen in the air and pressed deeper into the bed of leaves.”
And now I just hit this,
"She was always the most fluid of women. He called it silky. She stood, half-lying, against the tree as he went so easily into her, penetrating the silkiest of women, entering the silkiest of girls."
Not totally squicky, but I do think there's a fantasy factor going on at times.
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 10:57 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]I
I've just read two books by John Jakes, and while he really doesn't go overboard with the sex scenes I was a bit put off by the men always getting *hard* looking at the beautiful bad girl, i.e. even to the point of one man thinking he'd never had one so big or similar. Plus the bad girl was always grabbing at every man's crotch. After a while it gets rather repetitive and I was wishing he'd make his point in a better way.[/quote]

I see you've met Ashton. Not much else to her I'm afraid. There are some interesting points to her character development, but in Love & War she's pretty much just an egocentric nymphomaniac.

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