Tag: Erotica

How To Write An Orgasm

The orgasm is one of the best parts of sex, and one of the most fascinating and intense human experiences. When I write about them, which is quite frankly a lot, I try to do them justice. Ideally, I go into as much detail as possible, because there are just so many ways to climax, and so many different details. Every orgasm is unique, and each orgasm in erotica should strive to also be unique. There’s a limit to what words can convey, and how many different metaphors and terms we can come up with for “pleasure,” but it’s important to try.

Here’s some advice that I’ve given to other erotica writers in the past:

Writing about an orgasm is kind of like writing a miniature story within a story. You can’t just jump to the climax without any build-up, not if you want to do it right. You lead up to it with rising action, describing first the desire and the light stirring of sensations—the way the body first feels faint physical foreshadowing of what lies ahead, then the pleasure starts to solidify into something more real as the body (and mind!) are teased into varying states of increasing arousal.

You show each of these levels of pleasure along the way, taking the reader on a journey up a path of pleasure that rises higher and higher, building their anticipation of that ultimate peak that they know lies ahead. Bring the reader closer and closer, but wind the path just enough that they can only catch glimpses of the destination—glimpses are the key to anticipation, which is a key to hunger, which is the key to gratification.

The journey itself is part of the destination .

Wend them along the path as they let you take them higher and higher, closer and closer to that ultimate peak, until they know that they’re so close—so damned close—that they can almost feel their arrival.

But only almost.

Then let them see it, right there ahead of them, let them know what they’re about to find, where they’re about to go, and let them have that perfect moment when they know they’ve almost arrived, that there’s no turning back, that any moment now they’re…

About…

To…

Then they’re there! They’ve rushed those last few running steps, and they’ve fully arrived, and they suddenly realize that the peak is even higher than they could have imagined, so high that it perhaps even scares them a bit because they realize that they’re so far gone now that they might not find their way back—they’re afraid they might die here, and part of them wants to because it’s just so perfect, so thrilling, so wondrous that it breaks them a little bit and they know that even when they somehow find their way back down again, they will never ever be the same.

 

As you can see, I like to use metaphors. They’re extremely handy things, metaphors, the multi-tool of communication. I’ve rarely metaphor I didn’t like.

This is important when it comes to orgasm, because most of what we feel when it comes to erotic sensation is pleasure, and there are only so many words for pleasure, each of which comes with its own connotations that may or may not convey the right mood for the scene you’re working on. When it comes to sexual sensations, from the tingling build-up to the climax itself, I often try to pick a single metaphor and stick with it throughout the scene.

Often I go with electricity. It’s handy, common, and accurate. Things can start off with electric tingles of pleasure, then later there can be shocks and jolts of sensation, all rising and building like a thunderstorm, and when it all comes to a peak, the orgasm can hit the character like a lightning bolt, arcing from their loins to their nipples, to other parts of them that are being aroused depending on the scene.

Fire is good too. Start with sparks, or even a warm smoldering feeling. The character feels warm, then hot. Things heat up. Their skin feels like it’s on fire, their body burning with the heat of their passion, searing them with sensation until it all builds up and… explodes like a volcano, or even like a fiery bomb. Fire works pretty well.

During one of my May Challenges, when I was writing 31 stories in 31 days, I remember running low on ways to write orgasms. I did electricity. I did fire. Then I worked through the other elements.

Air: started off like light fingers of wind, and ended up like a hurricane.

Water: pleasure flowed through the character, starting off as a mild trickle, but over time turning into a river that threatened to sweep them away, then it did carry them away, orgasm crashing over them like a tidal wave, threatening to drown them, promising to carry them out to sea forever, to never let them come back to shore.

Earth: Light tremors of sensation building into rumbles of pleasure, leading to an orgasm that hits them like an earthquake, making them buck, thrash, and shudder…

You get the idea.
You probably got the idea earlier, when I was just using the metaphor of a path and a destination.

Make good use of it! Not enough writers do.

Where to Start the Story

One of the trickiest parts of a story is knowing which slice of an infinite series of interrelated events (i.e., the Universe) to look at. You can’t start at the beginning (i.e., The Big Bang), unless the nature of your story is tied to the beginning. Similar case with starting at the other end of things. Most likely whatever story you want to tell can be narrowed down to somewhere within the tiny slice of time that encompasses a single person’s life.

The length of the work you’re trying to create matters here, because IF you’re trying to create a work that spans an entire person’s life, then you really don’t have any more decisions in this regard. Start with their birth, end with their death. Fini.

On the other hand, if you’re trying for a specific word count, that will narrow your search for the start of the story considerably. Even the best writers can only convey so much information in a certain word count, and the lower your word count needs to be, the more precise you’ll have to be when picking your beginning.

Let us say in this case, that you’re writing for submission, and you’re trying for a story that is 3,000 Words or less. That’s pretty limited, depending on what kind of story you’re trying to tell, and what kind of characters you plan to use.

One mistake that many authors make is trying to start their story on a perfectly average day, to let the readers know how things normally are, then to move on to more interesting things from there. Don’t do that. Your readers already know what an average day is–they’ve had quite a few of them themselves.

Start where things get interesting. That way, you’ll have your reader’s interest right off the bat. With a limited word count, you need to get through things quickly, which means rushing through parts of the overall story, while zooming in closely on others. You want to rush through the boring bits, and zoom in on the good bits.

With erotica, that typically means glossing over the character’s entire life and background, and focusing on a single encounter. With horror, it’s basically the same deal. None of the details of the character’s life are worth focusing on, unless they make the story move forward.

It doesn’t matter that your main character’s name is George S. Klein. It doesn’t really matter where he lives, unless the setting is unique enough to warrant a significant fraction of your tiny (3k is succinct, in my  view) word count. If it’s necessary to mention that he was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, then mention it, like I just did. Then move on, as I’m doing.

Most writing advice is telling you to “Show, Don’t Tell,” and that’s good advice except when it isn’t. Sometimes, especially when constrained by word count, it’s better to just tell the readers some stuff, to sum up.

Here’s the start of my story “Past The Bullshit”:

“If we could just cut through all the usual bullshit, and you’d just let me put this in you,” he indicated the thick bulge in his pants. “Well, then you’d know.”

“I’d know what?” She was mildly amused by the man so far, and she sipped her drink to facilitate that feeling.

He shook his head. “There’s only one way to find out.”

It was the wrong line, to the wrong girl, on the wrong crappy night, but somehow, less than an hour later, she was in his hotel room, on his bed, her skirt pushed up to her hips as she let him lick her into readiness.

I could have introduced both characters, and I could have written a dozen pages or an entire book on how and why they ran into each other in that bar, but none of that mattered for the story. All that matters for the story is that this strange man gives this woman a strange and crude line, and against her better judgment it works. Then the action takes place, then the resolution of both the introduction and the action.

All in <775 words, in this case.

Here’s the start of my 2500+ word story The Octopunishment:
Bridget Walsh brushed aside tentacle after sagging tentacle. They were dormant for a time, and this was her only chance to escape. She’d had such chances before, but needless to say, she was still here. Naked and dripping, she climbed up onto the thick layer of rubbery flesh, escaping the sea for a time. She was on the skirt of Kýrios Chtapódi, the Lord Octopus. In order to escape, she had to climb all the way up its enormous body, all the way to the head, which rose like a mountain into the sky.

It isn’t fair. The thought nagged at her once again, but as before, it never did her any good. Yes, it wasn’t fair. Why should it be? Everybody knew that life wasn’t fair; why should afterlife be any different?

I could have started the story chronologically, and taken my time. Under different circumstances, if I needed to pad the word count or flesh out the story more, I would have. I could have started off at the point her life took a fatal turn, the day that Zeus showed up in disguise to the game show she was hosting. I’d have had the opening bit be about her thinking that this one of her guests was weird. I’d have had her insult him (part of her routine), and I’d have shown the man transforming into an angry Greek god who kills her with a thunderbolt. I’d have shown her arrival in the particular Underworld that the king of gods condemned her to.

But the project didn’t call for all that–I wasn’t trying to write a novel. I could have, with this story, and that’s the problem. You have to know what story to tell, which moments are important. In this story, the important moment is a decision that Bridget makes when she reaches the summit of Kýrios Chtapódi, and she has a chance to escape. The character is on a specific journey in this story, a specific challenge, and I started the story where the challenge begins.

Everything else that the readers needed to know, how Bridget ended up where she was, the details of her kinky torture at the hands of the Lord Octopus, and everything else that was necessary for the story, I told in flashbacks here or there as she climbs up the side of this mountainous creature.

Start where things get interesting. You can always backfill details later.

Is It Okay To Write Fantasies About Rape?

The short answer is “Yes.” But there are some important details to consider.

There’s a general distaste for rape fantasy because there is a very reasonable general distaste for rape. Rape is one of the most horrible things that a person can experience, so it’s only natural that there’s a strong social condemnation of not only rape, but of anything that is seen to encourage rape. This is all perfectly reasonable, except that we don’t always agree as a society on what kinds of things–stories in particular–encourage rape.

Rape fantasy as a rule does not, because people in general can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Also because most rape fantasy stories I’ve seen, read, heard, had, or written, have as a context that the rapist is a Bad Guy, and that rape is a Bad Thing.

When dealing with people who cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality, almost anything can be used as some sort of justification for almost anything. John Hinckley Jr. used the movie “Taxi Driver” to justify shooting the President of the United States, for example. Mark David Chapman used “The Catcher In The Rye” to justify assassinating John Lennon. Neither of these crimes, nor many like them, were reasonably or logically inspired by the original source material–the crimes were the products of deranged minds, and the source material could have been anything.

On the other hand, the movie “Clockwork Orange” may have inspired several rapes. In one case, a 17 year-old girl was gang-raped by a group of perps who were (as in the film) singing “Singing In The Rain.” I tend to think that that group of perps would have been rapists in any case, and the movie only directed slightly how their crime manifested–they’d have still been rapists, but they might not have been singing rapists. Normal people who watched that film were not inspired to go out and commit crimes based on it. Still, there’s an important difference between this crime and the above crimes by other works: glorification.

The movie “Taxi Driver” doesn’t glorify the main character’s attempted assassination of a politician. The main character is clearly intended to be lonely, pathetic, and misguided. “Taxi Driver” wasn’t filmed in such a way that viewers would or should come out of the theater thinking that the assassination would have been a good deed. “Catcher In The Rye” does not–to the best of my knowledge–even have murder or assassination as a plot point, let alone glorify it in any way.

“Clockwork Orange,” on the other hand… well, the main character is not clearly the villain of the story. He’s charming, charismatic, and sympathetic in places. He’s the kind of character that people might want to identify with on many levels, and the rape scene itself was a mixture that contained more comedy than horror, downplaying the effects of the rape, up-playing the coolness factors of the perpetrator. I don’t think it’s necessarily true that the movie created rapists where none would have otherwise existed, but I do think that it’s treading along an edge that makes me uncomfortable, because rape shouldn’t be glorified.

You may be asking yourself why writing ANY kind of rape fantasy is okay, and the answer is that writing fantasy is by default okay and natural, including fantasies about crime and violence. If reading or watching a story about murder, rape, robbery, theft, and so forth, was truly harmful to society, then every society would be constantly harmed by the vast majority of the stories we tell. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

We can watch horror movies without committing murder, usually because we know the difference between fantasy and reality, and also because the stories are usually told in such a way that it’s clear who the villains are, and that their deeds are vile. Even in cases where there is some sympathy for the monster/killer/villain, the stories aren’t a glorification of them or their deeds. In cases where they are, those stories are again treading on ground that I’d rather they avoided.
Same with crime stories, for that matter, although for some reason bank robbers, kidnappers, and so forth are much more likely to be glorified than movie monsters/murderers.

The only other times/ways I can think of (other than rape glorification fantasies) where it is NOT okay to write rape fantasy are:

When You Don’t Know You’re Doing It

Unfortunately, many authors–even or especially famous authors–have written rape scenes that are seemingly intended to be something else. One example that comes to mind is the sex scene in Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, where the protagonist Howard Roark sneaks into Dominique’s bedroom at night, pins her wrists, physically overpowers her in spite of her fighting back, and has rough sex with her. It’s all meant to be okay, because a) Roark could tell just by looking at her that she really wanted him to do it, b) even though she said No, she meant Yes, and he could just tell, c) she enjoyed it, d) she entered into a romantic relationship with him afterward, and e) all the usual things that rapists think or say to justify their actions. As a rape fantasy scene it’s not bad… but it does glorify the act of rape, and justifies it, and the author seems to be oblivious that this wasn’t just rough, hot sex.
There are also countless other novels where the author seems to be trying to write a passionate love scene, but instead depicts a rape, sometimes a quite brutal one. Writers can mistake “lack of consent” for “passion,” but they’re not the same thing. When you write a sex scene, check it for consent. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal; it just has to be clear enough that the characters involved, along with any witnesses, would be able to tell that everybody was having fun. If/When you write a rape scene, make sure that not only do YOU know what you’re writing, but that the reader knows that you know it as well.

 

When It Comes Without Warning:
The sex (rape) scene in The Fountainhead also kind of comes out of the blue. This is supposed to be a philosophical novel about an architect, not a bodice-ripper. There’s nothing really in the book before that point that indicates to the reader what’s going to happen, and that kind of thing can put a lot of readers off. Especially if the reader has been the victim of sexual violence in the past.

Think of it a bit like killing a dog. It’s not something that you want to spring on readers without warning, if only because you’ll lose a lot of readers that way. If you’re writing rape fantasy, the idea will usually be to arouse your readers. That takes a certain kind of audience, and they usually like to know what they’re getting into. If you write in genres where sexual violence is common enough that it won’t shock your audience, something like Beast Porn, Bodice-Rippers, Splatterpunk, or fantasy BDSM stuff like Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Quartet, then you (and your readers) are probably safe.
If you’re writing conventional Romance, Erotica, realistic BDSM stories, and so forth, then you might consider including a Trigger Warning at the start of the work, or telegraphing to the reader PLENTY of advance warning.

Is It Okay To Fantasize About Raping Somebody?

The short answer is “Yes,” but there are some important details to consider.

The only caveats I’d place on that answer is that it’s probably not a good idea to use masturbation fantasies to condition yourself toward certain actions, especially if you’re the kind of person who ever has trouble telling fantasy from reality, and I’d discourage anybody from indulging in rape fantasies that glorify the act of rape. Otherwise, go at it. Fantasize away.

Just keep a strong wall inside your mind dividing this part of your fantasy life from anything that you’d ever consider doing in real life.

The first place that I encountered the idea of rape fantasy, the naming of it, was when I was reading sex manuals along the lines of “The Joy of Sex,” or “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask).” One or more of these tomes had passages on rape fantasy, mostly explaining what it was, and that it was okay. I seem to remember them focusing more on women having fantasies about rape than about men (or women) having fantasies about committing the act of rape, but it’s been a long while since I read those books.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first encountered the idea, but I do know that I first read those books years before I hit puberty. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d already had at least one rape fantasy that I remember. I’d attended a circus at one point, Barnum & Bailey’s, and I was among a handful of children who were picked to go down to the show floor. There was some kind of undersea theme, and they gave us special hats to wear, telling us that we were colonels in the undersea navy or something like that.

The rank was important because I remember thinking that it would give me some kind of authority to order the undersea soldiers around. I remember thinking that I’d like to order my minions (I didn’t use that word, just the concept) to take some of the lovely ladies of the circus that I’d seen performing earlier, and to strip off their clothing. I wanted to see what they looked like naked, the ladies that is.

Not technically a rape, but certainly a violation that demonstrates one of many reasons why it would be bad to grant young children any level of military command. Fortunately for the ladies, the soldiers, and myself, my special rank only allowed me to be paraded around for a bit, then returned to my seat. Or something. It’s so long ago that I’ve forgotten much of the incident. I do remember the moment of the fantasy, and I probably returned to that scene when I grew old enough to start masturbating, changing the memory of the fantasy into a new fantasy.

I can’t say if that was my first rape fantasy, and I can’t say how many I’ve had since. I can tell you that a very, very large percentage of the jokes that bounced around the playground of the grade school I attended were, in hindsight, bizarre rape-fantasy instructionals for blackmailing girls into nudity or various sex acts.

The standard joke would be something along the lines of:
A boy catches a girl in the act of peeing, and he sees her privates. She’s embarrassed. The boy tells her that he won’t tell anybody that he saw her peeing, IF she promises to give him a closer look at her private parts. She agrees. He then tells her that he won’t tell anybody that she showed him her private parts, IF she takes off her clothes entirely…

And so on, and so forth. There was rarely if ever any kind of punchline to these “jokes,” but they weren’t exactly porn either. Although that basic plot IS used in plenty of porn and erotica today. Anyway, these jokes were extremely common. They weren’t about overt rape-by-direct-force, but rape-by-blackmail was extremely common, as was rape-by-deception, and various other forms of sexual coercion.

I’m not going to say that any of it was healthy for society, but I can say that the vast majority of the kids telling that kind of joke did not turn out to be rapists that I’m aware of. I certainly didn’t turn out to be one.

The harm from those jokes would come not from the plot, but from the execution of of the story. They didn’t normalize the sexual assaults, but they did make them seem clever. They perpetuated the ongoing social narrative that it’s a boy’s job (or at least natural and reasonable inclination) to try to trick or trap girls into nudity/sex, and that it’s a girl’s job to protect herself. If the boy succeeds, then the only problem (in this narrative) is that the girl was foolish.
The stories glorified the predatory acts.

While it’s arguable that none of these stories directly caused anybody to ever commit a rape, I would say that such stories did (and likely do, if they still exist on the playgrounds today) perpetuate and reinforce rape culture. That is a bad thing. That kind of story can be harmful.

Do not indulge in rape fantasies that in any way glorify the act of rape.

Other rape fantasies that I encountered growing up were in the form of Damsel In Distress form, and were quite common in television, movies, and books. A woman would often be vaguely threatened by a man, she’d be breathless, her clothing might get torn. In the more family-friendly mediums, things would stop there, with the unspoken threat of rape. Sometimes the act might occur, but happen off-scene.

These scenes were generally crafted for the Male Gaze, to titillate the audiences. They could be problematic in a number of ways, but they did make the point that the attacker or potential attacker was a Bad Guy, not somebody that anybody should emulate.

The same kind of thing happened a lot in horror films, only more graphically. Same with certain action movies, like “Death Wish.” The stories were crafted for the viewers to be turned on by the nudity and the forced sex, but to avoid condoning rape. This is why “Rape and Revenge” movies (and books, and everything) are a thing: they allow the audience to experience the thrills of a fantasy that they know is wrong, and they allow the audience to experience the satisfaction of seeing justice be eventually served to the perpetrator that they were earlier vicariously thrilled by.
Most people aren’t likely to go out and commit rape based on “Last House On The Left,” “I Saw The Devil,” or “I Spit On Your Grave,” where the rapists are shown as despicable beings not to be emulated, and the rape is morally condemned instead of glorified.

I don’t think that the vengeance/justice aspect need be a part of personal masturbatory fantasies, but I do think that the moral condemnation should be clear. It’s okay to fantasize about rape, just as it’s okay to fantasize about murder, robbery, zombie apocalypses, and all sorts of other things that would be horrible in real life.

It’s okay for a man or woman to fantasize about raping.
It’s just not okay for them to fantasize about rape being in any way good, noble, or justified.

Once in a while, it’s fun in our fantasies to play the role of the Bad Guy. The only danger is if we end up playing him/her in real life.

Is It Okay To Fantasize About Rape?

The short answer is “Yes.” If that’s good enough for you, skip to the next blog post! (or go read an earlier post)

The long answer is still “Yes.” See below.

Fantasy is by default okay and natural, including fantasies about crime and violence. People fantasize about all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. What happens in our imaginations really isn’t anybody’s business other than ourselves, and it doesn’t affect anybody other than ourselves.

When it comes to sexual rape fantasies, there are reasons why they exist. We live in a society where we’re taught that sex is shameful, particularly for women. We’re taught that we’re bad people if we want to have sex, but biologically we are (most of us, anyway) driven to have sex, and to want sexual experiences. Rape fantasies allow people to conjure scenarios where we can participate in all the “depraved” things that we’d like to do, or–more to the point–that we’d like to fantasize about doing–while avoiding the negative feelings associated with our own lusts.

A person might want to fantasize about having rough sex with a group of strangers, about the pure, faceless physical act of it. The simplest scenario where they can indulge in that fantasy would generally involve being taken against their will. This would help them avoid not only guilt for their own general lust, but for any number of details in the scene that they might otherwise avoid envisioning, and/or might mentally punish themselves for.

This kind of fantasy does not mean that the person having the fantasy wants to be raped in real life, no more than an idle fantasy about being pursued by a serial killer, or a fantasy about being in a war, or a fantasy about a zombie apocalypse, means that the person having that fantasy would wish to be involved in such things in life.

Most sexual fantasies people have are used to get us off, and we don’t entirely have control over what scenarios push our buttons. Fantasizing about different things, rape included, can help us figure out what our turn ons are, and it can help us learn more about our own sexuality.

People fantasize about rape for many reasons. The escape from shame mentioned above is one possible reason, but for other people the reason might be because shame itself is one of their buttons, one of the things that inexplicably turns them on. They might enjoy fantasies about being beaten, humiliated, and forced… and that fantasy might not have anything to do with what they’d like in real life. Or maybe it does; there’s nothing wrong with that either.

Another thing about rape fantasy is that it’s easy. Different people have different thresholds when it comes to suspension of disbelief, and that includes sexual fantasies. Some people may not find fantasies of love & courtship, or hooking up at a bar, or any number of other common plots to be plausible or simple enough when they’re trying to just rub one out.

Fantasizing about being raped cuts to the chase: You’re there, the other person (or people) are there, and they’re doing things to you. You don’t have to worry about whether they’ll call you after. You don’t have to worry about whether they find you attractive. You don’t have to worry anything other than the sex, and you don’t have to worry about any kinky implications of anything that they do to you because this fantasy is about not being in control.

It’s about being relieved of responsibility, anxiety, and every other concern other than sex.

Rape fantasy allows people to bypass many, most, or all of their mental blocks when it comes to sexual fantasy, and it allows them to just enjoy the ride–something that is the exact opposite of actual rape, which can create obstacles between the victim and sexual enjoyment. This might be one reason why many victims of real-world rape indulge in rape fantasy: the trauma from their attack may create mental blocks that can only be effectively overcome by this kind of fantasy. They may have feelings of shame. They may have feelings of being damaged. They may have feelings that nobody good would want them. This kind of fantasy can provide a necessary sexual outlet that bypasses all those things and more.

There’s also a legitimacy to rewriting our own emotional stories, to dealing with traumatic events by imagining variations of those events that take out the sting through repetition and reframing. People can take traumatic events, and imagine those events in different ways that remove the negative experiences and replace them with positive associations. A person who has been raped can fantasize about being forced into sex under different circumstances, and in that fantasy retain complete control over everything that happens. They can replace powerlessness and suffering with fantasies of those things, with mute echoes that–like all fantasies–dull the bad parts and highlight (or in this case create) the good parts.

There’s nothing wrong with having rape fantasies, and there are many good reasons why people have them.

Avatars and Objects

Both “erotica” and “horror” are emotional terms, referring not to any physical actions, but to emotional states. Erotica is specifically art intended to arouse physical desire. Although there are certain physical responses that are a part of this reaction, the reaction itself occurs in the minds of the audience. Horror as a genre is specifically referring to the capacity to instill fear, revulsion, or even terror into the audience. This is something to keep in mind when writing in either genre, because all too often writers and artists seem to focus entirely on the physical elements.

In purely visual mediums, this is understandable. A painting or picture can only do so much to do the things necessary to fully bring the viewer along for a journey. A simple portrait or picture of a nude man or woman might well be all that is required to achieve the intended reaction, but even in such cases there is usually effort made by the artist to convey something other than the pure physical form. Compare nudes sketches or photos that are done for the purposes of simply showing anatomy, versus works designed to arouse. The former is typically informative, but essentially unarousing. The latter is typically much more arousing, and this is due in large part to the emotional information conveyed by the work in question.

Faces in anatomical works are usually blank, neutral, conveying nothing about the subject except perhaps indifference. Faces in erotic works are typically full of various emotional reactions, and this is precisely because that emotional quality is essential to arouse the audience. Humans can be aroused by sheer anatomical close-up visuals, but typically they are aroused to much greater extents when emotions are involved in the work. A naked woman with a completely neutral face and posture isn’t going to do all that much for most male viewers, but add a bit of flush to the cheeks, a bit of a wanton smile, and suddenly any eroticism is greatly multiplied.

Humans are social creatures, and we as a species are typically concerned with and affected by the emotions that we see (or project) onto the people around us.

Most commonly, we are sexually aroused by seeing the emotion of sexual arousal in others. That flush to the cheeks can indicate a host of emotions that we associate with sex, from lust to embarrassment, to the kinds of physical exertion that we associate with enthusiastic sexual activity. As a hetero male, seeing art portraying an emotionally neutral naked woman provokes a certain level of arousal, a low-level spark of lust. Seeing art portraying a clothed (or partially clothed!) woman who’s looking at me (or another person in the art itself) with lust in her eyes, in her smile, in her flush, in her posture, can turn that spark into a bonfire.

Horror works the same way, although typically with different emotions (barring various kinks and phobias).

Picture a person being stabbed in the chest with a large knife, but with their countenance conveying complete indifference. Picture their limbs lying neutral. Picture their mouth closed in a lazy line, their eyes half-lidded with a lack of any interest.

Now picture the same stabbing, only with the target’s eyes wide with shock and fear, their mouth forced open by their scream of not only agony, but their understanding that these are their last moments of life, and that those last moments will be filled with suffering. Picture their legs buckling, their arms desperately failing to stop the incoming attack.

Neither of these images is necessarily going to instill you with fear, revulsion, or terror, but surely the second image comes closer to any of those emotions, comes closer to conveying horror, comes closer to doing the primary job that horror as a genre is designed for.

Let’s repeat the experiment with an erotic scene instead.

Picture a naked man and a naked woman. The woman is bent over a table, and the man is standing behind her. He is frozen mid-thrust, his cock half-way into (or out of) her. Their faces are blank masks, and their postures convey no urgency, no desire, and nothing about any kind of internal feeling about the act they’re in the middle of.

Re-imagine the scene.
This time, the woman is wearing a house dress. She is leaning over a kitchen table that has a cutting board with a knife and vegetables on it, as if she has been interrupted in the middle of preparing a meal. Picture her hands bunching the checkered tablecloth. Picture her face flushed with passion, her eyes closed with pleasure, her mouth opening wide with a moan of ecstasy. The top of her dress has been pulled down, exposing her bare breasts. The bottom of her dress has been lifted up, and her panties pushed aside so that the man could eagerly penetrate her.

He’s wearing slightly shabby clothing, as if he’s been working in the yard, and only came in for a break or a drink of water. His hands are on her hips, frozen in the act of frantically pulling her back against him. His eyes are filled with lust, his face red with it. His pants are unzipped and have been pulled down just enough for this spontaneous act of mutual passion.

Stereotypical gender roles aside (or especially included, depending on one’s kinks), which scene was more arousing?

Most likely the latter, because the characters we see in a work of art are our vehicle for this experience, our avatars and objects of desire. If we can see passion, we can feel that passion. Just as if we see fear or pain, we can experience that as well.

It’s the same in written work: a story must be about more than indifferent bodies in order to truly affect the reader. The characters must feel emotions, and these emotions must be transmitted to the readers in order to infect them with the appropriate feelings of fear or desire.

The goal of most art is to affect the audience somehow, and that’s incredibly difficult and rare to do without showing them any emotions within the art itself. Emotions are the key to affecting your readers, and details are the key to showing emotions.

Stop Kinkshaming Ammosexuals

Every time there’s a shooting–which I assume we can all agree is far, far, far too often–the big argument about guns and gun rights rages across the nation (and to some degree, across the world). We all have our views on what should be done when it comes to changing gun laws, and I’m not going to talk about that here. What I’m going to talk about is something that I see happen regularly in the comments section of articles, and in various arguments/discussions in social media, when the anti-gun crowd or the “sensible regulation” crowd face off with the pro-gun crowd.

Almost invariably and inevitably, one of the anti-gun crowd calls one or all of the pro-gun crowd an “ammosexual.”

There’s a lot of general name-calling back and forth, and a hell of a lot of stereotyping, when it comes to this kind of heated political debate. Ad hominem attacks are never productive in any kind of debate, but this particular attack rubs me the wrong way for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with guns, and everything to do with how our culture sees sex and human sexuality.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ammosexual
   
Wiktionary defines the term as follows:
    (US, Slang, Derogatory) A person obsessed with owning guns; a zealous supporter of the right to bear arms.


    So why is the word “sexual” in there?

It’s because our culture–especially when trying to make things seem unseemly–loves to project a sexual element where it doesn’t necessarily exist, because we have a generally negative view of sex and sexuality.

The implication of the term “ammosexual” is not only that the person in question sexually fetishizes guns, but also that they are morally and even factually wrong for doing so. I’m going to unpack a lot of the things that are wrong with that.

First, it’s a conflation of two entirely different (if sometimes overlapping) things: a political stance supporting the right of people to own firearms, and a sexual fetish for firearms. I know many gun owners and pro-gun advocates, and I’ve never known one yet who seems to see their firearms in a sexual way. At the same time, I’m aware that there are people out there who are into gun kink, who use firearms to spice up their sex life the way that other people use whips, knives, or ropes. Believe it or not, the people in the latter category aren’t necessarily NRA members or gun rights advocates. They’re just people who have a certain kind of kink.

Having that kink does not mean that there’s anything wrong with them, nor that they are wrong about whatever side of the argument they’re on.

Moreover, the people throwing the term about do not–as far as I can tell–seriously believe that the people they’re hurling the word at actually do have any kind of kink when it comes to guns. They’re using the word as a hyperbolic insult, trying to shame people by insinuating that they’re into something kinky.

Because our society thinks that kink is shameful.

Because our society thinks that sex and sexuality is shameful.

But it’s not shameful, and it shouldn’t be shameful (unless your particular kink is being shamed, and you’re engaging in consensual play).

In a conversation about guns and violent crime, people are using sexuality as an insult to try to shame the other side into submission. It’s not simply an attack on the people targeted by the word; it’s also an attack on sex in general, kink more specifically, and gun kink directly.

Worse, this kind of thing usually comes from leftists/liberals/progressives, the kind of people who are supposed to be more enlightened when it comes to sexuality.

 

A similar situation is the idea that men who own guns must have small penises. I haven’t done a survey to see if there’s any truth to this, and nobody else has either, because the claim/insinuation doesn’t hinge on truth–it hinges on shame. It’s an attempt to shame and insult gun owners, not to do anything else. So it’s probably not true, but let’s pretend that it was true for just a moment. Let’s pretend for a moment that if a man owns a gun, for some reason that’s because he has a small penis.
    So what?
    Should men with small penises be non-consensually and publicly shamed for their bodies? Is that what we want to accomplish in our online political arguments? Is that any better than when a man dismisses what a woman has to say on a political subject by calling her “fat,” “ugly,” or “mannish?”

Body shaming is body shaming, and body shaming is bad.

Especially when the body shaming in question directly feeds the kind of toxic masculinity that is at the heart of much of the gun violence that we’ve been seeing, the tropes we have about manhood, and what it takes to be a Real Man. Accusing a gun owner of having a small penis relies on the assumption that any man with a small penis can’t be a Real Man. Considering the fact that the key traits of a spree shooter is that they are almost always males who are concerned with or caught up in societal notions of what masculinity is, I don’t think that attacking their penis size is a productive way to defuse or discuss anything.

Whatever we as a nation or a planet ultimately do with guns, we need to make our ideas of masculinity more inclusive, and our ideas of how men deal with shame more productive. What we do NOT need to do is to shame more people, and to reinforce existing prejudices about sex, sexuality, and sex organs.

 

[As a final note, I’ll point out that there are people who self-identify as an “ammosexual,” typically for the same sort of “fuck you” reclaiming reasons why Americans like the song Yankee Doodle, why some women (or men) self-identify as a “bitch,” and so forth. That doesn’t affect the nature of this post, which is not about people self-identifying, but is specifically about people applying the term to others without their consent, as a pejorative.]