Super Girls, Chocolate Men, and My Very Own Misogyny

Supergirl

[NOTE: I may be wading into perilous waters with this post, but I hope, whatever your feelings on these matters, you’ll read it all the way through and not just reflexively dismiss me as an unworthy ally. Your comments are welcome, preferably here rather than on Facebook or elsewhere.]

A few days ago, I saw an artist post a Supergirl drawing to his feed on Facebook. It was definitely cheesecake, so some folks would react to it like it was an assault on all that is holy, but it was just a simple pinup with an old-style sweet sexiness to it.

The first comment under the picture was from some guy who wrote, “More like SuperBITCH!!!”

I was taken aback. I’ve seen stupid. I’ve seen misogynistic. But what the fuck was in this asshole’s head when he wrote that? Did he think he was complimenting the artist’s work somehow? Did he think he was making a boisterous positive statement about the hot superhero in the drawing? Did he think what he was saying was edgy or cool and made him look good? What the fuck was he trying to communicate? Surely it wasn’t “I’m a pathetic shithead,” which was what I saw him saying.

I don’t know if the artist was annoyed, if he let the comment stand on his page, or if he might have even agreed with the comment (whatever weird message it held). But all of that was secondary to my confusion about what was in that guy’s head and the bleak disquiet I felt seeing him express it.

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I posted the above on Facebook. Ironically, my very next post was apparently so misogynistic that it inspired another writer (whom I share real world friends with and have a good amount of respect for) to kick me off his friends list: Continue reading

The Secret To Desire

By the light...

Interested in long term romantic relationships? Marriage? Sexual satisfaction? Sexual adventure?

Give a listen to this TED Talk by Psychotherapist Esther Perel, the author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. I think she’s on the right track.

Sluts and Stuff

I just read “The problem with slut-bashing (or: I was a teenage dinner whore. kidding.),” a wonderful blog post by Justine Musk on sexual politics and language. You should check it out.

Here’s a piece:

In her book THE ART OF WAR FOR WOMEN, Chin-ning Chu writes:

“Women seem to have fallen prey to something I call the crabs-in-the-pot syndrome. When you cook crabs, you don’t have to place the lid on the boiling pot because the crabs keep one another from getting out. As one crab gets near the top and attempts to climb over the edge, another crab will naturally put it down in its own attempt to escape. As a result, all the crabs go to their collective doom.”

This is the problem whenever a woman defends herself by saying “I am not a slut.”

By declaring that you are not a slut, you are saying that some women are sluts; you are drawing a line between yourself and them. Except it’s a line that can’t actually exist, because all it does is reinforce the very idea that you’re trying to fight.

As soon as you buy into a reality that brands any woman a ‘slut’, you buy into a belief system that attacks femalehood itself. This includes you. You sacrifice someone else in your effort to escape the boiling water, but you can’t get out of the pot.

Sex And The Single Pulp Hero

My pulp brother Barry Reese (author of The Rook series, among other things) has started a conversation at his blog on the subject of sex (and romance) in the pulps…

In the classic hero pulps, there wasn’t a whole lot of sex. You’d have the occasional lurid cover, with some scantily clad woman (usually with stockings showing) in distress while our hero moved to protect her but for the most part, guys like Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger were not very interested in knocking boots. Doc occasionally in later years would display a kind of boyish interest in the fairer sex and The Avenger’s love for his wife was constantly being referenced but even in the first book where you see The Avenger alongside his wife and daughter, you didn’t exactly get the image that they were passionate lovers. They were partners, friends and spouses, yes, but there was no sign of “heat” in the relationship.

There were some exceptions, of course. Jim Anthony was basically Doc Savage with a sex drive but by today’s standards, he was still a bit tame. In fact, the idea of Anthony was racier than the truth — he liked to lounge around at home in a speedo while working in the lab. Hell, what guy doesn’t?

The fantasy pulps (like Conan) got a lot of mileage out of ladies whipping one another and there was no doubt that Conan and others got into lusty embraces. But I’m focusing on the hero pulps because those were my favorites and that’s where most of the New Pulp writings out today fall into place.

So…

Now we’re in the age of New Pulp. Writers are now bringing in more modern ideas about race, gender relations, etc. into their pulp-inspired writings.

But we still don’t have much in the way of S-E-X. I’m not saying we *need* it, I’m just surprised there’s not more variety out there.

Sex and pulp fiction (in that order) are two topics I spend quite a bit of time thinking about, and I’ve given some thought to their interaction too. I commented on Barry’s post:

I’m with you 100%.

One of the things I enjoy about The Spider is the fact that you get the sense that not only are Dick and Nina  rabidly loyal and utterly romantically enraptured with each other, they’re fucking like bunnies. I was bugged by Doc Savage’s apparent pre-adolescent state even when I was reading the books as a kid, and it bugs me even more now.

In my Doc Wilde series, Doc is a widower, but over the course of the stories he will start to develop romantic connections again (indeed, we’ll see some of it in the second book). But he’s already a warmer, in every way more emotional, hero than his literary ancestor. And his parents are very old but still quite youthful, and enjoying each other just as much as The Spider and his lady. (And I’ve already made reference to the fact that the elder Wilde, the “original” Doc Wilde from the pulp era, used to be very stoic and humorless, but his wife opened him up emotionally, making him more loving and playful, and, frankly, human).

Making my characters as human as possible is very important to me, and the stolid sexlessness of heroes like Doc Savage (and even the skirt-chasing antics of his sidekicks, who acted like horny thirteen year olds) is, to me, one of the unfortunate failings of those tales I love so much. (It reached its nadir in the terrible seventies Doc Savage movie, in which the most romantic thing Doc says to the gorgeous jungle princess is “Monja, you’re a brick.”)  Sex, romance, emotion in general, are all very interesting to readers because they’re human themselves. And it’s hard to take a hero completely seriously if he’s unable to function fully as a grown-up in the emotional world.

Granted, with Doc Savage’s background as essentially a cloistered lab experiment, it does make sense that he may not be emotionally mature, though it would have been nice to see him undergo an emotional puberty through the years and become more fully adult.

Of course, this literary neutering of the heroes resulted from an attempt to pander to young readers, just as through editorial edict Doc Savage very early on stopped killing bad guys on his adventures. In his earliest exploits, he was a lot more pragmatic, taking down mooks when he had to, but very quickly they made it so that he never killed anyone, relying heavily on non-lethal methods and gear, though many a villain did bring on their own demise and Doc didn’t shed a tear for them. They did this for the kids. But in those early stories, there is a jagged vibrancy that goes away when Doc gets too pacifistic, and as a horny thirteen year old (and as a horny much older year old) I missed that.

Just as I kept wishing Doc would actually bed one of these perky beauties who threw themselves at him all the time. Didn’t have to see it in detail. Coulda happened off-screen. But it would have been nice to know, for instance, that he was getting his ashes hauled by Princess Monja every time he got down to Hidalgo…

Far as I’m concerned, maybe he didn’t let Lester Dent know, but that’s exactly what was happening.

Great Sex

The gifted and award-winning novelist Nicola Griffith posted an interesting blog entry about a year ago on the topic of how sex is depicted in fiction. It’s very worth reading. Here’s a bit:

A few years ago I was on a panel with two or three other writers and the talk turned to sex in literature. It turned out everyone on the panel (except me) thought all fictional depictions of people having good sex were ridiculous because sex was never, ever super-awesome and mind blowing. No, they said, sex was comical and self-conscious; sex was fumbling and clumsy; sex was embarrassing. Sex, everyone (except me) agreed, never went right the first time, so why did writers insist on writing as though it did?

I didn’t say much on that panel because I was shocked by the notion that so many people thought and felt this way. I’m older now. I’ve heard this supposition many times. I’m tired of it.

In my experience, sex really is super-awesome and mind blowing. It really is astonishing, transporting, and ecstatic. It really is the closest thing on this earth that we’ll come to swimming in a tide of light and magic. If it’s not that way for you, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

I have to say, my experience reflects Nicola’s; the worst sex I ever had was still fantastic.  But I understand not everyone is so fortunate, and some just aren’t that interested.

Hop over and check out her piece, and read through the comments. There’s some interesting discussion.

“Our Body” (A Poem) [NSFW]

I hear your heartbeat in my heart
Pushing and pulling and warming my blood.
I feel your breath in my lungs
Filling, gasping me with life.
I taste your mouth in my mouth
Teeth nibbling, tongue slippery-ing me to joy.

Your body.
My body.
Our body.

I feel skin memory of your lips on me
Sucking me deep
Throat deep
Drinking my seed to your belly.

Your sea brine cream taste won’t leave my tongue.

I am cumulative countless nights deep in your center
Throbbing our heartbeat
Breath-gasping our hot shared air
Mouths mouthing, sliding wet wild
Screaming pounding clawing our voice
Runneling our sweat
Spewing sticky salt our sperm
My sperm. Concentrated me.
Into you.

I never want(ed) to lose our body. Our love.