Kate Elliott’s Omniscient Breasts

I’m usually annoyed when someone pulls out the “male gaze” concept in a discussion of art and culture. While the idea has undeniable merit, it is often wielded as a bludgeon of ABSOLUTE TRUTH. In other words, men like looking at sexy women and it ruins the world, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

I happen to think that much of this sort of thing has its roots in the innate differences in men’s and women’s cognitive wiring. That doesn’t mean we should just accept the baseline set by our neurology as the sole standard to consider, but it does mean that there’s probably nothing wrong with men liking to look at sexy women, or vice versa, or even having art that caters to such desire.

Still, just as we aspire to more than simple orgasm in our relationships, we should aspire to higher levels of cultural relationship as well. At the very least, we should think about these things, and consider how the ways that we think and create impact the way we relate to each other.

Author Kate Elliott has written a very balanced, thoughtful post considering the male gaze (and other gazes) in fiction, and I recommend it for everyone, but particularly for writers. She avoids the fanatic’s tendency to use the concept as a blanket condemnation of men and their wicked staring eyes, which I appreciate as a man with a finely tuned male gaze of my own, and shares some insights I’ve never considered. I’m a better person, and likely a better writer, for having read it.

You can read it here.

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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.

“I Eat You Eat I” (A Poem) NSFW

It is a vision
some would say
lacks grace:

our two sweaty bodies
coiled together
mouths and crotches
slurping
sucking
lapping
warm
and wet
and rockhard
or soft.

It is not love-making of the face to face sort
but more carnal
if only for its social awkwardness.

The vision recurs…

I remember your soft flesh
wet and musky
moving under my probing, stroking
tongue–
the feel of your lips teeth tongue
throat
engulfing my shaft, swallowing, tasting me.
Our bodies tight and heaving.
Lost in passion,
topsy turvy with love,
no up nor down to this lustful embrace,
this meal
as I eat you as
you eat me as
I eat you
as you eat me
as–

Some would say
it lacks, if not taste,
definitely grace.
‘Tis not tactful, to love so.

But to me, remembering,
there was eternity in the act,
a circle formed without seam
complete
two halves making a perfect roundness
rolling like a wheel
toward forever.
Like the worm Ouroboros
swallowing its snaking tail,
to me, if only me,
we formed an eternity.

To live,
we eat.