Links: Tuesday, October 22nd

October 22, 2013 Links 2

A flowchart that helps modern lovers determine if their current activity counts as "sex."A useful flowchart.

  • What Is Sex? – I feel that romance’s elevation of PIV sex as the one true Sex is highly problematic. Not only does it otherize queer sex, but it’s fairly ableist as well. (Can’t get it up? No HEA for you.) So, I’m always interested in articles like these that talk about what sex is and try to expand the definition. I wish romance authors would do the same.

    In my recent piece, “10 Things Not to Say to a Lesbian,” one of the questions never to ask was “So, how do lesbians do it?” The inside joke is that many of us have actually asked ourselves, though not usually aloud, “Wait, did we have sex?” Since many people consider “sex” to mean penis in vagina, the lines for what constitutes sex for queer women can blur easily and often.

    It’s an interesting question, and not just for lesbians: What is sex? The answer is something that nobody can agree on, though many have tried. Planned Parenthood looks to the dictionary for a definition: “People define ‘sex’ in different ways. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as ‘sexually motivated behavior.’ This sounds right to us. But not everyone agrees with the dictionary or with us. People all have their own definitions of what ‘sex’ and ‘having sex’ means.”

  • Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? – This was a fascinating read for me. It tosses a wrench at the idea of marriage and baby being universal shorthand for happiness and contentment.

    Mendokusai translates loosely as “Too troublesome” or “I can’t be bothered”. It’s the word I hear both sexes use most often when they talk about their relationship phobia. Romantic commitment seems to represent burden and drudgery, from the exorbitant costs of buying property in Japan to the uncertain expectations of a spouse and in-laws. And the centuries-old belief that the purpose of marriage is to produce children endures. Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like”.

  • “Yes, I Know What A Gigabyte Is”: Let’s Talk About Sexism In The Tech Industry – I was an assistant manager at a videogame store after college and had an almost identical experience. I could have my hands in the open till and still get asked if I worked there. Anyways, great article about sexism in tech. I liked the part about “a-ha moments,” when it suddenly dawns on you that sexism is real and directed at you.

    Back in the U.S. I was working in a customer-facing IT position. One day my manager, also a woman, pulled me aside. “I have this guy here,” she said. “He stopped in because he saw women working here. And he can’t believe women work with computers and software, he couldn’t believe we hired them.” She paused. “I want you to help him. I don’t know what he wants yet.”
    She introduced us – he was an older gentleman. He spent 15 minutes quizzing me. He’d point at me, his eyes narrowed. “Gigabytes,” he’d say. And I’d patiently define the term gigabytes for him. “RAM,” he’d continue. And so I defined that. Finally he was satisfied, “Oooh, you’re good!” he remarked, pleased. I asked him what he needed help with. “Oh no,” he said. “That was all.” He walked out of the store. He’d simply wanted to verify that women knew things about computers via his little verbal quiz.

  • A self-published erotic novelist pioneers a new kind of porn – This is amazingly bad. It makes me wonder what standards Salon has for picking up writers. I’ve read comments on romance blogs that made more sense than this essay. Maybe we should be pitching stuff to Salon instead of blogging it for free.

    Selena Kitt’s work is different. These are not just romances with a smattering of ball-gags. Her oeuvre includes incest, dubious consent and lots and lots of lesbian encounters. Her most successful book, “Babysitting the Baumgartners,” which has sold more than 75,000 copies and inspired seven sequels, takes the tried-and-true porn trope of the sexy babysitter and does the tried-and-true porn thing with it — sex, sex and more sex, stapled together with a thin tissue of plot. Nor does this approach seem to have alienated female readers. On the contrary. One Amazon reviewer named “Mommy of Cuties M&Z” warns other readers “Make sure you have a spare pair of panties handy/yours will be soaked…Seriously, this book is HOT and steamy, new scenes, lots of sex, LOTS of it, it never got old.” Another reviewer, Jennifer B. Graham, enthuses “What’s hotter than seducing the babysitter? A nineteen year old babysitter?” What indeed?

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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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2 Responses to “Links: Tuesday, October 22nd”

  1. Sunita

    Thanks for reminding me why I don’t read Salon. That article is off target in so many ways, but the most dumbfounding to me is the idea that what Kitt is writing is new. Is the article’s author completely ignorant of authentic and imitation Victorian erotica (not to mention Literotica)? It is full of incest (pseudo and not so pseudo), and nannies and maids are all over the place. All Kitt seems to have done is take the nanny/maid plotline, combine it with the pseudo-incest plotline, and set it in the present. I remember reading an erotic novel (which I bought in a US airport bookstore in the ’80s or early ’90s) that had all of the above. It was quite well written, too. And it had a vaguely HFN ending, too, so I guess by this guy’s rules it would qualify as a romance. The book was one of several that were available for purchase from the same publisher, all with tasteful covers and one-word titles (usually the main character’s name). I wish I could remember who published them, I’d love to see if they’re still around.

    Of course she’s making money on these books. They’ve always sold (to both men and women). It’s just that authors don’t need to go through publishers anymore.

  2. Ridley

    @Sunita: Never mind Victorian, Kitt’s books are the ebook version of the pulp smut whose covers adorn coffee mugs, tote bags and postcards. Something new, my ass.