Observing my feelings when I confess this outrageous way to earn a living and other people’s reactions to said confession leads me to ponder many things. Mainly why humans, Americans in particular, are so hung up on the subject of sex. Seriously, the bedroom scenes are only about ten percent of the action. Why does everyone seem to focus on that aspect of the genre?
From what I’ve seen, as a society we’re very conflicted about sex. On the one hand, it’s always in our faces in the form of shows, movies and advertising. At the same time, most of us, unless we’re drunk, seem deeply ashamed about the whole thing. How did this attitudinal opposition happen?
Alarming statement number one: Sex is normal and natural and healthy, which is why we’re so attracted to it. Humans have enjoyed this marvelous gift from nature since the beginning of humankind and for much of that time (based on the history of various indigenous cultures) we weren’t hung up about it. Human society before the imposition of Judeo-Christian constructs were societies “that saw sex without guilt, shame or sin.” In ancient Hawaii, reports indicate that private bits were even considered “holy and were appreciated as being good.” Best of all, and most telling, “the word for orgasm, le‘a, also means “fun” and “joy” (Pukui, Haertig, and Lee, 1972, p. 83)” in that language.
Huh. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing attitude to adopt in today’s world?
Alarming statement number two: Historically, the Judeo-Christian religion was all about control, which is why they made sex b-a-d. In the ancient Middle East, this took the form of strict rules for women (who were property) and loose rules for men (who, for example, when fighting the Midians were ordered to kill all the non-virgins, but told to keep the virgins so they could rape them, themselves. Numbers: 15-18).
Similar attitudes were part of the Middle Ages in Europe. Sex was only to be used for procreation and most especially women were not, I repeat not, to enjoy it or have orgasms. Of course, what went on in private is anyone’s guess. (Insert eye brow wiggle here.) I make such a bold conjecture based on the writings of priests at the time expressing outrage over ladies daring “to make some sort of device or implement in the shape of the male member of a size to match <their> sinful desire?” Hehe…
Really alarming (for some) statement as a side note: It’s my belief that our continued and quite mind-boggling hostility about homosexuality stems from this same time period. Sex is only for procreation. Anything else is a horrible sin. Get it? Procreation only?
Where does all this leave us as a society, or as individuals living in a 21st century world? Well, for one thing, maybe we should give up clinging to the attitudes of a period of time we call “The Dark Ages.” Burning at the stake was common (anything but the missionary position was a sin, folks), also hangings, torture, running sharp stakes up through people and sticking them outside castle walls to be an example to others, etc, etc. Ick and yuck. Don’t really think that’s the kind of policy to admire and emulate, do you?
So the next time you confess that you like to read (or write) romance, hold your head up high and say it with pride. Push through those barriers that keep us hung up about sex. Because once we get past that, maybe we can see what the genre is really all about: love, commitment and the struggle of men and women to understand one another so that they can join together as a harmonious team and conquer their world.
I need to make that into a bumper sticker…