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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing


Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun


Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Ideas
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry


2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Myths
Graduation


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Jail-Baiting
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Retro-Shame
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido


Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

Sex Is All Metaphors

by Jean Roberta

Gardens of Earthly Delights

 

In this month when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving while Canadians are still trying to lose the extra pounds they gained in October, images of abundance come to mind. A tradition of collective feasting while giving thanks for blessings seems to have religious roots.

What blessings are we grateful for, and which ones do we hope to gain?

Fantasizing about sexual pleasure seems to me to be the best way to imagine heaven or nirvana. Yet ready-made descriptions of heaven, paradise, the Garden of Eden or the “promised land” are usually offered to the faithful by organized religions that discourage personal fantasies, especially about sex. Such mental self-indulgence might lead to the real thing.

In some sense, my upbringing was blessed: I wasn’t brought up in a strenuously Christian household. My parents belonged to the local Unitarian Fellowship, a liberal-humanist discussion group which overlapped considerably with the faculty of the local state college.

However, I spent my formative years surrounded by Mormons, members of a debatably Protestant sect formed in the U.S. in the 1840s. After they were driven out of the state where they originated, they migrated west to an area they defined as the Deseret, or the “promised land,” which later became the states of Utah and Idaho. By the time my family moved to southern Idaho in the 1950s, a watered-down version of Mormonism (no longer polygamous but still favoring early marriage, male dominance, childbearing as women’s chief function, and sobriety) dominated the local culture.

I ran across the phrase “land of milk and honey” in my childhood. I learned that the ancient Israelites, like nineteenth-century Mormons, either found their way through a desert to this “promised land” or at least had faith that their God would lead them there.

I couldn’t believe that anyone could seriously regard the sagebrush hills of the Deseret as a haven, an ideal place to live. And why would anyone describe an environment in terms of milk and honey? I knew that both those items were available in grocery stores, but this fact didn’t induce grateful piety in me. My parents believed that children should drink cow’s milk every day, and not because it was a divine elixir.

In time, I realized that a tribe of seekers who would fantasize about milk and honey must have experienced a scarcity of those things. I could have believed I was living in the “promised land” if I had ever seen a brown spring of Coca-Cola bubbling miraculously out of a crack in the hard ground. Clearly, my fantasies were as specific to my life as other people’s were to theirs.

Reading a lot of erotic and lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans fiction has exposed me to a variety of fantasies about the ideal society, usually described from the viewpoint of someone who craves an abundance of something that seems scarce in her or his life: sexual pleasure, excitement, power, freedom, understanding, love expressed as protection and control, love expressed as co-operation among equals, love expressed as a constant willingness to please. The “promised land” for most writers of sexually-explicit narratives could be called “the land of lube and sex toys.”

Much erotica, especially the kind that focuses on traditionally-stigmatized sexual communities (gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, polyamorists, trans folk of various sexual orientations, those involved in a spectrum of “kink”) features alternative cultures in which everyone is “queer,” multiply-mated or entitled and expected to occupy a Dominant or submissive role for life. Usually these cultures are accessible only to those found worthy and who are willing to undergo an initiation.

It’s easy to imagine a sexually-explicit version of the Harry Potter novels, featuring adults with magical gifts who are misunderstood by the philistine Muggles around them until they are rescued and brought to a special school where tribal adepts teach them to develop their powers.

The imaginary cultures in works of sexual fantasy are often unsustainable, since no tribe, however liberal or kinky, could really afford to engage in sex all day long while ignoring basic human needs for food (grown, hunted and cooked), sleep, clothing, shelter, tools, transportation or medical care. Even still, these cultures are fascinating places to visit for a few hours out of one’s “real” life.

The lands of sexual plenty that appear in daydreams and night dreams seem to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration, especially for erotic writers. If human lovers are distracted or worn out from their other activities, non-human lovers can provide unlimited pleasure whenever they are summoned. Paying attention to one’s own sexual dreams (especially the ones that take place during sleep) can either be a way of finding the subject of one’s next story or novel, or of becoming aware of what is missing in one’s daytime life. Or both.

Probably the most enduring theme of my own fantasies, starting at about the time I reached puberty, could be called Permission. While my life at school and at home was a sexual desert in which “nice girls” weren’t expected to think about it, much less to do it, I could dream about being a princess in a worldly court in which ecstasy was assumed to be my due, and where my sexual initiation (not to be confused with a Mormon-style teen marriage) was cause for general celebration. Or I could imagine being a priestess/witch whose orgasms had the power to save a kingdom from drought caused by the psychic stinginess of an evil wizard.

The sex I wanted only seemed possible in a place where it would not be judged as a sign of sinful self-indulgence or trashy intellectual stuntedness. While people, especially women, who love sex are still a topic of snickering jokes in the real world, sex in my dream-world was and is a noble calling, a source of honor rather than shame.

The phrase “bitch in heat” is rarely a compliment in the vanilla social “mainstream” of our world, but all non-human female mammals express sexual need in regular cycles, and no one in my life has ever suggested that dogs, cats, cows or mares need therapy to cure them of their nymphomania, or that they all deserve to die alone of sexually-transmitted diseases. An imaginary combination of blame-free mammalian lust with human intelligence (such as it is) has appealed to me for years.

The briefest sprint through the paranormal erotica that is currently available will turn up cat-women in heat, bionic women, she-dragons, female were-animals (shapeshifters) of every species, all in states of intense, contagious lust. As they say, great minds think alike. The charm of a bitch in heat, of course, is that once she appears, sexual satisfaction is bound to follow for everyone involved: both for the bitch whose pheromones are irresistible, and for everyone who might want to mate with her. And in an alternative world, the inevitability of “heat” would give rise to a culture that accepts more-or-less random sex.

The satyrs and centaurs (goat-men and horse-men) of ancient Greek mythology are the fantasy male equivalents of the bitch in heat, but their unlimited desire and ability are less obviously unreal than their animal qualities. In the real world, no one is constantly ready and willing all day and all night, but human males are expected to meet this standard. Anyone who has ever had a sexual relationship with a man knows how impossible expectations can damage a relationship, even when a man imposes them on himself. Men like this turn to chemical aids, self-blame, partner-blame, distractions or cheating as ways to cope with their human limitations, and thus the original problem can spin out into a lifestyle worthy of a talk show.

In a fantasy world, there is never a limp cock or an argument about why it is not granite-hard. Ironically, the only masculine characters (in fantasy or in life) who can be ever-ready are those equipped with “cocks” not made of human flesh. If Real Men are conceived of as sex machines, only the unreal (in some sense) need apply.

Is it harmful for mere mortals to escape from the frustrations of this world into an imaginary garden of earthly delights? Realms of sexual fantasy are criticized both by psychologists who warn dreamers and readers that spending too much time there is a diversion from solving real problems and by reviewers/literary critics who complain that fantasy worlds and the characters in them just aren’t plausible. Somewhere beneath these objections, I smell a religious argument: trying to improve on God's creation, even in the privacy of one`s own mind, is a dangerous heresy. 

However, every human invention or discovery that has improved our collective life started out as someone's fantasy. (And in many cases, the critics claimed it wouldn't work.) Instead of defining sexual fantasy as a harmful addiction and trying to give it up completely, one could decide which elements can be incorporated into one's real life in a way that is reasonably safe, sane and consensual. Repeated dreams about milk and honey (so to speak) might be a sign that one is living in a barren desert even though there are real dairy farms and beehives in the world. Going forth to find them might be a sane plan.

Most people of my acquaintance dream about getting more of what they want.  For all I know, animals might also fantasize; dogs might imagine themselves roaming the wilderness with their wolf pack-mates, cats who clench their muscles in sleep might be seeing themselves as running tigers, while lizards might dream of being dragons living in cozy caves, each with a stash of something a lizard treasures. We might as well accept our fantasies as a fact of life.

Jean Roberta
November 2009


If you have comments or questions about this column, please send them to Jean Roberta

Follow Jean Roberta's trail to Sex Is All Metaphors in 2009 ERWA Archive.

______
"Sex Is All Metaphors" © 2009 Jean Roberta. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written

About the Author: Jean Roberta is the thin-disguise pen name of a writer who teaches mandatory first-year English classes in a Canadian prairie university and who writes fiction (erotic and otherwise), research-based articles, opinion pieces and reviews. She joined ERWA in December 1998, and has never looked back. Several of her stories can be found in the "Treasure Chest" gallery. Over sixty of her erotic stories have been published in print anthologies, and Eternal Press has released her single-author e-collection of erotic stories in various genres and flavors, Obsession (2008).
Jean is a staff reviewer for the monthly reviews site, Erotica Revealed (edited by D.L. King). She blogs on Livejournal as "Lizardlez" and at www.goodsturdyjeans.blogspot.com. Her website (www.JeanRoberta.com) is a work in progress.
Read Jean's full bio at Erotica Readers & Writers Association.



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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
Review by Byrdman

Cry Wolf
Review by Spooky

Faithless
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Heaven or Hell
Review by Oranje

House of Wicked
Review by Diesel

The Office: An XXX Parody
Review by Spooky

This Ain't The Partridge Family
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'09 Book Reviews

Anthologies

A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Frenzy
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Girls on Top
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In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
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Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
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Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
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Nexus Confessions 6
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Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
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Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
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Up for Grabs
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Novels

A 21st Century Courtesan
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The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
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Bedding Down
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Broken
Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Exposure
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
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The Gift of Shame
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Kiss It Better
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The Melinoe Project
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Mortal Engines & The ...
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The New Rakes
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Ninety Days of Genevieve
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Obsession: An Erotic Tale
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Sarah's Education
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Seduce Me
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Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
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Night's Kiss
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Where the Girls Are
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Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
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Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Faewolf
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
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Personal Demons
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Ready to Serve
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The Secret Tunnel
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Shuck
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Transgressions
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Non-Fiction

Best Sex Writing '09
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The Big Penis Book
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Erotic Encounters
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The Forbidden Apple
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Lady in Red
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Live Nude Elf
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Live Nude Girl
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The Other Side of Desire
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Scripts 4 Play
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