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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

Mixed Legacy

 

Jean

The death of a loved one always reminds us that life is temporary. None of us have forever to fulfill our desires, to tell others in our lives how much we value them, or to ask them what we want to know about them.

On March 13, 2009, my ninety-year-old mother passed away, surrounded by her three daughters, our father, our partners, my daughter, her husband and their 18-month-old son. When we all gathered to plan a memorial service, it was clear that we each remembered different aspects of her.

I remember my mother as a puzzling combination of avant-garde chutzpah and a refusal to see reality as I saw it.  Born in poverty in Pennsylvania two weeks before the Armistice of 1918 which was supposed to end war forever, she moved to New York City with her family during the Great Depression.

As a teenager in the 1930s, my mother found the “bohemian” crowd that had a formative influence on her adult life. Her friends were mostly Jewish, leftist and artsy-intellectual. They all agreed that capitalism was a failed system. They loved jazz and modern dance, as popularized by Martha Graham.  According to my mother’s stories, her old posse was about as sexually liberated as possible for their time. Several of them “came out” as homosexuals before the term “gay community” meant anything other than a group of happy neighbors.

In 1940, my mother spent five days on a train to the west coast of the United States, to enter graduate school at the University of Oregon, where she met my father. Before their wedding in 1944, my mother taught some of her radical city ways to her adorably innocent (by her standards) farm-boy fiancé.

When I was a teenager, my mom worried that I might rebel against her by becoming perversely conservative, since she couldn’t imagine how I could outdo her in iconoclastic freedom of thought. Mom told me with some pride that she and my father were “liberated” enough to have a sexual relationship before they were married. The time-gap between their wedding and the birth of their first child (me) in the 1950s showed me that birth control must not have been a mystery to them. I grew up understanding that I could have responsible, monogamous sex without being disowned by my parents.

Yet my mother never acknowledged the reality of sexual abuse or harassment, or a woman’s right to say no. When I was eighteen, a repulsive old man (by my standards) groped me in my parents’ living room while suggesting that I was such an irresistible young lady that I needed to be sexually “awakened” by an experienced older man as soon as possible.

The man was my father’s academic colleague. He and his younger wife had accepted my parents’ invitation to dinner.

On that first occasion, I evaded the man’s hands and his questions about my sexual feelings as well as I could without telling him off. The man had insisted that I sit beside him after the meal, and I didn’t see how I could stand up and move away from him without having to explain why. When the man and his wife were saying goodbye, he gathered me into a full-body hug and kissed me on the lips. There was an awkward silence until all the adults resumed their conversation about university life.

I insisted on a debriefing with my parents afterward. I told them that I usually enjoyed the company of their intellectual friends but in this case, I was humiliated to the core. I told my father I thought he should tell his colleague that his behavior toward me would have to change if our two families were going to remain friends. My father flatly refused. He said he couldn’t have that conversation with a respected member of his own department, someone he saw every day.

My mother’s advice to me was to “Rise above it.” She said that if I didn’t like what the man said or did, I should simply ignore it next time. According to her, this would inspire his respect.

I asked my mother if she thought I could simply ignore sexual harassment that escalated to rape. She said, “I don’t think he would do that.” She made it clear that if I wasn’t gracious to my parents’ guest, my lack of hospitality would embarrass both of them as well as the man’s wife, and possibly jeopardize my father’s career.

I already had a sense of what I wanted and what I didn’t because I was sexually “awake.” I was having relatively safe sex with my boyfriend, who was also my classmate in an innovative Fine Arts program in high school. We were like younger members of my mother’s old crowd.

My relationship didn’t last beyond high-school graduation, but it brightened my life for awhile. It taught me that I liked playful sex with a lover who was my equal when it counted, not a coercive authority figure. I knew what it felt like to have sex that didn’t leave a poisonous residue of self-contempt. Compared to what I had, what my father’s colleague had to offer was not tempting.

I refused to spend another evening trying to fend the man off with a smile. My parents offered me a compromise: next time, they would let me go to my room right after the meal was over. I soon learned that the only way to resist being pressured to sit close to the man was to leave the house altogether.

A pattern was established: for years, my mother would warn me in advance that Dirty Old Man and his wife were coming over for dinner, and I would arrange to have a social “commitment” somewhere else right after I had wolfed down my food.

Dirty Old Man was clearly unhappy with this arrangement. On several occasions, he asked my parents whether they really thought it was acceptable for me to leave when guests were present. I always left quickly, before I would have to hear my mother make excuses for me to him.

The Ivory Tower where my father taught until retirement became my own alma mater and my employer. I teach there to this day. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of faculty gossip.

I learned that in Dirty Old Man’s heyday, no young woman (under age thirty or thereabouts) was safe when he was around—at least on social occasions. I’ve never heard anything about his treatment of female students, but this doesn’t mean it was good news.

A woman in my own department told me and my mother that a young faculty member had forced herself not to react when Dirty Old Man, as a guest of her and her husband, approached her from behind in her kitchen and squeezed her breasts. Apparently the rest of the evening was torture for the woman, who felt honor-bound to remain gracious.

I was glad to hear that one faculty couple, dear friends and mentors to a dear friend of mine, confronted Dirty Old Man about his treatment of their teenage daughter, and told him to leave their house, never to be invited back. His circle of friends seems to have shrunk considerably over time.

For years, I resented my parents’ refusal to defend me from a predator or even to admit what he was.

Yet my mother’s influence enabled me to recognize a bad touch when I felt it. Thanks to her, I had discovered good sex and learned that it wasn’t simply a degrading service that women offered to men in a desperate hope of being accepted. When I “came out” by going alone to the one gay bar in town, I knew I was following in the footsteps of some of my mother’s best friends, and that she wouldn’t be shocked.

Now that my mother’s story is complete, resenting her for anything feels pointless. However, I can’t help wondering what events in her life led her to advise me to “rise above” sexual harassment. I can’t believe that technique ever worked for her as a means of self-defense. Was she convinced that dissociation, or stoic resignation to sexual abuse, was every woman’s fate? Did my father’s more conservative values dampen her spirit of sexual independence? I’ll probably never know.

My wise partner has advised me to remember what my mother gave me, and not what she didn’t. I remember her acceptance of new ideas, new clothing styles, new types of music. (She loved the Beatles when most of my friends’ parents responded to their music by saying, “Turn off that noise”).

I remember my mother doing an improvised version of modern dance while cleaning house when I was growing up. She was small and slim all her life, and remained incredibly agile until her mid-eighties. Joy in movement seemed to be part of her nature. I like to imagine her dancing with Martha Graham in some better world than this one.

I’m grateful to my mother for showing me that sexual self-determination is possible, at least to some degree. Her influence encourages me to work for a world in which no one will have to accept anything less.

Jean Roberta
April 2009


If you have any comments or insights to share about this column, please send an email 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
Review by Spooky

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
Review by Spooky


'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
Review by Ashley Lister

In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
Review by Ashley Lister

Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
Review by Ashley Lister

Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
Review by Victoria Blisse

Nexus Confessions 6
Review by Victoria Blisse

Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
Review by Ashley Lister

Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Novels

A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

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
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Faewolf
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Shuck
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Transgressions
Review by Vincent Diamond

Non-Fiction

Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
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Hollywood’s Censor
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Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
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Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
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The Other Side of Desire
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Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister