Henry Corrigan

When You Don’t Want to Hear What She Has to Say

I'm Tired of Explaining ConsentOur bodies are strange things. They can be wondrous, pleasurable, even astonishing. But they can also be downright weird. And it often takes us time to understand what our bodies are trying to tell us.

Consider, for a moment, a pencil. Just a plain, ordinary Ticonderoga. Now, if I were to jab you with said pencil, it would hurt, right? You’d feel it instantly? Well, that’s a good thing. It means your body is doing what it’s supposed to do. Our bodies are giant nerve clusters and they’re designed to react instantly to stimuli. ‘Instantly’ being the keyword here because if it takes your body ten minutes to tell you that your shoe is on fire, that’s bad, and you should lodge a complaint with your manufacturer (if you can find them).

But while these alerts and transmissions may be instantaneous, how we decipher them (how we feel about what is happening) can take much longer. Often, the way our body reacts to something can be at odds with how we feel about whatever it is we’re reacting to.

For instance, consider a man and his erection. Men do not always achieve erections due to arousal. They can wake up with them, get them due to an intense need for urination, simple fidgeting, or for no real reason they can explain. Teenage boys understand this on an intrinsic level, especially if they have ever had to hunch or hobble when called to write something on the board in high school. (Not that this every happened to me).

Unexplainable bodily reactions are the purview of all humans, and they even come with their own medical terminology; “Arousal Non-concordance.” It’s the disconnect between our bodies reacting in ways that we might categorize as sexual but there being no accompanying desire or consent for the stimuli to continue. Essentially, if you rub something, it’s going to react to you. But that doesn’t mean you should keep rubbing.

If you need a further example to understand this concept, I don’t blame you (I’m convinced that medical terminology is designed to be inscrutable) but I want you to consider that self-same pencil we talked about earlier.

If I were to jab you with said pencil again, only this time you achieved an erection, would you say I should continue jabbing you? Or would you say this was weird, maybe even frightening, and would you ask me to please stop?

How we feel about something is often nebulous and should come with its own warning label. (I suggest, ‘Subject to Change.’) It’s the difference between ‘Yes, I loved that!’ and ‘Please don’t do that again. You’re scaring me.’ It is the difference between thinking that we’re ready and actually being ready, which unfortunately for many of us, is a certainty we only achieve when we’re actually in the moment.

Whether we are a man or a woman or anything in between, our bodies can fool us, lead us on, and put us through the ringer. But before anyone tries to get impatient or pushy or disbelieving of what a potential partner is trying to tell you, I want you to keep thinking about that pencil. Think about being jabbed and shocked and confused and maybe even a little bit frightened. Hold onto that feeling. And then stop whatever it is you’re doing. Because clearly your partner and their body need to have a little talk before things go any further.

Henry Corrigan
People come to erotica for the heat, but they stay for the heart.
Twitter: @HenryCorrigan
Facebook: fb.com/henry.corrigan.35

Does Size Matter? The Final Showdown (According to One Man)

Photo by: https://www.pexels.com/@dainis-graveris/

Does size matter? It’s a question which has stumped philosophers, philanderers, and horn-balls for centuries. Historically, there’s been very little middle ground involved in the debate. People tend to break down into one of two camps. Those who say it doesn’t matter at all, and those who stridently shout that it matters a whole bunch, while pointedly shaking their heads at those in the first camp.

Even the very question itself is brimming with anxiety (at least, for men) because along with the question comes the implication that we’re afraid we won’t measure up. Personally, I have never known a man who hasn’t broken out a ruler at some point in his life. But while this may be one man’s opinion (and it totally is), one thing I’ve learned after years of listening to both camps, is that the real answer to this age old question lies somewhere in the middle.

Does size really matter? Answer: It depends on the person.

It may seem odd to consider this, but one of the greatest determining factor which often gets overlooked when it comes to the measure of a man, is the measure of a woman. Because just as every man’s endowment is as unique as his fingerprints, so too is a woman’s.

Some women (and it should go without saying that I am speaking of straight women here, but there is always someone who thinks lesbians are nothing but cold fish who never had their ashes hauled properly) would absolutely love to have a man with a shlong like a Pringles can. Others would run a mile rather than go near him because it would hurt too much.

Unfortunately for many of us, this debate has long been one-sided because our culture is obsessed with size. It influences everything from the cars we drive to the drinks we order, to how we feel when we look in the mirror. It is an obsession which is especially entrenched in porn, which does absolutely nothing to resolve the matter.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against porn. Porn is fantasy, pure and simple, and one of the most prominent fantasies is the idea that all a well-endowed man needs to do is drop his pants to make every woman within drooling distance say, “Oh, I must touch it.”

But it is the prevalence of this fantasy, and our own inability to distinguish it from reality, which drives so many men to send unsolicited dick pics, getting them into far more trouble than they are capable of dealing with.

We rarely, if ever, discuss penis size when it comes to body image, but the fact remains that having an unhealthy image of ourselves is detrimental to our way of life. There is no cream, device or (God help me) One Weird Trick pop-up ad which can permanently adjust the human anatomy. Whether we like it or not, our body is our body, and there is only so much we can do with it.

So if there is one lesson we can take away from all of this, it is that we need to be focusing less on size and more on skill, because just as there is only a small percentage of women who are capable of climaxing from vaginal sex alone (25%), I’d imagine that there is an equally small number of women who would be happy if you did absolutely nothing but lie there like a fleshy bump on a log.

Performance is a real thing. Just because a man may happen to have a large package, it does not in any way, shape, or form guarantee that he will be good in bed. Even those who have a natural talent for something, still need lessons to become great at it, and true masters never stop learning. Sex is like any physical activity you do for the first time. You will not be phenomenal at it, and any man who says he was, is either lying, or left the woman to do the lion’s share of the work.

The debate around size, for all its shouting and blushing, fears and body dysmorphia, teaches us to think more about “the box,” rather than outside of it. It tells us to apply our fingers, our tongues, and the myriad toys available on the market. Because the truth is, if you are attentive, if you care about her pleasure, and if you are willing to be taught, then odds are good that most women will be perfectly happy with whatever size you are. And if what you have is enough for her, then brother, it should be more than enough for you too.

Why Writing the Wrong Thing is Better Than Nothing

The thing that I have learned about writing is that even bad work is useful.

Because whether we agonize over our words or produce them explosively with a mind to go back later and assess the damage, odds are good that whatever we’ve written will either be excised or heavily retooled by by the time we get down to revision. In fact, the odds are good that the very lines I am writing at this very moment, will vanish in the final edit. Such is the nature of the beast.

But one of the few goods things about this beast is that it is much like the Island of the Dead from Pirates of the Caribbean. Cannot be found except by those who helped create it.

Nobody sees the rough drafts. The pages and pages and pages of ideas that don’t pan out. The directions we carve a path towards only to suddenly course correct for reasons we can’t properly explain. This beast belongs solely to the writer and neither looks, nor acts the same from story to story.

Because the funny thing that happens when you write something down, give it form and shape, is that by the end, you at the very least have something to show for it. Now, your beast might be misshapen, or crude, or downright ugly, but however it may look, it still belongs to you. And the hard part that comes when you’ve lived with it long enough, is that if you wait, if you listen to this beast, to the click of its claws and its guttural whispers, you find you’ve got something more.

You’ve got an idea of what the right thing to do is, what the story could look like, if you keep going. Now, this is not a road map, far from it. It’s barely even a compass. But it is a feeling, a pull in a certain direction that you were only able to find by going off in the wrong way. Because sometimes, when you’re not sure which way to go, the only thing you can do is pick a direction and see how it goes, for good or for ill.

Sometimes, if you’re anything like me, you start out with a great plan. Or at least a part of one. You know how a story begins and ends but you get lost somewhere in the middle. The details don’t match up, or change even as you’re writing them, and suddenly you’re lost.

All at once, you stop and you grouse. You moan and you whine. Maybe you even punch a tree (a terrible idea, I speak from experience. But then, after you’ve rested, and taken another look around, you realize that while you might not get to where you wanted to go, you can still get somewhere, even if it is far from where you expected.

Because in writing, unlike almost any other profession, it is only by doing the wrong thing that you figure out what the right thing to do is. And while I know that sounds cliché, like a quote emblazoned across one of those ridiculously expensive journals they sell in trendy bookstores, it is still the truth. And whether we gussy it up or say it plainly, we all need to hear it.

Especially on those nights when all we have is the beast, and no real idea of where we’re going.

It is Not Just Sex

Sex is exactly like magic, except for one very important difference. Both have an air of mystery about them, and practitioners who speak in hushed tones. Both have their rituals, their Words of Power, and both traffic in what some would consider to be dark secrets.

But the biggest, the most important difference between sex and magic is that the wizard who learns every conceivable spell known to man, becomes exalted. More often than not, they are elevated to the rank of grandmaster.

Nobody gets elevated for knowing everything about sex.

At least, not in the way that gets talked about at parties.

You see, while wizards are allowed to experiment, to test the bounds of human experience, the sex mage who screams, ‘I’ve mastered the reverse-cowgirl levitation technique!’ gets buried beneath Azkaban without a ceremony.

It’s not fair. It’s not even really funny, but…there you have it.

The ironic part about all of this is that sex is at its best when it is discussed openly, but even that open discussion can be twisted so easily.

I for one, have always been leery of those who speak of sex in metaphysical terms. Who talk of souls meeting, or celestial bodies, as though by speaking frankly about what they want, they might somehow sully themselves.

But equally as bad, if not worse are those who simply shrug and say ‘It’s just sex,” as though they can’t possibly understand what all the fuss is about.

Telling a devout Catholic newlywed who has to go from demure protector to wild, kinky sex-kitten in one night that it’s just sex, doesn’t do anything except undermine her faith and her identity.

For a woman who has never had a pleasurable experience in bed due to vaginismus, the words do nothing to alleviate her pain.

And for the guy who was so nervous the first several times he tried to have sex that he couldn’t perform, (unashamedly raises his hand) the phrase doesn’t eliminate the nerves. Because by that logic, sex is just a matter of ‘get up and go’ and if he can’t, then he’s left with the exact same fear as the newlywed who can’t turn on a dime, or the woman who can’t ‘just relax.’

The fear that there’s something wrong with me.

Sex, in a lot of ways, is actually better than magic, because it’s defined by the people who take part in it, which means its impact or relevancy changes depending upon the person. Whether it’s to fill a void, relieve stress or forge a connection (however celestial) sex is a pillar of any relationship. Not the most important pillar. Far from it. But neither dressing up sex, nor trivializing it will help those who dread being bad at something that society says they shouldn’t know too much about anyway.

Honest, awkward, flush-faced conversations are easy to talk about, not easy to affect.

(We can all be hypocrites, deep in our hearts. Let’s be honest here.)

But what problems these conversations come with are immediate and often fade just as quickly. The alternatives however, the shame and hushed tones and fear we’ve all lived with for far too long, those effects can last a lifetime.

And that, to me, is the real shame.

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

For the longest time, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this article. Or even start it, for that matter. In fact, I’d just about decided to email Lisabet and tell her I wouldn’t have anything this month.

Because when it comes to my writing, I usually have an idea of what I’m going to say well in advance, and then I usually spend days going over the article until I feel like it’s fit for human consumption.

But this time around, I didn’t think I had the energy because on top of my deadline for ERWA, I’d also added a few more because my ambitions are many while my resources (time, sleep, sanity, etc.) are few.

I had an article on depression to post to Medium, a flash fiction story to post on Simily, a short story that I’d been trying to edit for days, another short story to submit for a horror contest next month, agents to find for the children’s book I’d just had edited, my other children’s books to send to the same editor for polishing, the first book in a sci-fi series on its second or third revision and a pesky screenplay I’ve been meaning to get back to.

And it was during my writing of the article on depression that I literally wrote the line, ‘The only one pushing me, is me.’

I wanted to smack myself upside the head. I probably would have, if I hadn’t been so tired.

In the interest of sanity, I decided I would set a limit as to how much I could legitimately get done. I would revise this post once, and then publish it, regardless of how ugly it might be. Because forward momentum is great but there is a difference between moving forward and crashing forward and I would like to avoid one at all possible.

If I weren’t as white as a ghost, I would say I was practically freestylin’, but even writing that down makes me feel awkward.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I’m going to end this article. The only thing that comes to mind is a quote from a famous author whose name I can’t remember about how procrastinators and perfectionists are their own worst enemies and I know I can find that quote if you give me a second, hang on. Don’t fail me now, Google. Okay, here we go. Pro-cras-tin-a-tors and per-fec-tion-ists are their own worst…dammit

Gallows Hope

Not long ago, I sent a story off to some friends, one of whom came back and said she thought it was beautiful and powerful, but far too bleak. She said I dropped my main character into a brutal, misogynistic system, dragged her through hell and then killed her. That’s it. ‘Where’s the hero’s journey?’ she asked. ‘Where’s the moment when the main character sees the system for what it is, beats the thousand to one odds and then changes things for the better?’

I wrote back to my friend and said, ‘I get it, I do.’ We all need a hero’s journey, and every writer has their own literary hero. But by asking for a hero’s journey, my friend was missing the point of the story. Because in order for there to be one man who beats the thousands to one odds, there has to be nine hundred and ninety-nine others who don’t. Before there can be a Final Girl, you must first have victims.

Let me back up a minute.

When I was coming up, my literary heroes were King, Rice, Bradbury, and Stine. They not only taught me how to write, they showed me that magic, real magic, isn’t found in words like abracadabra or hocus pocus, but in smaller, plainer, less flowery spells like, it can be done.

And from the moment I first thought those words, they began to grow inside me. Stretching and reaching until they became a new spell altogether. One which had me sitting up far too late at night, gripped by the sense that I needed to whisper this spell, because even then I was afraid the words wouldn’t come out right. But into that darkness, I said, if they can do, I can too. 

And then I set out to beat the odds.

But for as much as adults might shun the idea of magic, there’s a secret to it which only we can know because we’ve lived with it long enough. Magic has no rules. There are no laws, no guidebooks, not even a roadmap. Just a series of mutually agreed upon arrangements wherein Harry Potter can be rejected twelve times, Carrie thirty and Roots two hundred before they could become classics. The same unfathomable arrangement which implies, but never states, that buried amongst all of those slush piles we secretly dread, are masterpieces which will never be found, not because the writers weren’t talented enough, or didn’t have thick enough skin but because they committed themselves to a system which is wonderfully, bafflingly, borderline abusively incapable of explaining itself.

Even in writing this article, I’ve broken several of the ‘rules’ of writing. I’ve started a sentence with ‘when,’ I’ve used ‘and’ far too many times and I’ve switched tenses so often that I’m sure it’s driving some of you to distraction. But if you’ve come with me this far, I’m hoping you’ll go a little further. Because whether this article works or it falls flat, isn’t the point. The point is that no one in the industry can properly explain to you why, one way or the other.

We are, all of us, very much on our own, which is exactly the reason it’s taken me days to conjure up an ending which falls somewhere between wish-fulfillment and nihilism because the bittersweet truth is that both of them are right.

In our quest to be the hero of our own journey, we might very well die trying, much like the main character in my story. She’s the one who doesn’t get away from the serial killer because there will always be more victims than Final Girls. But failure is only ever certain when we give up the fight.

So perhaps the next time we take up the pen, after our latest rejection or the dreaded ‘it’s just not what we’re looking for’ refrain, we do so not with a bright-eyed belief, but with a gallows hope. The sort of pitch-black resolve which drives us to take up the journey, while never losing sight off the bodies which litter the way. A plain, stark acknowledgement that while the odds against us are tragic and potently bleak, they are also true and most definitely…a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Awkward Conversations are Life

The first story I ever self-published, Carnal Theory, began as a comedic scenario where a woman, bluntly and in great detail, informs her lover that he is terrible in bed. That was it. That was all I had. I didn’t even have character names yet. I just loved the idea of a woman tearing down a man, not maliciously, but as a genuine attempt to tell him he sucked between the sheets (and not in a good way).

Slowly, and in fits and starts, details came to me, but so did many questions. Who was the woman? Who was the man? Could there be anything behind the comedy? And more importantly…could I build an entire story around awkward conversations?

It took time, which is a statement I think any writer will understand. But soon enough, the woman became Dr. Elizabeth Spencer, a brilliant behavioral researcher who’d spent years being disappointed by her lovers, until she encountered the one man who flummoxed her enough to make her fall in love.

Self-publishing was a long and arduous process, (I have all the computer savvy of a brazil nut) but in the end, it was one of my greatest achievements. I felt extremely proud, despite the fact that the story did not make a great splash. But the most interesting thing is what it taught me about awkward conversations.

For all the comedy and sex and heat, (of which there is a lot) I learned that awkward conversations are life in a way.

Think about it. What do you like? What makes you feel beautiful? What makes you feel safe? How do you like to be fucked?

Writing Carnal Theory taught me that whether you want it all the time, or never (yes, asexuality is a thing, fight me) awkward conversations about sex are going to come up at some point. We are human. We bang. It happens. But having awkward conversations is what leads us to discovering not only more about ourselves but what we can expect of other people.

I’m a mild-mannered office manager who loves to leave the windows open while we fuck.

I’m a tall, strapping man who loves to have his ass slapped while he is bent over a desk.

I’m a beautiful, self-contained woman and you know what? Sex really isn’t my thing. I just want to hold your hand. I hope that is enough.

Awkward conversations are awkward for a reason. They leave us vulnerable to another person. They make us turn red in the face. But the alternative is a kind of hell in its own right.

Now, I am by no means an expert at this. I have stuttered and ‘ummmed’ my way through several awkward conversations and I’m not going to lie and say that things always got better afterwards. All I’m saying is that the topic of spanking is unlikely to come up naturally around the dinner table and waiting around, hoping that one day your lover will just ‘get it,’ is akin to a cold day in Hell.

Talking hurts. Talking is scary. Sometimes, talking fucks things up.

But um…in the end…we um…I mean you and I should…you know, if you’re up for it…um…I think we should, um…talk?

How Erotica Helped Me Discover My Sexuality

Way back in high school, during one of those brief minutes between one class and the next, I was sitting  at my desk thinking about nothing when some of my friends started laughing and passing around a piece of paper. Now, being a typical teenager, I wanted to know what was so funny, so they passed me the paper.

On it was a short paragraph, no more than four or five lines, about two men having sex with each other and the moment I read it, two things happened. One, I instantly became aroused and two, I instantly had to hide this fact from my friends who continued to laugh and say that the story was gross. I remember mumbling that I thought it was too before handing it back. But I also asked who wrote it, while simultaneously scanning the classroom to see who it might have been.

No one knew.

Now, I’m sure some of you are wondering why I did not simply flaunt my erection in front of my friends. The reason being that long before this day happened I had been taught three cardinal ‘rules’ at that vaunted institution of extracurricular learning otherwise known as…The Playground.

1.      Stay away from all gay men because they’re all dirty kid touchers.

2.      There are no such things as lesbians. Those are just women who’ve never had their ashes hauled properly.

3.      There are no such things as bisexuals. Those are just folks trying to be greedy.

(I also learned a fourth rule to never flaunt your erection under any circumstances, but that is another story.)

It may surprise some of you to learn that I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to 8th grade and learned that we Catholics tend to be a heavy-handed people. We know guilt on a molecular level. It is written into every prayer we say and despite however distant we may feel from our faith, the fact remains that one cannot spend so many formative years swimming in the same waters without swallowing some of the lake.

However, as I have gotten older, and with the more that I have written, the more I have found that it is not just my characters who are unwilling to stay within the roles prescribed to them. In my most recent story “I’m Her,” which will be appearing in Cleis Press’ Coming Soon: Women’s Orgasm Erotica anthology on 7/13/21 (shameless plug), the main character is a woman with neither the time nor the inclination to explain her needs to anyone. As a divorced mother of two, all she wants, all she needs, is a round of impersonal, anonymous, wall-shaking sex. (If you wish to know whether or not she gets it…BUY THE DAMN BOOK.)

It was by writing this story, and many others like it, that I began to accept not just the fantasies, but the needs that I have lived with all my life. Erotica not only helped me cut my teeth as a writer, it helped me grow as a person. It even helped me come out as bisexual to both my wife and my mother, which was the most frightening thing I have ever done. Full stop. I did it because I knew that not talking about it was no way to go on living and because I wanted to be a good role model for my daughter.

There were tears, of course, I won’t lie. My wife feared she wasn’t enough for me. My mother was abjectly terrified I would leave my wife and daughter.  It took time to calm them down. To reassure them that I loved my wife and  daughter and that my feelings for them had not changed. Eventually this sunk in and several days later, my wife turned to me and said that I was a great father and a great husband and that was all that mattered.

In the end, coming out as bisexual did not break me, but it did leave me with more questions than answers. Why did opening up about my sexuality somehow also open up my integrity? How could they believe that I would tear apart my family? Why is there a part of me that is still angry about this? I don’t have answers to these questions but I do know where to go from here.

My mother, though also accepting of my sexuality, went on to advise that I should keep it to myself. That it isn’t anyone else’s business but my own, and to an extent, she’s right. I will never tell my father about this, nor my brother. Both have been making gay jokes for as long as I can remember and neither conversation will end well, I assure you. However, if there is one thing I know, it’s that my problems get better when I write them down. They become less numerous, more manageable. I can get a better grip on them when I put pen to paper.

Please don’t misunderstand. This is in no way a call to arms, nor is it a treatise on how life is better outside the closet than in. Do what is best for you. Let me say that again. DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU. Your sexuality is your sexuality. If you want to shout it from the rooftops, you be my guest. If you want to live with it quietly, your way, then more power to you.

But this post right here, isn’t for anyone else but me. It’s my way of saying (with a small apology to my mother) that I’m going to be writing this one down. It is not the scariest thing I have ever done, but it is up there. All I ask is that you please be gentle with me. After all…this is my first time.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


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