K D Grace

is a scary thing. That’s pretty obvious in the present political climate. But
Sex really is a scary thing. I had a
conversation once with another writer who wrote cozy crime. It wasn’t actually
a conversation so much as it was a rant. She didn’t understand why sex was such
a big seller. What was all this erotica stuff about anyway? Why did sex always
have to be dragged out in a novel for the whole world to see? Why couldn’t it
just stay in the bedroom where it belonged? Surly proper educated, intelligent grown-ups
should prefer proper literature. This was in the halcyon days of 50SoG and the
resulting erotica boom. The woman was not someone’s grandmother parading out
her Victorian sensibilities. This was a person who was a good deal younger than
I am. Seriously, sex is scary stuff! 

don’t want to talk about obvious reasons why sex is scary. STDs, unwanted
pregnancies, sex as abuse – sadly the fear of those is a constant. What I want
to talk about is why sex is a scary thing just by the nature of being what it

makes us vulnerable. We’re quite literally exposing our tender parts, the parts
we keep hidden from public view, the parts we sometimes have disturbing dreams
of exposing in the super market or the office. More than that physical exposure,
we make ourselves vulnerable to another person, and that experience of opening
ourselves is something we can never take back, something that permanently
changes our perception of each other.

remember my first view of split beavers and hard cocks in the pages of a
dog-eared Hustler magazine that a
friend and I had surreptitiously taken from her parents stash. My first
response was ‘gross!’ I remember the little knot in my stomach. I remember the
feelings below my stomach that
disturbed me and at the same time intrigued me. All these years later
having gained a healthy appreciation for the view of the tender bits hard and
slippery and ready for action, I often find myself thinking about that first
response, that first sense of shock that both disturbs and intrigues.

is governed by something other than our rational mind. Anyone who has ever
watched dogs or other animals mating understands that what’s happening is a
primal imperative rather than a hot date. That we have a good bit of that
primal urge in us just below the surface just waiting to kick aside the
rational self and rut like rabbits is pretty scary. That we can somehow
convince ourselves that sex among humans is more civilised, more easily
controlled is even scarier still. 

sex is scary because it offers an altered state that nothing else can. It feels
as though we’ve been transported either to a deeper place in our bodies or
someplace beyond.

was eleven when I had my first orgasm, quite by accident. I was extremely
ignorant of what touching my own body could lead to, and I thought I was having
some sort of seizure. I was terrified. But then when it passed into little
tremors, and I realised I wasn’t going to die, I was intrigued enough to
wonder, in scientific fashion, of course, if my results could be replicated.

wish I could say that it was all smooth sailing from there on, but those of us
who grew up in the western world all live with the religious and mythological
shaping of our civilisation, whether we grow up in a liberal family or not. I
had to fight the battles with guilt and shame. I had to fumble and faff about
in those first sexual experiences with none of the elegance and aplomb we
always read about and imagine. I had to decide for myself what it meant to be a
‘good girl.’ I had to find a way to claim and own my own scary
sexuality. That, to me, is the scariest thing of all. Even now female
sexuality is shamed and vilified. Even now tremendous lengths are gone to in
order control it – efforts that are inadvertently just as damaging to male

many ways, I think, erotica and erotic romance are about rebelling against that
control. Mind you I

don’t think erotica is our effort to tame sex and make it
safe and toothless. I think it’s our way of walking with the wild beast and
never forgetting that it is
dangerous, that it is and always will
be wild. The written word, story, is a safe place, in essence a container, in
which to approach what will never be safe and yet what by our very nature, we
long to embrace. Having said that, those of us who have been moved, disturbed,
intrigued, changed by what we read or write can vouch for the fact that even in
the written word, sex is a scary thing.