Last week, I was writing a sex scene. It’s a therapeutic activity given my current life circumstances. My protag had, through a variety of totally believable events, been chosen for a reality show dream date with an idolized rock star from her youth, someone who still exuded the hot raw energy that had fueled her fantasies — and, by default, caused her to date many idiots — through adolescence and early adulthood. There he was, a man who turned out to be a really interesting guy, with a depth no one could’ve suspected. They stood in the entrance to his hotel suite, his lips and warmth breath on her neck bringing back feelings she hadn’t had since before her decades-long, rotten marriage and nasty divorce. (No this isn’t autobiographical.)
And, then, for some reason, she couldn’t go through with it, couldn’t have steamy monkey sex with a man she really wanted.
“What the hell?” I muttered, flabbergasted at this turn of events.
What was the matter with her? What was the matter with me? Had I turned into a total prude? Granted, the sex scenes I’d written in the past always hinted at lovemaking rather than describing play-by-plays. But was I now incapable of giving my protag the release she needed?
Ah . . . there she continued to stand, trembling and totally confused.
Didn’t she know it would be the best thing for everyone for her to just let go and get to the damn climax?
The poor thing leaned against the wall, her heart breaking with desire, embarrassment . . . and disappointment at her own inability to surrender.
Then the rock star did something so unexpected, my protag — and I — were caught off guard. The man who’d had to fight off groupies for most of his life, who’d had relationships with supermodels and megastars, buttoned my heroine’s blouse back up and accepted her in that moment right where she was. No pressure. No anger or frustration. He simply held her and witnessed her feeling what she needed to feel — without judgment or condescension.
And that, my friends, ultimately turned her on more than anything else possibly could.
Of course, after I finished writing the scene — and drinking a scotch and smoking a cigarette — I started thinking about the nature of sex scenes in books and movies.
What personal and societal expectations are we setting up with all of these idealized depictions of women falling into men’s arms and being totally fulfilled as if every man is a fabulous lover and every woman is capable of turning off her damn mind? As if one sense takes over so completely we forget the discomforts, awkward positions (ouch!), the weird smells, odd noises. . . . and, often, our self-consciousness.
I’m thinking about all of this too because I recently saw Orgasm, Inc. (watch the trailer — watch the whole darn film!) and — just as important — I have two adolescent daughters. ‘Nuff said.
But back to the sex scene . . .
Although my protag eventually made love with her date that night; the sex scene wasn’t about sex at all.
It was about acceptance.
So here are my questions for today:
Do you read sex scenes or go to movies for them? If so, what do you want out of them?
Can sex scenes not be about sex . . . and still be called “sex scenes?”
Can they still satisfy?
I look forward to reading your answers.