Romance Writers, Sex & the Hook-up Culture

I don’t mind writing sex scenes.

“Gay stuff” doesn’t bother me.

I’m not squeamish about sex or sexual issues. I have some very conservative rules that I follow regarding my personal sexual life, but I am very sex positive. As long as all of the parties involved are CONSENTING ADULTS and absent any physical, psychological or emotional violence, I mind my business when it comes to what people do in their private life. 

But I don’t write casual sex scenes. 

As I observe the casual sex culture around me I see a number of disadvantages that have led me to make the conscious decision not to promote it in any aspect of my professional life. I believe that women are not just sexual vessels or even sexual objects. Like men, we are also sexual agents. We have a right to control our sexuality, to seek pleasure, and to access the information and tools necessary to maintain our sexual health. 

We have the responsibility to set boundaries, be explicit when it comes to consent, and take all necessary precautions to protect our health and the health of our partner. We have a duty to ourselves to protect and advocate for ourselves, even if we will be labeled as a prude or a tease or a slut. 

I also believe that hook-up culture exploits the desire for love or romance in order to feed a desire for sex. Too often I see men and women get into physical relationships in pursuit of love and end up burned when they realize that their partner was selling a dream of romance in exchange for sexual access. I don’t blame one party or the other in most cases. I blame the hook-up culture that turned love and sex, two things that should never be trivialized, into commodities to be traded.  They aren’t elements of a healthy social contract any longer, and that can be problematic. 

The unfortunate result of the hook-up culture is that men and women too often see each other as sexual objects. Sex without intimacy and consequence-free sex aren’t things I want for myself or my readers. I want you to have dynamic, intimate, mind-blowing sex with somebody who is invested in you, your pleasure, and your well-being. And, I don’t believe that you can have that in a casual sexual encounter. 

I also don’t think that “situation-ships” can replace real relationships. One of the reasons I believe that romance readers are such an amazing, diverse, and voracious body of readers is because they long for aspects of love and sex that are too often missing in their real lives. Romance writers and romance novels allow our readers to fall in love and vicariously experience the kind of love that is getting harder and harder to find in the real world. We allow our readers to have amazing sex with partners who are everything that is, despite the increased openness about sex, still very elusive.

I still wrestle with myself about whether or not include love scenes between spouses or people in committed relationships. I wonder how far is too far. Where do I draw the line between smut and romance? Like casual sex, whether or not to include explicit sex scenes is a question that each romance writer must answer for themselves. My rule is that I won’t write what I don’t want to see in the world, and I want to see you have the best sex with somebody who loves you. 




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