When I was a kid parents were really fond of the saying, “Words can never hurt you.” As an adult I can say what I thought as a kid – words are important. They can hurt, lift up, tear apart, rationalize, give comfort, joy, kindness and surety.
I like words. This isn’t much of a surprise to people who know me, of course. I like to talk as well as write. Words frame things, they create a feeling, a lack of feeling, they cast a light onto things simply by their selection and use.
In erotic romance, or any kind of writing where sex and sexuality are part of the story, words are equally important and sometimes the search for the right words to set a mood gets forgotten in the never-ending quest to be a dirty as possible. Sadly in doing so, I think the book becomes *less* sexy/dirty and more checklisty “Page 56, time for anal!”
I know I use words some people don’t like. And that’s okay, we all have our own filters and perceptions. We like what we like! But I use the word “cunt” and I use the word “pussy” and I use the word “cock” – when a character would say so. Writing sex is complicated by how people think about sex. Some readers cannot read words on the page and feel comfortable. I’m totally fine with that – we all have our hot buttons.
However, I totally must object to the comment (and I’ve seen it several times) that women who ARE comfortable with the use of harder edged words for sex are somehow trying be men or are dirty and disgusting locker room whores. I call bullshit on that and it’s the kind of nasty crap that always keeps women down.
If *you* don’t like those terms, more power to you! But many women do, many women would say pussy and cock and it doesn’t make her a whore for saying so. This attitude really galls me, I have to say. It’s one thing to dislike a term and to not want it in your romance, but it is another to proclaim any book with these words is not a romance simply because these words exist on the page.
The solution is simple – put the book down. All books are not for all people. Personal taste rules reading choices, just like everything else. So stop being such a judgy grumpypants because others do like those words. Stop it with the gender slurs against other women whose tastes are different. I’m not calling you a prude, I’m totally supporting your right to be revolted by some words and to toss a book across the room. Even to say so in a review! I draw the line at being okay with women who aren’t revolted being referred to as whores or wannabe men.
I see this a lot with many things – people seem to think *their* opinions are general feelings. This is not so. If you don’t like a book, movie, pizza, song, whatever, that’s what YOUR opinion is. You have a right to that opinion, absolutely, but what you don’t have is a general statement of belief (for everyone) on the issue and any other belief is wrong or biased or whatever.
If you don’t like to see the word pussy on the page so much you can’t get past it, my erotic romances are not for you. And that’s totally fine – preferences make the world go around. I hate to see “slash” on the page and it may very well mean I put the book down. But that’s me and my preferences.
If I put a word in a scene, I’m doing it on purpose. No because I’m a whore, or want to be a man, but because I’m using words to paint a feeling on the page. It won’t work for every reader, or every scene, or taste. But really, it’s fine to understand words have impact and how they impact you may or may not be how they impact others.