I’ve been reading a straight romance novel today in which the heroine claims that men need sex, because they can’t connect emotionally without it, while women get emotional fulfillment from a whole range of emotional relationships and friendships, so don’t need it in the same way.
I’m not sure I agree – I’m not even sure the character agrees by the end of the book. But it is an interesting thought.
What does sex mean to men, and to women, and how is it different?
Firstly, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as all that. Sex means very different things to different people, regardless of their gender. That said, there are some traditional divides, according to the stereotypes of male, female, gay and straight. For me, as a woman, really great sex is a way of deepening intimacy within a relationship. And such good fun…
As a writer, what matters to me is how my characters feel about sex. A repressed virgin will feel very differently about a sexual situation than a more liberal, free love heroine. Similarly, a man who’s used to separating sex from love will behave differently to one who lost his virginity to the love of his life.
The stereotypes can be useful – even if only as a way of defying expectations. Twisting them, making them work in reverse… all are useful ways of developing real, memorable characters.
In an erotic romance, the hero and heroine’s pre-existing feelings about sex are vitally important. I need to know what they are, and I need to understand how they’re going to change through the book and why. What sex means to them by the end should be very different to what it meant at the start.
I don’t want to write sex for sex’s sake. I want to write sex that changes my characters, that brings them to their happy ever after. And to do that, I need to understand what sex means to them.
What do you think? What does sex mean to your characters?