Has anyone else noticed the erosion of the middle ground?
While thinking about what I wanted to say today, my thoughts were initially on sex (I know, shocker, right?) and how there are moments when I feel like I’ve stepped back into the Victorian era. But the more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me. It’s not that we’ve gone back completely to the days where chastity belts were used (and not for kink) and sex was not done in polite society for any purpose but procreation. No. I have too many friends who know how to let their freak flag fly for that to be the case. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of middle ground anymore. Maybe E.L. James’ title, 50 Shades Of Grey, was more apropos than she realized…or maybe she’s a lot more savvy than we give her credit for.
A little while back a friend and I got to talking about how sex questions seem to find a way into my lap. Some of you may even remember that I did a blog post detailing a few of the questions that have floated my way over the years. Somehow we jumped from that to my penchant for pleasure parties. I casually mentioned that it had been a while since I’d hosted such an event and that it might be fun to revisit. Those parties tended to be a blast and the antics that often followed made for some hilarious storytelling amongst friends! Her reaction surprised me.
Me: It has been a while since I’ve hosted a toy party. Maybe I should do it again once I have some free time.
Her: Uh… If you have one of those parties, don’t bother inviting me, ok? Trust me, my feelings won’t be hurt.
Her: (Scrunches her nose) That’s not my kind of thing.
Me: Pleasure parties? They’re a ton of fun, but okay. No big deal. Have you ever been to one?
Her: No. I don’t need that kind of thing.
Me: What kind of thing?
Her: Sex toys. My man is all I need, right hon? (Rubbing his forearm)
Me: (blinking) Okay. Does that mean you’ve never used a sex toy?
Her: No. I don’t need to. They just seem unnatural.
Me: (biting tongue) Everybody’s different.
Yes, that was a big eye blink moment for me. It never occurred to me that I might have a friend who was completely closed minded about the topic of pleasure enhancers.
My friend is a sweetheart. She really is. It really surprised me that she bought into the misconceptions about sex toys. I dropped the conversation so she wouldn’t get uncomfortable, but I couldn’t help but notice her man’s face. He was kind of digging the idea of her going to a party and maybe bringing something home for them to play with. In fact, you could tell he thought it was a very cool concept (not that I would ever point that out to her–it’s just not my place).
Before you misunderstand, I’m not judging my friend. There’s no right or wrong. Her choices are her own. What did take me aback was that there is still the perception out there that adult toys were somehow designed to replace the need for a real, live partner. Considering how unhappy she’d been in her first marriage and our talks about her dissatisfaction with the physical aspect, it never occurred to me that she hadn’t forayed into the world of assisted self pleasure. It also never occurred to me that she’d be so adamantly opposed to the idea as to be mildly judgmental as to why their used. Thankfully, I’m past the point where I feel the need to defend my every choice or explain their purposes in my own bedroom. Our choices, our lives, our consequences.
So you may be thinking to yourself…those are sex toys. That’s not exactly a mild topic. Okay….let’s go a little more tame. How about erotic romance books? As many of you know, erotic romances are near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons… It’s the genre that holds my passion for writing. In fact, it wasn’t very long ago that Bring Back Desire asked me to write a post about why I enjoy erotic romance from a writer’s perspective and how I believe it can enhance a woman’s life.
It was while I prepared this piece that I remembered a chat I’d been involved in regarding love and marriage. The topic of erotic romances was introduced with the following question: “Do you feel that 50 Shades Of Grey and other erotic romances have changed the way women approach sex? If so, how?” It was a fair question. Personally, as many of you know, the book wasn’t my cup of tea, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s been very popular and has opened the doors for many very talented authors to finally get the attention they deserve. Most women said that such books have given them the courage to ask for what they want from their partners in the bedroom. Others said that it’s opened the doors to their imagination to exploration in areas they’ve never considered before. Still more mentioned opened their eyes to more than just “missionary” sex. All those things are great pluses for maintaining strong, healthy relationships.
What did surprise me? The responses of a few women. Some felt it necessary to criticize those who read such “garbage”. Others turned their noses down at the books and said things like “I don’t know how people can read books like that without laughing hilariously. That stuff isn’t real.” or “Those books are unrealistic and a waste of people’s hard earned money.” Okay, let’s be honest for a second. There are definitely some bad writers out there. That could be the cause of such condescending remarks, right? Were they just talking about the overall storyline? Because I can tell you from practical knowledge, most of those “dirty parts” are quite doable and usually pretty dead on. Was it wrong of me to wonder what their sex lives must be like?
The funny thing for those of us who’ve loved the genre for years (both as readers and writers)…we’ve heard it all…and have probably referred to our beloved books by those same nicknames. You know, trashy romance novels, smut books, that sort of thing. It doesn’t really offend us because we love it!
I also realize that reading erotic romances isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. But to criticize other people because they derive pleasure from it? Come on.
So why did I mention “gray area” in the beginning? Maybe partially because I can be a person of intense emotions. I’ve been told that there isn’t much of a middle ground within my personal spectrum. But it’s more than that. When dealing with sex, it seems that somehow our society has created two sides. Those that are very open to exploration, new concepts, “alternative lifestyles”. They often have a “wild” side (even if it’s hidden way back in their closet, only to be taken out with their trusted partner). Or those that are practically puritanical in their beliefs. They believe that sex isn’t something that should be discussed openly and definitely not in mixed company…and you get the rest.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m way off base. What do you guys think? Are there other places where you’ve noticed the lack of gray area? Because I’ll be honest with you…I don’t think the lack of gray is limited to just sex…. I won’t even touch politics because that just gets downright nasty!
So, like Salt ‘n’ Pepa said… Let’s Talk About Sex. You know I love it when you share what you’re thinking!