08 September 2011
Post 423: Dracula in Love
One of the things I kept thinking while I was reading this was, "Gee, did I accidentally pick up some smut?" Which is interesting, because really the sex is no more graphic than what men write. Sure, some of the scenes were described a little more flowery than the usual "bouncing breasts" and "thrusting grunts" that you usually get in the consensual male-written scenes, and well, let's not discuss non-consensual scenes.
Granted, I knew there was going to be sex in this book. I knew this because there was sex in Dracula, however hidden behind Victorian sensibilities and petticoats. What I was not expecting was the detail Mina Harker went into, perhaps because I was expecting her, as a Victorian woman, to be a little more discrete about her sexual encounters. Also I did not expect it of Essex. And why? Because I still have expectations that "real" women authors do not write graphic sex scenes, no matter how necessary they are to the plot. I expect "real" women authors to tastefully fade to black and talk more about the anticipation of desire and the act, rather than the satisfying and fulfillment of those desires.
Which, of course, is stupid.
Men are easily able to satisfy their baser literary desires, splattering their virile ink all over creamy white virgin pages,+ but women writers who so much as broach the subject of adult sex are relegated to the very large and profitable genre, which is subsequently looked down upon by all those uppity types. Not unlike prostitution really. Or being a housewife. Rarely do we see women writers writing about sex, in a non-academic manner, who are lauded. There are exceptions to the rule; yet, why haven't there been any males shoved into the romance, or at least erotic fiction, genre when they write novels loosely pieced together with sex scenes?
Really, this is a problem. And while I have read Sugar in My Bowl, I don't feel like it quite went far enough. The majority of those women at least appeared to come from fairly educated white middle class backgrounds, with a few token exceptions, and many were straight or at least only wrote about straight experiences. If men are supposedly making leaps and bounds in the realm of writing about sex--which I don't think they really are; I mean come on, how many times can you write about primal urges (The Last Werewolf, Jeckyll and Hyde, Dracula, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, okay, that last one is about an ape, but it's about an ape that wants to be a man)--then there is no reason for women to stay behind and take care of the kids by writing about the niceties of tea time and how much they love their husbands.
I am tired of those novels. They have their place, but it is also important that women write a true reflection of their lives rather than idealized versions. Life is full of dirty messy sex, shameful sex, gloriously rambunctious sex, lovers who have no fucking clue whatsoever, and husbands with inadequately sized penises who have stopped satisfying simply by not even bothering to try anymore. Seems to me like men have a lot to gain by reading female writers. If only we were writing something that was based a bit more in a reality they could understand and learn from.* The fantasy world is nice and all, but that's just a distraction; the world needs to know that as far as things have come, we have still been given a substandard deal, and holy shit, there are things men can do (if they love us as much as they say they do) to make it suck less.
I will write about fucking in a poignant and life changing manner. I might even let you pay me to do it. But you bastards have to read it.
My review can be found on Goodreads. Devourer of Books has an excellent review.
LibsNote: Copy received from the Goodreads FirstReads program.
*Although, the fact that they seem incapable of learning from a world they can't ore refuse to understand is definitely more their problem than ours
EditorNote: +DAT METAPHOR!