In my last blog, I mentioned that I approach erotic writing from a different direction that men do. I've discussed this subject on other adult message boards, and have received some interesting perspectives on this.
For example, I noted that male writers mention menstrual periods only for their value as fetish subjects, if periods are mentioned at all. But my own goal when writing erotica is to make it as realistic as possible, because I've felt that such realism is necessary for the reader to "buy into" the story. And menstruation is part of a woman's reality, plain and simple.
After posting that blog, I went onto some adult boards to research how other readers and writers felt about this. To my surprise, I found another female writer making the same point I was, and the responses were illuminating. One responder, presumably male, found it unnecessary and even distracting to introduce a feature like this. He pointed out that menstruation was a natural function, like urinating or defecating, but these too are usually omitted in stories unless they directly relate to the erotic element. "Why make an exception for menstruation?" he asked.
What he didn't understand, I think, was that menstruation is more than a simple bodily function. Unlike defecating or urinating, it's something that only women do, and only at a specific part of their lives. It's a watershed event, a door that opens at sexual maturity and stays open throughout much of a woman's adulthood, except when she is carrying or nursing a child -- themselves life-altering experiences unknown to men -- and only closing at menopause when another door opens. There really exist no similar mileposts for men, mileposts that change their lives so suddenly and dramatically.
Similarly, there was were discussions about how important "safe sex" was in telling a story. For most men, it's a low priority because it's all fantasy, after all, and in our fantasies, nobody gets pregnant and nobody catches venereal diseases, unless it's an essential part of the story. For many women, on the other hand, it's always an important part of the story, because when a woman is making love, a great deal of her arousal depends on her not having to worry about getting pregnant (unless, of course, she's trying to get pregnant!). And if I were trying to write a realistic story about a woman making love, I would be remiss if I failed to take that into account.
Don't get me wrong. I've often made the point that men and women aren't really too different when it comes to responding to erotic writing, once certain generational and cultural disparities are set aside. But there are some things that are important for women that are not important for men, and I want my stories to reflect that. I want my female readers to say of a female character in my stories, "That woman has my hopes, and my fears, and my concerns. She's just like me! She could be me!" When I can get those women thinking that, my hard work is done.
I'd appreciate your comments, both from men and from women, about how they feel about these topics. Thanks!