I've gotten some interesting responses from my last blog entry. One, from James, read: "As far as women's erotica is concerned, I asked my wife how often menstruation is mentioned in the hot romances she reads, and she laughed at me."
As well she might! (And her attitude is by no means unique.) I haven't seen many romance novels lately, but the ones I remember reading in my own youth were a genre all their own. They were the products of an age where everything needed to be described parenthetically, and were as stylized in their way as a Kabuki drama. I never really got into them (although my own mother would read them constantly). Maybe they're different now; I imagine that they're much more explicit, for one thing, since the "code words" they used to use in profusion are no longer necessary. I don't doubt that they avoid the subject, being fantasies, after all. I usually refrain from mentioning it myself, except where it may affect who's screwing whom at the time, or when it impinges on a plot line in a serious way (as in "Hot Tub for Six"). But I don't go out of my way to avoid it or pretend it doesn't exist, either.
My own lovers have been all over the map on this, from guys who wouldn't even want to date me when I was on the rag to guys who thought it added a bit of spice to our lovemaking. The ones I liked best, though, were the ones who thought it was no big thing, as long as I was comfortable with it. So I'm prepared to accept that there's a wide range of feelings on the part of women, too, from "I don't want THAT in my fantasies, thank you!" to "Hey, why not?" (There's also the "Hallelujah! I'm having my period!" moment, and someday I'm going to put that in a story!)
The difference between the romance genre and the stuff I write is due, I think, to my own perception of my audience. As I said in earlier posts, I incorporate real life into my erotica because I think it heightens the connection my ideal reader has with the story. There's certainly a place for a menses-free world, just as there is one for a harem of women who are your willing sex slaves or (insert your own sexual fantasy here), and the audience for those worlds is definitely there. But that isn't the audience I write for.