From the oldest surviving works of literature to modern bloggers, people have written about sex. The Arabian Nights, The Song of Songs, The Metamorphoses of Apuleius (unceremoniously known as The Golden Asse) include explicit, often poetic descriptions of sexual exchanges. So, what motivates people to write about sex? To depict sex through images, inscriptions, stories? Are these stories memories, fantasies, prescriptions? Probably all of the above.
Here are a few ideas:
#1 – ‘It’s like anything else’.
Writers write about sex with the same keen eye and matter-of-factness they would describe any other experience, like food, conversations, or travels, because sex is a part of life just like anything else. Even if social prescriptions make it a silent part of our lives, it’s present, it’s familiar, it’s universal. Example: Boccaccio’s Decameron, The Canterbury Tales.
#2 – ‘Let me show you a little something’.
Another reason to write about sex is to educate, and, consequently, to define what it’s normal in a certain period and society, from Kama Sutra to The Joy of Sex and Dr Sommer. These texts are often written with the explicit goal of teaching the young ‘uns what is expected from them in the bedroom, but also, how to be a woman, how to be a man. Example: Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex and the updated, The New Joy of Sex by Susan Quilliam.
#3 – To remember.
The motivation of the memoirist is often to re-live experiences through writing. Remembering is a way of immortalising past loves, of re-experiencing a moment of intense pleasure or a connection. These writers are literally trying to share something with their grandchildren. Example: The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt.
#4 – ‘The philosopher’s way’.
Clever people sometimes use erotica to make a point, to shock, to rile people up. The best example is the Marquis de Sade, advocating extreme freedom through sexual anarchy. Another example: Pascal Bruckner’s Bitter Moon.
#5 – Wish-fulfillment.
Writing down one’s fantasies is the best approximation of making a dream come true. There is still speculation about how much of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s own experience with mistress Fanny Pistor is reflected in Venus in Furs, but rumour says he tried unsuccessfully to convince his first wife to live according to the fantasies described in the book. Their marriage was short-lived.
#6 – To seduce.
To arouse someone else with the power of your stories, like Scheherazade, is to cast a spell, to exert some power over someone else. There must be something exhilarating in thinking about the effect of one’s words on someone else, about taking over the reader’s mind for a few intense minutes. Example: Pauline Réage’s Story of O, written as a series of letters to her lover.
#7 – To arouse oneself.
Example: the aptly named onehandedwriters.com.
#8 – Self-expansion through novel scenarios, read or written.
One’s experience and understanding of what is possible changes as a result of imagination. Example: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, by Mario Vargas Llosa.
#9 – To be a member of a supportive community.
Perhaps more than other forms of writing, erotica is interactive, especially nowadays. Writers and readers of erotic literature are a part of a nurturing community that gives them a sense of belonging, while normalising desire, no matter how peculiar. You fantasise about being swallowed by a giant woman covered in feathers? Fear not, there’s someone else out there who shares your kink. Beyond that, bloggers read each other’s productions and comment on them constantly. They are enmeshed in each other’s adventures and feed off each other’s thoughts.
#10 – To make sense of it all.
Or at least to give it a go, be it real or imaginary, including it as a part of your story can help to clear the mind.
What do you think? Why do you write? It’d be great to hear your thoughts in the comments box below.
Guest post by, Miss A, a Chartered Psychologist with a PhD in the psychology of relationships, expertise in attachment theory, experience in life coaching, and a desire to help people find relationship bliss.
For relationship and dating advice, visit her website, lovedoctress.com