Guernica: Do you notice any of these issues around gender and sex playing out in the classroom when you’re teaching?

Stacey D’Erasmo: When I started teaching a lot, there were two tropes I was seeing quite often that had to do with love and sex, particularly in straight sex scenes. The tropes were numb girls and hateful boys. There would be this particular kind of numb girl scene: “I saw him in the bar that night. We stayed up too late drinking. Later, he bent me over the barstool. I felt nothing.” I would see that scene over and over again.

And then there was a parallel scene I would see over and over again, which was the hateful boy scene. It would be a male narrator and he’d be having sex with this woman, and he’d say, “Her breasts were lopsided and one of them was puckered on the side, and she yelled in my ear too loudly.”

I got really tired of reading these scenes because they both felt to me like dodges. If he bent you over the barstool, you felt something. And the hateful boy scene also felt like a way of emotionally distancing what was going on. If the male character only ever felt hatred, disgust, and revulsion, well, why did this even start in the first place?

Both of those felt to me like literarily socially acceptable ways to write about sex without actually writing into the scene. To say, “I was numb,” or, “I thought she was disgusting,” are two ways of not actually having characters be vulnerable in the scene. And I don’t mean feeling more socially acceptable feelings. I don’t mean that they should have been feeling wonderful, warm, intimate, one-on-one love. I mean there are many more emotions than that. And somehow these young writers have gotten the idea that you can skate through a scene by essentially armoring yourself with these two very, very distancing attitudes.

I started pushing back on that because it’s boring. It’s not true, and it’s boring. A lot of things happen in those moments.

writing sex

JAMA Pediatrics: "1 in 10 Americans has committed sexual violence."


(Source: exgynocraticgrrl, via brutereason)

gender violence sex statistics

"I never wanted to get married, was never interested in it. Recently I’ve found that more women just love being single and don’t have any interest in that either. I think it is important for women to hear from other women that it is an option. It is an option to not be monogamous with one person for the rest of your life. There are huge industries built around being married and coupling off. It’s the same with women who don’t want kids. There’s not really a voice out there. For me, as someone who didn’t want to get married, I almost felt as though I was missing some chip or gene or something that makes women see a bride and then want to be a bride."

– Jane Pratt, editor of, founder of Sassy, quoted in Playboy


marriage gender dating sex

"I started writing about sex because I didn’t really think that it would be that big a deal, and once I realized that it was actually a topic most people did not view with much honesty or maturity, I felt all the more compelled to continue writing as an act of defiance, not fully understanding at the time what I was getting myself into. I anticipated criticism, but I didn’t anticipate sheer hatred or the profound impact it would have on those around me. At the naive age of 19, it never occurred to me to censor myself, because I didn’t think that there’d be people — especially at Harvard — who would treat me so callously that I’d eventually self-censor. I also believed that if I stopped writing openly, then I would be letting the haters “win.”"
- Lena Chen, “I was the Harvard harlot,” Salon


women sex gender writing

"Despite the fact that Candace did for the zipless Manhattan fuck what Woody Allen did for psychotherapy — made it okay, funny, part of the package — she is fairly square when you get right down to it. “I love the idea of casual sex because it seems kind of like modern, and you’re being cool, and you’ve got it all figured out, but I think that the reality is you have to be really secure and … ultimately it’s really not that fulfilling, is it? Actually, I’ve always felt that way.”"
- The Blonde Who Had More Fun  (via adult-mag)

sex writing culture Candace Bushnell

"In the past 30 years, ideas about what makes women “sexy” have become narrower, more rigid and more pornographic in their focus on display and performance. The pervasiveness of the porn aesthetic is especially insidious for young girls’ self-perception, as they constantly absorb the message that the modern choice comes down to either abject invisibility or duck-faced selfies across a portfolio of social-media accounts. I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking at when I see Kim Kardashian or Miley Cyrus, or their millions of adolescent imitators. But I’m pretty sure it’s not liberation."
- a fascinating NYTimes Magazine piece on porn, “Masters of Sex,” and the porn aesthetic

(Source: The New York Times)

sex porn culture writing Miley Cyrus

"In a lot of the chick lit, depicting women slightly older than me, the sexual maturity is that of a nine-year-old, maybe. The sex is just this giggly and ridiculous activity one is subjected to in order to make a man stay in your house and marry you. There’s no honest expression of female sexual desire, the kind you find even in those old cheesy feminist manuals like Our Bodies, Ourselves. We’ve gone backwards."

Zadie Smith

Pair with Smith’s 10 rules of writing

(via explore-blog)

(Source: , via explore-blog)

writing women sex