Thursday, March 29, 2012

Safe Sex in Erotica

Do you prefer the sex in your erotica to be safe or not? Safe as in everyone is verified STD-free, and (where applicable) condoms, dams, etc. are used?

It came up again today, and it's something I've thought about before. A bit of research into the subject has turned up mostly two views:

  • Unsafe sex is icky and unpleasant, and it's a turn-off if the scene doesn't either include a condom or a mention of being clean and on birth control of some sort
  • Condom use detracts from the scene and is unpleasant/unarousing
I can understand both the pro-condom and anti-condom sides here. There's nothing sexy about infections or unplanned pregnancies (unless you're into that, but if that's the intent of the story this doesn't really apply), but at the same time, stopping the action to get your contraceptives sorted out can be decidedly unsexy and potentially ruin the flow of the scene.

So if you're writing erotica, which approach should you take?

Well, first off I'd say you should go with whichever one you're more comfortable with. As with many topics in erotica, if you're really, genuinely uncomfortable writing something - don't! I'm not saying that you shouldn't push your boundaries, but if you know something squicks you, your writing is likely to suffer from it.

That said, if you'd like to compromise between the two options, there's plenty of room to do so. Writing about a bunch of vampire fellas taking turns barebacking a werewolf? It's all good: as the undead and shapeshifters, they obviously aren't susceptible to mere venereal diseases, and you can slip in a line to that effect. Condomless sex between an established heterosexual couple? It's all good, she's on the pill. Same couple, but with a condom? You could slip in a mention after the scene or gloss over the prep a bit - or you could work it into the sex by having the woman help out. There's plenty of options!

I personally fall under the "unsafe sex is kind of icky" camp: it's not an all-or-nothing thing and I can understand the frustration with condoms in sex scenes, but all the same I appreciate a little note that no one is going to wake up the next morning and have it burn when they pee, you know

And a caveat: much of this obviously won't apply to historical settings, and some fantasy settings.


  1. I'm with you on the "unsafe sex is kind of icky" side, pretty much. I can appreciate that sometimes a condom gets in the way of the fantasy, but I generally feel better when it's there.

    Besides, I think if you can't find a way to make condom application sexy, you just aren't trying.

    1. I'd actually like to give sexy-condom-application a shot now... hmm. Maybe when all my WIPs aren't either lesbian or fantasy stuff.