Pulp Fiction

by Molly Moore
Molly sitting out in the sun reading topless

When you open the front cover of a murder mystery do you find a warning inside telling you that stabbing people with a knife is dangerous, or, never go down into basements with strangers?

The simple answer is no, because it is not the author’s job (I am referring to fiction writing here) to educate the reader. It is the author’s job to write a good story that engages the reader. We learn a great deal from reading but when it comes to fiction what we learn is not necessarily part of a public service announcement and nor should we expect it to be. If this is the way forward with fiction then we are truly at risk of losing the beauty of fiction writing. As humans we love to tell stories, we have done it since the beginning of mankind. Often those stories are based in fantasy, imagination, myths, legends, dreams and desires. Story telling has long been an exploration of our darkest fears and desires and yes sometimes those stories have a moral to them, an element of comeuppance but as discerning adults (and even children) we take from that different things, depending on our beliefs, life experiences and cultural references etc.

I think when a writer writes, regardless of subject they should concentrate on telling their story and not feel confined to educate the reader only to entertain and engage. We don’t expect anything else of writers in other genres so why should we expect this of erotica writers?

Having said all that I want to be completely clear that weaving safe sex practices into your fiction is also not something to be ignored. I think for those of us who write BDSM/kink based erotic often try to ‘show’ a reality within our stories. This means not only that scenes are physically possible but that at times we attempt to show how kink is a negotiated and risk aware. For me, realism is the key though. If I read a piece and am confronted with a physical act that only a double jointed giant could possibly achieve I find this far more of an issue than risky play that has not mentioned safe-words or safety practices. After all our fantasy exploration of sex is nearly always very different to our real life experience and writing is often one of the most powerful forms of sharing and exploring those fantasies. Fiction writing is not meant to be safe, it is meant to be challenging, thought-provoking, scary, funny, dark, dangerous, exiting, adventurous. etc but never safe

Of course if you are writing erotica, or even just a novel that contains a sex story line for a teenaged audience then clearly your approach may be different. When I was young I read a book by Judy Blume called Forever. I clearly remember the young women in the book seeking out contraception. It was part of the story line of her discovering and developing her sex life and it fitted in perfectly with the characters age and life experiences but now as a parent myself I know that fiction is not the place I want my children to obtain their sex education. They will learn about feelings, people, history, human behaviour, the vast spectrum of human sexual desire and so much more from reading fiction but their fact based sexual education will, and should, come from me and as much quality non-fiction sources that I can find for them. We would not present children with a novel about a young person sailing across the ocean for the first time and then send them out in a boat to do it themselves expecting them to be armed with the relevant skills and information to succeed so why would we adopt that approach with their sex lives?

There is a time and place for sex education. For the most part there is a terrible lack of decent quality sex education and often times what is available is ill-informed, old-fashioned and still too centred around abstinence. There is a lack of good conversation around consent and teenaged sex education in particular is still too focused on biology and the prevention of pregnancy and STD’s with little or no information about pleasure, happiness and healthy sexual relationships within a wider context. It is this that as writers we should be working to correct, not by attempting to write it into our fiction, unless it has a place there, but by gathering together as a voice and demanding a better sex education delivered by experienced sex educators to our young people so that when they grow up they have the skills and information they need to have happy healthy sex lives and enjoy all the filthy, dirty, sexy erotic fiction that they can get their hands on.

Molly sitting out in the sun reading toplessI am not sure I have done this subject justice but I do know two other writers who have and so I am going to point you to their thoughts on the matter as to be quite honest, they both say it far better than me.

KD Grace – Regulating-our-fantasies
RemittanceGirl – Unsafe Sex and the Representation of Ideals


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John April 24, 2014 - 12:36 am

Most of my sex-education was pretty poor. I do remember our Year 8/9 Biology teacher holding out a condom and saying that there is never any excuse for a man not to wear one, stretching it apart and adding, “it accommodates all sizes!” It made us laugh.

I like my books to be realistic, but am happy for them to skip over insignificant detail. So a nod towards safe sex or risk-aware kink when significant to the storyline is good but nothing (like 50 Shades apparently) would turn me off.

Malflic April 24, 2014 - 12:52 am

Well written and clearly stated but the biggest and strongest point is that as a parent we have a responsibility to be part of our children’s sex education and perhaps beyond the usual baby and std topics.

Sadly too many people seem to delegate all education to others and not step up

f dot leonora April 24, 2014 - 1:37 am

as always you are extremely eloquent with your words. your first point mirrors my own, there is no disclaimer with horror or any other genre with explicit scenes. better education about sex would prevent all of this…your photgraph and book selection (blume & coelho) are exquisite!

luv2sex.info April 24, 2014 - 3:55 am

I think if I’m an erotic writer, my target readers should be readers who are older than teenagers. I’m a firm believer of having a proper sex education in school, not just about sex knowledge, but also to include inculcating proper relationship between both sexes. This is not just about bedroom matters, it should include matters outside the bedroom!

Michael Samadhi April 24, 2014 - 6:34 am

For starters, I LOVE the illustration. I’m a self admitted geek, so I found myself trying to peek at the book you are reading! Some kinda pervert I am . . . hahaha

I’m for sex education of all kinds, even in erotica, as long as it’s realistic.

Marie Rebelle April 24, 2014 - 2:55 pm

I totally feel that safe sex practices should only be incorporated in fiction writing when it really fits the story. And I share your view on crime books – no warnings and education there, so it should not be in fiction writing either.

Great piece and I think it should go right there with the links you have given.

Rebel xox

Remittance Girl April 24, 2014 - 3:36 pm

No, they don’t say it better than you. You said it wonderfully.

Cara Sutra April 24, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Very well written and a distracting photo as always. I don’t think to put condoms, dental dams etc into my erotic writing because for the most part I draw on my muse of my lovers, my partners – and we will have been tested and in a relationship where either anti-pregnancy is taken care of (lol) or we’re certain about the medical status of each other.
Then again I have written about meeting up with people (of both genders) and it didn’t feature there – although this has been 99% with a woman. I guess I could have mentioned dental dams during rimming or oral sex but tbh it would have ruined the flow. It’s fantasy, it’s fiction and like you say you don’t get a warning about knives in murder mysteries.
As a child I never read any warning in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books about the fact that in real life, trees don’t contain mystical characters nor is there a ladder at the top to a magical land. In my experience so far, anyway. I’m not planning to sue the Blyton estate over it, though.
– Cara x

Geeky Nymph April 24, 2014 - 3:56 pm

This is a wonderful post. I think oftentimes when authors include safe sex practices in stories it is because they see it as a necessary component of telling those characters’ experiences. But you’re right, it isn’t the main focus nor the main goal of writing erotic fiction. I would love to see a world with better sex education, and what stories erotic authors tell in such a world.


Mia April 24, 2014 - 4:16 pm

Wonderfully put and I agree with Remittance Girl your piece is just as well put as theirs and stands alongside!!

Love the pic and book choice – Brilliant!! (it looks like Eleven Minutes?)

~Mia~ xx

Jane May 16, 2014 - 11:04 am

Such a good post, Molly. I know that I am guilty of ‘over explaining’ when it comes to my own writing. I am trying to find a balance and I think I am getting better but I constantly have to remind myself to let go and write what I want, rather than what I think will be understood by the majority of my readers. I’m getting there but it’s taking time. I have been telling myself repeatedly ‘show, not tell’ but I think I’m going to have to start using your phrase now, too: ‘this is not a public service announcement!’ Jane xxx

Malin James January 9, 2015 - 9:20 pm

This is such an excellent piece. It’s difficult to intuit how far our responsibilities as sex writers extend. I’m a firm believer in treating the reader as an adult, which means that I don’t always include the explicit use of protection, though I also don’t always omit it. I tend to do what feels appropriate for the individual characters and stories. Every point you raised is spot on, particularly that of providing better sex education in real life so that (hopefully) the impulse to treat fiction as a how-to manual isn’t quite so strong. xxxM


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