3 More Things That Annoy Me In Romance Novels

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You can find my previous three pet peeves in this post.

1. Lack of Contraception

A lot of romance novels or sex scenes in novels (and media in general) fail to remember contraception. However, it seems more modern writers have addressed this and started including it or mentioning it in their books. Some examples:

“Are you—?”

“Protected?” His thoughts obviously following the same path as mine. “I take the monthly aid.”

He was talking about the herb that rendered both males and females temporarily infertile. It could be drunk or chewed, and I heard that it tasted like sour milk.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Reason chose that moment to show its face, and he groaned. “I don’t have any protection,” he whispered, penetrating her haze of heavy breathing.

“I’m on the pill.”

“I’m clean, I swear to you. I’ve always used condoms. Always.” He waited for her nod, then thanked the Lord for birth control.

Worth the Risk by Weston Parker

So I am glad this has finally been noticed, at least by some contemporary writers. However, there are many who still fail to mention contraception and movies and TV shows still have a long way to go.

2. Everyone Orgasms

I have not read a single sex scene in ANY book where one of the participants did not orgasm, despite studies finding that most women do not have an orgasm every single time during intercourse:

For women, having an orgasm from intercourse is much less guaranteed than for men. In 2015, 46% of women said that they always or nearly always had an orgasm when having intercourse, with only 6% of women reporting always having an orgasm.

Determinants of female sexual orgasms

Only 6% of women do so consistently, so why do novels insist on the woman always orgasming, and often multiple times! Not only that, the man and woman have miraculous timing and climax at the same time! This is so unrealistic, especially if it’s a new relationship where you don’t know what turns each other on. Heck I have been married for over 8 years, been with the same man for over 10 years, and we may have achieved this miracle a handful of times.

Here’s a really bad example:

He couldn’t get enough of her. Thrusting into her, over and over, he saw that her climax made her shake, filling her face with such ecstasy that he lost the tenuous hold on his control.

He became a beast, thrusting into her, harder, faster, unable to hold himself back. She cried out, tensing and reaching her climax again.

She gripped him so tightly that he yelled as his seed rushed out, and he crushed her to him, shuddering as he came down from the pinnacle of pleasure. Breathing heavily, he opened his eyes and gazed into hers. “You’re incredible.”

Worth the Risk by Weston Parker

Somehow he manages to make her orgasm twice during intercourse, and the second time they do so together.

Jennifer L. Armentrout is especially guilty of this in her series as Poppy orgasms every time she and Casteel have sex. Armentrout does often have Poppy climax first, but Casteel always follows quickly, so it’s very close to the same time. There’s no awkward inbetween moment. Here’s an example:

Under me, he moved his magnificent body at a furious rhythm. My entire body stiffened and then lightning flew through my veins. My muscles clamped down on him, spasming. My cry mixed with his rough shout as his hips pumped furiously, and he followed me into the wild, mindless bliss that wracked my entire body. Slowly, the tension poured out of me, turning my muscles to liquid.

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This scene follows shortly after:

I broke apart, shattering into a thousand tiny pieces as my release crashed through me with such force that a growl rumbled from his chest. His arms tightened around me. One more deep thrust, and he came, shouting my name.

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

So not only does Poppy orgasm during intercourse, she manages to do so twice in a row, and so does her partner. One can argue that it is fantasy and they are both not mortal so maybe they have some really special sexual abilities (even though it’s not mentioned that they do), but it just feels over the top in my opinion.

Also in all three examples above, someone is crying out, yelling, our shouting when they orgasm. I find this common in many of the books I read, but not everyone screams when they orgasm. Sometimes there’s no sound, sometimes it’s a moan or groan. It would be more realistic if authors mixed it up a bit.

3. It’s Unrealistic

This ties in with my previous pet peeve as always orgasming and having multiple orgasms during sex is unrealistic, but besides orgasms, authors come up with the most unrealistic scenarios, like they are writing a script for a porn film.

For example in Mechanic with Benefits by Mickey Miller (okay with a title like that, one kind of knows it’s going to be porn), Haley’s car breaks down and she meets Liam, a mechanic, and after a heated discussion, he agrees to check her car. Later, after a near death experience in the car, this happens:

I remove my hand from her thigh and use it to place her hand firmly on my big, hard cock.

What the hell? You only live once, right?

“Well alright then,” she says, her voice somehow still sounding innocent. “You’re hard…”

Mechanic with Benefits by Mickey Miller

First off, this is sexual assault. He did not get her consent to place her hand on his penis. Then, instead of being pissed, she’s all “sure I’ll have sex with you,” like what?! If you continue reading, they later make a deal that she’s to have sex with him whenever he wants because he agreed to attend a wedding with her. How is this not a porno?!

Okay, I get it’s a story, it’s fiction, and not real, but this is scene is just too much for me.

3 Things That Annoy me in Romance Novels

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post.

I’m taking a break from analyzing sex scenes in novels and media to talk about three common things in Romance novels that I absolutely loathe.

1. The Man is Almost Always Possessive

Why is it whenever there is a sex scene, writers often focus on the man “owning” or “claiming” the woman? Why can’t the woman ever be the one with power?

Example 1:

You are mine,” he grunts out, pumping into me, the length and level of his arousal brutal. “Mine,” he swears, as he releases my mouth and turns me around, pushing me forward as he yanks my legs back, one hand hard on my back, the other gripping my ass. He doesn’t slow the movement, giving me full, hard thrusts, my breasts bouncing from the top of my dress, the mirror above the sink giving me a full view of my slutdom.
— Alessandra Torre, Sex Love Repeat

This pretty much sounds like a rape scene. The man pushes her and fucks her without any consideration for her. It’s so harsh and not gentle. He never once asks if she is okay with it and from her view point, it’s hard to tell, but just reading this paragraph makes me cringe.

Example 2:

Down they went, hard and fast onto the floor, over they rolled; he spread her legs wide instantly, mounted her, and drove his shaft home.

The pain bolted through the swirling eddies of pleasure like lightning.

She stiffened again, pushed against his chest, tried to get out from under him and the jutting poker hardness that he had embedded so unceremoniously into her.

He felt the primitive triumph of possession.

There was nothing like a hot, squirming, virgin hole. So tight. So wet. So deep and unplumbed. So rare when it was coupled with such an unexpected carnal nature that loved a good nipple fuck, a good finger fuck.

Lord of the fates -to have given him such a succulent virgin for his house wife-he stopped his frantic pumping and lifted his body from the hips so he could feel the thick, deep connection of his possession, and he howled silently in exultation.

Thea Devine, Satisfaction

Again this reads like a rape scene. The man sees her as his possession and he can do to her whatever he wants.

Example 3:

His hips slammed into mine, and the way I was held there, all I could do was whatever he demanded. I held on as the frothy water foamed and bubbled violently around us. Each thrust of his hips felt as greedy as the strokes of my tongue against his. Every plunge of his hips felt more like an act of possession than the one before. My head fell back but never reached the rock because of his hand, and the world was a kaleidoscope of broken sunlight, slate-colored walls, and vibrant petals. I tightened—everything in me tightened as his head dropped to my shoulder, his body grinding into mine.

Jennifer L. Armentrout, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire

Both characters consented to the sex in this scene, but even the woman describes the man as possessing her, taking her as his. Yes, she is enjoying it, but why can’t she be the one claiming him?

In the three examples above, each time it’s the man in “possession,” showing the male has power. Why can’t the woman have power? Why is it so hard to find a romance novel where the girl is greedy, where she is the one claiming him?

I will admit as a teen, this was the kind of stuff I desired. What girl wouldn’t want a hunky guy to take her as his? That’s what society taught us after all.

BUT as an adult with more knowledge on sex and relationships than I ever received in school, these scenes annoy the hell out of me. Both partners should have equal power when it comes to sex, so when it comes to sex scenes in novels, I would love to see less “possessive” words used to describe the act or at least an equal amount from both partners, regardless of their sex/gender. Let’s give the women power too! Not just the man.

2. Not Using Anatomical Terms

We know what the characters are doing. There is no need, in my opinion, to use euphemisms like his “throbbing member” or her “bundle of nerves.” Just say penis and clitoris. If you are going to write sex, then write it! It just comes across silly and I find myself rolling my eyes rather than enjoying the hot steamy scene. Plus I feel it is important to normalize body parts, and using the correct terms in books is one way to do that.

Example 1:

My back arched as I grasped the sheets fitted to the bed. His lips moved against me, his tongue inside me, and the sharp graze of his teeth scraped the bundle of nerves.

Jennifer L. Armentrout, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire

I see “inside me” or “inside her” used a lot to whenever referencing a woman’s vagina. This does not bother me as much, but I don’t think it would hurt either to say “inside her vagina” instead. It’s implied, but it feels like by using “me” instead of vagina, the authors and readers view vagina as a dirty word. This goes for all body parts. Hardly does a romance author ever use “penis,” yet they will come up with every other clever word for the male organ: member, cock, dick, shaft, manhood, or simply just he or him.

It’s also a shame some writers avoid the word nipple. Referring to it as “sensitive area” or if bold, “nub.” Body parts are not dirty, use them! Penis, clitoris, vagina, vulva, scrotum, nipple, etc are all good words to use to describe the act.

Example 2:

She felt disappointment that he had not lingered to stroke her pubic area again and set off that strange and spreading thrill. 

Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach

Example 3:

“Ooh,” she whispered. “Ooh! Oh, oh, oh,” she sighed, as he worked his fingers against the slick seam . . . and then she forgot to pose, forgot about trying to look good, and lost herself inside her own pleasure

Jennifer Weiner, Who Do You Love

Before she could recover, he’d rolled her onto her back and slipped inside her. After the first thrust he had to hold still, knowing that if he kept moving, if he gave himself up to the exquisite tightness, the heat, he would explode.

Jennifer Weiner, Who Do You Love

I feel some would think this is artistic writing as authors come up with many different ways to imply the act of sex without saying directly: “He inserted his penis into her vagina,” but at the same time it feels like they are trying to sugar coat sex, as if it’s a dirty thing that needs to be covered up, but there is nothing wrong with having sex! I feel if we truly want to normalize sex and pleasure, authors need to be more bold and write using the proper terminology.

3. Hot Guy and The Virgin Trope

Jennifer L. Armentrout uses this trope in her From Blood and Ash series. Hawke is the super attractive guard that all the ladies fawn over. Poppy has scars on her face, so she is insecure and thinks she’s not beautiful. Plus she’s a virgin, so Armentrout’s series is worse as it has both tropes. The hot guy who obviously has sexual experience and the insecure virgin girl.

Satisfaction by Thea Devine is another example of this trope, where Lujan has sexual experience, but he marries Jancie, who is a virgin. It avoids the “average girl” trope by making Jancie beautiful and coveted by other men, but yet she’s still a virgin.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James also does this with Christian and Anastasia. Christian is this super attractive man who does BDSM with select partners and Anastasia is an insecure virgin. Somehow they fall for each other.

Twilight even follows this trope with Edward and Bella. Edward is this handsome sparkling vampire that attracts all the girls, but he falls for “average” Bella. Twilight is a little different as both Edward and Bella are virgins when they marry, but it still has the hot guy and insecure girl trope, so I felt it was worth including.

I personally hate this trope and it instantly ruins a good story for me.

Why do the women in fiction almost always focus on their appearance and why is the guy also so attractive to everyone? Why can’t this trope ever be flipped? What about an insecure guy who lands a confident badass babe? What about a virgin male who gets with a sexually experienced female? Or better yet, why can’t there be a romance between two people that are confident in their appearances and both have had sexual experiences?

Examining Consent in “From Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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I was looking for a fantasy romance, and came across From and Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and while I was intrigued by the premise, I was not a fan of her novel.

For one, I hate vampires and werewolves (it’s just too overdone), and they are definitely in this book, just different names (Wolven, Atlantian, etc).

Second, the romance in this book is pretty disappointing. You have the classic virgin (Poppy the Maiden) with the hunky young guy (Hawke the guard) who has no flaws. All the ladies want him and he has a history of sleeping with women, and yet he decides he wants Poppy. This normally does not bother me all that much as it’s a classic trope in romance, but it’s pointed out so much in this book it’s rather irritating.

However, despite those flaws, Armentrout does a great job including consent (or does she?) in her novel.

Let’s take a look at a few scenes in From Ash and Blood:
(WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS)

His head slanted, and I felt the warmth of his breath on my lips. A tight tremor of anticipation coiled its way down my spine at the same moment my stomach dipped with uncertainty. There was no time for the two warring emotions to battle. He pivoted and strode forward with the same kind of feline grace I’d seen from him before. In a matter of a few stuttering heartbeats, he was guiding us down, his grip strong but careful, as if he were aware of his strength. He came down over me, his hand still behind my head, his weight a shock as he pressed me into the bed, and then his mouth was on mine.

Hawke kissed me.

There was nothing sweet or soft, like I’d imagined a kiss to be. It was hard and overwhelming, claiming, and when I sucked in a sharp breath, he took advantage, deepening the kiss. His tongue touched mine, startling me. Panic flared in the pit of my stomach, but so did something else, something far more powerful, a pleasure I hadn’t experienced before. He tasted of the golden liquor I’d once snuck, and I felt that stroke of his tongue in every part of me. It was in the shivers that erupted all over my skin, in the inexplicable heaviness in my chest, in that curling, tightening sensation below my navel and even lower still where there was a sudden, throbbing pulse between my legs. I shuddered, my fingers digging into his flesh, and I suddenly wished I hadn’t worn gloves because I wanted to feel his skin, and I doubted I’d be in any shape to concentrate on what he was feeling. His head tilted, and I felt the brush of his oddly sharp—

This is the first time Poppy and Hawke meet. In this scene Hawke thinks she is someone else, Britta, as Poppy has disguised herself in order to sneak out, which makes this scene a little tricky in terms of consent because he thinks she’s someone he has been with before, so to him this is consensual as they know each other. And since this is written from Poppy’s view we can see she is enjoying herself as well, and she does not stop him.

BUT because Poppy is not Britta and she is pretty much misleading him, it’s not exactly consenting, even though they both appear to enjoy it. The lie ruins the consent.

Now let’s skip ahead to where Hawke still does not know who Poppy is, but he now knows she’s not Britta, but still pursues her.

Those eyes of his seemed even brighter than before as his finger traced the outline of my mask, all the way to where the satin ribbon disappeared under the fall of my hair. “May I remove this?”

Unable to speak, I shook my head no.

Hawke halted for a moment, and then the half-smile appeared—no dimple this time, though. He trailed his finger away from the mask, then ran it along the line of my jaw and down my throat, to where the cloak was fastened. “How about this?”

I nodded.

His fingers were deft, and he brushed the cloak aside and then trailed just one fingertip along the neckline, following the rapid rise and fall of the swell of my breast. A riot of sensations followed his finger, so many I couldn’t make sense of them all.

Okay, so we have some good consent here. He asks if he can remove her mask, she indicates no by shaking her head. He accepts her no and moves onto her cloak, and she indicates yes with a nod. They still do not know each other, but I do not feel that is necessary for sex. Think of it as a one night stand. They will probably never see each other again, so as long as both are okay with this, then it is consenting.

“I’m waiting,” he said, swiping his thumb once more and scattering my already disjointed thoughts. “Tell me what you enjoy, so I can make you love it.”

“I…” I bit down on my lip. “I don’t know.”

Hawke’s gaze flew to mine, and such a long moment passed that I began to wonder if I’d said the wrong thing. “I’ll tell you what I want.” His thumb moved in slow, tight circles across a most sensitive part. “I want you to remove your mask.”

“I…” A sharp, pulsing thrill rippled through my body, quickly followed by my heady wonder. What I felt… I’d never felt anything like it before. Sharp and sweet, a different type of anguish. “Why?”

“Because I want to see you.”

“You can see me now.”

“No, Princess,” he said, lowering his head until his lips brushed the neckline of my gown. “I want to really see you when I do this without your gown between you and my mouth.”

I like that Hawke asks her what she likes. This is important, especially in a new sexual relationship as you do not know the other person’s likes and dislikes when it comes to pleasure.

Poppy is a virgin, but this exchange implies she has never even touched herself. It is never clarified in the novel if Poppy has masturbated, but she is pretty much sheltered and forbidden from everything, including sex. Even with being sheltered, she is still 18/19 years of age and it seems unrealistic for her to not have touched herself even once, so I feel she should be able to give him something more than “I don’t know,” but I digress.

I’m not too upset with the consent when it comes to the sexual acts so far, but I am not exactly thrilled with the relationship because one, they just met and it was based on a lie, two, Hawke’s still willing even though he has no idea who Poppy is, and three, he’s clearly more experienced than she is, so there’s a bit of a power imbalance, but that may be able to be overlooked as he seems to be respectful of her.

Let’s skip ahead to their next steamy encounter:

“Hawke?” I whispered, my heart crashing like thunder. “Kiss me. Please.”

Hawke had gone so still against me that I wasn’t sure if he even took a breath. My request had shocked him—shocked me.

I think I might’ve stopped breathing.

“Gods,” he breathed, and one hand returned to my cheek. “You don’t have to ask me twice, Princess, and you never have to beg.”

Before I had a chance to respond, his lips brushed over mine. I gasped at the soft contact, and I swore I could feel his lips curve against mine in a smile. I wished I could see it because it seemed like a full grin, the kind that lifted both sides of his mouth and made both dimples appear, but then he moved his mouth along mine, painstakingly slow as if he were mapping out the curve of my lips with his. I held completely still, my heart feeling like a trapped butterfly as he retraced the path he’d just made. Tiny shivers hit every part of my body. I trembled as my hands curled into the front of his tunic, no doubt wrinkling the fine material.

This touch was barely a kiss, but gods, the gentleness, the sweetness of it shook me, rattled me to the core.

Then Hawke tilted his head, increasing the pressure, deepening the kiss. Suddenly, everything changed. This kiss—its rawness—left me breathless. Resulted in both of us gasping when we parted, our chests rising and falling quickly. I couldn’t see his eyes in the dark, but I could feel his penetrating stare.

I wasn’t thinking about what I was in those seconds. I wasn’t thinking about what was forbidden and what was right. I wasn’t thinking at all, truth be told, and I didn’t know who moved first. Hawke? Me? Both of us at the very same moment? Our lips touched again, and this time, there was no hesitation. There was just want, so much of it, and a hundred other powerful, forbidden things that pounded through me. His lips scorched mine, heated my blood, and set fire to my senses. His hands moved to my shoulders, sliding down my arms. Hawke shuddered, and a sound emerged from the back of his throat, sort of like a half-growl, half-moan. It sent little shivers of pleasure and panic darting through me as he parted my lips. The hunger behind our kiss should’ve scared me—and maybe it did a little because it felt like too much and not nearly enough all at the same time. I moaned as his hands drifted down my sides. It felt like my body was sparking, igniting—

He gripped my waist, lifting me and settling me again so my knees fell to either side of his hips with me pressed against him. His breeches and my gown served as no real barrier. I could feel him, and I shuddered as a sharp, pulsing ache throbbed through me. His answering moan, another deep, rough sound, shattered whatever hesitancy I had. I placed my hands on his chest, marveling at the way his body jerked as I slid them up over his shoulders and then around his neck. I did then what I wished I’d done at the Red Pearl. I sank my fingers into his hair, and the strands were as soft as I’d thought they would be. No other part of him felt that way. He was all hard heat against me.

Hawke’s arms moved around me, pulling me so tightly against him that there was barely any space between us. He kissed me again, kept kissing me, and I knew this was more than a kiss. It went beyond that, beyond how he felt and how he made me feel.

His words had touched the deepest part of me, and it was thrilling. I felt alive, like I was finally waking up.

And I never wanted it to stop.

Not with the rush of sensations flowing through me. I knew in the back of my mind that I’d lost control of my gift. My shields were wide open, and there was no way to tell if what I felt belonged to him or me or both of us.

Instinct took over, guiding my body—my hips to push and roll—and he shuddered again, catching my bottom lip between his. He grabbed fistfuls of the skirt of my gown, lifting until his hands touched my calves. A tremor went through me like lightning.

“Remember,” he said against my lips as his palms glided up to the curve of my knees. “Anything you don’t like, say the word, and I’ll stop.”

I nodded, seeking his mouth in the darkness. When I found him, I wondered how I’d made it this long without kissing him again.

I wondered how I could go on without doing it more.

That thought threatened to dampen the heat, but his hands were moving again, skimming over my skin and sending a rush of heated blood to every part of my body. I shifted forward until our hips were melded together. I moved. We moved. And I thought I whispered his name before I kissed him again, slipping my tongue between his lips, against his teeth—

Hawke jerked his head back, panting as he rested his forehead against mine. “Poppy,” he said in a way that made my name sound like both a prayer and a curse.

“Yes?” My fingers opened and closed around the silky softness of his hair.

“That was the fifth time I’ve said your name, in case you’re still keeping track.”

I grinned. “I am.”

“Good.” He slipped his hands out from under my gown, and one of them found its way to my cheek. He traced the edge of my mask, surprising me yet again with his sight. “I don’t think I was being honest a few moments ago.”

“About what?” I loosened my grip on his hair, lowering my hands to his shoulders.

“About stopping,” he admitted quietly, drawing his fingers down my cheek and over my jaw. “I would stop, but I don’t think you would stop me.”

“I’m not exactly understanding what you’re saying.” I let my eyes close. Despite being confused by his words and the fact that we weren’t kissing, I liked the intimacy of how close we were, how his head rested against mine.

He drew the tips of his fingers down the side of my neck. “Do you want me to be blunt?”

“I always want you to be honest.”

My senses were still open. I knew that because I felt a foreign sensation coming through the connection, but it was too brief for me to figure out what it was.

And then he kissed my temple, and I thought about the odd, ashy feeling that had coated my throat. “I was seconds from taking you to the ground and becoming a very, very bad guard.”

Air caught in my throat as a pulse of warm heat went straight through me. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew enough to know what he meant. “Really?”

“Really,” he answered seriously.

I should’ve felt relief that he’d stopped, and I did. But I also didn’t. What I felt was a confusing mess. But I knew one thing for sure.

“I don’t think I would’ve stopped you,” I whispered. I would’ve let him take me to the ground, and I would’ve welcomed what he did, consequences be damned.

In this intense kissing scene, Hawke does a great job communicating with Poppy and letting her know she could tell him no. He even controls himself from going too far, but from the sounds of it, Poppy would not have minded.

In a heartbeat, I was on the bed, and he was above me, the rough hair of his legs abrasive against mine in the most surprising, pleasant way. But the feel of him against my hip caused a nervous swallow, and also brought a reminder of a very real consequence that could come from this.

“Are you—?”

Protected?” His thoughts obviously following the same path as mine. “I take the monthly aid.”

He was talking about the herb that rendered both males and females temporarily infertile. It could be drunk or chewed, and I heard that it tasted like sour milk.

Kudos to Armentrout for remembering contraception!

Because I want you to touch me,” he said. “I want you to see what you do to me when you touch me.”

A shiver danced over my skin. “How…how do you want me to touch you?”

“Any way you want, Princess. You can’t do it wrong,” he whispered hoarsely.

Uncurling my fingers from the sheet, I lifted a hand, touching his cheek. His gaze remained latched to mine as I drew my fingers along the curve of his jaw, over his soft lips, and then down his throat. I was still feeling too much for my gift to be remotely functional as I glided the tips of my fingers over his chest. His breaths pushed it against my hand, and I kept exploring, soaking in the feel of the taut, coiled muscles of his lower stomach, and the dusting of hair below his navel and then lower. My fingers brushed silky hardness, and his entire body jerked. I hesitated.

Please. Don’t stop,” he rasped, jaw clenched as his fingers stilled on my breast. “Dear gods, do not stop.”

I focused on his face as I touched him. There were so many tiny reactions throughout his entire body. His jaw popped, and his lips parted slightly. The lines of his face became sharper, and the tendons in his neck stretched as I curled my hand around him. He kicked his head back, and his large, powerful body trembled. I noted how rapidly his breathing had become as I slid my hand down to where our bodies were almost joined. He gave a full-body shudder then, and I was awed by how much my touch affected him. I tightened my grip, becoming more confident.

“Gods,” he growled.

Is this okay?”

“Anything you do is more than okay.” His voice had deepened even more. “But especially that. Totally that.”

I am absolutely stunned. The book itself may not be good in other areas, but Armentrout does an amazing job writing communication and consent during sexual encounters. Both participants are comfortable enough to ask the other one what they want, and when unsure, are not afraid to ask.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

This whole scene (and everything that happened beforehand) gets soured later when Poppy finds out Hawke is not who she thinks he is.

Hawke basically withholds who he truly he is from Poppy (lies) and when she finds out she is devastated. Poppy is betrayed and because of that consent becomes questionable. It’s questionable because if she had known who he truly was, she most likely would not have consented.

For example: If a man tells a woman he loves her, and she agrees to have sex with him because she loves him and thinks he loves her, but then later he tells her he doesn’t love her and that he was just saying he did to have sex with her, then was sex truly agreed upon?

Technically, in my example, the woman consented to sex, but she agreed because she loved him and she thought he loved her. She most likely would not have had sex with him had he told her he did not love her, so the question is, does that negate the consent?

It’s clear the relationship in From Blood and Ash is unethical and unhealthy because Hawke was “lying”* the whole time, but as for consent, it falls into a gray area. At the moment sexual activity was happening between Hawke and Poppy, it appeared to be agreed upon, but when Poppy finds out his relationship with her was all part of some plot to make her his hostage, she feels disgusted. It makes all those sexual moments questionable. Did she truly consent?

I’m curious to hear what my readers think. Do you think if a person lies about who they are to get sex, it negates the consent? What if the partner doesn’t find out? Is it still consent if the person lies, but then never sees their partner again? Is the consent only negated if the person finds out the other was lying?

For now let’s skip ahead to their next sexual encounter, where Poppy knows the truth about Hawke, and they have somewhat made up:

“I don’t need you to say my name,” he said, his eyes half closed. “I just need you to do that again, but if you don’t start moving, you might actually kill me.

A startled giggle burst from me. “I…I don’t know what to do.

Something about his features softened even though stark need shone through the thin slits of his eyes. “Just move.” His hands went to my hips. He lifted me up a few inches and brought me back down. A deep sound radiated from him. “Like that. You can’t do anything wrong. How have you not learned that yet?”

I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but I mirrored his movement, moving up and down as snow fell across his shirt. My palm slipped, angling me forward. A spot deep in me was touched, sending out bolts of intense pleasure in waves. “Like that?” I breathed.

His hands tightened on my hips. “Just like that.

I love the dialogue that happens here, this is great communication, especially for someone’s first time or when trying a new position and they may not know what they are supposed to do or what the other person would like them to do.

What about consent? Poppy and Hawke know who each other are now and both are willing participants, so consent is definitely present. But the question remains, what about their previous encounters? Was there consent?

* I put “lying” in quotes because it can be debated as to whether or not Hawke lied about who he is because he technically used a name he is called by and he never really lied to her face, he just wasn’t telling her everything about himself (withholding information) and well it’s debatable if “not telling” is the same as “lying.” So I’ll let the reader decide.

Erotica Often Lacks Consent: Examining an Excerpt From Satisfaction by Thea Devine

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post.

My previous posts were a bit more mellow when it came to sex, more typical of what you would find in a romance novel, and even they lacked healthy sex, so I decided to look at an excerpt from an erotica, which is basically just written porn. This excerpt from Satisfaction is definitely well written and arousing, BUT, not at all healthy.

Let’s examine:

Satisfaction
By Thea Devine
Full Excerpt Available on Google Books

 “So —” he murmured in her ear, as he nipped it and swiped his tongue over the lobe. She felt good, she smelled sweet and hesitant, a hot, yearning, reluctant virgin, the kind he ate for breakfast in London.

But this one was now his wife, and his choice, and he must savor this once-in-a-lifetime delicacy.

And then teach her and train her to service him perfectly. A blank slate, his Jancie, willing, wanting, waiting to be filled with the knowledge of his preferences and pleasures.

That part especially would be so gratifying. He had already started the instruction in a most subtle way, in all the months he had touched her and aroused her in the garden, when he kissed her in the library, when he held her like this, moving his hands slowly, teasingly to her breasts, cupping and stroking them until her body felt boneless, and then letting them go.

He had taught her then to want him, to hunger for his touch, his kiss, his need. His expert stroking of her breasts. And now, he had come to the final step, the pleasure part: he had only to impart to his beautiful willing virgin what would please him carnally, and then seduce her into doing whatever he wanted when he wanted, and she would be perfection.

The thought of it was enough to keep him hot, stiff and pulsing for hours.

Maybe all night.

The challenge was irresistible.

Right away we can see this relationship isn’t healthy, but kind of what we come to expect from an erotica, a man who wants to possess a women, who (shocker!) is a virgin, and make her his, and of course the woman is so willing (Fifty Shades of Grey does the same). It’s a common trope.

As a result, the sex is probably not going to be ethical, but it could possibly still be consensual. Let’s continue:

Do you like this?” he whispered, beginning his slow sensual assault on her neck. “And this?” As he moved his mouth to her shoulder. “This —”

Moving his fingers upward to touch one taut nipple. “This?” Tweaking it under the breath of material that covered it, and feeling her body jolt as sensation shot through the nipple tip right to her very vitals. —

I like it,” she breathed as she tried to get control of her trembling body. This was familiar, this she knew from all their assignations all these months when he had finally come to touch her, to make love to her breasts and nipples. “I like… it—” as he cupped her breasts and began stroking each nipple with his thumbs. She watched him in the mirror, fascinated by very movement, every stroke, every subtle touch, and the glimmer of the diamond between her breasts.

Okay so we have some communication here, which is great! Lujan does ask Jancie if she likes what he is doing, and she does vocally respond. So we’re off to a good start, besides the not so healthy relationship.

This she knew, and she knew there was nothing to fear. He had touched her like this before, but never so close to the skin.

The pleasure was indescribable. The sensation was indefinable. She only knew she didn’t want him to stop, but if he didn’t, something was going to happen—she didn’t know what.

She didn’t know so much. Except—and she hadn’t been prepared for this part—she loved this— this unexpected thickening pearl of sensation that centered in her nipples but spiraled downward between her legs, and the lofting feeling of pleasure coming from—where?

His fingers, her nipples so tight, so hard, so sensitive to his touch—? It took nothing at all for him to arouse her to a hardened peak. Her breathing grew shallow, thick. She knew this, but never so nakedly and her boneless body just melted against him, and she gave herself into his hands to do with whatever he would.

This was the moment of ultimate surrender. She felt the heat and heft of his penis pushing insistently against her bottom; she saw him easing away the material from her breasts, felt the first full force of skin against skin, watched as his fingers touched her naked nipples. Manipulated her nipples. Surrounded them, squeezed them expertly with his fingers, as she watched helplessly in the mirror, a slave to the pearling feeling, her body writhing and squirming with a sudden awful need to get away from his relentless stroking and tweaking.

I’m not too concerned so far as consent has been established and she had told him she liked it, so at this point, I think it’s only necessary for her to speak if she doesn’t like what he’s doing, or for him to maybe communicate if he decides to do something other than play with her breasts.

Onward:

Her hips gyrated wildly against his hard length, operating wholly on instinct, and she grabbed his thighs and gripped them hard to brace her body against his erotic thrusting.

But he wanted her nipples and only her nipples: he pulled at them gently, twisted them, squeezed them in incremental pulsations that made her knees go weak and stole her breath.

Who could have known such carnal sensations existed in that one small hard naked nub? Or that he would begin his maiden assault on her there—in such a familiar way, and with both of them watching every second of his handling of her breasts in a mirror…?

This was so lusciously unexpected. This wasn’t how she had envisioned their initial coupling, but as he massaged and caressed her nipples, she couldn’t remember anything wanting anything more, couldn’t feel anything other the molten pleasure skeining irresistibly through her body.

And the excitement—he felt it too; there was an urgency in the way he thrust and bumped against her buttocks. The way she answered in kind, writhing and rubbing against his heat and hardness. The greedy look in his eyes as he watched her in the mirror, watched her undulating body, her bouncing naked breasts, the glittering diamond with which he’d bought her, his pumping fingers on her tight hard responsive nipples.

And the other wonder was how she affected him, how her body aroused him, the way her nipples elicited the most primitive sounds from him as if he couldn’t get enough of feeling and fondling them.

She felt a mad hot urgency to press something naked and hard between her legs. Something like—him…

She clawed at the skirt of the nightgown, she felt him ease back to give her purchase to spread her legs so that he could poke his iron hot penis between them, so she could just… shimmy… down onto his hard shaft… and position herself just so… God, he was so hot, thick, rigid—just right between her legs…

Still no vocal communication, but there’s a lot of body language giving consent, so I’m still not concerned about the sexual activity. We’re going to skip ahead to where things become questionable:

“I could come right now,” he breathed against her ear. “I could spew to the ceiling right now, but I want to make you come again first. You come for me, Cinderella, you have no choice. And all you have to do is watch-“

She made a little helpless sound as he began to stroke her, inch by inch, down her body with his free hand, working his way toward her bush, toward her slit, and the secrets of her woman’s flesh. He was agonizingly slow as he massaged and felt her from her breast to her navel; her knees went weak as she watched, and he licked and sucked her lobe and whispered erotic nothings into her ear.

Threats are not healthy and this is not consent as the option to say no is taken away by the threat. I also feel, since she is a virgin, his threat should make her uncomfortable and not as willing as she seems to be, so it seems unrealistic. And even though she seems to enjoy his touch, I question the ethics due to his threat. Let’s skip ahead some more:

He watched as she hesitantly swiped the thick drop from him with a tentative finger, and looked at him inquisitively.

Lick it.”

She couldn’t.

She must. She knew instinctively that if she refused, the balance between them would shift. This was the part of him she did not know-the part that was accustomed to commanding and getting everything he wanted, no matter what the cost.

And she knew somewhere deep inside, that he would walk away from her bed, her body, and their marriage if she did not obey, and find everything he desired with someone else.

This was the second hard lesson: he could see her assimilating it by the look in her eyes, and then she lifted her finger to her mouth and licked it.

Clearly, this is not consent as she does not want to taste his semen, but is pressured into doing so or is afraid he would leave her. Consent has been negated entirely now as we see Lujan has more power in this relationship than she does. A healthy sexual relationship would require all participants to have equal say in what is being done to them.

Skipping ahead:

Down they went, hard and fast onto the floor, over they rolled; he spread her legs wide instantly, mounted her, and drove his shaft home.

The pain bolted through the swirling eddies of pleasure like lightning.

She stiffened again, pushed against his chest, tried to get out from under him and the jutting poker hardness that he had embedded so unceremoniously into her.

He felt the primitive triumph of possession.

There was nothing like a hot, squirming, virgin hole. So tight. So wet. So deep and unplumbed. So rare when it was coupled with such an unexpected carnal nature that loved a good nipple fuck, a good finger fuck.

Lord of the fates -to have given him such a succulent virgin for his house wife-he stopped his frantic pumping and lifted his body from the hips so he could feel the thick, deep connection of his possession, and he howled silently in exultation.

And then looked down at Jancie, whose eyes were still wide with shock. “Cinderella…”

She barely had any breath left; she felt as if his huge, hot possession of her most intimate place had stolen everything from her. Everything. She wanted him out of her body and out of her life. She hated this. This, the ultimate dirty secret-that a man literally occupied your body…

And what was he doing? Spreading her legs wider still, and nuzzling her nipples and plucking at them with his lips and tongue. Licking them. Suckling the hot, hard tips.

This almost sounds like a rape scene rather than sex between two lovers. Lujan knows Jancie’s a virgin, but he went ahead and just “drove his shaft home,” ouch! (Christian Grey does the same in Fifty Shades of Grey, but he at least warns Anastasia. Still a dick move either way).

Then she clearly motions she wants him to stop by physically pushing on him, and yet he continues. This is not consensual, not ethical as she clearly is not enjoying it as she says she hated it, and not safe as he didn’t put on a condom and we don’t know if she’s on birth control (but given the time period this takes place in, neither are probably available).

Some paragraphs later, she does eventually change her mind, so to avoid bias, I will include a little excerpt of that below:

So deep…so wet…so hot… she began to move, her hips pumping and gyrating against that possessive hardness. She understood suddenly that all the pleasure their bodies generated was cohesive, and that this penetration was involved, and now the pain was over, she had nothing more to fear, nothing she could ever hide from him.

Even so, this does not make the sex consensual or ethical as he clearly has all the power and she is basically being groomed to be his sex slave.

Talking is Almost Non-Existent in Movie Sex

I have done a few sex scenes from books, so I decided this time to focus on some popular movie scenes.

My main focus in this post is the lack of communication and how movie sex scenes are almost completely silent, except for some background music and heavy breathing, but I will also look at consent, of course, safety, and ethics of the sex.

Please note that I am analyzing these scenes from a modern day perspective. Some of these movies take place in different time periods, so the sex, given the time, may be “accurate” to the movie, but that doesn’t make what is shown okay.

The Lucky One

Logan and Beth have some pretty steamy sex, but there is zero verbal communication between them. We know they have chemistry, but it’s still their first time having sex together, so they don’t know their partner’s preferences just yet.

In real life, this would require some talking. A simple “yes” or “that feels good” or even asking their partner “does this feel good?” or “do you like that?” could be thrown in to make the scene more real, but alas, this is a movie, and the scene is purely meant to arouse us.

Also there is no consent, Beth just walks up to Logan and forces herself onto him. You can tell he’s taken off guard by her kiss, but goes with it because, as the viewer, we know they like each other. However, even if he is okay with it, there should still have been consent. Remember, yes means yes, don’t wait for the “no.”

In real life, this could get you in a lot of trouble, but movies can get away with this kind of forced kissing.

As for a condom? There’s not indication one is used and I don’t believe birth control is ever mentioned in the movie, so as the viewer we are left to assume that hopefully some form of protection was used or none was at all.

Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions does have one line, which is very important: “Are you okay?”
Sebastian asks this in the middle of sex, to which Annette nods, letting him know she is. This is a great example of consensual and ethical sex. However, it’s just one line.

It would be nice, as we know Annette is a virgin, if there might have been more speaking as she’s just learning what she likes, so she could be saying things like “that feels good,” or even a simple “yes,” would do the trick. Sebastian, having experience, maybe could have asked her a few more questions, like “how does this feel?” or “does this feel good?”

As for consent? We, as the viewer, are left to assume such as the scene skips from them making out to having sex.

As for safe sex? Well again, we kind of just have to assume that maybe he put a condom on as we don’t see the beginning of their sexual encounter.

The whole scene in general is blah in my opinion, but it’s a movie. Sex scenes are short and get to the point, they aren’t meant to mirror reality.

The Notebook

Everyone loves this love story, but there is zero verbal communication once they start kissing.

Noah’s kiss also isn’t consensual as from what we are shown, it looks as Allie is about to say something before he presses his mouth on to hers. However, she doesn’t pull away and we see them later undressing each other as they go to the bedroom. But again, consent should be established first, yes means yes.

Then, like most movies, the room is darkened and we hear a lot of heavy breathing and moans, but no talking. They haven’t seen each other in seven years, so as much as they might love each other, I highly doubt they know how to pleasure each other.

We’re lead to believe the sex is ethical as at the end Allie finally speaks, “let’s do it again,” showing she enjoyed it.

As for safety, lots of undressing is show, but no condom. So I guess we’re just going to have to assume Allie is on birth control, or they both just threw caution to the wind.

Atonement

Cecilia and Robbie are very cryptic in their speaking, but there is consent for the kiss and their body language shows that as well.

This is their first time having sex though, so as I mentioned above, this means they don’t know each other’s bodies just yet. There should be more talking, but again, in movies, it’s all about the breathing and the moaning.

No condom is shown, so either Cecilia is on birth control, or once again, caution is thrown to the wind, as with most sex scenes in movies.

BrokeBack Mountain

Right away there is no consent in this scene as one man, (I think Ennis), reaches over to touch the other (Jack) without asking. (The scene is so dark, it’s hard for me to tell. Plus I haven’t watched this movie since high school!)

Things get oddly aggressive, but yet they both begin to undo their pants, showing some signs of consent. Then there is a lot of grunting and panting, but no talking.

This is their first time, so in reality, things probably would happen a little slower and there would be more talking about what feels good or doesn’t (and maybe some lube).

Even though they are both men, so no chance of pregnancy, STDs could still be transmitted and so wearing a condom would have been a wise choice as well.

Also hard to say if it was ethical, as there is no real indication if either really enjoyed it.

Jennifer Weiner’s Sex Scene in “Who Do You Love?” Comes Close to Being Consensual

There’s a lot of things this excerpt from Who Do You Love that Jennifer Weiner gets right, but there are still a few issues.

It’s important to note that Andy and Rachel have history and this sex scene happens three years after their break up, so they somewhat already know each other.

 

Who Do You Love

By: Jennifer Weiner


They walked in silence through the parking lot. When they got to his car, he hugged her, holding her tightly against him, an embrace still on the right side of propriety, one that could still be considered friendly, but only just. When they broke apart, her face was flushed, her eyes shining.

“I hope it won’t be another three years before we see each other again.”

Instead of answering, Rachel reached for him, putting her small, warm hand on the back of his neck, lifting her lips to his. They kissed, first lightly, then more urgently, his tongue in her mouth, her hips tilted against his, her breasts against his chest, her whole body sending a message that was undeniable. “Want to come up?” he asked. She’d left her bags in his apartment, with the understanding that they’d pick them up after dinner and he’d take her to the hotel she’d booked. More than once, when they’d been talking, he’d offered her his bed, saying he’d sleep on the couch, and Rachel had turned him down, politely but firmly.

Without a word, she climbed into the passenger seat, smiling at him, saying, “Yes.”


A lot of good examples of physical consent signals in this first paragraph. Remember, Andy and Rachel have history, so they can rely a bit more on body language, but if you are ever uncertain, speak!


As soon as his front door was shut they started kissing again. Her tongue fluttered against his, and his hands were deep in the softness of her hair, and it was like time unspooled, carrying them right back to when they were teenagers. He pulled her against him, thinking that he’d never get her close enough, that if he could fold her inside of him, like a mother tucking a baby into her coat, he’d do it. He’d keep her warm, he’d keep her safe, he’d keep her with him, always.

Taking her hand, Andy led her to his bedroom, which looked like every room he’d ever lived in — a bed, a dresser, the posters on the wall. She nibbled at his chin, his ear, touching his face with her fingertips, sighing, whispering, “You feel so good.” Once, she pushed him back, propped herself onto her elbows, and asked, “How long has it been?”

Andy knew what she was asking, and it wasn’t how long it had been since he’d seen her. He thought back to his last romance, if you could even call it that, ten minutes of undignified fumbling in the bathroom of a bar downtown. “It’s been a little while,” he said. That girl — God, he wasn’t even sure what her name was — had scribbled her phone number on his hand in eyeliner, if he remembered right, after neither one of them could find paper or a pen. The next week, when they’d met for drinks, Andy realized that they had absolutely nothing to say to each other and that, when he didn’t have four beers inside him, she looked like an eel, with a narrow body and a big, horsey mouth.

Not many of the runners had serious girlfriends. Hookups were more common, a night or a weekend with another athlete who understood the deal, or a woman who’d attach herself to you at a meet, or in a bar. Andy remembered the time he’d spent with a television reporter who’d been covering the Olympic trials in Atlanta. She’d worn a girdle and had gotten annoyed when he’d laughed. “It’s a foundation garment,” she’d said, her pretty face looking less pretty when she scowled. After they’d finished, he’d been starving, but all she had in the refrigerator of her chrome-and-stainless-steel loft was seltzer and a jar of pickles.

Not Rachel, he realized, now that he had Rachel in his arms again, her lush curves and her soft skin, her beautiful hair, her beautiful scar. That was the problem with the reporter. That was the problem with all of them. None of them were Rachel.

He felt her slip down the bed. She unfastened his pants, eased his briefs over his hips, and brushed the length of his cock with her palm before taking him in her mouth. He sighed, eyes shut, thinking about how unbelievably good it felt, when Rachel gave a throaty moan, then rolled her mouth from base to tip and whispered, “Look at me.”

He looked and saw that she had her eyes open, locked on his, as she opened her mouth, hollowed her cheeks, and slid all the way down. He wondered if some other guy had asked for that — I want you to look at me when you do it — or if she’d seen it in a movie, or read it in some magazine. Ten Secrets to Turn Your Guy On. Rachel’s expression went from ardor to confusion as she felt him start to soften.

“What?” she asked.


Given the context, the part in red may not be so bad, but I’m going to point it out as she still could have asked: “Is this okay?”

The reason the asking may not be necessary here is that the consent has already been established with them. Rachel agreed to go to his place, went with him to his room willingly, and both make strong suggestions they want to have sex with their body language.

I do like that this sex scene, compared to others I have read, has a bit more talking, which makes it feel more real. Rachel isn’t afraid to voice what she wants to Andy, and when she notices something is wrong, she stops and asks, showing she cares about her partner.


“Shh,” he said, pulling her up so they were face-to-face again. He slid his hands between her legs, positioning fingers and thumb the way she’d taught him. Except that wasn’t right. She hadn’t taught him. They’d figured it out together, how to make her come. He nuzzled against her, his lips on her neck, nibbling and kissing his way up to her earlobe, where she’d always been ticklish. “Ooh,” she whispered. “Ooh! Oh, oh, oh,” she sighed, as he worked his fingers against the slick seam . . . and then she forgot to pose, forgot about trying to look good, and lost herself inside her own pleasure. Andy watched her squeeze her eyes shut as she clamped her thighs against his wrist and snapped her hips up, once, twice, three times before she froze, all the muscles in her thighs and belly and bottom tense and quivering, and he felt her contract against his fingers.

Before she could recover, he’d rolled her onto her back and slipped inside her. After the first thrust he had to hold still, knowing that if he kept moving, if he gave himself up to the exquisite tightness, the heat, he would explode. He wanted her to come at least once more, with him, and he didn’t want her to tease him, the way she sometimes used to if they hadn’t seen each other in a while and he finished before she’d had a chance to get started.


I’m going to red flag this part because there isn’t enough context to indicate that Rachel wanted him to penetrate her. The author could have written that Andy rolled her over and then Rachel guided him in, which would show physical consent or have him actually ask her if he could penetrate her. However, in the way it is written, it just sounds like he did it because he wanted to, so no consent. Even if she is okay with it after the fact, it’s still not consent. Consent needs to happen before the act is done.


“It’s not a race,” she would say. “You’re not trying to beat your personal record here.” He’d always taken care of her . . . or, sometimes, when he was sleepy, he would just curl around her, holding her close, with his fingers inside her and her fingers working at her clitoris, and they’d taken care of her together.

But he wanted it to be good that night. He wanted everything to be perfect.

He reached down and stroked her cheek, then her hair. “Oh, God,” she whispered, swiveling her hips in a way he knew would send him right over the edge. “Oh, wait. Do you have a condom?” she whispered.

Andy opened his nightstand drawer and ripped open a Trojan. Rachel watched, frowning. “Tell me they sell those as singles,” she said.


Good job author for thinking about condoms!

However, it would have probably been better had he put the condom on even earlier. Condoms not only help prevent pregnancy, but they also protect against STDs.

Andy and Rachel haven’t seen each other in three years. He has clearly had multiple partners. The condom should have been put on before Rachel even did oral on him as some STDs can be transmitted orally.

To be even safer, Andy and Rachel probably should have gotten themselves tested for STDs before agreeing to any sexual activity, especially since they have been apart for three years and Andy has slept with other women.


He kissed her, pleased that she was jealous, thinking that he’d tell her anything she wanted to hear, and, finally, he slipped inside her again. She gasped and shut her eyes, and then neither of them spoke. She had one hand on his shoulder, the other slowly stroking his back, from the nape of his neck to the base of his spine.

“You feel so good,” she whispered . . . and then Andy couldn’t hold back any longer. He plunged inside her, deep into that maddening clutch, that heat. Rachel moaned, her hands locked onto his shoulders, her breath against his face, her voice in his ear, urging him on.

“Oh, baby,” he gasped as she put her lips against his ear, whispering his name over and over, like a chant, or a song, or a prayer.


Both appeared to have enjoyed the sex, so it does seem ethical.


If there was going to be awkwardness, it would come when they’d finished; when they looked down and saw that he was still wearing his socks and she still had her panties hooked around one ankle. There would be the condom to dispose of, the strangeness of a woman in his bed for the first time in months, and Rachel would surely have something to say about his decorating skills, how his bedroom was as austere and empty as a cheap hotel room, with no bookshelves, no dining-room table, since college on the walls. But as soon as they were done, Rachel rolled into his arms, curling herself against his chest, and said, “I missed you!” in the friendly, happily surprised voice of a woman who’d bumped into an old best friend at the grocery store. With her hands balled into fists, she punched lightly at his chest, like it was his fault they’d been apart.

“I missed you, too,” Andy said. He’d been smiling for so long he was sure that his face would ache in the morning. “I feel like . . .”

“What?” she asked. “How do you feel?” He remembered how she’d always been interrogating him, quizzing him about his emotions, pushing him to give her more than just a “fine” or  “happy” or “tired.”

“Like nothing’s changed,” he said. “Like you went out to get bagels or something, and now you’re home.”

“Now I’m home,” she said.


Overall, this is one of the better sex scenes I have read in awhile. There is only one part that is truly questionable in terms of consent, which is when Andy penetrates Rachel without permission.

The only other issue I have with this scene is even though a condom is mentioned and used, the sex is still not as safe as it could have been. A condom should be put on before any sexual activity to truly be safe. Also, given that it has been 3 years, and Andy has slept with other women, Andy and Rachel should have gotten tested for STDs before participating in any sexual activity.

As for ethics, both appeared to have enjoyed the sex and Rachel wasn’t afraid to speak up. Andy didn’t do much talking, so there could be some improvement there. An “are you alright?” or “does that feel good?” would have been nice to hear from Andy, rather than relying solely on body language.

 

Jennifer Weiner's Sex Scene in _Who Do You Love__ is Close to Being Consensual (1)

David and Jade Lack Communication in “Endless Love” by Scott Spencer

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

Okay, so the relationship in Endless Love by Scott Spencer is pretty much unhealthy, to begin with, as David is a bit disturbed and obsessed with Jade, so it’s not coincidental that the sex would be questionable as well. However, since this book is so popular, I’m going to break down one of the many sex scenes in this book.

Endless Love

By Scott Spencer

Come in me,” she said. She lifted herself up with her hands around my neck and kissed me. Then she reached down for me and pressed the head of my penis into her. “I want to feel us,” she said. And when I lowered myself upon her and sank as deep as I could go, her voice was replaced by that high keening hum. I watched her face as best I could. Those strange contortions that would be so horrible under any other circumstances. Her lips parting, stretching, her mouth opening in a silent howl.


Jade is comfortable enough to voice her desires to her partner, so that gets the green light from me. However, she doesn’t wait for a response from him, and moves on to the next step, so that makes the consent questionable.

A lot of times it is assumed men want sex and won’t turn it down. This is a bad stereotype and just like men have to ask for consent, so do women. 

In this scene, she could have waited for his response or simply asked him if he was okay with what she was suggesting. 

However, David does consent by inserting himself further into her. He could have pulled out if he wasn’t okay with the idea, so there is physical consent.

Also, there is no mention of a condom or birth control, making the sex unsafe. To fix this, before inserting him into her, she could have suggested grabbing a condom or he could have asked if she was on the pill.


Eyes closed and then suddenly open, staring up at me with real helplessness, mixed with hunger and surprise. The heel of her hand hit my chest; it seemed for a moment as if she were going to try to push me off of her. But it passed. She was rising toward me, levitating, holding on with her hard competent hands.


Jade pushed against him, usually a good indication to stop, but David didn’t stop. David just assumed the moment passed and everything was fine. Reading the rest of the excerpt, she seems to be okay with this which she shows physically in rising toward him and holding onto him. 

However, it is WRONG to assume such and should your partner give you ANY sign of wanting to stop, you should stop and check in on them. David should have stopped and asked if Jade was okay if he thought she was showing signs of hesitation, not keep going and assume all was fine.


I could feel her reaching her climax and I almost stopped because I didn’t want it to end. It was, after all, how we’d taught each other to make love: the sin of the Adamites; the psychedelia of the suppressed orgasm. Each time I stopped, the eventual come would be more powerful. Each interlude would send us streaming closer together. But as I slowed my pace she quickened hers and her grip had a sternness in its strength, an undertaste of fury. I thought that if I didn’t carry through she might actually punch me in the mouth. And so I slipped my hands beneath her rump so no matter what our bodies did they would be touching and I would stay in her as deep as possible. The hum became a kind of toneless noise, like the loudest part of a yawn stretched out indefinitely… We were moving like mad and suddenly I could feel her inner walls in terrifying detail, as if I’d gotten fifty times thicker. We came, first Jade and then me, moments behind her, holding each other, and our voices joining, forming one wild and unbearably lonely cry.”


Jade and David severely lack verbal communication. 

Verbal communication during sex is important, no matter how long you have been in the relationship. It is an essential component of any healthy established relationship. It may not be as frequent as in a newer relationship, but it is still extremely important to check in on your partner vocally every now and then. Asking if your partner is okay is an easy way to show that you care about them, and telling them if something feels good will help them make the moment more pleasurable for you.

The part I highlighted in red shows that David thinks slowing down is what Jade wants, to give her a better orgasm, but clearly, Jade doesn’t want him to stop, which she shows by increasing her pace. She could have vocally communicated this by telling him “don’t stop” or “keep going.” David could have also asked her “Should I keep going?” instead of just assuming he should slow down.

However, there is physical communication, so it does seem ethical, but I personally, would have loved to see Jade and David talk to each other more. It would make their sex seem more realistic.  

 

Final Thoughts

Too often authors write sex scenes, like this one, where they think couples just have sex without talking.  Film and television are guilty of this as well. Think about the last sex scene you saw in a movie or on a TV show, did the couple ever talk to each other while in the act? Probably not.

Real sex, however, should involve talking to your partner: Telling them what you want or don’t want, what you like and don’t like. It’s not supposed to be a silent guessing game, especially for newer couples who don’t yet know their partner’s desires, and even experienced couples should still check in on their partners because sometimes what feels good one time, might not be so good another time. Our likes and dislikes change over time or depending on our moods.

I think it would be amazing if more authors incorporated talking more during sex scenes in their books so teens and young adults reading will think it is normal.

I remember my first time having sex and it was so awkward. We are shown by the media that no one talks during sex, that it’s supposed to be this hot, steamy experience, and sadly that is often not the case the first time. So, of course, my expectations were high and unrealistic.

Good sex takes time as you and your partner have to experiment over and over again to discover what feels good, and guess what, that involves TALKING! 

David and Jade Lack Communication in _Endless Love_ by Scott Spencer

What Might Healthy Sex in Fiction Look Like?

After sharing two famous pieces of fiction that had unhealthy sex scenes, I thought it was time to share an example of consensual and ethical sex, and since this can be hard to find, I will be sharing a scene I have written myself. I also thought it would be fun to break down my own piece of work.

I originally wrote this steamy two-pager for a Fanfic, but it stands on its own really well (no spoilers!). It’s important to note that the characters in this sex scene have a well-established relationship. They trust and feel safe with each other.

Winter is Ending

By: GoldenLikeDaylight


Once the door disappeared behind him, Anna fiercely kissed him. Severus could feel his heart pounding against his chest as they moved towards the bed, slipping their shoes and socks off along the way. He sat down and their lips parted for a moment. Anna seductively let her hair down and straddled his lap. Severus had never been more aroused.


I’m going to point out that maybe Anna should have asked before kissing Severus, but that’s where their relationship history plays importance. (Plus in the paragraph before, they were already kissing before moving to the bedroom, so she’s just picking up where they left off.)

In this case, Anna and Severus already have a well-established relationship. They trust each other, so asking is not entirely necessary.

I like to think of it this way. My husband and I always kiss before he goes to work. I don’t ask, he doesn’t ask, but we both want to and show it by lining up our lips.

It’s also important to note that Severus didn’t reject her kiss and he clearly is into the moment, so he has shown his consent in his physical reaction (taking shoes off, moving towards the bed, sitting down, allowing her to straddle him).

Anna also shows her consent physically (kissing him, moving towards the bed, taking shoes off, letting her hair down, straddling him).


Anna’s heart raced as she began to unbutton his black jacket.

“Are you sure?” Severus asked as he remembered their first attempt. As much as he wanted her, he didn’t want to hurt her.


Okay, so we let the kissing slide, but now you’re probably thinking, shouldn’t she have asked to unbutton his jacket?

Maybe? But given the previous context, their relationship history, and the fact they moved towards the bed, I believe it is safe for Anna to assume he would be okay with her removing his jacket. Now if Severus was not okay with it, he could tell her to stop or he could physically move her hand to indicate that’s not what he wants.

Severus, on the other hand, does ask her if she’s sure she wants to have sex with him, indicating he is okay with what she is doing to him but wants to make sure she feels the same.

This is a good example of “checking in” on your partner.

While I’m a fan of “yes means yes,” I don’t believe asking your partner every time you remove a piece of clothing or every time you touch them intimately is necessary, especially if you have an equal and trusting relationship. A lot of consent can be given in body language, as long as the couple is in a healthy relationship.


“Yes,” Anna replied as she removed his jacket. Her body felt like it was on fire and she wanted him, more than anything or anyone. Her hands moved to the buttons on his white shirt and Severus lost all will to argue with her. He fiercely kissed her as she finished removing his shirt. His hands had found their way to the back of her gown and he began to unlace it.

Anna could feel her heart pounding against her chest as his hand slowly caressed her body and gently cupped her breast. His other hand had found its way to her cheek, and his lips left hers. Anna opened her eyes to meet his loving gaze.

“Let me know if you want to stop,” Severus breathed. He was afraid he would get too lost in the moment and wanted to make sure she knew that it was okay to tell him no.

“I will,” Anna promised before pressing her lips against his once again. She didn’t want to stop.


Consent has already been established, so Severus and Anna don’t have to ask every time they remove an article of clothing or touch each other intimately. However, it’s important to note that consent can be revoked at any point during the sexual experience.

Severus even reminds Anna of this when he says, “Let me know if you want to stop.”

It also, honestly, probably wouldn’t have hurt for my characters to ask “Is this alright?” a bit more, so I’ll take the hit there.


Her fingers glided down his bare chest, gently over his scars, and down to his waist. She unbuckled his pants and Severus felt his heart skip a beat as her hand slid down inside, over his bare skin, and towards his pelvis. He stood, bringing Anna with him. Her undone dress fell to the floor and he hungrily removed her undergarments.

Anna’s heart stopped for a moment when she realized this was the first time he would see her naked. She suddenly felt very vulnerable and insecure, but not because of her scars. She was actually worried he might not find her attractive.

“You’re beautiful,” Severus said with a tenderness Anna had never heard before. Her cheeks flushed red and her confidence returned. He slowly ran his fingers through her hair, down to her breast, where they lingered. His touch sent chills down her spine.

“I love you,” He whispered into her ear.

“I love you too,” Anna replied pressing her body against his. She passionately kissed him, moving her hands down his back and to his waist. She pushed his pants past his thighs, and then let gravity do the rest.


Again, consent has been established and they have a healthy relationship (they both know they can tell the other to stop at any moment), so they don’t necessarily need to ask before touching each other, but again, it definitely wouldn’t hurt!

I wanted to highlight the part where Anna pressed her body against his because that is one way she shows her consent.

Consent doesn’t necessarily have to be vocal, it can be shown in physical ways, like leaning in for a kiss or moving closer to someone, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to voice it too. Physical consent can be misread, whereas vocal consent is easier to interpret correctly.

However, it’s important to note that even if a person does say “yes,” it may not necessarily be consensual if the “yes” was pressured or coerced, or if there is a power imbalance (large age gap, boss and employee, etc).


Severus leaned into her, but Anna pressed a hand against his chest, indicating for him to stop. He withdrew right away when he sensed her hesitation. He was expecting things to end there, but flames of desire danced in her wide brown eyes, indicating she still wanted him, leaving him aroused and confused.

“Let me,” Anna said as she moved towards him to encourage him to sit down on the bed. She didn’t want the flame inside her to stop burning and decided to try her aunt’s advice and take control.


Here’s an excellent example of consent being revoked.

Severus physically leans in, letting her know he’s ready to take the next step. Anna also responds with a physical gesture (pressing her hand against his chest) to let him know she’s not. Severus reads the signal right away and immediately stops, so not only is the sexual experience consensual, but ethical.

Severus prioritizes his relationship with Anna over his sexual desires and stops when she indicates to him she wants to stop. He doesn’t pressure her into continuing but immediately backs off, respecting her “no.”

Anna then voices her desires, that she wants to be the one on top. She feels safe and secure in her relationship with Severus and isn’t afraid to stop him. She is not afraid or ashamed to vocalize what she wants. This is ethical sex.


“Are you sure?” Severus asked as she placed her hands on his shoulders and straddled him. He wrapped his arms around her and looked into her eyes. He wanted to make sure she wanted him just as much as he wanted her.

“Yes,” Anna replied before pressing her mouth against his. She slowly lowered herself onto him. An involuntary moan escaped her lips. She had never felt anything so warm, so good, and it made her body tremble. Her breathing increased as she slowly moved her hips up and down. She kissed his neck. Her body was on fire and she wanted to keep burning.


Yay for consent! Severus checks in on Anna to make sure she wants the same thing he wants, and Anna not only voices “yes,” but also kisses him, physically giving her consent.

I want to point out that birth control is not used, so this is not safe sex. The original story takes place in a time before birth control exists, so I didn’t write it in. However, he could have easily put a condom on before she lowered herself, or she could have even put it on for him.

Now had I not said anything, it could be implied she’s on the pill. However, I think it’s important to have that somehow incorporated into a story where sex is going to happen as fiction does influence teens and young adults.

If teens and young adults see the characters in the stories they are reading practicing safe and healthy sex, I believe it’ll encourage them to want to do the same.


Severus’s heart raced as Anna lowered herself onto him and he could feel his muscles tense up from her movements. He had never felt anything so exhilarating before and he didn’t want her to stop. He grabbed her thigh with one hand and firmly pressed the palm of his other hand against her back. “Anna,” he moaned. His mouth found hers and he leaned into her. This time she didn’t stop him.

“Severus,” she breathed as he leaned over her. She reached for his face. She knew he wouldn’t hurt her.

“I am yours,” Severus whispered. He kissed her affectionately on the forehead and then he pressed his lips against hers. She tasted sweet, like honey.

Anna hungrily returned his kiss and wrapped her arms around him. “And you are mine,” she murmured as his lips left hers and moved to her neck. His mouth then traveled to her breasts, causing Anna to gasp. Her back arched from the pleasure. She dug her fingers into his back as her body tensed. She felt like a volcano about to erupt. Anna moaned as her body released. She had never felt such a rush of euphoria before.

Severus stopped, “Are you alright?”

“Yes,” Anna breathed and placed her hands on his face. She pressed her lips against his and their mouths melted together.


Severus checks in on Anna again with a classic, “Are you alright?” Anna, once more, vocalizes a “yes” and physically consents with a kiss.


His pacing intensified, along with his breathing. Anna could feel him throbbing inside her and knew he was on the verge of releasing. She held him tighter and kissed his neck and shoulder.

Severus let out a low groan as he felt a wave of ecstasy wash over him. It was over.

Anna loosened her grip on him as her body began to relax and her breathing slowed. She was exhausted, but also in pure bliss.

Severus lied down next to her, his breathing slowly returning to normal, and she turned to face him.

“Are you alright?” he asked, resting a hand on the back of her head.

“No,” Anna smiled, “much better, so much better.

Severus returned her smile and softly kissed her lips.

“Want to do it again?” Anna smirked causing Severus to laugh.

“Maybe later,” he smiled as she snuggled up to him. He ran his fingers lovingly through her long dark hair and closed his eyes. He would never forget this night.


Once the experience is over, Severus checks in on Anna afterward to make sure she enjoyed it as much as him. She teasingly says no, but then says, “Much better,” indicating that she did enjoy it, so much so she even asks if he wants to do it again, to which Severus politely declines.

Anna accepts his answer. She doesn’t pressure him and instead opts for cuddling.

Not only is the sex consensual, but it’s also ethical.

Both partners feel safe and secure in their relationship. Anna and Severus trust and have respect for each other. They do rely more on physical consent but Anna does voice her desires when she felt it was needed, and Severus does check in on her asking “Are you alright?” a few times throughout the experience.

 

Final Thoughts

So apparently, in my story, Anna is absolutely terrible at asking for consent, but she does a good job letting Severus know when to stop and isn’t afraid to tell him what she wants.

Severus, on the other hand, is excellent at checking in on Anna. He doesn’t ask her every single time, which leads to her stopping him. However, as soon as she signaled for him to stop, he did without hesitation.

Overall, I feel my characters are in a healthy and loving relationship that this works for them. A healthy established relationship (such as a happily married couple) would be able to read physical signals well and won’t have to rely so much on vocal consent, but at the same time, both partners should feel safe enough to speak up should something not feel right.

I feel verbal consent is more important for newer relationships or if it is a couple’s first time having sex where they may not know what their partner’s likes and dislikes are just yet. They may not be as skilled in reading body language.

Finally, birth control was not used, so though the sex was consensual and ethical, it was not safe.

What Might Healthy Sex in Fiction Look Like_

Is The Sex Scene in “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan Consensual?

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

The sex scene in On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan at first glance, appears consensual, but it is not all too clear as the characters never voice their desires or feelings to each other. However, I would definitely not consider it ethical or healthy. Let’s break down this scene:

On Chesil Beach

By: Ian McEwan

She said, ‘Very well, you may kiss my vibrato.’


I want to highlight this part as this is a good example of consent (which is why I used green instead of red font). She vocally gives him the okay to kiss her.


He took her left hand and sucked the ends of her fingers in turn, and put his tongue on the violin player’s calluses there. They kissed, and it was in this moment of relative optimism for Florence that she felt his arms tense, and suddenly, in one deft athletic move, he had rolled on top of her, and though his weight was mostly through his elbows and forearms planted on either side of her head, she was pinned down and helpless, and a little breathless beneath his bulk. She felt disappointment that he had not lingered to stroke her pubic area again and set off that strange and spreading thrill. But her immediate preoccupation – an improvement on revulsion or fear – was to keep up appearances, not to let him down or humiliate herself, or seem a poor choice among all the women he had known. She was going to get through this. She would never let him know what a struggle it was, what it cost her, to appear calm. She was without any other desire but to please him and make this night a success, and without any other sensation beyond an awareness of the end of his penis, strangely cool, repeatedly jabbing and bumping into and around her urethra. Her panic and disgust, she thought, were under control, she loved Edward, and all her thoughts were on helping him have what he so dearly wanted and to make him love her all the more. It was in this spirit that she slid her right hand down between his groin and hers. He lifted a little to let her through. She was pleased with herself for remembering that the red manual advised that it was perfectly acceptable for the bride to ‘guide the man in’.


Here is where ethics come into play:

Florence feels disappointed because he hadn’t lingered on her pubic area longer. This is partly on her as she should voice her desires and let him know what she likes.

However, she also doesn’t want to let him down, so she chooses not to speak up. This indicates a power imbalance and the relationship now appears to be one-sided, focused on the man.

In a healthy relationship, both participants should feel safe enough to express their wants, needs, and desires to each other. Florence clearly does not feel safe enough around Edward, despite claiming she loves him.

She also mentions “panic and disgust,” revealing that she may not be that into it, but again she does not voice her feelings, nor does Edward check in on her asking if it’s okay for him to do these things to her body. He just does them.

This is where “yes means yes” fits in. It’s easy to get lost in the moment, but very important for couples to check in on each other during sex. Simple questions like: “Is this okay?” “Are you alright?” “Does this feel good?” are great ways to make sure the other person is enjoying the sexual experience as much as you are.

The rest of the excerpt is pretty descriptive, but I could see nothing really wrong with the context the reader is given. Florence maybe could have asked, “does this feel alright?” as she’s touching him, but if he hadn’t liked it, he could have also vocalized or physically stopped her by moving her hand, which he didn’t either.


She found his testicles first and, not at all afraid now, she curled her fingers softly round this extraordinary bristling item she had seen in different forms on dogs and horses, but had never quite believed could fit comfortably on adult humans. Drawing her fingers across its underside, she arrived at the base of his penis, which she held with extreme care, for she had no idea how sensitive or robust it was. She trailed her fingers along its length, noting with interest its silky texture, right to the tip, which she lightly stroked; and then, amazed by her own boldness, she moved back down a little, to take his penis firmly, about halfway along, and pulled it downwards, a slight adjustment, until she felt it just touching her labia.

How could she have known what a terrible mistake she was making? Had she pulled on the wrong thing? Had she gripped too tight? He gave out a wail, a complicated series of agonised, rising vowels, the sort of sound she had heard once in a comedy film when a waiter, weaving this way and that, appeared to be about to drop a towering pile of soup plates.

In horror she let go, as Edward, rising up with a bewildered look, his muscular back arching in spasms, emptied himself over her in gouts, in vigorous but diminishing quantities, filling her navel, coating her belly, thighs, and even a portion of her chin and kneecap in tepid, viscous fluid.


Final Thoughts:

1. Consent is given at the start with the permission of a kiss, so well done there.

2. Florence and Edward’s relationship does not seem to be equal as Florence is too afraid to voice her desires to Edward, making the sex unethical as she is not fully enjoying it. In a healthy relationship, both partners should be equally enjoying the experience. It should not be one-sided.

3. Consent does not necessarily have to be vocal.

  • For example, while Florence is touching Edward, he could have easily grabbed her hand to indicate he didn’t like it, but since he didn’t, and we don’t see the sex from his point of view, we as the reader, just have to assume he did enjoy it.
  • Another example is if Florence didn’t like him being on top of her, she could have tried pushing him with her hands. She doesn’t do this, but from her internal dialogue, the reader is lead to assume that she wasn’t that into it.

A good partner would recognize these physical rejections or at least question what they mean and stop to ask.

Is The Sex Scene in “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan Consensual_

Breaking Down The Sex Scene in “Secretary” by Mary Gaitskill

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

Mary Gaitskill’s short story, Secretary is obviously non-consensual and classifies as sexual harassment, but it has become very popular, so I thought it was worth highlighting what makes the sex act portrayed in this fictional piece non-consensual.

Bad Behavior: Secretary

By: Mary Gaitskill

“The last time I made a typing error and the lawyer summoned me to his office, two unusual things occurred. The first was that after he finished spanking me he told me to pull up my skirt. Fear hooked my stomach and pulled it toward my chest. I turned my head and tried to look at him.


The first problem is there is a power imbalance. He’s a lawyer and she’s a secretary. Consent is already questionable because he has power over her job. 

The second issue in this paragraph is he “told” her to lift her skirt, he didn’t ask. Asking is imperative for consent.

Finally, she obviously does not want to as she is afraid. She is being coerced, and therefore not consensual.


“You’re not worried that I’m going to rape you, are you?” he said. “Don’t. I’m not interested in that, not in the least. Pull up your skirt.

I turned my head away from him. I thought, I don’t have to do this. I can stop right now. I can straighten up and walk out. But I didn’t. I pulled up my skirt.

Pull down your panty hose and underwear.”

A finger of nausea poked my stomach.

“I told you I’m not going to fuck you. Do what I say.


More commands. There is no asking as to whether or not she wants to undress, nor does he care about her feelings as he doesn’t ask “is this okay?” or “are you alright?”

She also hesitates as she thinks she doesn’t have to do what he says, showing she doesn’t really want to, so her consent is more because she feels she has no choice, not because she wants to, which again negates the consent.


The skin on my face and throat was hot, but my fingertips were cold on my legs as I pulled down my underwear and panty hose. The letter before me became distorted beyond recognition. I thought I might faint or vomit, but I didn’t. I was held up by a feeling of dizzying suspension, like the one I have in dreams where I can fly, but only if I get into some weird position.


Besides lacking consent, this sexual act is also unethical as she is clearly not enjoying the experience. Healthy sex involves both participants enjoying the act, not just one.


At first he didn’t seem to be doing anything. Then I became aware of a small frenzy of expended energy behind me. I had an impression of a vicious little animal frantically burrowing dirt with its tiny claws and teeth. My hips were sprayed with hot sticky muck.

Go clean yourself off,” he said. “And do that letter again.”


Another command. He doesn’t even ask if she’s alright. In a healthy relationship, both partners would be concerned about each other’s needs.

This is where the assault ends, but I’ll leave the rest of the excerpt below for your reading pleasure ⇓


I stood slowly and felt my skirt fall over the sticky gunk. He briskly swung open the door and I left the room, not even pulling up my panty hose and underwear, since I was going to use the bathroom anyway. He closed the door behind me, and the second unusual thing occurred. Susan, the paralegal, was standing the waiting room with a funny look on her face. She was a blonde who wore short, fuzzy sweaters and fake gold jewelry around he neck. At her friendliest, she had a whining, abrasive quality that clung to her voice. Now, she could barely say hello. Her stupidly full lips were parted speculatively.

“Hi,” I said. “Just a minute.” She noted the awkwardness of my walk, because of the lowered panty hose.

I got to the bathroom and wiped myself off. I didn’t feel embarrassed. I felt mechanical. I wanted to get that dumb paralegal out of the office so I could come back to the bathroom and masturbate.

Susan completed her errand and left. I masturbated. I retyped the letter. The lawyer sat in his office all day.”


To sum up how to make this sex scene consensual:

  • Get rid of the power imbalance. One of them would have to quit their job and work somewhere else.
  • ASK! The lawyer never asks, he just tells her what to do. Unless you have some BDSM agreement and safe word established, this is not consent.
  • Coercion is not consent. 
  • Both participants should enjoy what is being done to them. The pleasure shouldn’t be one-sided. 

Breaking Down The Sex Scene in “Secretary” by Mary Gaitskill