Friday, May 20, 2011
To Wrap or not to Wrap
Nope, I'm not talking about sandwiches, dresses or gifts. I'm talking about something much more elemental AKA the male sex organ (although there are female condoms, dams, barriers, etc. as well, I'm using the male condom/safe sex interchangeably in this post.) Yep, this is another one of those posts about how much realism is too much. Tess's great post on Monday about where each individual reader/writer draws the line sort of provided a nice springboard for my thoughts on safe sex.
Fiction is fantasy but at least in contemporary situations, we still usually stick to some of the tried and true. For example, most characters still have to abide by the regular laws we all do (not driving above the speed limit, not robbing thy neighbor, etc.) Yet sometimes readers and authors don't feel safe sex applies because they don't want to ruin the fantasy or appear to be preaching.
Other authors/readers are militant about the need for safe sex every time in the stories they read. Still others are like me, who sort of straddle both lines between "yes, always" and "most of the time, except." Just last night my Ellora's Cave editor told me that safe sex is one of the things she really watches for, so editors are definitely paying attention to this aspect.
So where do I fall? I believe safe sex must always come up. The characters can decide not to have it - or if they forget, the discussion can come afterward - but it's never a "non-issue" especially between people who don't know each other.
In my EC novella, Personal Research, the h/h are intimate with a condom, then engage in more intimate contact without one. Because of the impromptu nature of their first sex scene, it didn't seem realistic to have the hero carrying around a boatload of condoms. My heroine definitely wasn't expecting sex then so she didn't come prepared either. I struggled with that followup scene, wondering if someone would call me out for it, but I did make sure that the characters had the "I'm clean" conversation. To me, that's necessary.
In my next EC release, Provoke Me, the h/h use condoms for the first few sex scenes until the hero gets swept up and "forgets." That shows a major character change - Spencer is not a guy who forgets anything. To compound matters, this scene occurs in a sex club where condoms are everywhere and yet he doesn't grab one. I wanted to show the trust growing between them - even though he can't verbally acknowledge it yet - but they still discussed STDs and ensured Kelly was on the Pill. Pregnancy and disease are always factors so I felt they needed to be addressed. In this case, the h/h have known each other for 3 years so it's not as if they're strangers, but intimate contact is a whole new way to "know" someone.
An an author or reader, how do you feel about safe sex in fiction? Do you want to preserve the fantasy or do you feel the fantasy is tainted without that bit of realism? And writers, do you ever use safe sex to depict character growth in some way?
Looking forward to your thoughts and joining in on the discussion tonight when I get home from work.
And also, without further ado...the WINNER of my Condom Interruptus contest of your choice of any ebook in my backlist (including Provoke Me, which hasn't been released yet) is...yadkny, who has already been contacted. Thanks so much for participating and look for more contests coming soon!