Let’s talk about sex

Ever since #gamergate began I’ve been seeing feminism all over the place, and especially people saying video games, and the men who play them, are sexist. This upsets me on several levels, and I’ve spoken about a few but I have one that effects me personally that I’ve avoided for a few reasons.

The spat of feminism, and some of the things people have said, including a few people I use to think of as friends, makes me feel like they think I (and other women like me) am a slut just because I like sex.

Over the last few years there has been a move to say we live in a rape culture. That women are treated as nothing but sex objects, and it encourages man to rape and abuse women. It makes it feel like the “rape culture” enthusiasts have decided that if you are female and sex positive then you are just doing what men want you to do, falling into the stereotypes, and unable to think for yourself.

One of the most vivid memories I have from my marriage was the day I told my husband I thought something was wrong with the way he was treating me. His response was “Who told you to think that way?” as if I couldn’t think of something on my own. As if I wasn’t intelligent enough to think for myself.

Now we have a contingent of feminists that attack anything that shows women in a sexual way. Sexy outfits in video games, Anaconda by Niki Manaje, porn, etc. It’s all made for men, according to this segment of our population. It degrades women. It makes them targets.

“The women who partisipate in these things don’t know any better. They can’t think for themselves. They are just doing what the menz want.” Or so it sounds.

We came so far from Victorian prudence teaching children to hate sex and their bodies, all the way to free love in the sixties. We found a new identity that said women were in control of their bodies and could do what they liked. That women had the power over themselves. They could have sex without fear of pregnancy, get pregnant without a man, have their own jobs, incomes, mortgages. They could be in the military and by and large they had the authority over themselves and their minds.

They could think for themselves.

I do not disagree that there are some men who treat women as second class citizens, nothing more then a wet spot to stick their penis. I’ve had my fair share of encounters with them. They are assholes who aren’t worth my time. But these few men do not change the fact that I still have control of my body. I still have the desire to be desired, loved, and yes,  sexualized at times by my significant other. And there are women who enjoy being sexualized by every man who sees them. They enjoy it, and there is nothing wrong with that.

We are sexual creatures. We shouldn’t allow a few bad apples to ruin all the progress we’ve made over the last century.

Then we have the other side of the situation where this contingent of feminist treat men as mindless walking penises, unable to think with their larger head if there is any depiction of sexy females anywhere around.

Sigh. Any woman who’s been in a relationship long enough, who likes sex, will eventually get turned down for sex. Men have the same issues we do. Sometimes they are sick, tired, stressed, angry, worn out, or just plain not in the mood. Just like women *gasp*.

(As an aside, if a couple have different sex drives, meaning one wants it more than the other, then one party is less likely to turn down the other, ever, because they are afraid if they do they might not get sex again. This happens to men and women. But that’s a different subject.)

And one more thing, to those who say we sexualize women and not men I say: you’re not paying attention. “Why are women portrayed in bikinis and men in suits?” Have you seen a Calvin Klein ad lately? Those men are in underwear, sometimes with button up shirts undone. Topless photos of male actors are just as readily available online as topless actresses. No there aren’t a lot of nudes, but if you insist that women don’t like porn then that’s why. Besides the fact that the flacid penis is just weird, not attractive. (hint, a lot of women do like porn.)

How about Chip’n’dales? Or Playgirl magazine?

The truth of the matter is that sexy men don’t sell stuff nearly as well as sexy women in an ad. Is that because women are less visual? Is it because women are too smart to fall for that kind of advertising? Maybe it’s just that women have such a wide variety of sexual preference that they can’t find the one real “sexy” male body type.

Playgirl magazine does not sale as much as Playboy. A lot of women who do like porn prefer the type of porn that is “directed at men”. Why are we faulting marketers for following tends? If naked men sold product we’d see a lot more naked men. They don’t, for whatever reason. That doesn’t make men pigs, or women prudes, it makes us true to our human nature. Men and women have physical and mental differences.

In short… Sex is natural, sex is fun. Stop trying to inflict your beliefs on sexuality on other people. Last time I checked my body and mind are still my own.

Influences of the Past

I was talking to a fellow author today, and we started discussing authors we know and love. There are a number of them I love at the moment. Neil Gaiman, Kim Harrison, Elizabeth Hayden, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman… all fantastic authors with wonderful books that drew me in, and kept me reading. Kept me looking for the next book.

When I was younger my tried and true authors were Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey, with a little bit of Mercedes Lackey thrown in. If you caught me with a book (which you often did) eight out of ten times it would be one of these authors.

I was a voracious reader. I have read about 80% of Piers Anthony’s, and Anne McCafferey’s books (both of who are/were prolific authors. Piers Anthony is still writing to this day, and is currently writing a book through his twitter feed.)

Thinking back, I realize that my consumption of these books had a great influence on my writing. Piers Anthony especially.

I once found myself in a discussion about his books on Reddit. Now, Reddit is an odd place, and  you can find some incredibly thought provoking commentary in there. You can also find a bunch of trolls just looking to get a rise out of people. That day I just happened to meet someone who honestly didn’t like Anthony, and when she saw my comment about what a good writer he was it pushed her buttons.

Apparently some people think of Anthony as “an old pervert”. Okay, I’ll give you one, but not the other.

Yes, Anthony writes about younger girls falling in love, flirting, sex, and centaurs and mermaids with their breasts showing. He even wrote an interesting book called “Pornucopia” which is exactly what it sounds like. Does that make him a pervert? I don’t think so. Writing erotica doesn’t make you a pervert any more then enjoying sex because, you know, it feels… GOOD!

Sex is a part of the human condition. So are the subjects of body image, love, relationships, gender equality, and age of consent. Issues that he addresses in many of his books.

I kept reading his novels because they spoke about the human condition without being preachy. He often addressed race, religion, beliefs, fear, politics, and social and political issues of all kinds, throughout many of his books. But he did it in a way that even a young adult could understand. And he did it without shoving his own personal beliefs on you (even if they were sometimes pretty obvious.)

In “Race Against Time” Piers Anthony deals with the complex idea of “conformity” and how that could cause the stagnation of society and innovation. Written in 1973, it still rings true during a time when political correctness is almost crammed down our throats. We are taught from childhood to sit down, follow directions, and learn and grow just like everyone else, and if you stand out your risk punishment for being a “disturbance in class”.

I wonder if “Race Against Time” would be publishable, through traditional means, in this decade, especially if Anthony were an unknown. Some have openly called it racist because he uses race as a device to accentuate “conformists” to “individualism”, but it was never meant to be about race.

When I say that Piers Anthony influenced my writing today, I mean that if you take the time to read between the lines of my stories you will find a deeper meaning. It isn’t just about a pretty leaf, or a scarecrow, or death. There is something behind it, some deeper meaning, even if that deeper meaning is “pay attention, ask questions, think for yourself.” Especially with my “Eversword Saga“.

I only hope that I can do half as well as Anthony, and others, did.

Publishing, Gender and Genre

Gender. It’s rarely as cut and dry as male and female in this century, but it still influences a lot of things, and people.

Right now the writers forums, blogs, and news sights are blowing up with articles and commentary about gender roles in SF and fantasy. Articles about women who hide their sex so they can break into the elite ranks of SF, and those that question if they are starved for great women authors, or just sexist. A Tor UK team member even weighed in on the matter, complete with graphs.

4SB4smI will be putting up “Small Bites 4” tomorrow which is Science Fiction. It is the first time I will be sharing my science fiction writing. I’m kind of nervous. I’ve done stories with horror, blood, torture, rape, abuse, and sex. I will never be as nervous about them as I am about something that delves into the science fiction (except maybe erotica).

Why? I chose to use my personal name on my books. “Crissy Moss” isn’t a pen name. It’s me. I kept it because I’m one of a very few people online with that particular name. And it is incredibly feminine. I can’t hide behind “Chris” and still be visible. I chose this.

It’s odd that the two genres that worry me are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. I am afraid to publish in erotica because I don’t want people to judge me because I am a woman that likes sex. And I am nervous about publishing in SF because I know people will judge me for not being steeped in science enough.

Caring what other people think about us… man or woman, this simple foible is enough to keep people lost, alone, and unable to attain their dreams. This very simple fact is why I won’t sit back and let my stories sit on a hard drive collecting virtual dust. Accolades, comments, and compliments are nice, but being true to yourself is far more important. It’s worth risking one star reviews, flops, and hate mail.

I don’t pretend to know why women aren’t as prominent in the SF/F publishing ranks. I think it is a self perpetuating cycle. Fewer women try to publish in SF, so there are fewer SF books written by women. There are fewer SF books published by women, so fewer women see role models in the SF realm and don’t take the plunge.

I do know that it isn’t just about women. Male authors trying to break into erotica often have to use pseudonyms as well, and they usually have to be female, or non-gender names.

And it’s about readers, too. Readers sometimes wont get past the name on the book.

Gender is more fluid then we think it is. Anatomy doesn’t make us who we are. People can change sexes, or act in non-masculine and non-feminine ways, regardless of the equipment birth gave them. There are even those among us who have no affinity to either sex.

True equality… That’s going to take some time.

Some articles about the subject:

Is the book industry sexist or just starved for great women authors?

Women Who Pretended to Be Men to Publish Scifi Books

SEXISM IN GENRE PUBLISHING: A PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE

The best women authors of science fiction and fantasy

The Greatest Female Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors of All Time