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5 Reasons Writers SHOULD Include Sex Scenes In Their Writing

Hey Writers: Include  Sex Scenes In Your Writing!

Yeah I said what I said: I have argued for a LONG time that writers should include sex scenes in our writing. In the past twenty years I’ve seen sex scenes in the spec screenplay and unpublished novel pile DECREASE.

But it’s not anti-feminist to include sex scenes in your novel or screenplay … plus modern storytelling is NOT porn, as Matt (below) points out.

It’s a worrying trend that people KEEP making this accusation of stories on social media. Far from being progressive (as many insist), complaining that ‘all’ expressions of sex or sexuality is a right-wing talking point, repackaged.

In this article, I’ll explain why writers SHOULD include sex scenes in their writing.

Ready? Let’s go …

1) Sex Scenes CAN & DO ‘Add To The Story’ (Like Everything Else)

First up the obvious. Whenever anyone argues that writers should include sex scenes in their story, someone pops up insisting that sex ‘never’ reveals character or pushes the story forward.

This infamous viral tweet (below) is so wrong-headed, I can’t even (as the yoof say). Ugh.

In addition – and more worryingly – this ludicrous assumption has a very bad knock-on effect

As I have written before on this blog, we are **still** more likely to see a female character r*ped or abused in a story than enjoying herself sexually.

Do important stories about r*pe and abuse exist? OF COURSE. Those stories are important.

But we constantly link female sexuality to shame in society and we see this played out on screen and in books. A female character is humiliated as standard when it comes to sex in fiction. Gross.

MORE: Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Sex Scenes

2) Sex Scenes In Movies & TV Are Actually DECLINING!

Yup, it’s a fact … but don’t take MY word for it, there’s a stack of research on this issue. Stephen Follows, The Hollywood Reporter and even Playboy has crunched the data, plus discussion has been ongoing for some time now.

This means that if people don’t like sexy stories there’s a literal WEALTH of non-sexy ones to consume!!

Putting barriers on sexuality and self-expression and *automatically* calling female nudity ‘internalised misogyny’ is patriarchy repackaged as progressivism. More, next.

3) Female Nudity Is NOT Automatically Vulnerable Or Victim-Like

Again: it’s time for paternalistic portrayals and assumptions about female sexuality to get in the bin. It’s frequently assumed – even by feminists – that female nudity is automatically vulnerable.

This then assumes women are automatic victims, so that female sexuality should be hidden away. This belief means marginalised women such as large women, BIPOC women, LGBTQ women etc get body-shamed as standard.

Yet in the post #MeToo era, actors – with the help of intimacy co-ordinators on set – are owning their sexuality and the way it is represented on screen.

Again, don’t take my word for it … check out Nicola Coughton here in Bridgerton. It is so great to see Coughlan give shamers a big F-U here!!

4)  Why *Can’t* Female Characters Just Enjoy Sex??

As mentioned, it’s particularly concerning that we are WAY more likely to see a female character r*ped or ab*sed in a story than enjoying herself!

A note I give CONSTANTLY  is “why can’t this female character enjoy sex?” Other notes I give about female sexuality and self-expression:

  • No, bisexual women are not nymphomaniacs
  • Women who like ‘female stuff’ are not vain, stupid or a ‘stereotype’
  • Trauma and sex don’t have to be interlinked
  • So she likes hair and make-up, so what?
  • She’s femme-presenting … and??
  • She likes to take selfies, who cares?
  • Why CAN’T she think she’s hot?

We denigrate & judge female characters to such a degree – even as feminists – and it’s indicative of society at large. This is especially noticeable in the characterisation of teenage girls and young women.

This didn’t start in books, TV or movies. It starts in your homes. In your own heads. (Plus I’m not just talking to male writers either, but female writers too!!).

5) Puritanism Penalises Marginalised People Most (Especially Women)

And penalising such stories impacts – surprise! – marginalised people.

Make no mistake: women’s freedom of self-expression/sexuality; queer love; larger people; disabled people; mentally ill people; chronically ill people; BIPOC expressions of love & sex … all will be impacted if we allow this rancid Mary Whitehouse BS to continue.

Bonus!

6) Sex Scenes In Stories Are A SAFE Way To Learn About Sex

Access to actual porn has never been easier. Kids can call it up with the click of a button, often for free. What’s more, research has shown for decades that porn gives kids the wrong idea about sex generally.

In contrast, fictional stories that involve sex can be a safe way for kids – and some older people – to learn about relationships, consequences and yes, various sexual techniques.

But most of all, stories that include sex scenes can be great ways to learn about how NOT to have sex. There has been some really important stories based around important topics like …

  • Consent
  • Contraception
  • Avoiding STIs
  • LGBTQ relationships
  • ‘Losing’ your virginity (and whether that’s even really a thing)
  • Not to mention simply how to ENJOY yourself (instead of grinning and bearing it)

So no,  these types of story are not ‘porn’, but part of the overall story in terms of plotting and characterisation (as per #1 on this list).

MORE: Top 10 Tips On Writing Sexual Tension In Your Story

Last Points

Look, if people don’t like sex in their stories, that’s absolutely fine. You don’t have to watch or read it, which means you don’t have to write it either.

But don’t pretend the industry is ‘awash’ with non-stop pornified sex scenes. That may be how certain individuals feel about content out there, but evidence does not back this up.

What’s more, being a warrior AGAINST sex scenes will actually do more harm than good. As feminists, we need to think about how being too militant about sex can impact marginalised characters (and thus, marginalised people).

If you care about marginalised characters getting to the top of the pile, you’ll accept sex scenes in writing can be a good thing … ESPECIALLY for female characters. (Even if you don’t want to read or watch them yourself).

Good Luck!

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