A slightly different slant this week. (Sex and Nudity: Beware!)
I haven’t made a start on the final edit; but I’ll be starting that on Friday, and next week’s post will detail progress.
If you had an hour or two to spare I’d explain, but you don’t. Neither do I.
I’m going to address an issue that’s arisen with most of my books to date. The horny matters of sex and nudity.
Oh, no! He said (whispers) ‘s.e.x.’ Yes, folks, SEX. Oooh, and (sniggers of 13 year olds) nudity!
I write for adults and make no bones about it. Whilst I love the idea of engaging with and encouraging youthful readers, I know it’s not an area where I’d have much success, so I leave it to others, better qualified in this difficult genre.
My books are aimed at mature readers, by which I mean anyone 15 years or older who doesn’t blanch at the mention of nudity or sexual activity. I don’t, as a rule, engage in eroticism unless the story absolutely requires it. And I loathe pornography, which I see as a form of enslavement and abuse, so I avoid that.
But we’re human animals. We have appetites and needs, desires and fantasies, dreams and wants. To pretend adults have no relationship (pun intended) to sexual activity is to deny a basic human truth. We deal with sex in our everyday lives in much the same way as we deal with other appetites; our various predilections governing such aspects as timing, frequency, partners, gender, and extent of activity. We are, after all, everyone of us, the result of a sexual encounter between our parents.
It seems to me that to neglect this aspect of human relationships and engagement is perverse in the extreme. Sex is as natural as eating, drinking, sleeping. No one objects to the inclusion of such activities in works of fiction. So why this odd attitude to sex; a perfectly natural occupation?
I fear that here the indoctrination prevalent in many religious organisations has responsibility. There’s a peculiar obsession in many religions with sex; a negative and proscriptive mood that appears to see sexual activity, and the nudity which frequently accompanies it, as a threat to the organisation’s existence. Much of that has to do with the controlling nature of religion. And a great deal of it, especially among congregations rather than officiates, is unconscious. Most people are raised under the flag of one religion or another and the indoctrination occurs from an early age so that the majority of folk are utterly unconscious of the role such brainwashing has over their thoughts and attitudes. But we’re getting into deep stuff here, and I’ve no wish to open a debate on the pros and cons of religion per se.
My point is that sex is as fundamental to human existence as food and water. Excluding it from a work of fiction, if the story requires its presence, is disrespectful to the reader. Obviously, the inclusion of gratuitous eroticism is equally unwise, unless the book/story is clearly advertised as such a work.
In my fantasy trilogy, A Seared Sky, I included sexual references and nudity simply because an underlying theme to the series was the hypocrisy of organised religion, a hypocrisy so deep-seated it’s become accepted as a norm in many societies. My story was about the way authority can, and usually does, corrupt those in positions of control, and I used the licentious obsession of religious authority to illustrate that element of such organisations.
In my science fiction, in common with many science fiction authors, I look at trends today and attempt to project those trends into the future. This process is fraught with difficulty due to the many variables. In the end, we can only reach the conclusions that come naturally to us after extensive research and consideration.
In my Generation Mars series, I have a group of specially selected individuals who’ve developed into a form of superhuman species that expects to live forever. In such a society, the biological urge to reproduce would very quickly become defunct: why produce new carriers of your genes if you’re never going to die? In the absence of a need for reproduction, the very strength of the sex drive is almost bound to change to one of pleasure seeking. Sex in such a society is likely to become a common and frequent pastime. Add to that a society that has ditched the shackles of religious prudery, and nudity becomes the natural state it was in the past. Nakedness is no longer a shameful condition. Similar considerations prevailed when I wrote my novella, The Methuselah Strain.
So, those are my reasons for including sex and nudity in my stories for adults. That these subjects will inevitably upset some people is a shame, but it’s not a good enough reason to exclude them when they’re germane to the story.