As there’s still nothing new to report re the WIP, and therefore no true progress on the book, I thought I’d continue along the lines of last week’s post. This time, I’m looking at the content; in particular, the inclusion of sex and nudity in my work. So, if you’re at all prudish, narrowminded, easily shocked, or easily offended, it’s probably best if you look away now.
I was asked some time ago, ‘Why is there so much sex and nudity in your books?’ At the time, I was reminded of the many times I’ve been asked, ‘Why do you grow a beard?’ To which my standard answer was, and is, when the query comes from another man, ‘Why do you shave yours off?’ A beard on a mature man is, after all, the natural response to the growth of facial hair.
However, I should mention here that the definition of ‘so much’ is clearly dependent on the views of the questioner; a matter of judgment rather than fact. A thorough reading of my work will reveal the actual percentage of ‘sex and nudity’ present in the narrative is relatively low. But there’s a lot of suggestion that allows the reader to reach his or her own conclusions.
To return to my analogy with the beard question: After puberty, men sprout hair on their faces. For reasons I’ve always considered positively bizarre, most men spend hours of their lives, and not insignificant amounts of money, removing this natural growth as soon as it dares emerge. Facial hair is natural. It’s a sign of physical maturity and an evolutionary signal to the female of the species that here is a man capable of fathering children, should she wish to indulge in such activity. It’s the removal of the beard, shaving, that’s unnatural and should be reasonably subject to question.
I apply the same logic to sex and nudity in my writing. We are born naked; it’s our natural state. Clothing is either an affectation to indicate status and/or rank in society, or it’s a protective measure against inclement weather. There are numerous reasons why we tend to avoid public nudity: cold, sunburn, sexual arousal, unhelpful comparisons, lack of confidence, and, of course, the dogma of Abrahamic religions, which have a prurient, authoritarian and hypocritical view of nudity in the main.
In the Generation Mars series, my protagonists, The Chosen and their progeny, are genetically designed perfect specimens of humanity. They are anti-religious and base their actions and thoughts on logic and science rather than myth, legend and questionable traditions of a past ruled by misogyny, when the female form, and those bearing it, were blamed for most of the iniquities of male behaviour. These heroes of my series initially live in a protected closed environment and, later, in an outdoor setting designed for human comfort. As a result of their philosophy and these living conditions, they have no bodily shame, are confident regarding their appearance, fear no bolts of lightning from jealous gods, need no protection against inclement weather, ignore the idiotic rules imposed by a tribe of nomadic desert dwellers from a time before science emerged, and treat all genders with respect. Nudity is, therefore, no longer a taboo but a natural and desirable state.
They recognise the sexual arousal inherent in the naked show of genitalia, so they generally, though by no means always, cover those portions of their anatomy.
In the epic fantasy series, A Seared Sky, I wanted to satirise the prudish attitude to nudity, especially as exhibited by most religious organisations, so I developed a fictitious religion that took the obsession with nudity a step further. The Followers, as the sect is called, actually worship their god, Ytraa, whilst naked. Their priests tell them this is so they can praise their god by presenting him/her/it (Ytraa is an entity presenting 3 sexual sides; female, male, and asexual) with their bodies. In fact, the reason they’re required to pray naked is to allow the priests to take advantage of the congregation for their own gratification: a habit recently exposed in many of the clergy of the established churches.
So, again, public nudity is a natural state for these people, although in this society it is reserved for worship and for the initial public coming together (Joinings) of those who wish to make each other life partners.
As for sex, what is there to say that has not already been written? The human animal is spectacularly successful as a breeding creature. We’re able to reproduce at any time of the year, with no concern for the seasons that inhibit such activity among many animal species. Our biology is naturally organised to make most people attractive to the opposite sex to increase the likelihood of us passing on our genes. We’re able to form long-lasting relationships, initially to raise our offspring in secure and stable situations. The same-sex relationship is a very real alternative for those whose biology, sexual orientation, or lack of interest in the opposite sex leads to loving relationships with others of their own gender. (That’s an oversimplification of a very complex set of causes, but hopefully will avoid offending anyone outside the heterosexual arena)
Sex is an appetite, as common and natural as hunger and thirst. And, in common with our various degrees of desire for food, our desire for sexual contact spans an enormous range from voluntary chastity to obsessive activity, and all stops in between.
The point, however, is that sex is an everyday experience for most. To exclude it from a fictional account is illogical, dishonest and frankly pointless. Most people indulge in sex, most people enjoy the activity; otherwise the human race would’ve become extinct very rapidly. Again religious organisations, and in particular those derived from the Abrahamic tradition, have a bizarre prohibitive attitude to sex. Much of this stems from the desire of the authorities to control their adherents, of course. If people are permitted to enjoy sex without preconditions imposed to provide guilt and potential regret, then they may spend their time in that enjoyment instead of bending and scraping in subjugation to their imposed gods.
So, sex is also a natural activity. To exclude it is to deny its absolute importance in our lives, traditions, relationships and continuation as a species. So, I include it in my work, always as an integral part of the story, and never as a gratuitous pandering to the salacious or perverted.
I’d love to have your responses to this piece. But please be aware I’ll be offline for a few days from the Friday a.m. following the Wednesday I’m posting this piece, so you may have to wait a short while for any reply.