Erotica and the Sexes by Eden Baylee

I’m not going to write about how men and women perceive erotica, whether one defines it as erotic and another as pornographic. I think it’s subjective, and the topic has been covered to death.

I’d rather provide some real examples of my own experience with writing erotica, and the difference in reactions I’ve encountered with men and women.

Women I know, and even women I don’t know personally love the fact that I write erotica. Their reactions range from interest about the stories to where my inspiration comes from to how I structure my work day.

It’s great talking to them because they are incredibly supportive in every facet. If there has been discomfort around the subject with anyone, I have not felt it. Even my mother-in-law is reading my book. This is a damn cool woman whom I highly respect, and she also reads a lot. For this last reason alone, I must admit I had apprehensions about giving her my book. I am, after all, married to her son.

What was she going to think of me? I’m happy to say she read the first two stories and sent me a note saying she found them steamy and well written. I couldn’t have asked for a better review than that.

I had to wonder why I assumed she was going to judge me. I’m a writer, and it’s fiction. Just because there’s lots of sex in the stories doesn’t imply I’m a sex addict, right? It would be akin to saying that because Stephen King writes horror, he must be a psychopathic axe-murderer—a ridiculous notion. It then dawned on me why I had been nervous. It had to do with some of the men’s reactions I’ve received when I told them I wrote erotica.

I’ve been writing full-time now for a year. During these months, I’ve occasionally socialized with men—some strangers, some acquaintances, and others whom I’ve known in one capacity or another.

When the conversation came around to what I did, or what I was doing, there have been some odd reactions to my response. They fall into one of a few different buckets.

  1. He immediately feels like he can start talking to me about sex, sharing some intimate sexual fantasy he’d like to fulfill. I’ve suddenly become his new best friend.
  2. He tells me I don’t look like someone who’s capable of such “dirty” thoughts (not sure if that’s supposed to be a compliment or an insult).
  3. He is really intrigued and wants me to recite passages from my book (as if I can call up my words at will and recite them like some Shakespearean Sonnet).
  4. He looks at me with raised eyebrows and becomes quiet. I have no idea what he is thinking.
  5. He giggles uncontrollably until I tell him to stop … several times.

It’s endearing, amusing, and awkward at its worst. Little fazes me, and to be fair to most men, I don’t think their reactions are mean-spirited, so there’s no point in getting annoyed. Perhaps it speaks a lot more to their interest in the subject matter, and the discomfort with knowing that someone probably thinks about sex, on a daily basis, more than they do.

I tend not to believe in stereotypes, nor oversimplify the reasons for the differences between the sexes. The belief that men are more visual than women, so they prefer to watch erotica rather than read it has as many studies that support the hypothesis as it has that disprove it.

The primary audience for erotica is women, but men read it too. It’s sensual foreplay, like watching porn, which supposedly men enjoy more than women do—yet another stereotype.

No science here, just my observations. I delight in the differences between men and women. It interests me because people interest me. Perhaps I’ll notice these differences less over time, but for now, I’m savoring the experience.

About Eden Baylee

Eden Baylee remembers hiding under the blankets with a flashlight and reading an erotic novel. It was past her bedtime—she was eleven.

Since then, she has continued to read and write erotica. Her first book, Fall into Winter, is currently available for sale. It contains four erotic novellas; two take place in the fall, and two in the winter, thus the title. Though common elements unify them, each story is unique and stands alone. The themes include: younger man, older woman; ménage à trois (MFM); BDSM; and past lovers looking for a second chance.


22 thoughts on “Erotica and the Sexes by Eden Baylee

  1. Very insightful, Eden. I think there are a lot of stereotypes about erotica writers (which you’ve touched upon). There seems to be, from my experience, a wide margin of writers out there who won’t even talk about sex, let alone write about it. So it’s refreshing to see you talk about it so candidly, naturally. Also, regarding the usual reactions you get: They’re exactly what I’d expect. Ha. Especially number one..

  2. Great article Eden! Very thought provoking.I get some of those same reactions from my male friends as well. Actually, mostly, they want to “help” me write stories and get into long, detailed scenarios of things they think I should write. I love them for it, they really are trying to help in a way, but their stories are just so… male. They totally don’t seem to get the point of HEA or why it is even important. I find it funny and very telling about the differences between men and women and the expectations they put into “romance.”

  3. Love the article, Eden. I think the issue stems from the fact that men and women rarely talk about sex in a non-sexual moment, if you see what I mean. There’s very little neutral sex talk. Even parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about sex, and too often send the message that sex is bad, sinful, etc, and when we’re older, it becomes “naughty” or “dirty”. Hence the titters. Meanwhile, the more mature conversations we have, and the more people, like yourself, who are willing to say, “hey, I write erotica. Sex is normal and healthy” the more acceptance erotica writers will find and the fewer assumptions made.

  4. I sincerely apologize for the last remark…it was unnecessary…meheh…

  5. Hi Feckless Goblin, it’s your blog and you can say whatever you wish! Though, I sure hope it was more than once. Robert, Lisa, and India – appreciate your comments.Eden

  6. I had had a couple of scotches and I do regret my indiscretion…and I thought it was a great blog too…now I may fall into my own face as it’s reflected in the carpet, while my dad goes up and down on the stair lift…

  7. I tell a lie…he’s found his Jake Thackery CD again…

  8. Hi Feckless Goblin, that’s a mighty strong scotch you’re drinking.

  9. Interesting, insightful and refreshing perspective on erotica. Thanks, Eden and to Ziggy for hosting.(Jake Thackery – I found him disturbing to watcha and listen to when I was a lass – weird lips and stuff)

  10. I know how you feel. These reactions are all very common. I have heard the line “let me help you test some of these scenes out” or need a practice model. If I had a dime for each reaction I would be getting rich. Great blog Eden…

  11. Eden- I always think that I couldn’t write anything raunchy with living relatives… at first it was just my parents I worried about; now i worry about my kids.. Of course, there’s always a pen name. Your post was interesting, refreshing and fun. Good luck with your books!

  12. Savannah, I haven’t heard that line…yet, but who knows?Cathy, thank you, appreciate your words of encouragement.Eden

  13. Guys. What a riot. Of course, we’re talking about the part of the human race that is fascinated with how air comes out of various orafices of the body, so what can you say? Actually, from what I understand, pornography is a Victorian construct to “protect” those with more tender sensibilities (women) from the rawness of the sexual experience. Before that, there really was no porn — I find that fascinating. Great article, Eden!

    1. Porn has existed as long as there’s been something to create it worth. There are pornographic cave paintings. My local museum has ancient Greek vases on display with pornographic scenes painted on them.

      It was old hat by the time the Victorians got around to it.

  14. Hi Writeanne, thanks for your comment and Ziggy is a lovely host.Netta, you’re a riot, though I must admit I find gas to be a bit of a chuckler myself! I hope I never come back as a woman in Victorian times!Thanks for leaving a note.

  15. Erotica versus pornography has a lot to do with style, in my mind. I can understand why men would react the way you described. If you frequent the erotica section in a bookstore, as I’m known to do, you might find quite a bit of pornographic literature. In fact, much of the literature in the section is more raw in the way pornography is rather than having the sensual elements of erotica.

  16. Hi Reena, I agree with you that erotica is very sensual, and I try to write stories that incorporate stimulating all the senses of the reader. To do this, the stories have to be character driven, which differs from pornography where there is little emphasis on character building, and the concentration is on the sexual act(s). I only have to think of a porn flick: Scene 1- Pizza delivery boy knocks on door. Scene 2 – woman opens door. Scene 3 – they fuck. (I hope Ziggy won’t edit this). To put it bluntly, who cares about these people? We just want to see the act. We don’t need to listen to some predictable dialogue preceding it. This cannot work in erotica. Readers are not going to see this. They need to feel it. The words must resonate in their minds, hearts and other organs to arouse them. If the words don’t provide the foreplay, then reading about any sexual act in isolation, whether it’s raunchy or sweet is not going to be satisfying.Having said this, I don’t mind ‘raw.’ In fact, I love it for certain stories that demand it. If it fits in the story, I’m okay with it. If it’s just a gratuitous sex scene and has nothing to do with the characters or plot, then this is where I would consider it less erotica, leaning toward pornographic.I hate debating erotica/porno only because as a writer, I really don’t care for labels. If scholars and other writers want to discuss the issue, then they can go ahead. I think I get a bit tired of defending what erotica is or isn’t. In the end, my pat answer is: Just buy the fucking book and read it already if you want to know what erotica is.Thanks Reena for your comment, which sparked my little rant – hope you know it’s not at all aimed at you. ;)Sorry for swearing twice here, Ziggy.

  17. I find it quite hard enough to imagine my family reading the sex scenes in my next novel… and it’s not really a major part of the story (I write sci-fi & fantasy). Very interesting to read about your experiences.

  18. Eden, this is spot on. I was shocked when my work attracted a 50/50 crowd, at first at the female contingent and now at the male! Women are almost universally supportive of my writing; men are, too, I think oddly because there is a great deal of story in with the sex! (I’m in the no-mans land of too much sex for mainstream, too much story for erotica.) Men do seem to have an odd idea of what erotica writers are like, and look at me strangely when I talk about my work; I usually switch the subject to how I publish, which makes things easier.Cathy, let it go. Write. I was waiting for my mom to die before I wrote, but then died before my mom–I was revived, obviously, but it was a wake-up call. Let it go, get it out there. Pen name if you have to, but don’t be ashamed. My mom now knows and is, to my astonishment, proud of me.Oh, Netta you really believe there was no porn before the Victorians? You and me gotta have a talk, sister! 😀

  19. @Rachel, thanks for commenting. For me, support from family is important, though not essential. Even if they don’t accept what I do, I have to remember they will be there for me when it really matters. At this stage in my life, I certainly don’t need their approval for what I write. It is still a bit nerve-wracking, of course, when you want them to like your writing regardless of the genre.@MeiLin – I appreciate your note. I hate labels but I consider my writing to be erotica / erotic romance. I’m sure I didn’t make it up, but it attracts those who want some romance, and those who appreciate the sexual parts. There is not necessarily a HEA either, which is much more conventional for romance. At end of day, I want to have a wide appeal to readers, so don’t want to close out those who are looking for something hotter than straight romance, or those who want a bit of romance with hot sex.

  20. I’d probably be the quiet, raised-eyebrow guy. But then, I’d probably be the quiet, raised-eyebrow guy regardless of what you told me you wrote about – or, for that matter, whether you were a male or female writer. I’m generally interested in the writing choices people make.

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