Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sex Scenes!

Sex sells. No doubt it's true; we've seen it proven time after time whether it's a movie or a bestselling novel. Lolita. Lady Chatterley's Lover. Fifty Shades of Grey. Mention these titles, and what's the first thing that comes to mind, hmm?

I'm not suggesting that's a bad thing; sex is as common as breathing. There's probably a bit of innocent voyeurism in each of us--call it normal curiosity. Some enjoy a little harmless titillation--maybe even a bit of how-to information. Whatever the case, just for the record, this isn't about perceptions of morality or immorality.

The issue I'm bringing up is much simpler but not without certain complexities. My question is this: What amount and degree of sex is "expected" in each genre? Naturally, this discussion is in regard to stories that fall in the middleground between Young Adult and erotica.
If a Romance novel doesn't provide a fair share of steamy sex scenes, does it fail to meet the expectancy of the reader? Are writers obliged to provide content that lives up to the cover images of heaving bosoms and bulging biceps--and that just the women! (Okay ... just checking to see if you're paying attention.) Does a Romance writer dare "dumb it down" for fear of traumatizing family and friends by mentioning pubic hairs or engorged body parts? If that's a concern, should they stick to writing in other categories?

On the other hand, are there unspoken limitations as to the amount and explicitness of sexual depiction in other genres? When is it too much? Too graphic? Would more than a fleeting mention of sex in a "cozy" be stepping over an unspoken boundary? How much is to be expected in a mystery or suspense novel?

Are there limitations? Should there be?

When it comes to your personal expectations, what 's your opinion?

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