Erotica empowers women by allowing us to explore our fantasies without the risk. That doesn’t mean we’re no longer feminists.
Heavy sighs. Deep moans. Twenty-seven different ways to say penis without actually using the word.
My summer has been filled with pages and pages of them. And I love every single word.
As someone who is outspoken about women’s rights and runs a somewhat serious book club, I don’t usually broadcast that I read erotica. I inhaled more than my fair share of romance novels during my teenage years, until I discovered Anne Rice’s The Sleeping Beauty Chronicles. I read in secret but longed to discuss these new-to-me ideas with someone. The internet was still fairly new then, so I couldn’t just hop onto a BDSM forum to ask questions. I kept my penchant for erotica a secret.
Fast forward years later, when the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey became all the rage. My girlfriends messaged to ask about the Anastasia and Christian’s bedroom shenanigans. They knew my background selling sex toys at in-home parties (like Tupperware but more thrilling) and trusted my discretion. I answered all their questions about ben wa balls, butt plugs and bondage.
After my friends devoured E. L. James’ trilogy, they begged me for suggestions. My cover was blown. I could no longer hide that, yes, I am a feminist who enjoys reading erotica about the power play between a female submissive and her dom.
While I’m not embarrassed by the stack of steamy books on my nightstand, I didn’t wanted to be judged by my reading choices. I’ve met moms at the park who scoff at romance and erotica readers, claiming these readers had no love life or they were cheating on their husbands with such books. (Yes, really.)
The opposite is true. Back in my days of hawking sex toys in my hostess’ living room, my clients regaled me tales of hot sex with their husbands after reading Fifty Shades. Others quietly admitted that the book empowered them to discuss their fantasies with their partners. Some felt renewed interested in sex and demanded more orgasms. They bought warming lubes, vibrators, and ben wa balls–ready to take charge of their sexual pleasure. If that’s not being a feminist, I’m not sure what is.
Erotica empowers women by allowing us to explore our fantasies without the risk. So what if we’re turned on by the idea of being tied to the bed? That doesn’t mean we’re no longer feminists. Being a feminist doesn’t mean having to be strong and in control all of the time. Sensual, sexy tales allow us to choose how we express our sexuality.
After my self-imposed hiatus (when I read mostly literary fiction), I hopped back onto the erotica bike a few years ago. I found that the genre had matured during our trial separation! Mutual orgasms are no longer penultimate goal. In most books, our hot hunk goes down on our heroine like it’s his God-given duty. His golden sword doesn’t go anywhere near her until she’s had at least two orgasms.
I say, you can never go wrong with oral sex and more orgasms.
Thien-Kim Lam is the creator and founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box meets book club for smart women who read sexy stories. This month’s box features a fiery romance that spans two continents, a bedazzled vibrator, and much more! Snag one for you and one for a friend before it’s too late.