Naughty Books for Girls
Naughty Books for Girls
Porn for women. It's the title of a very successful book written by the Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative which also came out with Porn for New Moms and The Porn for Women 2009 Calendar, bless them. The underlying joke, of course, is that real women get all excited seeing half naked men only if they're doing the dishes. Or the laundry. Or diapering at 2 a.m.
But having just come off my third Romantic Times Convention hot and bothered, I'm here to witness otherwise. Porn for women is not about seeing men, albeit handsome and built men, in the midst of domestic servitude. Porn for women is about reading.
And that simple quirk of feminine wiring just might be the ticket to the survival of publishing as we know it. Women have always read naughty stories, starting from when we were pre-teens and went snooping under our parents' beds for racy material. If RT is any indication, we can't seem to get enough.
My very unscientific study of what sold at RT and has sold in the past comes down to this: women want porn as long as it's presented in stories of desire. We want lusty, strong male characters to eye the female protagonist with lascivious thoughts they cannot possibly enact initially because the female protagonist is about to be married/a nun/or captive to the Lord Vampire. (That one's obvious, no?) Either way, she is definitely a virgin. Preferably, a quivering, under educated and oversexed fertile female who desires the man who desires her, though, being innocent, she's not exactly sure why. But she'll soon discover!
After that, we women readers just want a lot of nakedness and thrusting and caressing this and cupping that. Things rising and swelling and going in and out. We like a mix up of atmosphere and situations and gazing. We even like new men, though our female protagonist has to be loyal to one special guy. Not her fault she was carried off by virile bandits and forced to submit to the Lord Vampire's will for the sake of her family/country/financial security.
I'm halfway through Bertrice Small's classic Skye O'Malley, a story with great potential and historical importance if Bertrice had cared about great potential and historical importance. Heck, it's about a woman in the 1500s who becomes a pirate between having crazy sex. What a tale! However, Bertrice mostly cared about thrusting and heaving and things rising and swelling. It was embarrassing reading it on the Pittsburgh to JFK Flight because, even though I knew it was bad, I absolutely loved it. But occasionally I had to hide the words from the proper widow sitting next to me.
This brings to mind all the naughty books we girls used to pass around in grade school. Actually, the books themselves weren't naughty. It was that they contained naughty chapters. Our favorites were, in no particular order, a druggy rape scene in Rosemary's Baby, Coffee, Tea or Me, Sidney Sheldon's The Other Side of Midnight and, for some inexplicable reason, a lunch scene in Jaws. Go figure.
We were in junior high school in the 70s and the dirty parts were so dog eared it was not uncommon to finally get hold of the verboten book and find the juicy parts missing. Alas, those days are gone. These days publishers are fulfilling teenage girls need to know by handing them The Gossip Girls and Rainbow Party (about oral sex). Library Journal refused to review the latter, though editors at Simon & Schuster, which commissioned the book, claimed they wanted it as a cautionary tale for teens.
My take is that you can publish racy books for girls, but they will never replace the adult books for women which are meant to be hidden under the bed - until they're found, naturally, by a snooping daughter. Some things never change.
So what was the book you passed around? And don't claim you didn't have one or two. This is The Lipstick Chronicles. We know how it is.