The Romance Novel Orgasm as discussed by readers of Smart Bitches Trashy Books Blog

So there's this website called "Smart Bitches Trashy Books." It's all about thoughtful, often incredibly harsh, and pretty dagburn fun discussions about romance novels by people who love romance novels. I prefer my trashy tales in the form of TV and movies, so I'm not a romance novel reader. It was the ever fabulous Kat von Sass who turned me on to this website. That's where she learned about The Duchess Wars - a book that had uncharacteristically realistic sex scenes. She wrote an SSL review of the book, and while we were emailing back and forth about it, she sent me a link to this 2006 thread on Smart Bitches Trashy Books about the terrible descriptions of orgasms in romance novels. It was pretty funny - and insightful too.

From the romance novel portion of "Science Sex and the Ladies". There was a lot of fans blowing hair and longing looks on set that day. Honestly, this was probably our favorite scene to shoot.

I think it's clear that the whole simultaneous orgasm thing where the heroine has a life altering spirtiual/body/galactic orgasmic experience while her hero moves his p in her v seems pretty stupid and unrealistic to most of the people on the thread, but it was also clear that these dumb depictions of orgasm are still influential in shaping individuals' expectations about sexual experiences. Also, the consensus seemed to be that these descriptions still fill the vast majority of romance novel sex scenes and that it continues to happen because that's just how romance novel sex is supposed to be. It's what is expected and what gets written.

So, romance writers out there - get gutsy! Write more realistic depictions of orgasm! Yeah, publishers and even readers might hate it at first, but who needs to make money, right? It's about changing the culture, changing the way we depict the female orgasm, and changing the unrealistic expectations too many of us soak up about what our sexual experiences should be like. You can do it Romance Novel Writers!

Anyway, if you want a laugh, you should definitely check out this crazy thread HERE. It also includes discussion about what words and images people hate most in the sex scenes (creamy, pulsing honeypot, velvet manhood, weeping cock, mossy grotto, winking nipples, boiling love juices...to name a few), and somehow towards the end they get onto foods men should eat to make their ejaculate taste better, cause, you know, doesn't everything end up there eventually?

Below, I picked out some highlight comments. These were ones I thought were a little more poignant in terms of SSL/orgasm equality type stuff, but they're also pretty fun too. Oh- and this thread began by SB Sarah writing:

I was flipping through my new used copy of Rebecca Brandewyne’s Desire in Disguise and on page 15 I came across the following passage:
"Almost simultaneously Noir felt himself burst like a ripe melon within her, spilling his seed."

Suffice to say, she found the melon bursting sex image kinda gross and so asked others about what they liked and didn't like in orgasm descriptions. Eventually it gets to the ubiquitous simultaneous orgasms in romance novel sex. Here's just a few. (H/H means Hero/Heroine)

Sherry Thomas said on 08.10.06 at 03:54 PM 

The H/H in romances have simultaneous orgasms b/c it’s what everyone else does.  It’s like if you don’t do it, you’d better have a damn good reason for it. 
As a writer, I’ve resigned myself to it.  But I set the limit strictly against virgins orgasming on their first experience of vaginal sex.  :-)
Susan said on 08.10.06 at 10:16 PM
my biggest peeve is when the hero stops oral or manual stimulation just before she is about to come.
Some of these heros should be told about multiple orgasms.
In real life she most likely wont get one.
Carrie Lofty said on 08.10.06 at 10:52 PM
I know!  Let the girl have her fun when she can.  Sometime a dick just doesn’t do it, no matter how unimaginably grand the fictional phallus.
Rosie said on 8.10.06 at 11:29pm
...As for simultaneous O…in my early days of reading I wondered if sex was like that for “other” people.
  Many conversations and lots of experimentation later I figured out the right of it. But the young and impressionable (I was once) it was very misleading.

Madd said on 08.20.06 at 11:42pm

...I’ve read a few, can’t remember the names right now, where the heroine didn’t get hers during intercourse, but in most of those the hero took care of her first. I kind of appreciate the touch of realism in those. My man and I have pulled off a few simultaneous Os, but most romances would have you believe it happens every time. o_0
It’s kind of funny, though, when you read those and, like Rosie said, wonder if it’s like that for other people. Honestly, it wasn’t until a long while after my first experience that I got to talking to other women that I started seeing the differences between what you read and what is. I think that if you start reading some of these romances before you have much experience, it could give you false expectations.

Kiku on 08.11.06 at 12:40AM
Also - you get the feeling in a lot of novels that nothing but vaginal sex is ‘real’ - that everything else is just leading up to it or a pale imitation. There are other things just as enjoyable (if not more so, for some of us).
But absolute worst description? From a paperback I picked up many years ago - a squicky secretary/international tycoon deal: (semi-remembered adaptation)
“Oh! Oh!”
They lay wrapped in each other’s arms, the cool night air chilling their skin against the sopping bedclothes.

And I just liked this one cause it's got a point, and i like the words "sparkly rainbows of pleasure."

Colette said on 08.14.06 at 10:09 AM 

anything about ‘exploding into eternity’ or ‘crashing on waves of ecstasy’ have always bothered me, it just doesn’t sound like fun being whisked off everytime you get to the good part. I also remember a description that mentioned that she saw ‘sparkly rainbows of pleasure’ which made me suspect that maybe they had ergot poisoning.
Any description of penises being in wombs (‘plunging the inner recesses of her throbing womb’) should be off-limits. Just for complete neglegence of basic anatomy, if nothing else

 This one is just insane, I don't even want to know how it described her orgasm.

Lia said on 08.15.06 at 12:53 AM 

I can’t think of any good descriptions offhand, though the simplest are usually the least distracting. But I ran across another humdinger in an excerpt for a recent release:
“Lightning bolts pierced her body and joined her to him, a powerful wave
of desire sweeping over her.  Her body was on fire and the explosive kiss seemed to go on and on until it sucked every bit of breath from her.  She felt as if his lips, ravenous and demanding, were stamping her with his brand.  Whatever brains she had left liquefied and drained down
to her feet.”
Not only does it short out her nervous system, collapse her lungs, and brand her carcass, it melts her brains out.  And this is the first kiss.  I wouldn’t go near the rest of the book or her boyfriend with a surge suppressor.
But the author may have discovered the cause of human spontaneous combustion: Incendiary ranchers.

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