Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sex Vs. Violence...

Seems this topic has been cropping up all over lately. I had a post all ready to go and decided against it because I didn't want to piss people off.

Before I post this, though, let me just say that all of this is just MY OPINION and I don't want to force it down everyone's throat. I'm not going to tell you how to write your book, but comments have been cropping up and I am going to add my two cents.

First of all, I get a little miffed when I read a blog about these subjects saying that Americans are all over violence like white on rice but will send hate mail to authors who use sex in their stories. It isn't just Americans, people, let's be honest, shall we?

Now ... me, personally, I can do without sex in most stories. I say MOST because there are stories where, face it, it's gonna happen. I'll skim over it because even though it might be crucial to the plot and keep the story moving forward or it's a breakthrough for characters, I still don't want to see it.


Because to me, sex is a personal, private thing. It is to be shared, enjoyed, etc. between two people and not made to be a public display. Seriously, I'd get pissed if I were walking down the street and saw two people going at it like rabbits in some alley. I don't want to see anyone's bits but my own and my husbands.

Call me a prude. I'm not, but I know that's what most will think. Go ahead.

Violence in stories... well I am able to admit I have some violent scenes, pretty descriptive ones at that. I could sit here and tell you war is hell, you have to show those scenes. How else would I be able to get the point across that my female assassin is bad-ass?

Those same arguments can be used for sex in stories too. Okay, fine.

I have a theory on this... mind you it is just a theory and probably will have more holes than swiss cheese.

Violence and sex are two very primal urges/needs. As a whole, we're being bombarded by violence in the news, movies, all sorts of media. It is a drive. People are getting desensitized by violence.

Sex has been kept from the mainstream medias for whatever reasons and we're just now getting bombarded by it more and more. Things take time to be accepted.

While violence doesn't make me bat an eyelash (unless I'm the victim or perpetrator) sex makes me cringe (again, unless I'm involved and in the privacy of my own home). I can't watch a really interesting TV series without having sex shoved in my face. If I wanted something to do with sex, I'd go rent porn. But if I am reading a well written piece of literature, sex just throws it all out of whack. Same with a TV show or movie. (I hated the Star Wars.. episode II?... that had all the mushy love stuff between Padmae (sp?) and Anakin... I was there for action!!) It's like, come on let's get this over with... fade to black or something PLEASE!

Now days, though, when I have read books or watched shows or movies to make sure my kids weren't going to be subjected to it all, they'd roll their eyes. They already know about sex and violence is everywhere. Well, now they're older teens and I don't have to monitor it so much. But neither sex nor violence phases them that much.

However, there are still lots of people out there who don't like either shoved in their face whether it be books or movies or TV. People, and when I say people I mean authors, are just going to have to cope with the fact that this is going to be a touchy situation no matter what.

I buy books for the story. I watch movies for entertainment and ignore the sex. I watch TV shows for the same reason. I don't like it, but there isn't a blessed thing I can do about it.

I read YA books to avoid all the sex. I'm missing out on some good stories because of this, so I break down and read these books that are being highly praised and gloss over the sex parts. It is just something I do. It does effect my opinion of books, movies and TV, but again... this is just MY OPINION.

The sad thing about all of this is, sex sells. People will pick up a book with sex in it more often than one without. Tell me I'm wrong. Sure people might be sending out hate mail about sex being in a book or movie or TV show, but does it stop them from buying that laundry detergent whose ad had sexual undertones?


Sex sells almost everything these days. The only time you will not see sex in an advertisement is if it is for some life-saving drug or if it has to do with baby products. Oh... or death. Unless of course you're dealing with necrophiliacs. Give it time, though. Sex will completely and totally saturate the media marketing and advertising and soon enough people will be desensitized to that as well. Sad, that it will get to that point. But then advertisers might actually have to get clever and try to sell their product on its own merits instead of that plastic surgery blonde bombshell writhing all over it.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, I don't mind a discussion. What do you think?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd have to say I agree with your viewpoint. Although I've become rather desensitized to sex in the movies I watch. But not crazy about it in books. I rather go do it than read about it, you know?
And your line about 'bits' made me laugh!

Becky said...

I think some plots are enhanced by a sexual scene (if it fits in to the scheme of the story and doesn't cross the border into pornography), but I've read some books that are nothing but sex every couple of pages, and it's rather annoying. Like you said, you don't pick up a book to be bombarded by pick up a book to read.

Mel Chesley said...

@Alex~ I know! If I want anything to do with sex, I'd just drag my hubby into the bedroom. I don't want to read about it. Meh.

@Becky~ I totally agree that some plots/scenes call for it. I can't stand when a book has sex every other page just for the sake of writing about sex. It makes me wonder if the author ever gets laid. Sorry, but it's true.

Sarah McCabe said...

I believe I know what you're posting this in response to. :)

And I think the claim that people are more comfortable with violence than sex is not substantiated. For myself, I don't like graphic, explicit descriptions of sex in books. (I'm not a fan of long sex scenes in movies either.) I prefer the fade to black method or perhaps referring to the act in a more general and brief than specific and detailed way.

I'm the same with violence as well. I don't mind being told that someone's been shot or beat up or whatever. But I'd rather not have a full paragraph description of exactly what happens as the bullet enters someone's chest.

But either way, violence and sex are apples and oranges. You can't compare them unless you want to suggest that they are actually equal. Violence, while it is by nature wrong, is not by nature private. In fact, private violence is worse than public violence most of the time. Whereas I believe, as you do as well, that sex is private and personal. But it is good when it is kept in its proper place.

Anyway, the whole argument made by people who apparently don't understand how explicit descriptions of sex sold for entertainment are pornography, is totally illogical.

Mel Chesley said...

@Sarah~ I agree! Yes, the two are apples and oranges. There really should be no comparison, yet I have seen like four blogs posting about this very same thing.
I don't like graphic details of violence either. A few years back I read a book by a very cool up and coming horror author. I love the story! But the violent descriptions seriously made me queasy. Good writing? Uuuhhh I don't knooooww.... I'm still on the fence about that.
Private violence IS worse than public, like you said, most of the time.
Thanks for joining the discussion!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Mel! I loved your post! I got so tired of the sex in the adult books so I switched to YA! But sex has crept into the YA scene. *Ohum*

About your poll up there: A note to all bloggers: It would be SO much easier for everyone to retweet and FB it if we had those nifty buttons at the bottom of our posts to make it easier to do so! I love that!

Great post, girl!

Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

Carol Phipps said...

Mel, I think you already know I totally agree with you so I just want to say...Great Post!