Sex & Fantasy (But Not Like That)

In a moment of extreme cynicism*, I once said: "Every time a woman has sex, it's a transaction."

The characters in Sub Rosa are women who have sex for money. However, the book manages to be rather unsexy for the most part. I hope this was a conscious choice on the part of the author, Amber Dawn, because it works here. The book is a fantasy, about another world, or parallel universe, where sex work is always extremely well-paid, safe, and glamorous. Even the downtrodden on Sub Rosa are Goth Lollis who reside in -- to steal a phrase -- a majestically disheveled mansion. Perhaps, it is an effort to normalize sex work in the context of a unreal novel. I do appreciate Sub Rosa for attempting to be a female-led fantasy quest novel. I never could get through The Hobbit; I tried so many times to read the Shanara series when I was in grade school; I couldn't even get into Kushiel's Dart**. Perhaps it's that Sub Rosa still has a hand in the "real" world, that kept me interested. More likely, I think an author finally set aside whatever it is I find so tedious in the usual fantasy novel, and just gave good story.

I don't think I'd be too out-of-line to call Amber Dawn sexually progressive. It's clear she's into shaking up perceptions of what sex is, or should be. So why is it, that in a book which attempts to normalize and humanize sex workers, our heroine is, at the beginning of our story... a virgin? I mean, what!? How are we not past this trope? I remember the first, last, and only Jodi Picoult novel I tried to read. I don't even remember what it was called, but I do remember how our heroine finds the man of her dreams, is assumed a virgin, and never tells him different, because he's so incredibly invested in her "purity." I think I was about 50 pages in when I stopped in disgust. Right, also, Jodi Picoult is not very good, but the point is, why isn't this whole cult of virginity over already? What year are we in? Why is virginity still so important? Dawn doesn't dwell on Little's virginity, and it's only mentioned a couple times. Still, I was bothered by it, and couldn't help dwelling. What am I missing here? It's a small detail that got me thinking a lot, but overall Sub Rosa worked for me.

* * *

Yep, I just talked about sex after I talked about sexual harassment. No, I don't see a problem there. Anyway, the Quill Blog linked me (with permission) yesterday. Book Ninja followed suit this morning, and then somehow The Huffington Post got a hold of the post. My hit counter exploded.

Hi, People.

So many of the hits have been from publishing houses, and media sites. Names I spent my whole adult life wanting to work for. The irony of getting their attention only after I have likely burnt my last bridge is crushing my ribcage a little bit right now. *ow* In the end it's fine, because this whole thing isn't really about me. Weird head-space though.

I was talking to the Boyfriend a bit about it all, and he wondered how Boss could even live with himself. I'm not defending or making excuses, but Boss does not live in a vacuum. He had a corporate culture behind him that permitted and excused his behaviour. That corporate culture is part of a larger culture that still undervalues women as people, and overvalues them as receptacles. These "incidents" aren't isolated, they're symptoms of something larger, and you know, ladies, we're not "there" yet. Wherever the hell "there" is... sometimes it feels like they keep moving it on us.

*Ah, but did you know? Romantics make the best cynics
**A book which is supposed to be incredibly sexy, and kinky, and all that, and I was just bored.
Pick up Jessica Valenti's excellent The Purity Myth.
That's not me in the photo. We didn't even have a water cooler!

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