Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.
Stop me, oh oh, stop me. Stop me if think that you've heard this one before. A woman between the ages of 15 and 40 never thinks about sex. Or thinks it's not that great. Then an alpha male forces it on her and instead of rape, she calls it love because she had no idea the clitoris existed. I know I have. And I know I'm bored to tears with women who have no concept or ownership of their own sexuality. Who only find orgasm as the result of a lack of consent.
How about a few alternatives.
Carolyn Crane is a genius. She plays with consent in brilliant ways. There are these two horrific lies we're fed by our culture over and over and over and over through our lives about consent. First, that no means keep trying and coercion is the same as consent. Second, that any time a woman cries rape, it's just that she regrets the sex she willingly had. Crane has no interest in either one of these toxic narratives. Oh, no, she plays with information asymmetry instead - a far more interesting and refreshing form of complexity. In that it's actually complexity and not just rape rebranded. There's a scene like this in all three of the series she's written. Where two people are happily fucking, but one know that if the other had all the facts, they wouldn't be interested in any horizontal mambo. This is my favorite just because it's so fucked up all around. He thinks he's going to torture information out of her. She thinks they're going to do something kinky and is so up for it. A third party breaks in to rescue her and she's having none of that nonsense. On top of that, while she likes sex, she likes respect more - walking out on a guy she thought was attractive until he opened his mouth. This book is awesome for a lot of reasons besides this. It's so under loved.
Berenice, the foul-mouthed French spy-master uses sex to her advantage. It's yet another tool in her arsenal, and a way of helping her level the playing field in a male dominated world. But she isn't cold and calloused. While she might judge a man harshly for being shit in the sack, she engages in an enjoyable sex life with a man she loves. If you like this character description, but would prefer erotica to historical fantasy with cussing, check out The Innocent's Progress and Other Stories.
Onyesonwu is circumcised as are all young ladies in her village. This is a rite she chooses, when too young to understand. As she comes into her own power and sets off on a quest for vengeance and salvation, she uses her magic to grow back her clitoris. Oh, yes, that's the stuff. Not only does she know what she wants, even having it taken away from her isn't a barrier.
"That tiny piece of flesh made all the difference. Growing it back hadn’t been hard and it pleased me that for once in my life obtaining something of importance was easy."
Her relationship isn't perfect. I, personally, think her lover is an asshole, but it's hers and she owns everything she puts into and gets out of it.
Nyx. You knew Nyx would make the list. She drinks, and fights, and fucks on her own terms. She is the best. Whether it's seducing a boxer or cutting off a mans cock, she is always a barely in control train wreck. but she knows her body, she knows what she likes, and she owns everything she is and does. Of this set of books, this has the least amount of actual sex in it. But whether she's finding a partner out of strategy or desire, she's 100% in control.
I'm sure there are plenty of books out there I haven't yet discovered. Recommendations, please!