Last week, I became exceedingly angry at one of my favorite talk show hosts, to the point where I phoned in and lifted my voice to the nice young woman who answered. I seldom call radio programs, but I was, as they say, about to bust a gusset. The reason? He kept referring to members of committees as “committeemen.” He did it over and over until I couldn’t contain myself.
Those of you who aren’t gray-haired old uppity women like me don’t remember the days before the female more-than-half of the species decided we ought to get the same respect and pay that men did. Back then, we had “doctors” and “lady doctors,” the second being a kind of oddity and not to be taken as seriously as the real thing. You may not have experienced the natural state of “man” back then, where virtually everything significant and remunerative was done by males. At that time, everyone on any important committee would have been male and the term “committeeman” would have been accurate. In short, you’ve never faced a world where women served as the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the human race. I have, and I have no intention of going back there. Ever.
So, why then did I describe my latest short from Changeling Press to my Romance Writers of America chapter with such glee as: A hard driving businesswoman meets a gladiator from another planet who has a problem with women in positions of authority? Shouldn’t a story about that set my hair on fire?
Well, yes and no. Yes if the hard driving businesswoman crumbles at his feet as though she were made of meringue. But, honestly, no one would want to read a story like that, anyway. We want to feel passion and fire…conflict, the engine that drives every good story. Still, in reality, wouldn’t such a woman tell him to take his attitude to someone who’d appreciate it and leave her the hell alone?
This leads us to the no part of the answer. A story where a powerful woman succumbs to the seduction of a more powerful man can provide a nice fantasy for a reader who would never allow a man to boss her around in real life. The story’s not real, and when you get right down to it, many of the things we enjoy in fiction would horrify us in real life.
As an author of erotic romance, I’ve written sexual interactions that I’d never consider performing, and I go back to the days of free love and “if it feels good, do it.” I’ve done threesomes, foursomes, exhibitionism, and bondage. I write a character Wonderslut, Avenger of the Non-Orgasmic. I had another character who hooked up with two perfect strangers to make love in their train compartment in complete darkness as the train traveled through a long tunnel. Delicious on the page but horrifying if not outright dangerous in real life.
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