My best friend and I have been having the same discussion about sex in fanfiction for the last 13 years. In fact, fanfiction was how we first really met. We were both at the same college, and one night, very late, it we were in the same computer lab pretending to work. In fact I was on Fanfiction.net and trying to look inconspicuous. As she tells it, she, a fellow secret fanfic addict, caught sight of what site I was on and thought ‘yep, I’ll be friends with her.’
We share some of the same fandoms, we have others that we laugh about, in general we tend to find the same things in fanfiction that we like – the same pairings, the same types of fic, the same sort of plots. Although I have more of a lust for slash than she does, and she gives Draco far more credit than I do.
One of the main things we agree, and discuss endlessly, is sex in fanfiction. (Well, sex in any sort of fiction I suppose, but it usually comes up when we are reading fanfic.) And specifically how unrealistic it is.
Everything is perfect. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the bodies under the clothes are always ‘unexpectedly perfect’ and everything fits exactly where it’s supposed to, and the sex is amazing (he goes down on her and never gets a pube stuck to the roof of his mouth, she goes down on him, and swallows and it tastes ‘lovely’ [yeah, right] and then they get down to business, minus condom) and they both come at the same time and then cuddle until they are ready to go again. Sometimes someone cries.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a good steamy sex scene as much as the next person, but I also like when the sex is awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassing or just more realistic.
There was a big push a couple of years ago in fanfic communities for writers to start including contraception in their sex scenes. This was not only to encourage a more sensible attitude towards sex in fanfic readers – many of whom are younger females – but also to show a more realistic side of sex rather than present and unattainable ideal.
It seems to have worked, with more and more writers joining the movement, showing that safe sex is sexy sex.
But there was still the other issues around sex that weren’t being addressed – when sex isn’t nice, when it’s not slow and loving, when it’s awkward, inexperienced, sore or when the characters just don’t know what to say to each other before or after. When the sex seems to make everything worse.
I’m kinda tired of reading about ‘perfect’ which is why I think I gravitate towards certain fandoms with a higher number of battle weary, physically imperfect, mentally scarred characters. I like fandoms where sex is something that takes characters out of their comfort zone. Characters who are not used to trusting people, not used to physical intimacy, not used to being wanted or loved. I like characters who simply don’t know how to handle the emotions and confusions that sex can bring – both good and bad. And I like slash. A type of fic that tends to allow another added depth to complexities of sex.
This morning we were talking about some fics I’ve been reading my a very talented writer (Myurra-K, check her out over at https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1773653/ – her ‘Sapien’ fic is something else!) who deals with the awkwardness of sex very well. The use of character is very important, and sometimes in fic it can be jarring when a character does or says something that isn’t like them. It stops being fic sex and starts being something else. In the case of the fic I was reading, sex only seems to add to the awkwardness of the couple, it causes tensions, fights. It’s not a pleasant thing in the situation they are in. I also really liked how the issues around discomfort and pain were addressed, something that often is ignored – especially in m/m slash.
My friend was wholeheartedly in agreement saying, ‘If they have one boob lower than the other, or someone complains about the smell, I’m completely on board.’
Now, that’s not say that we are all craving comical sex scenes, but you know what, fanny farts happen sometimes. Sometimes you can roll over after sex and immediately think to yourself ‘what the fuck did I just do that for?’ Sometimes sex can be so out of sync that you get bored halfway through and it all just sort of peeters out. Sometimes you really can’t be bothered and the other person pawing at you is just annoying. Sometimes it’s dry. Sometimes it’s angry. Sometimes you just can’t bear to look the person in the eye afterwards. Sometimes you really shouldn’t have done it at all.
And that’s what good sex in fanfiction is. It’s the use of good characterisation in fic. What would those characters do, how would they react? I mean, currently I’m a little obsessed with Rickyl fic, and I’m finding it really interesting to see how two such straight guys cope with that sexual attraction and what happens before and afterwards.
So, ‘good’ sex in fanfiction isn’t necessarily all about the climax, it’s about the whole experience and how it changes people, and how people change it.
Now, go forth and if you can’t be good, at least be careful.