Protection: Sexy or blah?

Posted April 19, 2012 by Shari in Yakkety Yak Let's Chat / 20 Comments

condomRecently on Twitter, someone posted a comment like “Reading about protection in a romance novel is so not sexy.” It got this woman to thinking as we live in a somewhat scary time of so many diseases being passed around.

When I started reading romance novels back *coughs* in the 80s, I mostly read historical romances. I don’t even think paranormal was a round, a few sci-fi and contemporary. But I dumped most genres just for historical romances. Using any type of protection was pretty much never mentioned. Yes, some forms of condoms existed but as a rule they weren’t widely available and you just didn’t mention it in the story. That is where a lot of the excitement came in historical romances. Was the dashing rake going to impregnate the damsel in distress with his gigantic cock and extremely strong swimmers? Ok, tongue in cheek, I got a little carried away there, but you get my point. It just wasn’t mentioned except for the “he pulled out and spilled all over her belly.” The 80s were rampant with sexuality and the ever-growing epidemic of AIDS. So getting lost in a historical romance where this wasn’t a big deal had lots of appeal.

Until about 5-6 years ago, I was pretty much a historical only romance reader. Paranormal was making its way into my reading material and even then, you know a vampire can’t reproduce nor impregnate a lady. Yeah, right. But that seems to be the prevalent thinking in paranormal. The men and women are immortal, so they can’t get a disease from sex and may or may not get pregnant. That depends on the interpretation the author wants to throw our way.

But one genre just can’t ignore using some form of protection. Contemporary romance genre. When I read contemporary romance, I expect it to live in the bounds of what is real. So in this reality, we have AIDS, STDs and pregnancy. We also have birth control, condoms, IUDs and more. While most protection will prevent pregnancy, only condoms can prevent the diseases. So as a reader, I expect there to be talk about their sexual habits and what protection they are going to use.

So here we get to the meat of what I wanted to talk about (pun intended). Is talking and/or using protection in a sex scene sexy or gross? To me it is sexy. Why? Because my expectation is they need to live in the real world even if they are make believe. That is the genre I am reading and I expect it. Just do. The wonderful part of a fiction story is you can make it as graphic or as small as you want. “He put on a condom.” OR “He grasped his cock in a firm grip, watching her eyes as he slowly worked the condom over his hard cock.” I am not a writer, but either description works. Now I know neither of these situations really works. It isn’t a just slip it on and go at it, but as an author you don’t need to make it as complicated as it is as long as it feels real.

I recently read a book where there were twins and a lady who met at a bar. They were all college kids. She wanted a wild night and she got it. Not once did she ask them to use condoms, and they didn’t. Not once did the guys ask her if she was on birth control. It was a clusterfuck, pardon my language, of young idiots in an erotic book. That right away turned me off the book.

Reading is made to be a way to escape our world and enjoy someone else’s for a while. So is this a big problem if protection is not used nor talked about? To me yes it is. I expect it. I embrace it. I want it. And I want it to be sexy. I need it to be sexy…because it just isn’t in reality. So yes, maybe in reality it isn’t sexy, but in my stories I expect it to be and want it to be.

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you want to read that your h/h is being responsible or do you want that swept under the rug? Let’s talk about it by commenting below.

 

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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!

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Heather (Shoe Girl)
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I don’t find “protection” scenes sexy AT ALL. Necessary, oh yes. But, no, not sexy in the least. Good question/post!!!
~Heather

Natalia J
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Natalia J

I agree on you that it might be a turn off, I would like to think it is protected even though the author doesn’t imply that it is. Very interesting question, I think it all depends on the reader and what their belief is in that topic.

Rhys
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I think ‘protection’ scenes have to be addressed in contemporaries, otherwise readers go O_o. But the way that it’s handled is very important. I read one a while ago that went something like this: Hero: I’ve just had a physical (convenient) so I’m good. Are you clean? Clean. Yeah, talk about taking me out of the scene. I wanted the heroine to go, “Is it Spring? Because that’s the only time I clean” but her response? Heroine: I’m a virgin. So, yeah, I was looking at my watching wondering if the laundry had to be done. I think they could… Read more »

Tonya Burrows
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I think you’re right and it depends on the genre. Romantic suspense, for example. Let’s say the hero & heroine are getting hot’n’heavy in the middle of nowhere while bad guys track them down. It’d take me completely out of the moment if the hero (or heroine) suddenly pulls a condom out of his/her pocket.

It also depends on the plot. If you have a secret baby plot in a contemporary, obviously they can’t use protection. Or their protection has to be not all that protective.

Sophia Rose
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Sophia Rose

Interesting discussion topic! I was thinking on that scene you mentioned and took it to the next page in the story and if she got pregnant it probably wasn’t a happy ever after. Recriminations and blame would run rampant as well as life altering issues.

So yeah, sexy or not, condoms keep the romantic story going for me if its a contemporary romance.

Anne
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Anne

I like reading about responsible adults. It only takes one sentence to mention the condom or being tested. She should get over it.

I’ve read plenty of historicals where they use french letters or sheaths. And of course the historically correct but fallible pull out method. For women, lemons and vinegar douches (also bad ideas.)

Lynn A. Reynolds
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If the author does the scene correctly, they can make using protection very sexy – and I’ve read some that have been very sexy and erotic. I don’t mind either way, especially if the female character is expected to turn up pregnant. But if the “younger” readers see that even in romance novels they’re not using protection they may get a false sense of security and not think that they can get pregnant – so & so didn’t so I shouldn’t either.

Lynn

Karen Stivali
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I write erotic contemporary romance and I’ve always had my characters use condoms unless it was already completely understood why they wouldn’t need to (other methods of birth control,long-term monogamous relationship, trying to conceive, whatever). For me, it’s not unsexy, it’s part of the realism that adds to the moment. Having a character put on a condom can be as simple as a mention of him rolling it on or it can be a sensual part of the scene where it’s done in a more detailed/creative way. If a condom is written into a scene in a good way it’s… Read more »

VanillaOrchids
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VanillaOrchids

I’ve not yet felt that the mention of a condom ruined a scene. Sometimes I have felt that it could have been written a little better though. There have been a time or two when the mention of condoms have been done in a sexy sort of way. I suppose it really just depends on how it’s written. After reading Rhys’s comment, I wondered if maybe we read the same book. LOL And yeah, that isn’t sexy, but I could definitely see a guy saying something like that in real life. I’ve read some love scenes where there was never… Read more »

Aurora
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LOVE this topic! Such a thinker….

Mimi Rose
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Mimi Rose

One of my favorite authors, Suzanne Brockmann, always has her h/h being responsible. It is usually written as ‘Hero covered himself before ….’ . I like that she does this. All of her stories are modern day with her latest being set in a dystopian Boston of the not so distant future. And even in that story she has the h/h being responsible with the use of ‘the male pill’ that is not only a contraceptive but some forms of it are also STD prevention and/or viagra enhanced. All in all, I like my sex real and therefore for me… Read more »