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Elizabeth Black Talks Cats Shapeshifters and Trouble in Thigh High Boots

If you like hot fairy tales, and who doesn’t, you’re in for a real treat today. Elizabeth Black is my guest, here to tell us all about her hot new version of Puss in Boots, Trouble in Thigh High Boots. Welcome, Elizabeth!

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. – Robertson Davies

Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into prescribed behavior, that they are so united to creative people. – Andre Norton

Albert Schweitzer was wrong. There are more than two means of refuge from the miseries of life, and they aren’t only music and cats. The third is writing. I am a life-long cat lover, although I didn’t acquire any until I was in my mid-20s. I begged for a cat when I was a kid. The closest I ever came to having a cat were two hamsters and a salmonella turtle. Not exactly the cuddliest creatures on earth.

Four cats live with me in my apartment and they are my muses. They keep me calm when they are asleep and they provide endless hours of entertainment – and annoyance – when they are awake. One in particular – Lucky – likes to stand in front of my computer screen and stare at me until I stop writing and pet him. He can be a real pain in the ass. He’s also been known to collaborate with me. I’ll be in the middle of writing a soaring romantic scene (or a scary one, since I also write horror) when he’ll add his two cents, usually in the form of the same letter repeated fifty times because he steps on my keyboard and won’t get off.

Cats. Can’t live with them. Can’t eat them.

It was only natural I would choose a cat as a shapeshifter in “Trouble In Thigh High Boots”. This novella, which is an erotic retelling of Puss In Boots, stars Tita, a female feline shapeshifter. She shifts from the form of a sleek kitty into a gorgeous young woman. She has many of the same qualities as most cats. She is a connoissuer of comfort, as James Herriot would agree. Freud would be pleased to see that time with her is never wasted. She not only asks for what she wants (per Joseph Wood Krutch), she gets it. Although she has obtained shelter without confinement and love without penalties, she had to work for her food. W. L. George would say two out of three ain’t bad. She also expects to be worshipped as a goddess, which would please Terry Pratchett. And when she’s unhappy, Percy Bisshe Shelley would warn those around her that she’s just sitting there thinking up ways to get even. And in “Trouble In Thigh High Boots”, does she ever get even with her nemeses! You must read the book to find out how. And finally, Robert A. Heinlein, who was known for his love of cats, would agree that women and cats will do as they please. Tita is both rolled into one. Men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

Tita is a force to be reckoned with. If she intrigues you – and I’m sure she does – you will enjoy my erotic fairy tale retelling of Puss In Boots. “Trouble In Thigh High Boots” is available at Amazon, Smashwords, and other ebook retailers.

And now, to end my post, here are a few more cat quotes:

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens. – Abraham Lincoln

Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose. – Garrison Keillor

We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. – H. P. Lovecraft (the horror lover in me had to throw that one in)

Blurb:

Tita is a Puss In Boots with a little something extra. Being a magical creature, she shifts from a kitty into the form of an alluring, ginger-haired woman when the situation demands it. And what a situation she finds herself in! Her new master Dylan is a poor man who needs a boost in the world. Sly Tita uses her seductive wiles to pass him off to the villagers and the king as the Marquis of Carabas in order to help both of them gain their fortunes. Her plan is not without its problems. Dylan’s malicious brother, Zane, lusts after Tita, and he wants her all to himself, but she refuses to succumb to his treachery. Being a cat first and foremost, she purrs in the arms of her many lovers but her heart belongs to only one man – the king. She hopes that in ensuring Dylan his lofty place in the world the king finds a place in his heart for her. Her life becomes an erotic adventure in reaching her goals.

Excerpt:

Her stiletto heels clicked on the hardwood floor, attracting the king’s attention. When he turned toward her, her heart nearly stopped at the unabashed thrilled look on his face when he set eyes on her. She sniffed the air and smelled castile soap and fragrant oil of rosemary. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he expected me. Maybe his knights told him I was on my way.

“Ah, cat, you have returned! How delightful!” The king’s jolly laugh boomed around the high-ceilinged room. “My sister told me she saw you on the road. Your rabbits were absolutely delicious. I saved a morsel in case you returned.”

She smiled and batted her lashes at him. Stop it! You’re acting like a peckish school girl with a bad crush! “You are too kind, Your Highness. Before I accept your gracious offer of food, might I offer you another present from the Marquis of Carabas?”

Another present? Your Marquis is quite impressive. First, the fattest rabbits I’ve seen in these parts in a long time, and now more gifts! Yes, please, do show me what you have to offer.”

Oh, I’ll show you much more than you expect, sire. She lifted her knapsack and prepared to open it, but hesitated. The king looked dejected.

“What’s wrong?”

“I want this gift to be a special surprise for you, sire, but I can’t have you looking at me when I give it to you.”

“Well, what shall we do then?”

“I had an idea.” She opened the knapsack a tiny bit, reached inside, and pulled out a silk blindfold. “How about we play a game?”

He clapped his hands. “I love games! Cat, you are quite the adventuress!”

Little do you know… “I do my best, Your Highness.” She held the blindfold between her claws. “May I approach you and slip this over your eyes, sire?”

“Of course you may.”

“You trust me?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“How do you know I won’t shield your eyes and then slit your throat?”

“Because there’s something special about you, cat. I can’t put my finger on it, but you are very intriguing. I’m willing to trust you with my life.”

Her heart melted at his words, and she took great pride in feeling his affection even though he had not yet seen her in her human form. What would he think of her once he saw her long legs, full breasts, and thick tawny hair? Would he ravish her when he felt the warmth from her heart and tasted the sweetness of her breath? How would he react to the tenderness she longed to give him?

When would he remember her, if he remembered her at all? She had never spoken to him or shifted in front of him when she lived in the castle. Her heart ached with love and memories of his tender caresses and playful roughhousing. If only he recalled her!

She walked to him as he sat in his favorite chair, and then she leapt onto his lap. He ran his fingers through her long fur without thinking twice about it, as many humans did when accosted by a cat, although certainly not most. She had met her share of men and women who beat her and threw pans of water at her. Zane’s face flashed into her mind. When would she see him again? Tita knew he would make another appearance soon, aware of his cruelty and greed. She shook her head and quickly shoved his memory away. She would not allow him room in her head to ruin her time with the king.

Thankfully, her king was not cruel. She purred with pleasure as he scratched her behind her ears. Ooooh, he found my most sensitive sweet spot! I can’t stand it! Let me at him! In a fit of arousal, she rubbed her mouth against his hand, leaving her scent on his skin.

She stared into his deep blue eyes and paused before lifting her blindfold. I wonder if he can see into my soul when he gazes into my eyes. One look will show him a world he’s never before seen. She gazed at him, wishing he could read her mind, to sense the love she felt for him.

“You have lovely eyes, cat. The color of a deep sea – quiet on the surface, but I suspect there is quite a bit of turmoil in those depths.” He ran one hand over her back, stroking her length until she arched in response. “Your eyes are very human. Long-lashed and expressive. Are you enchanted?”

“In a way, sire, yes I am. But I’m not cursed. I can give you what you need.”

“And what might that be?”

“Let me show you.” She slipped the blindfold over his eyes and waited for him to sit back and relax. When his breathing eased, she curled into his lap, placing both paws on his shoulders. “Don’t be afraid. And whatever you do, don’t remove the blindfold. I’m about to give you my surprise.”

As her body lengthened and stretched, she stroked his hair. Paws elongated into palms and fingers and she scratched his scalp with her long nails. He moaned and curled his head into her embrace, but as her furry body grew into curvy feminine form, he backed away with a gasp of alarm.

“Please don’t be afraid,” she whispered in a deep, mellow voice that sang in his ear. “I won’t hurt you.” She guided his hands from his sides to her bare hips. “Touch me. Feel me.”

Buy Links for TROUBLE IN THIGH HIGH BOOTS

Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/trouble-amazon-us

Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/trouble-amazon-uk

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240534

Coming soon: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, and AllRomanceEbooks

Find Elizabeth Black here:

http://elizabethablack.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

It’s No Secret! The Secret Life of Pets is Free!

I’m very excited to announce another FREE taste of my critically acclaimed novel, The Pet Shop! Alongside the original novel, The Pet Shop is now being offered by Xcite in a limited Kindle edition three-part series. The second part, The Secret Life of Pets, is once again available for FREE for five days on Amazon from the 17th of October until the 21st. And, since Xcite is only too aware that Pets are addicting, to help feed your addiction for hot kinky romance, Part One, The Gift, and Part Three, The Taming, are just £.77 each in the UK and $1.19 in the US.

(Just a quick reminder. If you’re an early bird on the other side of the Pond, the U.S. link may be available a few hours later than the UK link because of the time change.)

Here’s a little teaser of what you’ll find in The Secret Life of Pets. Download your copy FREE, and you’ll find out what the secret is.

Blurb:                               

Obsessed with finding out about Tino and his connection with Vincent Evanston, Stella enters the secret world of the Pet Shop in the only way possible, by becoming a Pet herself. As her animal lust awakens, Stella discovers the delicious crossover of the world of Pets and Keepers when Vincent takes her home as his Pet. But Stella wants the best of both worlds. Will she ever be able to have it?

Excerpt:

Stella was still struggling to make sense of it all when the door opened. She could see a silhouette darkened against the moonlit sky before the door closed, then there were footsteps across the complaining wood floor and the Boss knelt beside her with a leash, which he clipped into the D-ring of her collar and held her gaze. He stood without saying a word, and she stood next to him, her legs suddenly unsteady. Was she going to have sex with him?  Not that he wasn’t an attractive man, but he was her boss and sex would add another complication she didn’t need. He led her out into the night, back along a narrow pavement, down a steep set of stairs and through a heavy wooden door.

Before she had a chance to get frightened, the Boss flipped on a light switch and a cavernous room immerged out of the shadow into details she failed to notice. Her whole attention was drawn to the pallet on the floor in the corner where Tino lay naked, blinking hard at the bright invasion on light-deprived pupils. He yawned and stretched and wiped sleep from his eyes. When he saw her, he came to his feet expectantly. As always, it was impossible for her not to notice his lovely penis, already at half-mast and rising. He laid a hand against it, not like he was about to masturbate, more like he was taking the reins of a powerful animal.

The Boss chuckled softly. ‘I can almost hear your fear and anger, Stella, and I assure you there’s no need for either. This is where Tino sleeps whenever he’s here. Not sure why he prefers the dungeon to far more plush places in which a Pet of his status could sleep. Perhaps because he spends so much time down here anyway being punished for bad behaviour, and I assure you, he gets far less than he deserves. He unhooked the leash and nodded toward the big Pet. ‘Go on. If the two of you were magnets it would be easier to keep him from you.’

It was all she could do to keep from crying out his name as he scooped her into his arms. Any further slippage of speech was stopped by Tino’s insistent mouth startling in its familiarity. Her throat tightened and her eyes welled, as he took her face between large hands and kissed her repeatedly, ravenously, as though he would never stop. But when he did, it was because they had both become once again aware that the Boss was still standing there, arms folded across his chest, watching.

When they stood staring at him expectantly, he pulled out a metal folding chair and sat down deliberately. ‘Oh, I’m not leaving, if that’s what you’re waiting for. I did scheme to get the two of you together, that’s true.’ He waved a hand. ‘And I expect you to do whatever nasty things your libidos drive you to, but I expect you to do them while I watch.’

He turned his gaze on Stella, whose insides suddenly twisted in a writhe of nerves. ‘My dear Stella, as a Pet, you’ll often be called upon by your keepers to perform sexually for them while they watch and have a wank.’ He shrugged. ‘Sometimes they only do that until they get up their courage to join in the fun. Other times they really are voyeurs and get off on the watching more than the doing.

‘Me, I don’t need courage to join in the fun, which I may well do if I choose. But after what happened between you two this morning, I haven’t had a minute’s peace imagining the fireworks that must happen when the two of you actually are allowed to fuck.’ He sighed happily and settled back into the chair as though it were the most comfy recliner. ‘All I need now is some popcorn. Consider this a part of your training, Stella, and who better to help you with your homework than someone who’s an old hand at it.’ He nodded to Tino.

She expected at least an awkward moment or two to adjust to the idea of fucking with an audience, but Tino simply ignored the Boss’s presence.He lifted her as though she were weightless and carried her back to his pallet.

From Amazon.com

The Secret Life of Pets

The Gift

The Taming

From Amazon.co.uk

The Secret Life of Pets

The Gift

The Taming

 

Starla Kaye Tells the Story Behind The CEO and the Cowboy

It’s my pleasure to welcome Starla Kaye to Hopeful Romantic to share the story behind her hot new novel, The CEO and the Cowboy. And Starla is offering an exciting contest as well. Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a copy of either MAGGIE’S SECRET WISH or STARTING OVER from Decadent Publishing and a special gift: a Spurs auto coaster. Contest ends October 6.

I live in the mid-west and tend to write most of my stories somewhere in familiar territory. Kansas City is one of my favorite places and I especially love the Country Club Plaza area. There are some really beautiful houses along Ward Parkway and I couldn’t resist having my CEO hero, Daniel Patterson, living in one of them. The cover even has a cityscape of the Plaza area, which is perfect.

My other hero, the cowboy Calhoun Cordell, has a ranch in the Flint Hills near Manhattan, Kansas, which is another area of Kansas that I am familiar with. His ranch doesn’t actually play much of a part in this story. But I will be writing a sequel and the ranch will have a bigger role in it.

THE CEO AND THE COWBOY is my second m/m romance for Decadent Publishing. It is another story of two heart-wounded, struggling men trying to make sense of their lives and stumbling into an unexpected romance. Although my main romance writing is m/f, I am enjoying writing these special stories. Everyone deserves to be loved and to love someone. All that matters to me is that my characters are in need of finding that one special person who makes their life complete.

Since the biggest percentage of my 50 some published stories involve cowboys, I wanted to write a story about a rancher, and I enjoy writing stories with businessmen as heroes. So I had my two basic characters in mind and a general location, then all I needed was a way to get these two men together. Who knew they would both show up at Calhoun’s ex-fiancée’s wedding! I certainly didn’t when I sat down and started writing the story.

That’s how I tend to write my stories. I come up with a title first, character names and a basic idea of what they look like next (I use photos from somewhere to refer to as I write occasionally). Then I come up with what in their backgrounds or current life might be a conflict between them. Sometimes I have a really loose idea of plot points to aim for, but I don’t outline. I’ve learned over my dozen plus years of being published that outlining in too much depth ruins the story for me. I feel like I’m finished with it after putting so much work in an outline. And my characters usually hate the outlines, too. They become “real” people (to me) and they want to follow their own paths in life, make their own mistakes, run into their walls and have to figure out ways around them. They take me along for the ride. I love working this way and I love the unexpected twists in the story telling.

THE CEO AND THE COWBOY has one such unexpected twist after Calhoun and Daniel have this sort of falling out. I wouldn’t have guessed they would do this (and I’m not telling you what happened), but it fit them and the story. So basically I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of writer.

BLURB

The whole thing about relationships and feelings confuses the heck out of Calhoun. He’s a simple cowboy and he’d been planning to marry a long-time friend for a while. When he finally realizes it doesn’t feel right, he lets her go. He probably shouldn’t have gone to her wedding to another man, but she wanted him there. But that’s when he really gets confused. His eye is drawn to a seriously hot businessman…and that sure does unnerve him…and yet….

Emotionally burned by the last man he thought he’d loved, Daniel isn’t anxious to replace him. But there is something about the proud, bedroom-eyed cowboy who shows up at his friend’s wedding. The CEO isn’t even sure if the cowboy’s gay, although the heat firing between them makes him wonder….

What he does know is that he plans to find out.

Available from:

Decadent Publishing

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon FR

Amazon DE

Amazon IT

Amazon ES

EXCERPT

Calhoun wondered what the hell he was doing in Patterson’s home, why he’d agreed to come here. From the second the man had asked him to see his Western art collection, he’d sensed there was more to it than that. The way he’d kept looking at him over his beer with such heat in his eyes…the strange way he hadn’t been able to look away…all of it unnerved him. Yet here he was, following him up the large, winding staircase, up to his bedroom, no doubt. Another guy’s bedroom! Holy hell.

Even more unsettling, he’d just been kissed. By a man! Damn! And it had felt…well, good. No, better than good. He’d even kissed him back. His chest pounded; his mind whirled with all the things happening to him, with myriad confused feelings spinning through him.

Patterson climbed the stairs in front of him, his long legs taking them two at a time. With each step the fabric across his ass pulled tight. For a city boy, a businessman, this man had a mighty fine butt. Another thought that unnerved him. He’d admired men for dressing well or acting confident and in charge, traits he identified with and appreciated in others. But he’d damn sure never spent any time admiring another man’s body.

“You okay?” Patterson moved onto the landing and glanced back at him.

He saw beyond the other man’s proud exterior, saw the hint of vulnerability in his eyes. It was clear Daniel had experience in what was happening between them, while he had only a very limited knowledge of such things. Daniel seemed…worried about him. The notion settled his nerves a bit.

“I’m hanging in.” That was as much as he could admit. Fact was, he still thought he should turn tail and run like the blazes in the other direction. He met his gaze.

Relief passed through his eyes, and he turned down a long hallway. With his first step, he passed in front of some kind of sensor because lights came on along the floorboards and ahead in a room Calhoun figured must be where they were headed. His bedroom. Never in his wildest imaginings would he have believed he’d be following another man to his bedroom. His gut tightened. Sweat beaded his spine and upper lip.

Patterson—maybe he needed to think of him on a first-name basis now—waited for him just inside a room big enough to sleep a dozen or so people, except there was only one bed. A hell of a bed it was, too. He’d never seen anything like the obviously king-sized—maybe bigger—bed with four thick columns for bed posts and a fancy carved headboard as tall as he was. A thick red and black comforter covered it. He gave the rest of the dark wood furnishings barely a glance. Mahogany, were they? It was the bed that caught and held his attention.

By the time he’d stopped gaping at the bed, Daniel had removed his suit jacket and tie. His white dress shirt was half unbuttoned. Through the slight opening, he noted a light dusting of dark, curly hair. His own chest was smoothly bare, a genetic thing from his long-ago Comanche great-great-great-grandmother. His mouth watered, and it surprised him that he wanted to touch that chest hair. He shouldn’t want to, shouldn’t even be thinking about it.

“We can stop right now.” He again offered him an out, although he sounded hopeful. “I’m going to tell you up front I want you. I’ve wanted to strip you out of your fine Western suit from the moment I saw you walk into the church.”

Starla Kaye

Family is extremely important to me. Life is far too short not to spend time with these special people in some way each day. My husband supports me in my writing craziness…always eagerly waiting for that million-dollar sale. (Dream on.) My daughter supports me in so many ways, including designing my website and fixing the many computer screw-ups I manage on an almost daily basis. And the rest of my family is there for me whenever I need them. I live for them all and love them with all of my heart. I laugh with them, too.

Beyond my family, I enjoy traveling anywhere, at anytime. I’ve been fortunate enough to see so many interesting places over my life, places I’ve read about or heard about. All of my many adventures and observations of people and places help my writer’s imagination. I’m filled with ‘what ifs’ and ideas for yet more characters. My writing, too, leads me on many adventures. I dabble with romances of many sub-genres: contemporary, historical Western, medieval, sci-fi, paranormal, and Regency. As with never having enough of traveling, I will never have enough of writing.

Find Starla Kaye at:

Website: Starla Kaye

Twitter:  Starla Kaye

Facebook: Starla Kaye Writer

Pinterest:  Starla Kaye

 

 

Lakeland Heatwave Times Two!

It’s official! Riding the Ether is now out in the Kindle store! The print version will hit the shelves later this month. I’m so excited to finally be able to share more of the Lakeland Heatwave story with you! Riding the Ether continues the story of my witchs of the Elemental Coven with a new addition to the gang. Welcome Cassandra Larkin, lusty, passionate, powerful and leading a secret life, a secret life which gets the attention of a demon.

If you’ve not yet read book one of the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, now is your chance to catch up. Body Temperature and Rising is FREE on Kindle and on iTunes until the end of October! A sexy, intense,  bewitching read just in time for Halloween.

Read them both for the heat and the thrill!

Riding the Ether Blurb

Cassandra Larkin keeps her ravenous and dangerous sexual appetite secret until she seduces Anderson in the mysterious void of the Ether.  Anderson is the sexy, insatiable ghost who can give her exactly what she needs.

But sex is dangerous in a place like the Ether…

When the treacherous demon, Deacon, discovers the truth about the origin of Cassandra’s powerful lust, he plots to use her sex magic for revenge on Tara Stone and the Elemental Coven, who practice their own brand of sex magic.

Cassandra must embrace the lust and sexuality she fears and learn to use its power. Will she stand with Anderson, Tara, and the Elemental Coven against Deacon’s wrath or suffer the loss of friendship, magic and love?

Excerpt

From a long distance, he heard Tara moan, heard the rush of her breath, felt her legs tighten around his hips, but he was already through the Gateway, speeding forward with each thrust deeper and deeper into the dream. It was familiar territory, a journey he had made with Tara many times before. He found himself poised there on the threshold of the unconscious waiting to be drawn under, waiting to uncover secrets. He felt a slight tightening in his chest, an acceleration of his heart, and the scraping of flesh against stone, solid and bruising. His pulse accelerated further. The hair on the back of his neck rose. Someone called his name from a long way off, but it was not Tara. His last thought before he was catapulted from the flesh with a force violent enough to take his breath away, if there had been breath left, was that he was no longer in the Dream World.

He was unsure if he had lost consciousness, but Anderson knew immediately, when he had gathered himself enough for the knowing, that he was in the Ether, though how he got there he could not tell. Immediately he cast the counting spell his mother had taught him when, at last, she agreed that even though he was no daughter, he had wit enough and was gifted enough in the Old Ways to walk safely in the Void. He had already crafted his own counting spell, for until she had relented, he had visited the Ether in secret without her permission. More efficient than his, her spell allowed him to set a small clock in the back of his mind, a clock that kept track of time in the World of Flesh, the only way to mark the passing of time in the Ether. If the counting spell were not cast, one could very easily die. While starvation set in and the comatose body withered away in the World of Flesh, no time passed at all in the Ether. Time was simply not a concept in the Void.

And though he did not remember casting the special enfleshment spell, the one he always cast for himself in the Ether, he was fully in the flesh, completely naked, and fully, nay, outrageously aroused. The pressure in his groin was both agonizing and exquisite. He reached for his manhood, knowing full well he was in need of wit that he did not possess when his lust was so great.

But before he could stroke himself to release, a voice spoke out from the Void. ‘That belongs to me.’

Buy Ether here

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Get Body Temperature and Rising FREE here

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

iTunes

 

Susan Quilliam Talks About Sexualization

I’m so excited to have Susan Quilliam as my guest today on A Hopeful Romantic. Susan wears a lot of hats. She is a writer, a broadcaster, a consultant and a  mentor on the psychology of relationships and sexuality, among other things. But what she’s most noted for is rewriting what is probably the most famous sex manual of our time, The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort’s 1972 masterpiece. In 2008 Susan revised The Joy of Sex and brought it roaring into the 21st century.

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan at the Fannying Around Women’s Group founded by Sarah Berry, where she had been asked to speak. After some online correspondence, Susan kindly agreed to allow me to interview her concerning the nebulous, but frightening topic of sexualization. Welcome, Susan!

K D: I think a lot of problems and confusion are caused by people not understanding what sexualization is and confusing it with sexuality. Somehow promiscuity always gets thrown into the equation as well. Susan, could you start by giving us some working definitions, please? What exactly is sexualization and how did it come about?

Susan: Ah….. so many definitions of this term! I guess the most relevant here is ‘sexual perspective’… the way more and more aspects of society today are seen through the lens of sexuality.

We do live in an age that is arguably more sexualized than ever before. How has it come about? I ran a whole evening around this topic recently at The School of Life (link: www.theschooloflife.com) – we explored the ways in which modern society quite simply makes it much easier to have sex and so more tempting to link sex with everything.

As the last century began, huge social changes such as industrialisation meant that folk who used to live in close-knit, morally-tied villages suddenly found themselves in huge anonymous cities where they were free to do what they liked with whomever they liked. The rise of science and the decline of religion meant all the messages about ‘sex is sin’ suddenly seemed wrong, while with women’s emancipation and then the pill came the possibility of having sex without conception – just for pleasure.

Not that I’m saying that sex just for pleasure is a bad idea! Far from it! But all these changes have meant that sex has been delinked from family life, has been brought out of the bedroom and is far more visible in society. And as with all social changes, that brings some good and some bad in its wake.

K D: How closely linked do you think sexualization is with consumerism? Are two the opposite sides of the same coin?

Susan: Ever since the first prostitute accepted the first fee for delivering sexual favours, sex has been linked with consumerism. But even outside the directly sexual industries, it’s inevitable that as sex is so powerful, people will want more of it – and that those who aim to make money will be harnessing that power: linking sex with products, marketing goods by making them appear to trigger sexual desire, selling services through promising sexual success.

It’s sad that sex is sold in this way… sad that we don’t all have the true intimacy with another person that means we are neither looking to buy sex nor looking to buy things that deliver sex. If we were all loved, physically and emotionally, in a way that made us feel valued, powerful, safe and satisfied emotionally, the link between sexualization and consumerism would be broken.

K D: Is there a solution that doesn’t involve censorship? How much of the solution do you think falls to parents, or even those us who aren’t parents, and how much to the state?

Susan: I personally believe that though we see a great deal of problematic sexualization going on, there are also huge solutions being put in place, both on a personal and on a society-wide level. Maybe I’m being too optimistic – but in my own lifetime we have moved from a high level of ignorance and fear about sex to a much healthier and happier approach. Trust me, having a fulfilling sex life in the middle of the last century was rarely easy and straightforward.

Nowadays parents, though often unresourced, are acting to protect their children. School sex education, though often minimal, is now seen as necessary. Adults too are maturing in their attitudes to sex; there is a growing awareness in society of the value and power of sexuality – and that it needs to be treasured and taken seriously. Plus organisations such as the Family Planning Association and Relate are working to promote positive sexuality.

K D: The main concern about sexualization seems to be its effect on children. Is it a problem for adults too?

Susan: Yes – though as I say above, I’m optimistic that as a society we are maturing in our attitudes to sex. But the latest figures on sexually transmitted infections show that there’s a steep rise in disease in the over-40s, who think that they are immune and take risks; this is a clear reflection of the way adults too are hitting problems in this respect.

K D: I hope I’m not being sexist in asking this question, but I just have to. Is sexualization a feminist issue? I ask that because most of the images with which we’re confronted on a daily basis, whether on billboards, the internet, movies or women’s magazines are of women and geared toward women – and little girls.

Susan: I agree that sexualization is a feminist issue. Females are bombarded with images that suggest they will be valued more if they present themselves as sexually knowledgeable and active. As an agony aunt I often get letters from early teenage girls saying that they want a boyfriend to love them, and hence are going to do sexual things that they don’t necessarily want to do.

But this isn’t a one-sided issue. I get letters from teenage boys saying the same, saying they feel under pressure to perform in order to impress their girlfriends. So sexualization may be a feminist issue, but it is also a ‘masculinist’ issue too.

K D: How do you think a sex positive society would change the landscape where sexualization is concerned? And how do you see that happening?

Susan: Let’s first define what we mean by a sex positive society: a society where sex is seen as a Good Thing, but because it’s a Good Thing, should be valued and treasured. I do believe that if we made a shift to that belief, things would change hugely; much of our unhealthy obsession with sexuality comes from a rebellion against inhibition and guilt. If we were genuinely taught that sex is wonderful, we’d be far more likely to approach it wisely, respectfully and healthily.

There’s proof of this, too. A number of studies have shown that when young people are taught about sex, and told that it’s enjoyable, they are far more likely to wait to have first sex and to have that first sex within the context of a caring relationship. So the first approach here must be to resource parents, schools and the media to present a perspective on sex that doesn’t label it as bad and wrong.

This may take decades if not centuries – but to me it is certainly the way forward. For thousands of years, guilt and punishment haven’t worked to discourage sexual expression; we need to try something different.

K D: I’ve always felt that erotic authors, or erotic artists of any kind for that matter, are in an ideal position to promote a sex positive attitude and by doing so help to combat sexualization. Do you have any suggestions as to how we might best do that with literature, fantasy and art?

Susan: I agree with you that artists in general have a huge role to play in offsetting sexualization because they reach through to people’s souls in a way that informational health campaigns, albeit useful, simply can’t.

We learn from art by feeling with, by reacting to, by taking on board deeper messages than simply factual ones. So I would encourage all artists to make the messages they give out about sex emotionally literate, with the right values, not in any prissy way, but in ways that teach us what the best sex can be- a heady mix of physical and emotionally connection.

K D: And how about everyone else? What can we all do to combat sexualization?

Susan: Speak out when we see abuse of the wonder of sex, support others who speak out, encourage society as a whole to make a stand.

K D: Since the internet gets a healthy dose of the blame for sexualization, how much of that blame do you think it deserves? Can it also be a part of the solution? If so, how?

Susan: I’m a huge fan of the Internet, albeit it has a bad press. Every medium of communication has a dark side and Internet porn is at the core of the dark side of sexualization. But it also allows us to access accurate and helpful information about sexuality, to spread positive and useful ideas with the click of a mouse, and exchange views – as this very post proves! Well done KD for providing such a positive arena.

K D: Thanks, Susan! And thanks so much for sharing your time and helpful insights with us. All the best to you!

Susan Quilliam is a writer, broadcaster, consultant and mentor on the psychology of relationships and sexuality. She works closely with the Journal of Family Planning, the Family Planning Association and Relate. Her 21 books are published in 33 countries and 24 languages; in 2008 ,she rewrote the seminal manual The Joy of Sex.

Susan’s website: http://www.susanquilliam.com/Home.htm

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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