the ask@AAR: Why is the sexiest question in sex so rarely asked in romance?

We’ve discussed here how we feel about consent in romance–in general, good–although there are those, me among them, who feel constant questions in a love scene are hard to do well. For the sake of this week’s discussion, let’s agree asking for consent is a given. And that’s good.

What doesn’t appear to be a given is asking about pleasure. In romance after romance, lovers, usually heroes, are innately great in bed. They know, without a single word, what would drive their partner to screaming orgasms. This seems… unlikely. When there is a discussion about how a lover likes to be pleasured, it’s usually voiced by the hero. I’ve read six thousand scenes–historical romance, I’m looking at you–where the hero tells the heroine how to handle his equipment, often very specifically–no teeth, rub harder, etc….

It’s rare a man asks “what do you like?” or “what makes you quiver?”* It’s as if being a great lover means knowing, with no input, a lover’s body better than she does. This isn’t how people tend to work.

Some women love to have their breasts touched, others, not so much. A heroine might love or loathe having anal stimulation yet I’ve never read a scene where she’s asked about her feelings on the subject. Sexual pleasure is individualistic and, if you ask me, a great lover asks for directions. (Writing that sentence made me think of this scene in Chasing Amy, one of my favorite 90s films.)

But in romance novels, it often feels like that’s uncool or unromantic. What do you think? Do you like scenes where lovers offer directions? If not, why not? And if you can point me to some scenes where feedback is done well, that would be excellent!

*I am thinking about this question primarily in the context of f/m romances.

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