"It’s all about the unmet needs”…that’s what one of my friends says about love affairs. And the same could be said about how we choose our reading material: Undoubtedly a guy who reads action thrillers wishes he had such adventure in his own life, and could be a powerful, skilled hero. I postulate the popularity of the Harry Potter books derives largely from kids craving to use the imagination, in a culture which offers fewer and fewer such opportunities.
And we erotic romance fans, what about us? I’d venture to say we likewise choose our books based on unmet needs. Because, frankly, real life can hardly provide all the spirit yearns for—that’s fantasy’s job. That’s why everyone indulges in sexual fantasies and should do so. Erotica fans are astute enough to realize that the written words of others can meet those needs nicely too. And it’s kind of interesting to think about what sorts of erotica you enjoy…it will tell you a lot about yourself.
A few months back my mom read my erotic romance novel Souls’ Embrace. (Yeah, Mom really does read my erotic stuff—it’s cool.) The story concerns a pair of lovers who initially meet psychically, and fall in love without ever speaking face to face. Of course they do eventually meet, and the emotional as well as physical bond between them is enhanced by their psychic connection. My mom called me after she finished the book, and said, "About the love scenes…I’ve never experienced anything like that, being that close and intimate.” I replied, "Well, no one has, it’s fantasy.”
And then I asked myself why to me a great erotic love story had to have that element of transcendent intimacy. Probably because all my life I’ve struggled with feeling alienated from other people, a sense that I was different and difficult for others to understand. My need was to be fully and completely at one with another person. That’s largely why I wrote Souls’ Embrace and why the erotic element in that book works well for me personally.
Another example: The majority of romance readers prefer the alpha male, a guy who is strong, competitive, and supremely capable. I would suppose that also springs from an unmet need, for even if you are in a happy relationship with a good man, he cannot be perfect. There are going to be times when he is weak, confused, or uncertain. Thus a woman learns her man is only human and cannot be the perfect alpha male, always there for her, always protective and in charge. However, heroes in books can be that, and that’s why we seek them.
I currently give away free several titles I have written, and it’s interesting for me to see that the most popular of them is my short story "The Scarlet Shackle.” Why? Because this tale is mild D/s, and prominently promoted as such so everyone knows going in. It’s amazing how many readers fancy a little bondage and some spanking, and enjoy the relationship between the dominant male and submissive female.
This genre becomes more popular all the time, and that indicates to me that again there are some unmet needs out there that D/s addresses somehow. I’m not a psychologist, but I would guess one element of the phenomenon is our present culture’s tendency to repress traditional male and female roles. Equality is a great thing in many ways, but in the sexual arena, it’s always been a matter of vive la difference!
Nowadays, women have few opportunities to experience the natural dominant tendencies of men, nor to give in to their own biological urges for submission. We are very seldom cast in the roles we were hardwired to play eons ago. But in D/s fiction (I’m speaking of course of the type in which the male is dominant), we can explore and experience what is denied to us in real life. It can be heady and very gratifying.
These are simple analyses of matters that are quite complex, and unique to each individual. But my point is, fantasy is there for us to satisfy some of the needs our circumstances fail to provide, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you ever find yourself enjoying a story that according to your "better judgment” is kinda kinky, it’s probably because you really needed to read that story. The more effective way to judge the value of that reading experience is to ask yourself afterwards if it made you happy and left you satisfied.
That’s what happens when needs are met, and that’s a good thing, for you and all those around you.
Diana Laurence is the author of the Soulful Sex anthologies published by Living Beyond Reality Press (www.livingbeyondreality.com). Visit her at www.dianalaurence.com, and read her blog at www.eroticawithsoul.blogspot.com. Download her free fiction from the LBR Press READ FREE Project at www.livingbeyondreality.com/readfree.html.