Robyn pointed me to a LiveJournal entry by Jane St. Clair which contemplates Farscape (most particularly the relationship between Aeryn and John), and heterosexual relationships across genres. The issues have to do in the first line (but not exclusively) with the wide wide world of fan fiction (if you go have a look, don’t be startled at the word “slash” — it’s not about knives).***
[…] I demand more stories in which people have bad first sex.
(For some strange reason, my urge to write an long series of tales in which people have extremely bad sex. So awful that they never want to see each other again. But it doesn’t really satisfy anyone but me. No one expects their porn to include, “Can we stop? You’re on my hair.”)
This made me laugh, but it also made me think. Do I always leave out the not-so-nice parts about two people getting together? I think the closest I come to writing about a relationship that begins with a really rocky ride is in Fire Along the Sky, but I can’t say more here without giving a major plot line away. So this is something I will continue to think about. Maybe when FAS comes out this summer people will have an opinion on this.
The other thing that really struck me was this:
My beloved Shakespeare prof spent a long time reconciling us to the notions of love the plays offered, which often didn’t sync well with our own. What she led us to was the recognition that the strongest sign of love or affection is play. Sometimes teasing (Much Ado About Nothing) or wordplay (The Taming of the Shrew — she had us quite convinced that Katherina didn’t mean a word of her final speech on the place of women, that it was all humorously ironic and meant for Petruchio’s amusement), or gameplay (The Tempest). But in most modern portrayals of love, we go for either deep drama (angst) or domestic tranquility (curtainfic), leaving no space for a healthy relationship interesting enough to hold its audience.
Jane St. Clair has put her finger on something here. My sense is that sex takes second seat to playful banter for many of my readers. It certainly does for me. But how it all these elements work together — playfulness, drama, tranquility — that’s something to contemplate for a good while.
***I’ve got a longer entry on fan fiction I’ve been working on for a while. Hope to post it soon.