Saturday, May 8, 2010

Foreplay in f/f or lesbian erotic romance


Yesterday on
Dear Author, one of our contributors, Jill Sorenson posted her review of Fool's Gold by Jenna Byrnes.

In her review she said that she felt that there was a lack of foreplay between the two main female characters during sex and she was disappointed in that or didn't like that. She compared it to m/m sex, which is usually portrayed more like how men are thought to like sex; without preamble or any warm up.


This got me to thinking about foreplay in f/f or lesbian erotic romance.
To be honest, this has never been an issue for me. Or, I've never noticed any lack of foreplay in an f/f or lesbian book.

That got me thinking about what foreplay means. For those of us who are straight or bisexual and have only been with men, I think technically it usually means that a man gets a woman warmed up and turned on by breast play and clitoral stimulation for the big (main) event, which is intercourse. Or that's how it is for many women since many men aren't into long drawn out kissing and cuddling sessions before sex, which is also considered foreplay.


In m/f erotic romance, the lack of foreplay is something that I notice immediately. There are quite a few authors who dispense with the foreplay altogether because the magical penis and alpha energy of the male is so intense that they can just jump right in and viola!, the woman is immediately ready and has the most amazing orgasm. Lisa Marie Rice is one such author who does that and her books are like crack to me. Do I usually believe it, that the woman is all wet and comes right away without any stimulation? Nope. But it's one of those things in m/f that is very noticeable and a big deal.

The usual in m/f erotic romance foreplay is not so much the kissing and cuddling,
but that the hero spends a lot of time on the heroine's breasts combined with clitoral stimulation, either orally or through manual stimulation. He's usually totally focused on giving her an orgasm this way before they even start intercourse.

Foreplay becomes an issue in m/f because it's a
common complaint among women that men just don't take the time to get them warmed up and in fantasy, this is what we want to read.

But then there's f/f sex. F/f sex in its totality, is for the most part, the same thing men do to get a woman warmed up. While in many lesbian stories and in erotica a strap on is used, usually, it’s oral sex and fingering that is the main event between women.

So what is usually foreplay in m/f is the main event in f/f. To me, it's a given then that a woman is going to be warmed up and satisfied in f/f sex and foreplay then becomes something else altogether.

And this is the interesting thing to me, I wonder of readers of f/f have different expectations about what foreplay is between women as opposed to foreplay with men? Is foreplay more about the emotional dance between two people prior to the sex, like in verbal banter and flirting? Or is it more about the actual physical act of foreplay?


I think many of us who like to read f/f are looking for an emotional connection before it’s expressed in the physical, which would mean more time spent cuddling and kissing, talking about feelings and such and just connecting maybe on a softer physical level regardless of how the actual sex is eventually expressed: rough, intense, soft, aggressive, etc.


I know when I started reading lesbian romances, one thing that struck me clearly was that often the characters got excited and were satisfied just with cuddling and kissing and I totally loved that. I felt that was something totally missing in m/f romance. It's something that I think many women respond to, but don't read too often.


Personally, I prefer that there is an emotional connection whether it be m/f or f/f. However, what I consider foreplay in f/f is probably more different than in m/f.


So what do you all think? Do you have different expectations when it comes to sexual expression and foreplay between women than between men and women in m/f?

13 comments:

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I think foreplay is very important in all types of romance, regardless if it is straight, FF or MM. I am more of the type of reader who prefers the buildup than the actual wham bam let's get it on and then it's over.

Reading about a few kisses and touches is pretty boring, IMO. I want mouths, tongues, hands, fingers and a whole lot of "OH MY GOD!"

LVLM said...

Katie-- do you prefer though the foreplay in actual physical buildup or is it more about the sexual tension that leads to the sex?

I guess I'm trying to define what foreplay actually means. Because to me it's a combination of flirting and sexual tension buildup along with some physical action before the main event.

I notice that in m/m it is quite common to read two guys going at it with nary any build up either emotionally or physically.

I'm the same with you, in that even in m/m I want to see some sort of connection before the main sex. However, I'm much more forgiving if two guys just go at it without preamble then I am with f/f or m/f.

And I get way more upset in m/f if the hero doesn't bother about foreplay than I do in a f/f.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I like both, the sexual tension and the foreplay.

Foreplay for me is everything leading up to actual intercourse as in kissing, touching, making both aroused to the point they are crazed with desire. That also can mean oral sex.

But sometimes if there is a connection and they are all hot for one another, I don't mind the, "take me now" scenes.

I guess it is more of a personal preference as a reader.

kirsten saell said...

I think in many cases it's about character more than anything else. I mean, I've written rather a lot of f/f scenes, and many of them have intimate touching before the first kiss, which might be construed as a "let's get down to business" kind of attitude--but they all stayed true to character.

And it could be that in that paritcular book, there might have been a lack of sensual and emotional language, too. Or a masculinizing of POV, where the sex is portrayed as, well, just sex, without going much deeper than that. I do notice differences in the focus of a character's attention and emotion whether I'm writing from a man's POV or a woman's. They notice different things, focus on different things, even feel different things.

And I think, too, that if you're attracted to women at all, you might not need that build-up to get turned on by reading f/f. I certainly don't. But someone who identifies as straight might need the emotional/sensual build-up to be more protracted and gentle to enjoy f/f sex scenes.

LVLM said...

there might have been a lack of sensual and emotional language, too.

I think this is one of the cruxes of a lot of erotic romances. Language or situations that don't elicit or express a connection between characters or authors who use sex itself to show some connection.

It probably all boils down to different perspectives and concepts in what foreplay is or how an author writes it.

I just thought it interesting that I've never noticed lack of foreplay in f/f when it's a blaring issue for me in m/f and m/m.

M. A. said...

I agree with Katiebabs. I like to read (and write) tension and buildup -- emotional as well as sensual -- in romance or erotic romance, regardless of the gender.

I think it's about personal taste, what different people enjoy reading.

I also like to read romances where there is definite attraction and intimacy expressed between the lovers "just because." Not exclusively as a prelude to sex.

LVLM said...

I like to read (and write) tension and buildup -- emotional as well as sensual -- in romance or erotic romance, regardless of the gender.

I find this kind of thing lacking more often than not. In erotic romance, m/f, f/f, m/m, I find that too often authors get straight to the sex without building up the tension first. As if erotic romance means sex only.

I like when two characters kind of dance around each other first so that when they do get together, they want each other so badly they would die without the other.

But unfortunately, this is very rare.


I also like to read romances where there is definite attraction and intimacy expressed between the lovers "just because." Not exclusively as a prelude to sex.

Me too. In fact, while I like the sex in books, I'd rather feel that the characters are really into each other all around, not just sexually.

Mia- do you then consider that the sexual tension build up is the foreplay in an erotic romance?

Or can two characters get it on without that tension and still manage to ease into the sex in a way that makes you feel that foreplay has happened?

I think much depends on how the author writes it. And like you said, what the taste of the reader.

Jill Sorenson said...

I wouldn't mind a lack of foreplay if I know that the characters really want each other. Sexual tension and longing looks can work like foreplay. If they tear off their clothes and get right to intercourse, that's okay because there's been an emotional build-up.

I have to stand by my opinion that the sensory descriptions/tension/emotions were not as developed as I'd have liked in the book I reviewed.

What I expect, in any love scene, is to get an idea of what the heroine is feeling, physically and emotionally. I want her to anticipate being touched, and feel aroused *before* she's touched. A hand diving between the legs, followed by instant arousal and quickie orgasm, doesn't hit the right note for me.

LVLM said...

Jill, I hope you didn't think that I was attacking your take on the book. We did feel differently about it and I felt that was fine.

Everyone has a right to how they feel and no one person is right or wrong.

But because I felt differently, it made me wonder what does constitute foreplay since really, it's never even come up for me in f/f before.

Your review made me realize that in m/f it has bothered me when there's been a lack of foreplay. Or that I'm more critical of m/f than I am of f/f in that department. It made me realize as well that I'm way more lax on judgment of m/m when the characters have not connection but just get it on as I stereotypically think men would really do.

But not even noticing anything about foreplay or lack of it in f/f just made me think about things is all.

It made me wonder how I perceive foreplay, what I need to be good with the characters and so on and if I have different expectations in m/f and f/f.

So I hope you didn't feel that I was attacking you personally or criticizing your take on it. It just brought up things for me to consider.

But I do think we are in agreement that foreplay is essential and that some connection between the characters is important or it's just turn off really if they get right to business.

Jill Sorenson said...

Not at all! I don't feel attacked. Maybe I'm too easy on m/f--and, like kirsten said, it's my default experience. I also have this idea that women are more emotionally invested in sex. I think that notion might be the root of my disconnect--perhaps I wrongly expected softer, more loving encounters.

M. A. said...

I find this kind of thing lacking more often than not. In erotic romance, m/f, f/f, m/m, I find that too often authors get straight to the sex without building up the tension first. As if erotic romance means sex only.

I think several factos contribute to this trend. Since shorter works are gaining popularity, it stands to reason authors trim away certain complexities easy to include in lengthier works.

Another factor that might be even more important is a trend in women's erotica portraying minimal or nonexistent foreplay/tension/attraction as a sign of female empowerment. The idea that women can be as disinterested emotionally in sex as men, or indulge in sexual interludes strictly for gratification without much worry about "chemistry" or attraction. While this works well in erotica, it's not the best "fit" in erotic romance because, well, no romance.

Also, casual, uncomplicated no-strings sex is a turn-on/fantasy for some readers.

It boils down to everyone has a different definition of "sexy" and "romantic."


Mia- do you then consider that the sexual tension build up is the foreplay in an erotic romance?

Or can two characters get it on without that tension and still manage to ease into the sex in a way that makes you feel that foreplay has happened?


I think sexual tension is one element of foreplay in erotic romance, certainly.

I think "non-foreplay sex" can be very well-done in the hands of a skilled author, but it's still not my favorite read. I think certain scenarios can lend themselves well to "non-foreplay sex," such as reunited former lovers.

LVLM said...

I think that notion might be the root of my disconnect--perhaps I wrongly expected softer, more loving encounters.

Heh, when I first found out I liked f/f I had only read one series of books that were badly written, but I liked the f/f dynamics in it.

But since I really couldn't find any f/f and only really knew about EC and Samhain and they didn't have any, I jumped straight into lesbian.

I followed a blog Lust Bites that was done by a few Black Lace erotica authors and they promoted all kinds of books. One was a lesbian erotica anthology Lipstick on Her Collar, which I bought right away.

Well, that was really eye opening, I tell you. LOL I had NO idea that that's how women were together. This anthology focused mainly butch/femme, daddy, D/s type stories. Right after that, I got my sister's lesbian erotic anthology that she lent me.

So I didn't have a lot of bi or curious scenarios to ease me in really. Except for Kirsten's Crossing Swords, which I read when it came out. Admittedly, I don't think I ever told Kirsten this, but I read her bio before I bought the book and part of why I bought the book was because she said something like she flirted with girls too and I thought that really cool that she would be honest.

So I got lesbian 101 lessons before there were all these other books really with f/f/m or f/f of bi or curious nature.

Maybe that's why my perspective is a bit different. I went hard core out of the gate.

LVLM said...

I think "non-foreplay sex" can be very well-done in the hands of a skilled author, but it's still not my favorite read.

Yeah, so many factors are involved. I can tell you, and maybe it's TMI, but hormones can affect how I feel about certain erotic romance, erotica stories.

If I'm in heat due to hormones kicking in, then I might find a book with any kind of graphic sex in it to be really hot.

Any other time, I might read the same thing and have a completely different feeling. That has happened.