Shelf Love

Anais Nin, writer of “Female Erotica”?

Short Description

We need to talk about Anais Nin and her erotic short story collection Delta of Venus. Did Anais Nin write "female erotica"? Is there such a thing? Have Things™️ changed much since 1941? Noted smut writer Dame Jodie Slaughter is Shelf Love's international smut history correspondent. She schools us on the long history of smut, French people, Choice Feminism, why she doesn't believe in the female gaze, how her work is contributing to the demise of "our value system," and more! We unpack Anais's assertion that "women are more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love" via Dr. Jodi McAlister’s book "The Consummate Virgin," and her theories of compulsory (female) demisexuality.

Show Notes

We need to talk about Anais Nin and her erotic short story collection Delta of Venus. Did Anais Nin write "female erotica"? Is there such a thing? Have Things™️ changed much since 1941? Noted smut writer Dame Jodie Slaughter is Shelf Love's international smut history correspondent. She schools us on the long history of smut, French people, Choice Feminism, why she doesn't believe in the female gaze, how her work is contributing to the demise of "our value system," and more! We unpack Anais's assertion that "women are more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love" via Dr. Jodi McAlister’s book "The Consummate Virgin," and her theories of compulsory (female) demisexuality.


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Guest: Dame Jodie Slaughter, Shelf Love’s International Smut Historian

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Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Shelf Love, a podcast about romance novels and how they reflect, explore, challenge, and shape desire. I'm your host, Andrea Marucci, and on this episode, I'm joined by noted Pornographer Dame Jodie Slaughter, Shelf Love's international smut history correspondent. Jodie, thanks for being here.

When was smut invented?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Smut was invented in 2019 when I released All Things Burn.

Andrea Martucci: Great answer.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: That's the noted start of it.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. So today we are discussing quote, female sexuality and Anais Nin's collection of erotic short stories, Delta of Venus. The stories were originally written in the 1940s, but not published until her death in 1977 because of their scandalous and taboo nature. We're gonna dive into the history of this volume in a bit, but first we have a letter from one of your readers, Jodie.

And as some of you listeners may know from her previous turns on the podcast, Dame Jodie Slaughter is also a noted writer of scandalous erotic literature. And in fact, the founder of smut. But her most recent release is Bet On It, published by St. Martin's Press in July, 2022. Jodie will you do the honors?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I wanna provide a little context by saying I received this letter on Christmas Day.

" Just read Bet On It. Interesting plot in subject matter, but way too many unnecessary uses f bombs sic. Not to mention way too much graphic written porn. My opinion may stem from my age -77- but I am an open-minded person who is also strongly concerned about the demise of our value system.

"We have four grandchildren, ages 17 to 21, in college and high school. Selected your book from the new fiction selection in the Topeka, Kansas Public Library. Use your considerable skills in some other manner, please."

Andrea Martucci: And that letter was from who?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: His name is Steve.

Andrea Martucci: So Steve is strongly concerned about the demise of our value system. Would you be shocked to learn that Anais Nin wrote Delta of Venus in the 1940s, proving that our value system has been in peril since before our letter writer was even born in 1946?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: After having read, at least in some part, Delta of Venus, I would say that in some ways our value system has greatly improved.

Andrea Martucci: Oh really?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. When it comes to sex, at least.

I mean, you know, Bet On It has consent

Andrea Martucci: But it has F bombs. Does Delta of Venus have F bombs?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I don't think I've seen even one fuck in Delta of Venus.

Andrea Martucci: could do a search on my Kindle, but I'm not going to.

Jodie, what inspired you to pick up Delta of Venus in the first place?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: In all earnestness, I am like, ever obsessed with writing good sex. I always wanna improve as a writer in every context, [00:03:00] but like, sex is important to me. It's an important part of my writing process. To write from experience can be very powerful. But the imagination is also very powerful too. So there's blend.

I was very drawn to Anais Nin. I heard from multiple people, women, largely cis women, that she wrote really great erotica. And I've been very interested in reading erotica. I think it feeds a really specific thing that is not romance, but I also think that reading good ero tica can be really good for internal sexual exploration.

And then as someone who was supposed to have been a really beautiful writer, I was approaching it through multiple lens. Kind of wanted to be a little horny, wanted to learn some things. And also I am, and have been very fascinated recently with Anais' affair with Henry Miller.

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And it just so happened that Delta of Venus was more readily available than Little Birds, which in learning more about what's in Little Birds, I am almost glad that this is the one that was not on hold because yeah. Okay. We'll get into all of that later.

I'm struggling with it. Cuz the word erotica is written on the front of this book in very big, bold letters.

Andrea Martucci: And you're ashamed to be seen with it because of that, right?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: No, not even a little bit. I would love to flaunt this around. I've posted it on Instagram. I do not actually find it very erotic

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: At at all. all.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. So we're talking now in the year of our Lord 2023 and not only are we well past the time when she wrote this, but also many decades past the point in which it was published. And so, I read an article by Sady Doyle in The Guardian, and Sady Doyle is a noted feminist writer.

And one of the things she talked about, this article was from 2015, was about how people conceptualized her and culture has changed and kind of gone through various permutations over time where, when it first came out it was really scandalous. And then it was, titillating and then it was controversial, but how it has come back into vogue, particularly through out of context quotes from her work that are memeified as this great feminist, sexual free thinker, et cetera.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: If I'm reading something new, especially if it's like something that I don't have a ton of context on, or that I know is deep in the cultural zeitgeist that I know people are talking about and have opinions on, I'll obviously read actual thoughtful insight, largely [00:06:00] published, but I'll also like go on Twitter and search up that thing and try to see what, the layman who are also trying to take in this stuff are saying about it.

And literally every tweet was just an out of context quote from a story in this book posted by a Twitter account that only posts erotic gifs.

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I thought that was really fascinating. Like I was truly scrolling and scrolling, trying to find actual commentary on this book.

Which I understand that's like the medium and whatever, but Twitter is definitely a place where nobody loves to just opine more than on that place. And the fact that I found very little opining about Anais and Delta of Venus, but just like a million out of context quotes about her womb or whatever was really bizarre to me.

Like I was truly wondering if people are actually reading this.

Andrea Martucci: I think that's a very good question and I did some searching on YouTube and I watched the documentary from I wanna say the late nineties, I think, recorded before that point. But anyways, it had archival footage and interviews with people who were in her life, including her second husband who she married before divorcing the first one, never divorced the first one, her biographer who was pretty scathing towards her, various other people in her life, her brother.

Obviously there's been a biography written about her, but it was hard to find random articles of the scholarly or even casual type that really engaged with analysis of her work.

I feel like so much of the coverage of her focuses on her life and her biography, which given that essentially she was a diarist, where the majority of her literary output was her diaries talking about her life. And then even the story of these short stories, how they came to be, really enmeshed in her life as a person.

It really does feel like the myth of her as a person precedes the text of the work itself and the life she led as a person who was very openly having sex with a lot of different men, really openly, some of those problematic to varying degrees.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh, baby problematic. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I agree completely. And I also think that we're getting to this point where I think some people are like, oh, no one was doing it when she was doing it. Like in terms of women and so there are certain like circles in which she's viewed through the lens of feminist icon, or like noted feminist writer.

And I'm like, putting that label on anyone [00:09:00] post humorously and you're gonna run into some issues. But I think especially when it comes to this woman. I think there are a lot of ways in which this woman is like, she's very much a person of

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: She's very much someone who is cerebral. I don't like using that. She just thought a lot. Okay. Which is good,

Andrea Martucci: I mean, and she was heavily engaged in Freudian thinking very influenced by that way of interpreting the world. I think she's associated with the surrealists but literally she was engaged in therapeutic, sexual and other relationships with acolytes of Freud, direct descendants and therapists influenced by Freud.

You definitely feel that in her work, right? And that is very much of its time. Therapeutic techniques have certainly advanced beyond Freudianism.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: I put out on the socials that we were reading this, and here are a few things that folks said. And basically it it was very open-ended.

And Cheryl and Spice said the thing they associated with Delta of Venus was, they remembered that Sherilyn Fen had read a passage from it for an MTV book campaign.

And that was from 1991. So that was like a reading is cool MTV thing. And I watched it, it was kind of like this tableau of this sexy woman reading a scene from Delta of Venus to her older crotchety husband and just firing him up.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: getting him horny or angy?

Andrea Martucci: Yes, horny, horny, getting him horny with this text. Right? So there is this idea, our current age, influenced by various things throughout time, leading us to believe that this text is like really sexy and early erotica by a woman author right

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Right.

Andrea Martucci: Now there's a lot of context that I think is important to understand. How these stories were created, what they were for. Jodie can you, as a noted smut historian, can you please just give a little bit of a background on why did she write these and who did she write them for?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Sure. Basically in like the forward of Delta of Venus, Anais talks about how Henry Miller friend, lover, fellow writer had been approached by a book collector, I guess, who was shady and was basically like, look, I have this old man client and he wants to pay you to write erotica.

Okay. And so at a certain point, their entire group of beatnik expats in France

Andrea Martucci: Bohemians

Dame Jodie Slaughter: were writing erotica for this old collector who they never met at what, like a dollar a page,

Andrea Martucci: I just wanna note is not a bad rate even for today,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: No, it isn't, I am so struck by that actually.

Andrea Martucci: and this was in the 1940s, so I think 19 40, 19 41, this kind of starts.

So they know that the [00:12:00] collector was this oil man. It's unclear from the intro if the collector that they are talking to, that Henry Miller is talking to, if it is that guy or if the true identity, he truly was behind the scenes. The intro kind of implies that they all think that the collector is who they're writing for.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: The writers aren't given a ton of guidelines. They don't have scenarios or anything, but they are told cut the poetry. I don't want it pretty, I just want the fucking, we just want the erotica. And so Anais in the Forward sort of talks about like, how erotica that's stripped from emotion and stripped from like actual human feeling isn't good or sexy and how she grew to hate the collector and they all did, but they needed the money.

So, it's implied that all of these works are like created in a very specific circumstance for a very specific singular audience. And she's kind of like, this isn't what I would've written if I'd had my druthers, but she does say that you know, in reading these back I realize that, even when I was trying to strip sex to its basest form, there were parts of me that still shine through as a woman

Cuz she's got this very obviously gender essentialist idea that women especially are entirely unable to divorce the sexual from the emotional and she talks briefly about how she didn't have any examples of women writing about sex.

The only examples she had of people writing about sex were men.

Andrea Martucci: I mean she's kind of implying like a male gaze as influencing what erotica should look like, and she's also casting the true collector, whoever's asking for this and paying for it as also wanting that. Here's a man just wanting to remove all emotion and just stick two bodies slapping against each other or more just the mechanics. They don't want anything else, blah, blah, blah. That's what men like.

But I, a woman with no other examples. I'm trying to like discover this feminine voice. But I think that it's really important to just be clear that even if she's like, I was trying to discover my voice, that it's still for the audience of a literal male gaze, a literal male reader who's saying, I just want her idea of male sexuality.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: it's, also important to note that there is no such thing as the female gaze. That doesn't exist. That's not how the power structure works.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. The whole point of the male gaze is that women are inheriting this idea of being looked at,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: right?

Andrea Martucci: So like the female gaze is being looked at by a woman, which is still external. The idea that we want to move [00:15:00] towards is the lack of a gaze, the ability to be embodied in our own existence.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: That's what Laura Mulvey was talking about, friends.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Anais does not accomplish, I don't think anything of this sort. There are peaks of what this could be in certain stories, at certain points of this collection. I don't ever think any of it is actually realized much with, I don't ever think women's pleasure is ever actually realized in this.

I had such a difficult time with this because some of these stories are simply if I'm thinking about like the literal definition of what erotic is, which is like to arouse to titillate sexually. Some of these are very much not that

Andrea Martucci: They're grotesque and I don't mean that judgmentally. They are purposefully.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: purposefully. And so I'm thinking, okay, she's writing a story where trigger warning. There are multiple stories in these where it is straight up outright sexual assault and abuse of children.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: The old man is like, this is super sexy. Keep doing this. Cuz that's basically what we see of what the process was. Is that like they would submit a story

and they would get some type of feedback. I don't think it would ever be like, and I love the characterization of, but it would be like cut the poetry. It'd be like cut the poetry. But this horrific, like the first story in this, I don't know if you read the Hungarian traveler cuz I told you

Andrea Martucci: You told me not to.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: and I'm not gonna get too deep in it cuz it really is really horrific. And it hits you very unexpectedly cuz you start off, it's about a man who basically he's this like sexy lethario and he seduces women with money and he, fleeces them and then keeps it moving to the next one. And then he ends up falling in love with this like burlesque, she's a burlesque dancer, but she's also I guess like a sex worker as well. There's some combination in there.

And they have children and he leaves her. And basically what this story is detailing is the Hungarian travelers' like quote unquote slow decline into like, hedonism that effectively leads to him abusing children, including his own children, right?

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And then it just ends,

Andrea Martucci: all of them end super abruptly.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: they end so abruptly. There's another called the Boarding School that is in some ways similar that I told you not to read cuz I didn't understand why they were written and put in an erotica collection. The way she is writing about some of these abuses is similar to the way she writes about sex in general, but that's not giving much because the way she writes about sex in general is rapey.

Andrea Martucci: It's rapey. I think that there's a way to read her repulsion for the collector and his requests as her just saying oh, you want just the nasty [00:18:00] stuff? I'll give you the nastiest, most taboo, most repulsive sexual scenarios in which people without power, including women, young women, young boys.

People without power are abused. They are more desirable when they're silenced, that cis men are most titillated by violence and degradation and all of that.

There's a way of reading that. But then the more I understood about a, her own sexual exploits as detailed in her diaries, which I believe are not this wild, but also I think there's a lot of similarities and literally just the way her relationship to men and her desire for validation.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Okay, so here's what I'll say, but then I'm gonna give a caveat. Sex doesn't ever feel like it's something that women desire,

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. In these stories.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: in these stories, but it is when they are thinking about other women.

Andrea Martucci: Yes.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: it only is when they are thinking about how much they want to touch and caress and be with other women sexually.

That's the only time that I'm reading where I'm like, this is actual desire and not a desire to be desired. And through that have power or feel loved or not even just loved, but I don't know. There are multiple women, like two stories apart who are described as being sexually cold or frigid

Andrea Martucci: To their despicable husbands

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. One of them truly a lesbian gotta be. And the other one is just I don't know, it's it, there's sexual coldness. I'm like, how are these women so different from the women in the other stories who are not described as sexually cold, but they're enjoying the sex in as much as like, and he is here and giving it to me, and this is what he feels when he touches me and it's not like a holistic view of an actual sexual experience.

Andrea Martucci: Again, It's very much outside of the body of the narrator or the female character. Even when the sexually cold women or many of the women in these stories, there's a lot of sublimation.

I think about touching my friend's body because I imagine what it would feel like to be touched in this way. It's very much mirror stage, which I think Jacques Lacan was after the forties.

But the mirror stage of kind of recognizing that you exist outside of others you recognize yourself, Lacan is post Freud and kind of in the same vein, but it's very much this psychobabble identity seeking of not feeling yourself from within, but always observing the self from without.

And you only feel good if somebody [00:21:00] else is pleased by you or somebody else is using your body for their pleasure or taking control of your body in a way that pleases them.

All of the things that read as queer almost always feel more about the person seeing the other as themself more

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Like a projection.

Andrea Martucci: So Yes So.

Yes. Everything always feels like a projection.

And so then this gets into, so part of Anais Nin's biography, which again, I mean, I feel like so much of her biography is, like, a car wreck, and I think that's a large part of what makes her a fascinating character because then you read her writing and you're like, oh, okay.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: This is exactly, This is exactly it. And I've been thinking about this for days because I feel like such a misogynist in

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: saying what I'm about to say and that I like the Anais Nin that shows up in Henry Miller's writing of her which is not good. It means it's not her. The her that's not her is the one that

Andrea Martucci: The her as seen by a man

Dame Jodie Slaughter: as seen by a man. Yes. Is the one who I had, I originally found myself most fascinated by, but I am now more fascinated- liking doesn't mean anything. I don't know this woman, like I couldn't have liked her. That doesn't exist. That's just like parasocial bullshit anyway.

The real her is obviously leaps and bounds more fascinating, but I do think that so much of as you said earlier, everything is just bolstered by the ideas that we create of her, which are also largely what seem to be the ideas of what the men around her, of her time.

And then who consumed her then and who were consuming her after have to say about this woman.

Andrea Martucci: Anais Nin's first husband was wealthy and he supported her. And then a lot of times she was out living with other men, having affairs with many other men, living completely separate lives from him.

But he was still supporting her financially. And then she was taking that money and then also helping support her friends and lovers and doing a lot of caretaking to the point where literally part of the context of Delta of Venus is, Henry Miller was approached first to write this erotica and he was like, oh, I don't want it to disturb my art. So like you write it.

And so then she was writing this to help prop him up. It wasn't even like, so that she could survive. It was to pay for her friend's bills. She was the one who was thrown out as like, your art is expendable.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Right,

Andrea Martucci: We are concerned about our art being tainted by this gross capitalistic right.

Like, we're gonna focus on art. You do this.

Whatever we understand that part of it. But she's surrounded by all of these primarily men artists who then are using her as their muse. And then her main output is [00:24:00] diaries.

And her biographer who did not like her very much, Deirdre Bair called them "liaries" and cast doubt on how accurate. I think part of it is she revised these a lot after the fact. And I think there was this idea that she believed it was true, but it was heavily filtered through what she wanted things to be like.

And that despite the fact that she was really heavily engaged in psychotherapy, there were a lot of things that she used the cover of psychotherapy for understanding, but kind of refused to engage with in good faith.

And one of the more scandalous aspects of her biography is that her father abandoned the family when they, when she was around 10 or 11, when her mother heiress's money ran out and she engaged in an incestuous affair with her father as an adult.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And

Dame Jodie Slaughter: wrote about it pretty extensively and pretty graphically. And I was reading some excerpts and there's an entire book that I think is obviously pulled from diaries. It's called (Andrea says: "Is it called House of Incest or something?") something. It's called something. Yes. It's an yes.

But I think this is first introduced to the world in Little Birds where I think she talks about it, or at least there are diary entries and so I read a couple excerpts from that where we're detailing like a conversation that she's having with her father, like in the midst of this where he's oh, isn't it just my luck that I would meet the one woman who actually understands me and it's my daughter.

And she is writing about what her point of view. It's kind of like, this is the way I get him to understand me. The sex, this is the way, I get him to I don't know how long this lasted. It's called an affair, so fine. We'll say that. I don't know how it ended or began,

Andrea Martucci: it's consensual insofar that she actively pursued it.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: If you ignore the dynamics. He does not have explicit power over her life at this point.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, he abandoned the family and they, it truly like, this sounds like me being like, it's okay.

Andrea Martucci: It's very much not okay. But she was like an active participant.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. She was an adult. She was a grown woman. And they had no contact for like 20 years.

It's a real phenomenon that I think happens.

Like I was watching a documentary recently about family members who were deeply estranged or often who had never met, and then who would meet each other. And then they would have all of these feelings and they didn't they wouldn't know what to do with them.

And so they're , I guess we just need to have sex. I guess we're just in love. And that's that's probably not

Andrea Martucci: Culturally, do we have an understanding that you can be close to somebody and emotionally intimate without being sexual?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I don't know that she does.

Andrea Martucci: I don't think she does. It [00:27:00] feels too psychotherapist-y to say this, but also it feels extremely blatant that her desire for acceptance from men stemmed from the feeling of being deserted by her father.

And she was aware of that. Her therapists were aware of that, and her writing seems to indicate that she is aware of that desire for acceptance from men and the feeling of desertion from her father, she wanted to be recognized.

The way that she craved recognition was from men and for her work to be validated.

She had a huge hunger to be taken seriously as an artist, which is part of why she surrounded herself with these creative men and then she propped them up because if I take care of you, then you'll see my value.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Right?

Andrea Martucci: The sexual relationship she engaged in and, I don't like the word promiscuous, but it sounds like she had sex with everyone she came in contact with.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Yes.

Andrea Martucci: There's some story from the documentary I was watching where there was a shop where her car was fixed and it was like, oh yeah, I have sex with all the guys there.

Just anybody she came into contact with. And to me it feels like a compulsion to use sex as a way to both take control of a relationship and also to be seen as a person worth being around.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. I think the sex is really interesting here because it's clear that the men have all the power.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: but it's also feels clear that that's not how she views it. I think she views this a lot as these women their sex , whether that being the way she literally, because their sex is the way she refers to the vagina

Andrea Martucci: the whole genitalia

Dame Jodie Slaughter: the entire genitalia. She refers to it as the sex. She either says the sex or penis.

Andrea Martucci: That's it. Those are the two body parts

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I think she imagined that there was a power in

Andrea Martucci: being desired.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: in being desired.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And then, but it seems so blatant that there just isn't,

Andrea Martucci: Right. It's like, see me, see me, see me.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: None of these women are better off after having been desired nor having sex. They are not better off. And I don't mean in the sense of were their lives made better. Even in the sense of just their pleasure. They are being harmed. They are incredibly sad. Even just in the sense of, like I said, pure fucking physical pleasure. Like, It just doesn't exist. Sex doesn't ever seem pleasurable.

Andrea Martucci: it's an endless aching womb of emptiness.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Literal womb. She loves wombs a lot, and I don't know if

Andrea Martucci: Look, it's very Freudian. It's very Freudian. There's a lot of like, well, I'm very hopeful I'm gonna be seen and yep. Now, oh, he sees me. Oh, but guess what? I don't actually feel better. And it turns out maybe he doesn't actually see me as a person [00:30:00] or as a sexual being with, her own sexual desire that is separate from his.

It's very much again, like in a very Freudian sense or this is very much Lacan-ian, a child believing that they're part of their mother.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: sure.

Andrea Martucci: this is the whole world. I'm just part of the world. And then the mirror stage is recognizing, oh my God, I'm not only separate from my mother. I am this being in the world disconnected from everybody and everything.

And I am seeing myself, do others see me as I see myself? And I think that the obsession with there's a lot of suckling and it's never described as suckling, like a baby. It's never nurturing. It's always like animals,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: to me feels very much this oh, how pathetic and bestial. Because you're not recognized via your body. You are seen. Via your, your like self, your body almost doesn't matter, even though everything is happening via bodies, but it's like if I use my body, then maybe I can be seen as a person and valued as a

Dame Jodie Slaughter: But you never are, there's never any actual connection. Never. There's no connection with the self, there's no connection with others as well. To her credit, it's not like she has written a book and a bunch of stories. One of the only things I can really , be like,, you know what she's pretty upfront.

Like none of the men that she writes I don't think you're ever meant to perceive them as anything. You get away with 'em and be like, well, they're men. They're problematic, but I also don't think you're ever supposed to enter or leave any of these stories with any type of romantic view of women and men's relationships with each other.

You are either outright disgusted or just kind of left, like pretty saddened

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I haven't finished it. There are two times that I can remember actually feeling in some way titillated and one of these is in I think it's Matilde. There's a scene in Matilde where Matilde is for once by herself and she touches herself in a mirror

Andrea Martucci: A mirror. (chuckles )

Dame Jodie Slaughter: it's pretty descriptive and she's becoming very aware of her body and what sort of feels good and, whatever. But then it's ruined cuz she's immediately joined by a man and then pages later is immediately and intense and extreme violence is enacted on

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And it's like, what the fuck? And then the only other part is. In Lilith when Lilith is sitting in the movie theater, thinking about wanting to touch her friend and then

Andrea Martucci: But she's so in her head, she's so in her head, thinking through the logistics of it that she can't go through with it or enjoy it in any way.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: and so it's like a [00:33:00] coil. Cuz I guess I was still at that point when I read it expecting oh, maybe it's gonna, and it never, it, I mean it never does. It's never realized. Like even, you and I were talking the other night about this and in the same story, she and her friend, after they leave the theater drive by a couple who are having sex, on the side of the road, on, on their car.

And even that isn't explored as something that could be erotic

Andrea Martucci: I think what it makes her think of is her friend reacts like a, oh, they're having a good time, and she realizes that her friend has had an orgasm and knows what it's like.. And so even then in that moment, it's so self-conscious. She's not aroused by what she's seeing.

All it does is remind her of what she lacks, yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: This is a story where basically this woman, the first thing we learn about her is that one, her name is Lilith, which is very interesting. It's an interesting name choice for this woman's story

Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: But if you know anything about Lilith, who's supposed to be kind of like this wild free biblical woman, Adam's first wife who defy

Andrea Martucci: was too sexual and too knowing.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. The first thing we learned about her is that she is sexually cold, which is what Anais Anai, excuse me, tends to, I think she did use the term frigid, didn't she?

Andrea Martucci: I think she did. Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Quote unquote frigid. And so one day her husband comes home and they have dinner or whatever and he's like, he, he, I drugged you. I gave you a Spanish fly.

And she spent basically the rest of thing like, okay, this needs to take effect and I'm going to feel sexual and I'm not gonna be sexually cold anymore and I'm gonna be passionate. We know that she's a passionate woman cuz she's a painter.

She also, there is multiple descriptions of her having these very intense emotional explosions and feelings and all of this stuff.

Andrea Martucci: And the problem is that he never meets her with his own passion, but she's supposedly the one who is sexually cold.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: She's the one who's sexually cold. And when their sex as a couple is described, it's literally just he puts it in there and

Andrea Martucci: This is pervasive with her scenes told from the perspective of women. There's no description of feeling one's own body.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: no,

Andrea Martucci: It's all external. It's all what he's doing to me. And then if any pleasure or feeling is derived, it is purely incited by the partner, usually the man.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: They're never seeking their own pleasure, never. Almost never

Andrea Martucci: Honestly, in the ones I read, I cannot recall one moment. Okay, the only one I can think of, which again was riddled with weirdness was the one where the young woman in Spain is walking among the coastline and

Dame Jodie Slaughter: oh

Andrea Martucci: and she hears her [00:36:00] American friend call to her and the person in the water says, oh, it's woman's name. And she comes into the water and they're swimming and they're kind, it's kind of getting a little sexy and playful. And then she realizes that it isn't her girlfriend, it is her friend's brother who said that he was the sister at the beginning. And it takes her a weirdly long time to figure. I suppose it's supposed to be dark. But I find her writing, by the way.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Really confusing.

Andrea Martucci: confusing. It's surreal. It's surreal, dreamlike, but in a way where you're like,, what's happening? On the one hand things are over described, and on the other hand, none of it is helpful for comprehending the situation. And I don't think you can trust the perspective of any of her characters.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: No. Anais is- this is a hot take.

Anais is Sylvia Plath for women who are detrimentally, horny, but not actually horny. Horny for

Andrea Martucci: Attention.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: I don't mean that in like a, it's bad to want attention. Just,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: But that is what it is

Andrea Martucci: yeah. And I did a little bit of reading about hypersexuality. I want to be clear that women in particular are accused of being hypersexual for having pretty normal levels of sexuality. However, look, there is a point at which one's sexuality either reaches a volume which is unhealthy for oneself or is used in a way that is detrimental to one's own wellbeing, right?

And again, let's be clear that society brings that bar way lower than it actually is.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Sex as self-harm is a very real thing.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. So hypersexuality can come from the psychobabble of today of insecure attachment. This idea of if you're fearfully attached, you feel that you're fundamentally unlovable, lack of trust in others to provide the love that they're seeking.

And so it's compulsive use of sexuality to get the thing that you feel you don't deserve and can't possibly get. And then feeling just empty and never satisfied by it. And so constantly seeking more and more thinking if I do this, I'll finally get it. And just always not getting it.

It feels to me based on what we know of Anai Nin's life and what she has said herself and what people close to her have said that it was visibly hypersexual, but not in the sense that when she had sex or was desired sexually, she felt immense pleasure or she was enjoying it physically.

It feels very much a emotional and intellectual lacking that was seeking to be fulfilled.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah, I, and I think this was like inescapable for her.[00:39:00]

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: It seems to have bled into every single thing that she writes when she writes about intimacy.

Intimacy, quote unquote, like

Andrea Martucci: right so she got into psychotherapy and started seeing one therapist and saw him as a therapist, but also engaged in a sexual relationship with him and then met another therapist.

It's, yeah. And did the same

Dame Jodie Slaughter: That's so fucked up.

Andrea Martucci: And, And the thing is though, is I think that she could have used a truly good therapist and I think that if she was actually receptive to working through some issues, that would've been great. But I get the sense that part of engaging her therapist in a sexual relationship, and I do believe she was the initiator in these, it's once again, it's like I can't actually let you see me because I'm fundamentally unlovable.

So I'll control you in the only way I know how, but also soothe myself in believing that I understand myself,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: and also, to be fair, when you said, the only way I know how I often get the idea that she believes that this is the only power a woman can have

Andrea Martucci: Which is incredibly, gender essentialist and also very much a product of patriarchal thinking that women are only useful as procreating, which is something that she had absolutely no interest in. And I think it was a good call. I don't think

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Much, very much

Andrea Martucci: something would've been great for her. And or being desired sexually.

And I think that in her time it was titillating that she was out here having all of these sexual relationships, pretty openly, writing about it. It doesn't feel to me that the desire to do that stemmed from liberated sexuality.

And that's why it feels to me like her writing and especially her writing about sex her, quote unquote erotic writing doesn't give me feminism

Dame Jodie Slaughter: no, there's nothing liberatory about any of it at all. On any level. There's nothing liberatory about any of it. Which is fine. That's fine.

But it leads me to wonder why so many of these, people who I know to be , hashtag feminists are putting this on her.

When first of all, feminism as we know it today, obviously even as conceptually, and there are plenty feminists of today are like, she was a feminist even in having an understanding of maybe what that was of their time would've been like,, I'm not that

Andrea Martucci: When she was out doing readings and such in the seventies, feminists would show up and be like, you still need a man. You're still very much focused on needing a man, you're supporting men, you're supported by men. She was criticized in her time for this.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yes. yes. I keep being , like, look, she's telling you everything, [00:42:00] whether or not her diaries are true or her stories are true. The themes seem to be unchanging. She's telling you everything about how she feels, how she views women, their place, and it's not that she believes, I think some of it is obviously very essentialist. I don't even necessarily think she's like, this is women's rightful place is to be-

Andrea Martucci: it reads as essentialist, but ultimately every single thing is about her, her identity and seeking approval from the world.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. She's very focused on herself. I think that woman spent all of her time thinking about herself, which is fine. going over her own desires, constantly in her head and obviously it never came to

Andrea Martucci: anything.

I, I think she's a noted narcissist.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yes.

Andrea Martucci: and the only reason I'm actually repeating that is because I don't think it worked out well for her or for the people in her life.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: No, none of them seem to have been happier, better off by it. I think all of them in her group. yeah, like Henry Miller better off by like, he got to fucking keep his wife and like, you know what I mean?

Andrea Martucci: Well, until his wife June divorced him, largely because of his affair with Anais Nin but

Dame Jodie Slaughter: maybe who they also had a weird, not weird, but non-sexual maybe,

Andrea Martucci: relationship.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: relationship. Anais and June. I just don't understand why engage this through the lens of this is feminist sex. I'm like.

Andrea Martucci: because I think it's a confusion because it's like people

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Because a woman is doing it means,

Andrea Martucci: Yes. It's because there's this empty signifier, right? It's written by a woman. It's about sex. It's frankly writing about sex. And it's frankly talking about sex outside of the bounds of what is considered socially acceptable. I e within a heterosexual, monogamous relationship pro creatively focused, all of those things. And so it's seen as oh, wow, this must be free thinking. And those are all the empty signifiers.

And then you actually look at what she's writing and you're like,, okay, no, this is very. Rooted in patriarchy, rooted in her own personal stuff.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Deep abiding trauma.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Yeah. And like, I don't, feel super negative about her, nor super positively about like, I feel kind of just where I'm like,, I wish that she could have gotten help.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: She was a bitch with a diary. And that's okay. I say, bitch, with all the love in my heart, trust me. It's not that I don't think there's value in this. I think that getting an insight into the mind and the ideas of a woman who at the end of the day [00:45:00] was able to do things others just weren't, is valuable or I think it's at the very least, fascinating. Maybe that's it.

Andrea Martucci: Well, Okay. And so I was sharing with you excerpts from the book, The Consummate Virgin by Dr. Jodi McAllister who has been on Shelf Love. Australian Romance Scholar. And also this came up in the conversation with Dr. Nicola Welsh-Burke when we were talking about, teen girl sexuality, really, but it's related to this idea of what is acceptable sexuality for women in a hetero, patriarchal society.

And kind of laying out the stage for, her larger points in this book, the section is titled Human Sexual Nature Changed, Ideal Female Sexual Citizenship in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Dr. McAllister is talking about how that essentially women initially were conceived of as being not man, and so a lot more onus was put on men for being responsible. So that was the late 18th century. In here, it's quoted as the one sex model. "Women were considered inferior versions of men."

Then it moved to a two sex model where men and women were figured essentially as opposites. And so this is the point at which if men are sexual, then women must be asexual. And there was a pathologization of female sexual desire and pleasure.

And so this is where you get to the point where the pathologizing of female pleasure and desire, if you like sex, it's disease or you are brought

Dame Jodie Slaughter: a nymphomaniac.

Andrea Martucci: So that's where nymphomaniac comes from.

It's kind of like you are diseased. If you feel sexual pleasure, there must be something wrong with you. And but the thing is that you still need women to engage in sex with men within heterosexual marriage to have children. You still need children.

So basically what was created was this idea that men are always gonna be trying to get sex from women. So if you're a good woman, you're gonna resist it because you should feel absolutely no desire anyways.

However, once you're married, that is the point at which you still shouldn't actually enjoy it or want it. What you should crave is having a baby, getting pregnant because that is your proper role as a woman to get pregnant.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: That's how you are fulfilled as a woman. That's the only way.

Andrea Martucci: So the only way you should desire sex is if it's procreative, right? And so it's this idea that the only appropriate sex for women comes from the desire for children. So the idea of the chaste white mother as being the ideal woman, so unmarried women are kind of a problem cuz ew.

If you're like a virgin, what's wrong with you? You should get married and have a baby, cuz that is the right thing for you to do.

What Jodi gets [00:48:00] to in here is this chapter's actually called the Demisexual Citizen. So this is a quote from the book.

"The idea that women were innately passionless took longer to develop an American culture than it did in Britain, with greater emphasis placed initially on self-control, unsurprising, given the individualistic focus, which still remains key to dominant American modes of thought.

"However, as religious thought came to focus more and more on the women as moral arbiter and civilizing influence, notions of pure passionless emerged. And so the woman who did not live up to this passionless chased feminine ideal, who not only succumbed to temptation but was tempted at all, was not merely foolish, naive, or misguided, but perverse. 'Good femininity' became a question, not just of action, but of desire, or in this case, lack thereof. We can see here a mirror to the later discourses of compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory demisexuality, which both also function to police female desire.

"The woman who wants the wrong things, who wants women, or who wants to have sex outside of her race or class group, or who wants to have sex outside of boundaries of romance, becomes positioned as perverse and as a danger to the sexual community."

And the point I really appreciate about what Jodi gets to here is talking about how, just how the word heterosexuality emerges at a time where there's greater understanding that heterosexuality is quote unquote the norm, and that there is this other outside of it that means that there's actually discourse around, what is the norm? What do we understand as the norm? It means that something is being visible.

She points to how demisexuality as a concept starts to become more visible at a time where there's more interrogation around what is desire? Or what is normative desire? Are love and sex supposed to be paired?

Another point she's getting to here is that this idea that women must want emotion along with their sex is very much tied to that idea that it's okay to desire as long as you're within this heterosexual, monogamous relationship.

And so that kind of starts to create this cultural understanding that it's acceptable for women to want romance. Because what they're seeking is that heterosexual bond, right? That monogamous, long-term, proactively focused relationship. So that's an acceptable way for women to desire. So essentially it's I think basically getting at this idea that you can have sexual desire in that context.

So romance and emotion is an acceptable filter. And that gets back to Anais Nin's, what she says in the intro about "Women, I thought were more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love, and to single out one man rather than be promiscuous."

So it's very weird that she says that because that's not how she lived her life, but,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I have two points that are different, but I do think in some way, piece together. [00:51:00]

One, okay, maybe this is ridiculous. I'm willing to be ridiculous, I, I just feel like this is gonna sound stupid, but like, I actually feel like I'm kind of making a point. I think that we do a disservice by not really mentioning the fact that Anais was French.

Andrea Martucci: This is where the international part of your correspondent role comes in.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yes. yes You remember when you asked me if I could do a French accent? (makes a very stereotypical "French" sound) That's it.

Andrea Martucci: That was it.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I mean, when you think about how, in the history of the how era after era, so many of our of American artists have fled to France specifically, whether that be for what was a perceived type of more racialized acceptance for African Americans, or more freedom of expression for artists who were in the United States skirting the bounds of censorship and morality laws and shit like that.

Even when it just came to literally writing about sex. It's not that I think that French women's views on sex were in any way, more progressive than American women's, but I do wonder in how much of the French reputation of emotional and sexual freedom, what that translates to when it is mixed with a wider culture of patriarchy and misogyny.

And then also when we're reading the excerpt from that text talking about desire and how women are allowed to desire romance because it led to,

A very specific thing.

Andrea Martucci: And only when it leads to a very

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And only. It makes me think about, so I'm not a church girl. I grew up going to church sometimes with a friend, but I was not a church kid. But I know a lot of girls that were, and so these church girls spend their entire lives being told this exact thing. You are not encouraged to feel any desire.

You have to repress it all. First of all, you shouldn't be feeling it. And then if you do feel it, you have to repress it. And then these girls get

Andrea Martucci: married.


Dame Jodie Slaughter: And they're expected to have, to want sex with their husband because to have sex is godly with your husband

Andrea Martucci: Well, and also you, you're supposed to make him feel good. You serve him.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh, you have to make him feel good. That's your job. And you serve him.

But they struggle because they've spent an entire lifetime, like attempting to void themselves of any type of sexuality, sexual expression, sexual desire, no matter how much they were or were not acting on it, no matter how much they didn't touch themselves or didn't kiss anybody. And then they've got a wedding night

Andrea Martucci: and then it's like, all right, flip on a dime

Dame Jodie Slaughter: and they can't do it because that's not how it works.

Andrea Martucci: also, if you're continuing to view sex purely for somebody else,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes,

Andrea Martucci: okay, you're supposed to [00:54:00] have sex, but you're still not supposed to do it for yourself.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: You're still not supposed to do it for yourself. You've still been inundated with all of these ideas of even when it comes to the sex. I've heard certain Christians, these are largely Protestants. They are largely people who are very active in the church and church culture.

Where, some of them are kind of like, well, what you do with your husband is okay, it's ordained by God, but then there are others who are like oral sex. No.

Maybe a year or so ago, ended up stumbling upon something I didn't know existed, which was an entire sect of websites dedicated to selling sex toys to Christian couples under the guise of you can use these toys , but only in these contexts with your husband and you should, oh, you should not be coveting masturbation.

You should not. And it was , it was a really,

Andrea Martucci: just think about that for a second. Again, it's some external body is going to tell you how you can do something. None of this is guided from what feels good for the individuals in this bed, in this sexual scenario.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Maybe for him

Andrea Martucci: but even then

Dame Jodie Slaughter: because he'll be forgiven. I mean like

Andrea Martucci: but even then, again, it's very much this idea of the sex is supposed to be good for the man.

It's supposed to be what he wants, but he's also in this situation hearing messages around what his female partner is supposed to be and what is supposed to feel good for him, and what he's supposed to want and not want. So his sexuality is also really heavily policed in this situation.

And a, and again, it's a divorcing of how do you feel? How do you wanna feel? What feels good for you?

And what you were just talking about. This is making me think, I won't read an excerpt, but Hardcore Romance by Eva Illouz, which I've recently mentioned in the episode with Carter Sherman.

There's a lot in there too around this sort of self-help culture. And it's very much this idea that we are going to learn how to live our lives and how to feel good and how to succeed personally via these external sources of information. Be that Oprah, be it a self-help column, be it Freudianism literally that is in her book where she's talking about that as a source.

And in these communities you're talking about where it's like, we're gonna tell you how and when you can feel sexual pleasure. It's this idea that you can learn that as opposed to listening to your own experience and feeling it without external influence.

I think that's where when I think about Delta Of Venus, I'm like, is this feminist erotica?

Or even the female perspective on erotica and what I come to is absolutely not, because I feel like to actually [00:57:00] explore pleasure period, but especially if you're trying to say how do we explore pleasure for a community of people who have historically not had their pleasure prioritized. I accept that might be a little bit different from exploring it for the identity of people in power.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Sure.

Andrea Martucci: At the end of the day, the problem here is that not only is it not focused on the body and the personal experience, it's also not focused on understanding that different experiences are different. There can be no woman's perspective on sex or erotica or sexuality because all women are not the same.

We are not a monolith, no group based on identity is a monolith. And at the end of the day, the only thing I will accept as a liberatory view of sexuality is one that focuses on the individual characters focusing on their embodied experience in a situation and ideally also presenting what is pleasurable as something that falls outside the normative scripts that we are told are supposed to feel pleasurable.

And I'm not saying that the scripts of what we're told feel pleasurable, that there's no correlation at all with what some people may find pleasurable.

But like to me, if 90% of what we read is the same script over and over again, or 99, a hundred percent of what we read is the same script over and over again, what it's relaying to us is that that is how you are supposed to feel. It is trying to, through repetition, teach that is not just what is acceptable.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: But what's natural.

Andrea Martucci: What's natural! Yes. And this is the thing with romance novels is it's it's focused on women's pleasure but if it's focused on a single script of women's pleasure, and it just so happens that what that script is is based on research, not actually in line with most women's lived experience with how to achieve sexual satisfaction or pleasure, then just because it focuses on women finding pleasure it's an empty signifier if it always actually just still is in line with the patriarchy, and it's just because you think that you're choosing it's a false choice.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yes. That's the issue with choice feminism as a whole, this idea of first of all, one that , the things that make you feel powerful or whatever. They don't equate to any actual power.

Andrea Martucci: That's not equality or power, yeah. Necessarily

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Right. And also if we're just getting down to the brass tacks of it, women having orgasms is not like a revolutionary feminist thing.

The fact that the women in Anais's books in Delta of Venus are having sex. And then I [01:00:00] guess they're not immediately being bludgeoned to death (Andrea: not immediately!) by morality police, yeah. I mean, jesus Christ, they face a ton of violence, but are not immediately being bludgeoned to death or taken before the Pope and killed or something, does not mean that it's liberatory and feminist or anything. It doesn't mean any of that.

Not, when the sex they're having is violent to them, harmful to them. Not, when it's not pleasurable to them on a base level. None of the girlies are happy.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: None of the girlies actually feel good.

Andrea Martucci: You know, we kind of started this conversation by talking about like, well, have things changed? Are things different now from the forties or earlier? Right? I think there is this idea that we've become much more sexually liberated or that, or that people used to have values and now we don't, I don't know. It's a confusing melange of ideas where on the one hand things are better and on the other hand things are worse, and actually it's kind of just more of the same.

This, this made me think of a viral tweet recently from a tweeter called Jordan who said, "Okay, I knew some of them were spicy, but I did not realize all these romantic novels y'all are reading are porn. I picked up this book thinking it was gonna be a cute little romance. This is smut." That tweet has 12,400 likes as of the time I screenshotted it, and 1,208 retweets. And then her next tweet is "The book is Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter. I picked it up because it's written by a Black woman and has a fat Black lead with anxiety and it's a small town romance. Enjoy!", because lots of people were asking what this book was Of course.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I like my sex, I like the sex that I write. I'm always wanting to be better. I picked up Delta of Venus because I was like,, maybe this is going to teach me something. Show me something that's going to connect me more with my erotic nature and that's gonna help me write sex scenes that are even better than the ones I write now.

That didn't happen, but it's really interesting to see people call my stuff porny and not in a bad way. I like porn in multiple different forms. And I think that people who create porn are, not all of them obviously cuz not all of anything is great,

Andrea Martucci: it's not, by its nature a bad thing.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: No, not at all. I think it's really interesting when people call especially Bet On It, which to me feels very tame. I think that most of my books are very tame. I think that most of my books are even tamer than the stuff that I'm into in my real life,

Andrea Martucci: I have a theory about why people, particularly people who maybe are not super familiar with the content of romance novels. Jordan really helped get the word out about Bet On It, and I appreciate her.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: 100%

Andrea Martucci: Here's my theory, that what your work does is explores embodied sexuality.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh my God. Do you think so?

Andrea Martucci: It does. I think so, yes. And I think that can be shocking to people, [01:03:00] period.

But especially in a world where we don't get a lot of that, or most people don't get any of that.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: That's always my goal. When I'm writing a romance and when I'm writing sex in a romance. My thing is I want everybody here to actually genuinely feel good and safe and pleasured. I write in this genre for the most part, for a reason. And it's because of my ideal of what I wish every single one of my sexual experiences could possibly be, the way that I could feel and that the people I'm having sex with could feel.

Whether it's, and it doesn't even, it doesn't always have to be I'm so in love!

Andrea Martucci: No, but it's, if you're gonna fantasize about something, why wouldn't you fantasize about that? Why wouldn't you try to imagine what that looks like??

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. That's my goal. I don't want anybody in my books, I don't want anybody in the world to have to , leave a sexual encounter just feeling like shit

Andrea Martucci: Feeling empty. Like you haven't been seen?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Empty. Yes. And not just because you didn't have an orgasm and not just because maybe your partner didn't, not for any of that shit. Just on a fundamental level because that feels like shit. It feels bad,

Andrea Martucci: I imagine that that is what Anais Nin felt constantly,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And that's really sad. And it, that's really, it just, it makes me feel bad for her.

Andrea Martucci: Getting back to how apparently women's view of sex is. It, it has to have emotion. I mean, I do find it very interesting that there is this idea that women are supposed to be into romance. And then as soon as you bring in explicit sexuality that is embodied particularly by a person in a woman identifying body, this must be porn.

And it's like, is there no place for a, for a cute little romance and explicit sexuality to coexist and b. For something to, I'm not trying to sound des dismissive of porn, but like for explicit sexuality to not automatically be pornographic.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Okay. My final thought is that women get so much shit. You're not allowed to prioritize sex you know, whether they're heterosexual or not, but like, if you're, a cis woman and you're in relationships with cis men and you say the sex is just as important to me as the romance.

I think there are still a lot of people who don't understand that point of view in coming from a woman.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Because culturally we are all, everybody are indoctrinated into this idea , regardless of how people feel or would like to feel about these things, there is the cultural expectation that if a woman expresses a desire for sex in their own life, or to read about in a book, that it has to be [01:06:00] paired with the romance.

I mean, I think you hear this in people talking about like, sure, sure, sure. I'm okay with sex in romances, as long as the emotional relationship is there.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. People get very incensed when there's a character in Aroma novel who has on page graphic sex with someone who is not their love interest. And I don't even mean in an aspect of cheating. Pre even knowing that person exists, people get mad about it.

But imagine opening up a romance, how incensed people would be, how incensed they are cuz pe cuz people write this and thank fuck for them, open up a romance and fucking page 10, the female main character is sucking dick of the person who's not her hero before she's met her hero

Andrea Martucci: and enjoying it.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: and enjoying it.

Andrea Martucci: it doesn't even matter if that guy is her current emotional relationship partner or not at all.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: if she's got a a current relationship partner but who is ultimately not her love interest, it's always gotta be like,, we haven't had sex for five years.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, And I've never been sexually satisfied until I found by one true fated mate love.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah I'm good for writing a, this is the best sex of my

Andrea Martucci: sure. That's a great fantasy.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I definitely like to write people who have, some good sex that feels just more real to me.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah Jodie thanks so much for being here. We've been talking for three and a half hours and I actually have to go take a shower and take my child somewhere, which is why we're abruptly much like the end of an Anais Nin story having to end abruptly. I do appreciate you being here. I think we really cracked this nut wide open.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: We cracked the fuck out of the nut.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, yeah, Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: We should, like the last episode of Sopranos, where you just cut it off right now.

Andrea Martucci: just abruptly.

Jodie real quick, where can people find you online? I know you're a huge Tik Tokker now.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: uh, for me on Twitter @JodieSlaughter. You can find me on Instagram @Jodie_Slaughter. And I think I'm maybe gonna get more into Reels than TikTok

Andrea Martucci: Okay.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: cause I already have the audience.

Andrea Martucci: I've been playing around with Reels too. It's mostly me just showing my books.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: It's been cute. I like seeing

Andrea Martucci: Thank you. Thank you. and of course people can pick up your latest book Bet On It, in addition to your earlier smuttier works, which were published through an independent press notably White Whiskey Bargain covered on this very podcast with Charish Reid and All Things Burn dark Mafia Revenge Romance.

Jodie thanks once again for being a Shelf Love correspondent. I appreciate you and I think everyone appreciates you. Thanks for being here.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Thank you for having me. I love you.

Andrea Martucci: love you completely sexually,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh, totally totally sexually .

Andrea Martucci: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate, or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out [01:09:00] ShelfLovePodcast.Com for transcripts and other resources. Or you can find me @shelflovepod on Twitter or @shelflovepodcast on Instagram. Or you can always email me at Andrea at Shelf Love Podcast dot com.

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That's all for today. Thanks so much. Bye.