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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices

by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing

Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun

Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry

2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido

Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

Sex Is All Metaphors

by Jean Roberta

Marriage without the Hype


Ah summer, the season for outdoor weddings. I often see couples posing for photographs in local parks, especially the one with the constructed waterfall or in front of the lake, which was originally dug by men with shovels during the Great Depression of the 1930s as a government-sponsored make-work project. Some wedding couples pose in front of the carefully-tended flower gardens on the grounds of the legislative building.

Perhaps you catch my drift. All these settings are beautiful, but like the institution of marriage, they’re not exactly natural. Arguments that the “natural” institution of marriage shouldn’t be extended to “unnatural” sexual relationships (which at one time included those between members of different races, broadly defined) seem ridiculous to me. And of course, the claim that marriage is a sexual relationship by definition is problematic in itself.

In short, I’m a grinch about marriage. I have no faith that it changes any relationship for the better.

In summer 2005, Canada became one of the few nations in the world that allows two people of the same gender to become legally married, with all the rights and responsibilities of spouses. Last week in the local queer (gay/lesbian/bi/trans) bar, I was proud to explain to a clueless young man with a boyfriend in the United States that same-gender marriage is now legal in every Canadian province. Whether a same-gender Canadian marriage is respected in all other nations seems unlikely, but at least it has legal force here.

The dust still hasn’t settled. Conservative politicians keep insisting that the law was passed over the heads of “average” Canadians, who deserve a chance to revisit the issue in a referendum. Recently, the government of the prairie province where I live has allowed officials who have the right to perform marriages to refuse on religious grounds. Does this mean that couples can be arbitrarily turned down, and encouraged to keep on fucking without a legal commitment? Probably not. Everyone knows which couples are likely to be denied the right to marry under this system, and the controversy has produced some angry letters to the newspaper.

Am I worked up over this issue? Yes and no. Hysterical claims that perverts are taking over the world make me laugh. Serious claims that anyone who is not heterosexual, monogamous and traditional in all things does not deserve a full set of human rights make me seriously angry.

I have attended several same-sex weddings, and they were delightful soirees. I’m glad that someone else organized and paid for them. I also attend opposite-sex weddings when I’m invited, and I sincerely wish the new spouses all the luck they will need.

There’s the catch. Arguments in favor of same-sex marriage, now often made by heterosexual allies with the best intentions, tend to be too sweet to swallow. They claim that marriage is, and always has been, a wonderful celebration of love which should be extended to lovers of all colors, ages, religions and sexual orientations. Love, love, love. Who could be opposed to it?

Actually, personal love has little to do with the institution of marriage. Historically, marriage has been far from a mutually-binding promise between soul-mates with equal rights.

Arranged marriages are still the norm in some cultures. Non-consensual wife-beating was not only tolerated in the fairly recent past, it was expected. Until recently, husbands and wives in any culture were not equal shareholders in the family corporation. For centuries, a wife was regarded and defined under the law as her husband’s property, the means by which he could produce “legitimate” heirs.

Royal marriages have traditionally been diplomatic alliances between nations or families. (And no one can convince me that the doomed marriage of Prince Charles to the late Princess Diana was something other than that.) Upper-class marriages have been thinly-disguised property mergers. Celebrity marriages have been publicity stunts. (Consider another doomed marriage, that of the late Michael Jackson and Lisa-Marie Presley.) 

Think of the love-sonnets which were the literary forerunners of the ditties in today’s mass-produced greeting cards. Did husbands write sonnets for their wives? Not usually. The sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her husband Robert in the Victorian Age were a very late addition to a tradition that flourished in the Renaissance, outside the bonds of marital “duty.” In any case, the marriage of the Brownings must had an aura of forbidden love, since they eloped after Elizabeth’s father refused permission for his daughter to marry.

Traditionally, male poets addressed sonnets to their mistresses or to their “friends,” as did women. Many literary scholars believe that Shakespeare’s mysterious sonnets of the 1590s, with their ambiguous pronouns and vague descriptions, were for and about a male lover. Regardless of whether the beloved was male or female, no one seems to believe that they were written for the poet’s wife, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, who lived in Stratford while her husband spent as much time as possible in London.

At this point, I can hear a chorus of die-hard romantics asking, “But surely some marriages of the past were love-matches?” Possibly, if and when the practical motives for marriage coincided with short-term personal attraction and long-term compatibility. Extreme luck is always possible.

When most women needed husbands for financial support and protection and most men needed wives to produce hot meals and babies, how likely is it that most people were extremely lucky? The unromantic factors that pushed most people into marriage (and rigid gender-roles) in the past didn’t have much connection with the forbidden magic of same-sex attraction. Many marriages in the past were fronts intended to hide same-sex or opposite-sex affairs.

The heterosexual couple I am closest to now are my grown daughter and her husband, who live too far away from me. During a recent visit, Son-in-Law asked everyone in earshot how couples managed to survive and raise children together in the past. He and my daughter, both professional photographers, spend their days coping with tight schedules (Daughter is on the staff of a glossy magazine) and juggling cooking, housework and the care of their toddler, who has severe allergies. How indeed?

I explained that Back in the Day, married men were chained to jobs they often hated because a single paycheck was supposed to support a family. Married women were trapped in the house, raising children with little or no help. Husbands and wives led such different lives that they must have found it hard to converse in the same language, assuming they were both motivated to try. Further back in the day, more couples lived in extended families, but these arrangements also carried certain inescapable pressures.

In many ways, Daughter and Son-in-Law seem to have a better marriage than most of their predecessors. As far as I’ve seen, they treat each other as equals. They love talking shop. They both adore their little son, and they have a set of married friends with children of about the same age. And it still isn’t easy for them to make it all work.

Many 21st-century heterosexual relationships look more like same-gender partnerships than like the marriages of the past. I know (and know of) several lesbian two-career child-raising couples of about my daughter’s age who have essentially the same challenges to deal with. And when a couple just can’t cope together as a unit, they can split up.

So how does marriage change anything? It can help a couple facing inheritance or immigration issues by making their relationship legally visible. The young Canadian in the gay bar and his American boyfriend might find that a Canadian marriage helps them to live on the same side of a national border. Marriage, as a legal contract, changes one’s legal status and nothing else. And as long as couples of all kinds understand that marriage can be no more of a love-spell for them than it was for their parents, I am totally in favor of equal wedlock for all.

But please don’t tell me that marriage guarantees love, because no legal contract can guarantee that. If misty-eyed outpourings of joy during a wedding of any kind make sense to you, maybe publishing contracts and mortgages should be signed in gardens under portable flower-covered arches, with plenty of champagne to distract the participants as well as the witnesses.

Jean Roberta
August 2009

If you have comments or questions about this column, please send them to Jean Roberta

Follow Jean Roberta's trail to Sex Is All Metaphors in 2009 ERWA Archive.

"Sex Is All Metaphors" © 2009 Jean Roberta. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written

About the Author: Jean Roberta is the thin-disguise pen name of a writer who teaches mandatory first-year English classes in a Canadian prairie university and who writes fiction (erotic and otherwise), research-based articles, opinion pieces and reviews. She joined ERWA in December 1998, and has never looked back. Several of her stories can be found in the "Treasure Chest" gallery. Over sixty of her erotic stories have been published in print anthologies, and Eternal Press has released her single-author e-collection of erotic stories in various genres and flavors, Obsession (2008).
Jean is a staff reviewer for the monthly reviews site, Erotica Revealed (edited by D.L. King). She blogs on Livejournal as "Lizardlez" and at Her website ( is a work in progress.
Read Jean's full bio at Erotica Readers & Writers Association.

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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
Review by Byrdman

Cry Wolf
Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

Heaven or Hell
Review by Oranje

House of Wicked
Review by Diesel

The Office: An XXX Parody
Review by Spooky

This Ain't The Partridge Family
Review by Spooky

'09 Book Reviews


A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Girls on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
Review by Ashley Lister

Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
Review by Ashley Lister

Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
Review by Victoria Blisse

Nexus Confessions 6
Review by Victoria Blisse

Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
Review by Ashley Lister

Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai


A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Vincent Diamond


Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
Review by Rob Hardy

Hollywood’s Censor
Review by Rob Hardy

Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
Review by Rob Hardy

The Other Side of Desire
Review by Rob Hardy

Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister