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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

Ritual Sex



When I was very young and clueless about sex, I was warned by the grownups in my life not to accept candy from strangers (or specifically from strange men) and never to be alone outdoors after dark. When I was old enough to date, I was warned not to accept favors (drinks, rides) from guys I didn’t know very well, even if they were friends of friends.

The general message was clear: the scariest monsters in my world were likely to be males on the hunt for sex without emotional commitment. Everyone I knew seemed to assume that sex in that context would be against the interests and the nature of any “normal girl” – that in fact, the inability of most females to understand raw lust as something separate from a personal crush was the main cause of a huge credibility gap between men and women.

Certain assumptions die hard. The confusion of sex between strangers with assault, violation, trauma and exploitation still causes girls and women to fear dark alleys and dark bars more than the Significant Others who are statistically more likely to be sexual assailants than are strangers.

The persistent belief that sex with a stranger is a Fate Worse Than Death (at least for females) causes chivalrous men and certain feminists to campaign loudly for the elimination of prostitution in all forms on grounds that stranger-sex as an occupation is more harmful to the seller than punitive laws or a social stigma. Some opponents of the sex trade even suggest that being forced or misled into that pit of shame to earn a profit for someone else is less degrading than the trade itself. By that standard, sexual abuse within families, which never involves strangers and rarely involves payment, must not deserve the same level of moral outrage.

For centuries, stranger-sex has been compared, at least implicitly, with marital sex (an expression of “love” and therefore safe and fulfilling for women). Yet marriages are not necessarily based on personal attraction, and until very recently they were male-dominated by law. (The few good men who were married to feminists in the nineteenth century could only relate to their wives as equals by rejecting their husbandly “rights.”) Abuse in marriage is generally harder to escape than a hit-and-run assault by a stranger.

Stranger-sex, based on informed consent between adults, is probably as old as the human race. It has taken place in temples as well as whorehouses. In northern climates and extreme temperatures, it probably occurs indoors more often than in the shrubbery. Certain rock songs and erotic stories tell us that sex with the right stranger can be a magical escape from ordinary life. The mysterious stranger who seduces a mortal in ancient mythology is likely to be a deity in disguise.

There is a theory that the sex trade as we know it developed from a sacred ritual in which a priestess or devotee of the goddess of love, pleasure and beauty would wait in the temple to offer sexual service to any passing stranger. The stranger who was blessed in this way would be expected to make an offering, usually in cash, to the temple and indirectly to the goddess herself.

The principle involved is not hard to guess. Sex between strangers, especially if one of them is a professional pleasure-giver, trained and motivated for that purpose, can be a celebration of sexual energy as a good thing in itself, unmixed with the baggage of a personal relationship. It can be a generous sharing of sensual joy, a way to give thanks for the privilege of living in a sensitive human body.

The degradation of this kind of exchange into a secret, illegal and widely scorned activity didn’t happen by accident, nor as an inevitable result of historical progress. Stranger-sex was deliberately discredited in the past, as it is now, by those who don’t want sexual pleasure to be separated from marriage and childbearing.

More recent and more credible evidence than the temple-sex theory suggests that the pagan (pre-Christian) people of Europe held spring festivals, including sex parties, for centuries before the Christian establishment managed to drive such practices underground. A child with an unidentifiable father (in an age before DNA testing), conceived in an orgy on May Eve, was called a “merrybegot.” This term sounds more respectful than “bastard,” which is still used as an all-purpose insult almost independent of its original meaning.

Having no known or official father (or “no name,” as my parents’ generation put it) has been a traditional source of shame and deprivation in patriarchy, a social system in which individual fathers had/have power over and responsibility for their wives and children. In other social systems, however, having no known father could be considered equivalent to having been fathered by a god: a spirit, a superhuman force, or one’s tribe as a whole.

Christian disapproval of sexual promiscuity and “fatherless” children is loaded with irony. The central Christian myth of a holy Son, born to a mortal woman and fathered by God, is parallel to older myths about the exceptional half-divine offspring of women and gods. Many of these offspring (such as Dionysus, son of Zeus) were worshipped as gods in their own right. And according to many Christians, past and present, Christ’s most important message for humanity at large is that we should all love each other without reservations. If emotional promiscuity is holy, it is hard to see how sexual promiscuity could be a clear sign of the Devil at work.

Another pre-Christian sex ritual which seems related to stranger-sex is now called the Great Marriage, in which a tribal king or chief would mate with a woman representing the Goddess or the land or the natural world to ensure the general welfare of the tribe for the coming year. This ritual still holds great appeal for psychologists, anthropologists and fantasy writers because of its symbolic value.

In the world-view of pagans, past and present, a man and a woman can be seen to represent complementary forces in the universe, Mother Earth and Father Sky, the yang and yin which can unite to produce something new which is greater than the sum of its parts. In some modern or postmodern neo-pagan circles, “man” and “woman” can be self-defined even if the essential polarity between them remains unchanged. Ritual sex between people who are consciously playing roles is supposed to be both higher and deeper than personal chemistry.

Would the world be a better place if we could all safely do it in the streets to raise energy and provide comfort and relief for all who need it? Possibly. Sex for the pleasure of a moment happens openly in cultures that allow for it and secretly in cultures that persecute it. Sex outside the bonds of monogamous relationships attracts people of all genders, orientations and cultures, regardless of what they claim to value. We might as well acknowledge what no institution has been able to kill off.

The argument that hooking up with a stranger is not an adequate substitute for Real Love seems self-evident to me. Does anyone really need to choose between lifelong monogamy and Looking for Mr. Goodbar? As far as I know, the Great Marriage was never meant to replace more ordinary sexual relationships, nor was the ecstasy of Beltane or May Eve meant to replace sex in a context of shared personal history. I suspect that those who still celebrate May Eve in the old way don’t deprive themselves of sex or companionship for the rest of the year.

Hooking up with a stranger can still be dangerous, and not only for women. Doing it secretly while pretending to be faithful to a partner or spouse opens a whole other can of worms. However, theories about stranger-sex as unhealthy or “unnatural” for anyone just don’t apply to much of human history.  We humans like to get it on in a dazzling variety of ways.

Jean Roberta
March 2009

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