The War on Pleasure

by | May 26, 2019 | General | 5 comments

There has been so much bad news in the media in the past few months that lust sometimes feels irrelevant.

Both the U.K. and the U.S. seem to be in full meltdown, and Canada’s government/corporate scandal shows that it’s not far behind. The Canadian Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau, son of a former P.M.)  and his wife might still be the most photogenic First Couple on the planet, but appearances can be deceiving. Trudeau’s harassment of two high-level middle-aged female ministers for failing to put party loyalty above respect for the law has tarnished his image as a libertarian, and will probably drive voters away from the currently-ruling Liberal Party. The collapse of a traditionally left-of-centre party could pave the way for more conservatism, less environmental protection, and a more open war on all demographics that are not rich heterosexual white men.

We are not living in a sexy time.

Social media in general seem to be shrieking, “Do something! Sign a petition, donate to a cause, go to a demonstration, write to your political representative!” What usually isn’t said directly is that spending an afternoon in bed with your sweetie—or a few playmates—is the height of irresponsibility. And this is the leftist position.

The anti-sex position of the right wing is usually clearer. Conservative spokespeople tell us that no one is really transgendered, that gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, polyamorists, fetishists, and anyone who is any flavour of BDSM all need to be locked up or reprogrammed for the good of society at large. Women of child-bearing age are being told they should only have marital sex with men, and risk pregnancy every time. Since men are not being held responsible for the babies they father, the possible consequences of unprotected sex are almost guaranteed to turn women off.

I assume that few conservative white men of any age are attracted to women of my vintage (over 65), but they would be appalled to learn that we can have sex lives without them. As Lisabet Sarai, mentioned here lately, sexual feelings in older folks are widely considered icky.

The current zeitgeist feels like a continuous cold shower, interspersed with saunas in hell. No one can live like this all time. As mammals, we need pleasure in various forms just as we need air to breathe.

Sex-writers, in particular, need to remind ourselves of what sex feels like in order to describe it authentically. If we are women, we need to imagine being wanted without being hated, and having our own desire accepted without blame.

I keep a list of calls-for-submissions, and I know that several deadlines for important anthologies and theme issues will whoosh past me before I will be able to write something suitably sexy. Conjuring up joyful, mutual sex is easier for me if I imagine it happening in the Temple of the Loving Goddess in the far-distant past or future, someplace far removed from today’s world. However, not all editors are looking for speculative fiction.

In a happier time, at least for me, I wrote “A Striking Dilemma,” a story about a three-way relationship of two young ladies and their gentleman friend in the late Victorian Age. That was definitely not a sex-friendly era either, but the jolly lovers in my story have enough privilege that they can make their arrangement appear respectable from the outside. This story is included in the second ERWA anthology, Twisted Sheets: Tales of Sizzling Menage, which has been selling well. Here is a taste:

I shook my tresses free, wondering if I looked like a madwoman in an opera.

     Lizzie unlaced my corset before I could do it myself. My small breasts popped into view, and I could see that my nipples were already hard. They looked very pink against my pale skin, but then one of them disappeared into Lizzie’s hot, wet mouth. “Oh!” I gasped. My uncontrolled response inspired her to apply a mercilessly firm tongue to my flesh. The heat of her mouth, and her persistent attention, sent moisture to my neglected cleft.

     Liz heartily sucked my nipple, then gently pulled it with her teeth before suddenly exposing it to the cool air. I looked down and saw it stretched to an amazing length, as if it were made of gutta percha.

     “Aha,” she muttered, as if to herself. I could feel my face grow warm. She liked to make me blush, and my awareness of her goal always guaranteed that she would get her wish. She tugged on my remaining underthings, and I obligingly pulled them off. I stepped out of my petticoat, and left it in a heap on the carpet.

“My girl,” she said approvingly, smiling at the sight I presented. “You’ll still look like a nymph to tempt the ancient gods when all the professional beauties of our time have become fat old women. How many times do I have to show you how beautiful you are?”

     I considered her question. “As many times as it takes,” I answered.

     Lizzie took my response as a dare. I let out a muffled squeak when she lifted me up. She held me firmly, despite my wriggling, and carried me into her boudoir, where she laid me on the counterpane that covered her bed. She had never carried me so far before. I realized that her passion for sports – badminton, archery, riding, and shooting – had given her Amazonian strength and endurance.

     There was a quiet knock at the door. Before Lizzie could attend to it, I heard a key turning in the lock. She strode purposefully into the hallway to greet him. “Henry!” She didn’t sound at all pleased, even though she had impulsively given him his key as a birthday gift two years before.

     I thought briefly of hiding under Lizzie’s bed, but then I realised how childish that would seem. I decided that a mature woman would accept the role of fellow-hostess. I wrapped myself in my clothes, as though in a blanket, and walked in bare feet to the hallway, where I stood beside her. I could guess how ridiculous I looked. Henry had seen me and Lizzie in various states of dress and undress, but never had he seen either of us completely naked.

     “Henry,” I said. “What a pleasant surprise.”

Our young man looked as mischievous as usual. He doffed his hat, laid it on the parlour table, and approached us at once.

     “I beg your pardon, ladies,” he said, almost laughing aloud. “I do hope I’ve interrupted something.” His brown eyes shone with merriment. “Ruth, please don’t feel embarrassed. I know that you and our Elizabeth have an intimacy that men may only wonder at. The games of love are entirely natural.”


Henry is right, of course, and apparently our readers agree with him. I recently got a surprisingly large quarterly royalty payment for my stories that are selling on the on-line platform Excessica, including my collection of five stories about a Dominant English prof, Dr. Athena Chalkdust, my story about the conception of King Arthur, (Under the Sign of the Dragon) and my stories in the two anthologies from ERWA (Erotic Readers and Writers Association).

Maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Jean Roberta

Jean Roberta once promised her parents not to use their unusual family name for her queer and erotic writing, and thus was born her thin-disguise pen name. She teaches English and Creative Writing in a university on the Canadian prairies, where the vastness of land and sky encourage daydreaming. Jean immigrated to Canada from the United States as a teenager with her family. In her last year of high school, she won a major award in a national student writing contest. In 1988, a one-woman publisher in Montreal published a book of Jean’s lesbian stories, Secrets of the Invisible World. When the publisher went out of business, the book went out of print. In the same year, Jean attended the Third International Feminist Book Fair in Montreal, where she read a call-for-submissions for erotic lesbian stories. She wrote three, sent them off, and got a letter saying that all three were accepted. Then the publisher went out of business. In 1998, Jean and her partner acquired their first computer. Jean looked for writers’ groups and found the Erotic Readers & Writers Association, which was then two years old! She began writing erotica in every flavor she could think of (f/f, m/f, m/m, f/f/m, etc) and in various genres (realistic contemporary, fantasy, historical). Her stories have appeared in anthology series such as Best Lesbian Erotica (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, Volume 1 in new series, 2016), Best Lesbian Romance (2014), and Best Women's Erotica (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006) from Cleis Press, as well as many others. Her single-author books include Obsession (Renaissance, Sizzler Editions), an erotic story collection, The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press), and The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella (Lethe, also in audio). Fantasy stories by Jean include “Lunacy” in Journey to the Center of Desire (erotic stories based on the work of Jules Verne) from Circlet Press 2017, “Green Spectacles and Rosy Cheeks” (steampunk erotica) in Valves & Vixens 3 (House of Erotica, UK, 2016), and “Under the Sign of the Dragon” (story about the conception of King Arthur) in Nights of the Round Table: Arthurian Erotica (Circlet 2015). This story is now available from eXcessica ( Her horror story, “Roots,” first published in Monsters from Torquere Press, is now in the Treasure Gallery of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. With Lethe Press publisher Steve Berman, she coedited Heiresses of Russ 2015 (Lethe), an annual anthology of the year’s best lesbian speculative fiction. Her realistic erotic novel, Prairie Gothic: A Tale of the Old Millennium, was published by Lethe in September 2021. Jean has written many reviews and blog posts. Her former columns include “Sex Is All Metaphors” (based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas) for the Erotic Readers and Writers Association, July 2008-November 2010. The 25 column pieces can still be found in the on-site archives and in an e-book from Coming Together, Jean married her long-term partner, Mirtha Rivera, on October 30, 2010. Links:


  1. Paul Wit

    Very interesting.

    Indeed, the fear of globalization and of immigration leads to conservative ideas which eventually always force women to have babies and obey their husbands.

    But women are far more than this (and men can only enjoy this freedom), and since no rule is written in the sky or the soil, we should not let frustrated and hypocrite narrow-minded tell us how a good society should live!

    • Jean Roberta

      Thanks for commenting, Paul. Re not letting narrow-minded people tell us how to live, that includes not letting narrow-minded politicians pass laws that affect everyone in their jurisdiction.

  2. Jupiter Grant

    Very true. And it’s actually terrifying. Things were ‘supposed’ to be getting better, but now it feels like it’s going backwards and we’re losing everything that was so hard won. 😥

    • Jean Roberta

      So true, Jupiter. Luckily, a commitment to human rights isn’t dead, and there is a resistance movement.

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    Our work is needed, more than ever!

    We make pleasure real. We illustrate by example the marvelous diversity of desire. Your frolicsome threesome in “A Striking Dilemma” represent just one of the thousands of shapes for love and pleasure.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


Babysitting the Baumgartners - The Movie
From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt



Pin It on Pinterest