By Guest Blogger Sacchi Green
I write about strong women. In pairs. Or trios, or more, although I have to admit that keeping track of too many same-gendered parts is a challenge when you only have one flavor of pronoun to tag them with.
I’m here to represent a certain viewpoint. I write lesbian erotica, and have edited six-going-on-seven anthologies full of that flavor of lip-smacking goodness. So, when considering the question of why strong women are good characters for erotica, my kneejerk response is, “Why the hell not? Doesn’t everybody get turned on by strong characters?” My second is, well, “Yum,” but I’ll try to resist getting distracted.
In the context of this week’s discussion and erotica in general, a case could be made that all strong female characters can be considered both dangerous and wicked, since, as has been mentioned by others, they upset a patriarchal status quo that should be as outdated as Victorian fainting couches and tight corsets. Oh, wait. Those corsets have become the iconic uniforms for dominatrices, and are far from outdated. Victorian gentlemen, whose ideal wives were required to role-play as fragile flowers, subverted their own dominant paradigm by getting their rocks off being paddled by strong women. The erotic appeal of the transgressive is at least as strong now as it was then, but we may not have quite as many restrictions to transgress against these days, and not so much of the strict-governess-and-caning-at-school tradition, so we borrow the most fun and colorful bits from the past. As long as women get their fair chance to be on top, I’m fine with that.
Most of the characters in my books are fine with that, too. I try for variety, and always include some stories with BDSM/power exchange tropes, sometimes including classic dom-wear. But there’s more to the appeal of strong women than corporal punishment. In lesbian fiction the characters are upsetting the cultural norms just by being who they are, and that takes strength. When who they are means taking on roles that have traditionally been seen as hyper-masculine, they need to be hyper-strong, in body, mind, and strength of will. That’s sexy.
Cowboys, for instance. When Rakelle Valencia and I got together to edit Rode Hard, Put Away Wet: Lesbian Cowboy Erotica, we were adamant that being a cowboy is a job, and the women doing it don’t need to be called cowgirls. The guys at Suspect Thoughts Press saw our point, and so did readers who lust after both strong women and the mystique of the West. That book was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in erotica. I can’t say whether that’s any measure of sex appeal, but it sure doesn’t hurt. More recently we edited Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures for Cleis Press —more lust, dust and leather, as the blurbs said--and that was a Lambda Award winner over stiff competition, so we must have been doing something right.
We went on to edit an anthology of lesbian biker erotica, Hard Road, Easy Riding, being reissued by Lethe Press, and I’m now in the final editing stages of ¬Lesbian Cops for Cleis Press. All these themes draw on the appeal of strong women forging the lives they want without regard to gender expectations, and, by extension, going after the sex they want with the same force and lack of inhibition. Not to mention the endurance to get you where you want to go, and then some. Here’s a snippet from my Lesbian Cowboys story (yes, we did take some liberties with our definition of “cowboys”.) See who you think the strongest character is, the big farm girl (and veterinarian) who wrangles huge draft horses, or the ultra-femme carny-game huckster who enthralls her at a county fair. (Personally, I think it’s a draw.)
(KB - I love this cover.)
“Pulling”—excerpt from Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures:
From the pungent wetness of my fingers when we reached the motel, I knew Carla’d been more distracted than any driver should be, but when I tried to clinch just inside the door she pushed me away. “My room, my rules,” she said sternly.
“We’ll see,” I said, leaning back against the closed door. Skin flushed, lips full and moist, heat practically radiating from her thighs, Carla clearly wanted it as much as I did. “What’ve you got in mind? Something like ‘The bigger they come, the harder they fall’?”
“And the harder they come,” she said, her purr verging on a growl. “Get on the bed.”
Well, what else was I here for? I strode over, trying to look like it was my own idea. Then I saw what was fastened to the metal posts of the bed. “Wait a minute, aren’t those the strings of beads I won?”
She reached into her purse. “Plenty more where those came from.” Her voice became a falsetto caricature of a Mardi Gras reveler. “Hey, baby, show me your tits and I’ll throw you some beads!”
I laughed, and shrugged out of my jacket, making sure the small tin of horse lube from my veterinarian’s kit didn’t fall out of its pocket. Then I plopped down on the bed. “Show you my tits? If you can’t find ‘em on your own, baby, maybe you better go back and practice on your balloons.”
She launched herself forward. I was flat on my back, jeans unzipped and yanked down past my ass, shirt pulled way up and nipples firmly twisted between her fingers, before I could do more than grunt.
“Spread ‘em,” she ordered, kneeing me without mercy. “Arms too.” She let go of my tits to push my hands toward the corners of the bed, which of course let her tempting breasts hang right above my mouth.
I went along with it. “You’re going to tie me with just those flimsy strings of beads?”
“That’s the plan.” She got right to it. “Sure, you’re thinking you can break free any time. But if you do, you lose out. The challenge is to hold still, no matter what I do to you.” She reversed direction to work on tying my ankles. Now her crotch, skirt pushed up to her hips, was right above my face. So much for getting into her panties; she wasn’t wearing any. I breathed in her scent hungrily, but didn’t try to arch up toward her. I definitely didn’t want to lose out.
So I lay still, if not silent, when the clamps came out. She moved them along my flesh like crab claws traveling across a dune, digging into my belly, my ribs, the lower swell of my breasts. Anticipation became as sharp as sensation, until my nipples seemed to be straining toward the promise of pain. When the metal bit into my tender peaks with cold fire, my stifled scream had as much of relief in it as anguish.
My shoulders clenched, my chest heaved, but I managed to keep my arms and legs nearly still. Carla watched my face, and bent to chew my lips when they twisted with the effort to be silent.
“Not bad,” she muttered against my mouth, “for starters.” Her tongue nudged at my gritted teeth until I relaxed them and let her probe deeply. The sheet under my hips grew hot and damp as I imagined that supple tongue probing elsewhere.
Carla finally reared back and released the clamps. Pain flooded back into areas that had become nearly numb. Then I felt the procession of crab pinches travel up my inner thighs. “How’re we doing?” she asked cheerfully, bending her head to watch her handiwork.
“Next time,” I gasped, “How about a room with a mirror on the ceiling?” Her head was dipping lower. Was that brief pinch on my pussy lips from metal, or fingers? And was that…oh God! Hot, wet, thrusting deep, and deeper, her face hidden between my thighs…My hips arched, my cunt grasped at the pressure, but Carla’s tongue retreated, flicking my clit enough to swell it to desperation, but not quite to ignition.
“Don’t move!” she said, and kept at me, teasing with darting tongue and pinching fingers until my throat was raw with groans and curses. But I must not have moved hard enough to break the strings of beads, because they still hadn’t snapped.
Until suddenly she pressed harder, and deeper, hands under my ass pressing me upward toward the mouth that gave me everything I wanted, everything I could take. My wrists and ankles tore free as I forgot everything but the fierce, consuming bite of orgasm.
“Is that what you call losing out?” I said faintly, when I got enough breath back.
“You did okay,” Carla said. “Look at your wrists.”
They were scraped and bleeding, and so were my ankles. The damned strands of beads hadn’t been so easy to break after all. “Looks like…looks like I didn’t meet your challenge as well as I thought.”
She shrugged. “Those suckers are tougher then you’d think. Nylon string, knots between each bead. There’s a fastener on each strand that just pops open, but once you release that and tie ‘em like rope they’re really strong. Don’t go thinking something’s flimsy just because it looks tacky and flashy and cheap.”
“I don’t see anything here tacky and flashy and cheap,” I said. And I meant it.
Carla leaned back and spread her thighs. The garters and belt had disappeared somewhere along the line.
“Show me what you got, then, big girl,” she said, “and tomorrow I’ll meet any challenge you name. Even if it means getting up close and personal with horses as big as elephants and twice as mean.”
Strong, sexy women appear in a great deal of lesbian (and straight) erotica that isn’t so overtly themed, of course. Just as one example, In my Girl Crazy: Coming Out Erotica antho an Olympic figure skater comes out on the ice on live TV as a tough, unequivocal lesbian butch. Several other characters grew out of my personal obsession with women in military roles in historical settings, a taste shared by the ancient Greeks, who were clearly turned on by the concept of Amazon warriors. (On a tangential note, whatever you may think of Xena’s carefree approach to history and myth, that show cleared the way for later kick-ass heroines, from Buffy to Sarah Conner to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.) I prefer, though, to write about more easily researched periods. I’ve done—if only that could be taken in the carnal sense!—tough WACs in Vietnam (in our Lipstick on Her Collar from Pretty Things Press) and others with post-Vietnam PTSD (in my most recent antho, Lesbian Lust from Cleis Press)
My favorites, though, are an Army nurse paired with an American pilot ferrying warplanes in the Air Transport Auxiliary of the RAF during WWII. Their bitterweet story appeared in Hanne Blank’s Shameless: Women’s Intimate Erotica from Seal Press.
I wrote a follow-up with the same characters, also on the bittersweet side, letting them meet again after thirty-five years (in Best Women’s Erotica 2004, Cleis Press,) but very recently I’ve taken extreme liberties with the pilot character and written her into a piece for D. L. King’s upcoming e-anthology Spank! from Logical Lust. I’m going to leave you with an excerpt from that, since it isn’t strictly lesbian, or gay, or straight, but it is arguably erotica, and the woman is as strong as they come.
I’ve made her crash-land a Spitfire in a storm on the moors of Scotland, just where a young German has hidden after escaping from a prisoner-of-war camp. She’s kicking herself for leaving her lover for the sake of her career; he’s kicking himself because he thinks he’s failed his idol (and mad crush) Field Marshal Rommel. No actual kicking occurs, but spanking does definitely ensue. I have an awful feeling that my character, if she found out what I’d gotten her into, would whap me around and wring me out and hang me up to dry—but that would be just fine with me. Have I mentioned how much I love strong women?
The Good Soldier—excerpt from Spank!, edited by D.L. King for Logical Lust:
Now Gunther opened his eyes to a stormy dawn. He turned his head. The dimness of the morning was dimmer still inside the little stone hut, its one window covered by a leather flap, but the rattle of hail on the roof was diminishing. The narrow wooden door stood open to let in some light. And there the woman, silhouetted against the grayness, lounged against a doorpost.
She straightened and came to stand above him. Not a woman from any of his favorite dreams. Nothing like Fraulein Ludmilla, nor movie goddess Marlene, so naughty in The Blue Angel, so sultry in top hat and tails in Morocco, so deliciously cruel with an imagined riding crop in her elegant hands!
This woman was tall, dark-haired, self-assured—and in military uniform. He could not have imagined such a vision even in dreams! She wore dark blue trousers and belted tunic, “USA” insignia on one sleeve, and silver wings pinned above one high, firm breast. And such boots! Heavy leather boots, so much like…
No. He must not think of Field Marshal Rommel’s boots. The Fuhrer, for all Gunther cared, could rot in hell; it was the Desert Fox he had fought for, escaped for, should have died for. And must never soil with his dreams.
To be taken prisoner by a woman was no greater humiliation than he deserved. He stole another glance. Yes, strong, attractive in a handsome sort of way, and, at this moment, looking quite severe. Possibly she was more than he deserved, after all. His buttocks prickled as he felt her gaze move over him.
“C’mon, Gunther, it’s just about morning.” The voice was edged with irritation. The inflection, the tone, the shape of the words—English, yes, which he understood well enough after nine months in British POW camps, but different. Like in a movie. Not one with Marlene, though, nor Garbo. An American movie. With cowboys.
“Wake up, and convince me to let you move around a little. No bedpans in this place, and I’m sure as hell not going to clean up after you.” In one quick motion she yanked away a ragged woolen blanket reeking of sheep.
Chilly air washed over him. Gunther made one final attempt to believe he was dreaming, or still serving with the Field Marshall, but it was useless. However fiercely he squeezed his eyes shut, no Panzer’s steel plates enclosed him. The Afrikakorps no longer battled in Egypt. The Desert Fox had withdrawn across the Mediterranean to France, and Sergeant Gunther Bernhardt would never serve at his side again.
He tested the bonds on wrists and ankles once more. They seemed to be tied to the crude frame of a narrow wooden bed with no mattress and only interwoven leather strips for springs. He gave up, and looked back toward his captor.
“Last chance, or I’ll just leave you here,” the woman said. “My landing gear may have knocked you out, but that lump on your head doesn’t amount to all that much. Didn’t even break the skin.”
Gunther hadn’t noticed the ache before, but now it startled a groan out of him.
“Too late for that,” she said callously. “And I know you can talk. You’re lucky I didn’t gag you last night to shut you up. Seemed like you had nightmares there for a while, muttering in German and English, but just now, whatever was going on in your head, you were having way too much fun for an escaped POW.”
Gunther struggled to make sense of the situation. What should he say? Did she hold a genuine military rank? How much authority did she have over him—aside from the undeniable fact that he was tied down and completely at her mercy? His vulnerable backside tingled at the thought.
“Suit yourself, then.” She shrugged and seemed about to step out into the light rain.
“Fraulein, wait!” he blurted out. “What…who are you?”
“Make that ‘Lieutenant,’” she barked. “Commissioned temporarily in the Air Transport Auxiliary of the RAF. And I’m the one who gets to ask for name, rank and serial number, Sergeant Bernhardt!”
“Ja!” Gunther’s bound right hand strained in vain to snap a salute. “Yes Lieutenant! But…already you know my name and rank. How is that?”
She slid a hand into the pocket of her blue trousers and drew out an envelope. He recognized a letter from his sister that had most recently been in his own pocket. “I didn’t read anything beyond name and address, and that last part is already stamped on your underwear. ‘Halmuir Farm POW Camp, Dumfries, Lockerbie’. Which is good to know, since I was supposed to be flying that brand new Spitfire fighter to the RAF airfield at Lockerbie. If you got here on foot, it can’t be too far. Shouldn’t take them long to locate us.”
This woman had peered into his underwear? The limp, dirty garment he’d been wearing during five days of stumbling across boggy moorland? Gunther wriggled just slightly in embarrassment. Then, imagining her hands on his nether garments, perhaps even brushing his flesh, he struggled to hold himself rigidly immobile. Every movement of his body against the leather strips beneath him made his cock lurch and stiffen, and the pressure of his full bladder only amplified the discomfort.
He was not, he realized, wearing the rough gray trousers issued at the POW camp. He was not wearing any trousers at all, not even the thin underdrawers she’d mentioned. Nothing but the equally rough gray shirt, disarranged now so that its tail did nothing to shield his buttocks.
The woman must have seen his grimace of humiliation. “Sorry,” she said brusquely. “I’m not sure the Geneva Convention covers anything like this, but I reckon they’d take a dim view of it. You can have your pants back if you give me your word that you’ll submit to being my prisoner, and won’t try to escape.”
“Yes, Lieutenant, Ma’am,” Gunther said wearily. Her frown made him wonder whether he should have said, “Sir”, but his mind was more occupied with wondering how much submission she expected. Turning his head with an effort, he looked up into eyes as gray as the cloudy sky. “I submit myself. I will not try to escape.”
“Okay then. If you haven’t managed to get anywhere beyond the moors yet, chances are you wouldn’t have any better luck even if you did run.” She moved to the head of the bed and bent to release his wrists.
With her body so close to his face—a woman’s body, inside an officer’s uniform!—arousal became even harder to suppress. When he saw that he had been tied down with a pair of ladies’ nylon stockings, and caught a faint whiff of woman-scent as one brushed his face, he very nearly groaned.
In Germany no one had such luxuries. Even in Paris only the highest-priced whores wore nylons. Or so he’d heard. This woman—this Lieutenant and pilot—had nothing of the whore or the flirt about her. He could tell by the fit of her trousers that her legs were as elegantly long and slim as even Dietrich’s, but to think of her pulling the stockings languorously up over calves and knees and thighs seemed wrong, somehow. And profoundly, erotically, disturbing.
She straightened, and he could swear that she lowered her face very briefly into the filmy stockings to inhale their scent before tucking them inside her tunic. For a moment an expression that might have been pain crossed her face. Then she moved briskly to the foot of the bed to tend to his remaining bonds.
Hey, this guest blogging has been fun! Do me a favor, though, okay? Don’t let that RAF pilot know, but I’m blogging about my Spank! story on September 17th at http://www.logical-lust.com/blog.html. Come on over!