Sunday, October 19, 2008

Everyone needs a good fork (sexual emancipation in outer space)

Never in my tamest dreams did I ever imagine that I'd see one of my covers on the same page as a quote by Barbara Cartland.

It happened.

Thank you, Just Jinny. You've got me thinking.

“A historical romance is the only kind of book where chastity really counts.” ~ Barbara Cartland quotes

Does chastity count?

In my debut futuristic romance, Forced Mate, chastity counted. Technically. Royal males tended tended to cheat, but an heir to the Tigron Imperial throne was legally required to take his Princess Consort's virginity at their Mating ceremony.

However, Forced Mate was an affectionate spoof of a historical romance, so Djinni-vera's story isn't particularly interesting as an example.

My next heroine was a widow, and reasonably sexually continent (my editor abhors that expression) more for lack of opportunity than anything else. When opportunity knocked in the buff and ripped form of Commander Jason, whom she took to be a lesser being, totally unsuitable, sexually safe, and deliciously beneath her, she took him to bed, made a video the occasion, and got herself into trouble. A Royal shotgun wedding was the result.

Again, Insufficient Mating Material could have been an historical romance if it hadn't been in outer space.

The heroine of Knight's Fork is an Imperial Princess. She is also a Queen because she is married to a King. Her King is an alien and a lesser being, so he cannot impregnate her. She requires a sperm donor. No chastity there!

However, her choice for a potential stud has sworn a vow of chastity. Sexual chastity. (During poverty awareness week, I learned that chastity doesn't necessarily refer to sexual abstinence. Chastity can refer to absolute respect for oneself and others.)

Carnal chastity matters very much to 'Rhett, hero of Knight's Fork.

What about other authors' fantasies, futuristics, science fiction romances, spec roms, space operas and even paranormals?

Where do we stand? Does chastity count for some of our heroes and heroines? In other words, does Barbara Cartland's quote still apply?

I think editors of pulp fiction assume that in the future, human scientists will have solved all the problems the fear of which keep us chaste: social diseases, unplanned pregnancies, disapproving parents/pastors/presidents... Is there anything else?

Therefore, and rather conveniently (given that sex sells) our heroines of the future can have as much--if not more--zipless fun as the bad boys of history.

I wonder, though. If there's no risk, no danger, no love, no reason--as we understand it--for chastity to matter, will it?

Interjection: they're just playing Viva Viagra on the TV. Why is this issue (is it an issue?) so normal and socially acceptable? What effect will Viagra in our drinking water (you know it is getting there after it's been passed by our water inspectors) have on future generations? Why is there such a burning need for these products (or is there?)

Possibly, it is more likely that in the future there will be new reasons for chastity. I'm thinking of Dune. What a hassle to get in and out of those suits! What a waste of water! What happens if in the future, we are rationed to one bath a month (whether we want it or not)? Perhaps we'd spray ourselves with futuristic Febreeze, and rub ourselves with minty fresh hand-sanitizer.

On that happy thought, I will leave you.

Rowena Cherry


  1. Chastity really counts only in historical romances? True, maybe, if you include books set in the 1950s and early 1960s as "historical novels." Which, I guess, they technically are, even though that was my childhood -- I'm OLD. :) I assure you, pregnancy outside wedlock was still a very big deal, considered a disgrace by most families, in that era.

    Chastity is still important, even today, to many people who take the tenets of their religions seriously. So if you're writing an inspirational romance, your heroine had better be chaste.

    BTW, the classic Christian definition of chastity is sexual virtue, which includes either celibacy or monogamy. Chastity doesn't necessarily equal abstinence -- that's celibacy. The popular press often misuses the word to mean a sexless life.

  2. You need to worry far more about extra estrogen peed out by the hundreds of thousands of women on the pill, than Viagra in your drinking water. There is artificial estrogen in the ground water in much of the US these days.

    Then there are the hundreds of estrogen mimic chemicals in things like plastic and fertilizer...

    Both may lead to early onset puberty and some kinds of breast cancer.

    Neither are removed by conventional water treatment.

    Still in almost all cases tap water is safer to drink than bottled water. There is more regulation on municipal water systems than people who bottle water. Plus bottled water is an ecological nightmare when you look at the carbon footprint across the whole distribution chain.

    Sorry for the rant, my hubbie is a drinking water researcher.