Reading for pleasure

Image credit: VINTAGE BOOKS

I first discovered smut when I was about fourteen. I’d been reading what I thought was a fairly harmless piece of fanfiction, when suddenly the main character had his dick out and my whole universe imploded. It hadn’t even occurred to me that he even had genitals, let alone that someone out there might imagine him waving them around and sticking them in places that, as far as I was concerned, they had no business.

But, I went to an all girls’ Catholic school, and although by this stage I had a girlfriend, this was the first time I had been presented with sex in such an unabashed way. For me, the way the world saw sex was the way my school saw sex. This meant a science teacher refusing point blank to show us how to use a condom; and a visiting group of Evangelists telling us that, although gay people had permission to exist, they ought to work hard to repress any sexual urges.

So, it was a drastic eye-opener to suddenly be reading about two men getting it on — especially when these were stories written primarily by women with women in mind. This wasn’t porn that pandered to the male gaze, or that made me feel like my sexuality didn’t matter unless it was helping a man get off. This was proof that sex is for women, too, despite the messages I was receiving day-to-day in school. And a combination of being intensely curious, intensely horny, and intensely nerdy resulted in me reading quite a lot of it.

It also helps that, in my experience, when a piece of smut isn’t turning you on it’s usually because it’s making you laugh too hard. I’m pretty sure my sense of humour hit an important milestone the day I read a misinformed story in which a man’s anus literally sucked another man’s head inside. And the time I came across a carefully curated list of different materials that characters in smut had used as lube. One that stands out in my memory is blueberry muffin mix — a note was added to say that a stray blueberry was used to stimulate the guy’s prostate. Cute.

The world of smut is a pretty wild one. Some of it is truly awful — I’m talking total skewing of basic anatomy with a liberal sprinkling of disregard for any kind of grammatical rule. But if you go forwards with an open mind, you’ll almost definitely find something worth your while, for one reason or other.

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