Open doors…or closed doors?

My, my, my….there are so many ways to interpret what the title of this week’s blog challenge is. I’m going to go with the first thing that came to MY mind when I read it, namely, as a romance writer, do you write sex scenes openly, or do you leave them for behind closed doors?

The first actual romantic story I ever read was Pride and Prejudice. 

The sexiest thing about that book was its lack of sex. No hand holding, no touching except with gloves on and while dancing, no stolen kisses behind chaperone eyes. Lingering looks and side glances were the extent of the sexual tension shown. And I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it tension. More…expectation.

For hundreds of years after that book was published, the majority of romantic fiction remained the same. The hero and heroine fell in love, had their troubles, then got married. The End. The wedding night was never detailed; their children seemed to be sent from God as immaculate conceptions. You literally didn’t know how they got it on in the bedroom.

Even in the movies things weren’t shown. Remember the great staircase scene in Gone With The Wind?

A drunken Rhett scoops his wife, Scarlett, up in his arms and carries her up that grand staircase, the light fading behind them the higher he goes, his intent obvious. End of scene. Cut to the next morning with Scarlett lounging in bed, a girlish blush on her cheeks, and our imaginations left to run rampant on what occurred after the fade out and the bedroom door was shut in our faces. (Click here to see the actual filmed scene)

Fast forward a half century.

A little independent movie called The Devil in Miss Jones opened and sex – raw, in your face ( and every other body part) sex between two people…and even more than 2 people at once – was now on view for all to see and be…entertained by. It wasn’t shown in back street, urine smelling alleyway hole-in-the-wall porno theaters, but right on Main Street, USA movie houses. The people who stood in line for hours weren’t pedophiles or sex perverts ( although, I’m sure there were a few of those!) but everyday men and women, NORMAL people who were intrigued -and let’s be honest, titillated – about this movie and its usually forbidden subject manner.  It became an overnight cult classic that was accepted and viewed by the mainstream majority.

If you could watch sexual acts among consenting adults openly in the movie theater, sitting next to your neighbor, your boss, your politicians, even your doctor or dentist, why the heck couldn’t you buy a book and read about it openly as well?

Jacqueline Suzanne thought the same thing and wrote a little fictional tome called Valley of the Dolls.

 And while this wasn’t classified as a romance story but as literary fiction – nowadays it would be referred to as Women’s Fiction – it was a runaway bestseller and the major reason it was is because it talked about people having sex — and showing it!! All kinds of sex in all kinds of places – and I’m not just referring to locales, but to different orifices! (Orifi?)

Writers Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss thought the same thing. Why couldn’t you show the physical side of a relationship? In detail? 

This new openness about sexual acts opened that bedroom door and they invited us in. All in! Before those two burst on the romance writing scene, if you wanted to read about what consenting adults did in the privacy of their bedrooms, you had to go to a certain brand of book shop and wander in the erotica section because that’s where the books with sex were kept. Or behind the counter and you had to – blushingly – ask for them by name and author.

 Rogers and Woodiwiss made it acceptable for the average romance reading MOM to buy a book with detailed sex scenes in them at the town independent bookstore, or the local Walmart, Target, and KMart.

Once that bedroom door was opened, it hardly ever closed again. Sweet romances still sell – a lot – but the majority of romance books written and sold now all have open bedroom ( and every other conceivable place and room) doors.

I’m with the majority on this one. I like reading about open bedroom doors and I write about open bedroom doors. In its baldest sense, I have an open door policy for my writing. Pun intended. I read all genres of romance except pure erotica. I do, though, read and enjoy erotic ROMANCES because –HELLO!!!– romance is the major part of the equation. A really good writer can devise a “love scene” where you never even realize the physicality of what you’re reading as much as you do the emotions involved in the physical aspects of what’s on the page. And let’s face it, if you’re getting a little…turned on…both emotionally and physically by what you’re reading, that author has done her job. I long to be that type of writer!

To quote the late and amazeballs George Michael,

“Sex is natural, sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural, sex is fun
Sex is best when it’s, one on one”

Now, there are a bunch more authors in this blog challenge who may have interpreted this blog title just a little bit differently than I have. Let’s hop over and see what they’ve come up with, shall we?




Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, love, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

16 responses to “Open doors…or closed doors?

  1. Wow what a great post! You’ve really done your homework- made me want to watch one of my favorite movies again (Gone With The Wind) and pick up a few of these books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peggy Jaeger

    Hahaah Maureen, thanks! Is it research and homework if you’ve lived through it?? lol!


  3. Sherry Lewis

    I must REALLY be a closed-door sex-scene writer because that interpretation of the topic didn’t even occur to me LOL. I started reading your post and thought, well duh! Of course that’s what they meant. It’s a ROMANCE blog, for heaven’s sake. :::sigh::: Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To be honest, I didn’t think about closed door/open door love scenes either when this topic came up! Great post, and a great history lesson. I picked up my first Woodiwiss book in a used book store recently. I hope to get to it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Alina – I came of age during the Rosemary Rogers/Kathleen Woodiwiss age, so I really didn’t know any other kind of “door” policy!!!


      • My 1st romance was The Flame and the Flower by Woodiwiss at the tender age of 12. But when Clan of the Cave Bear and Valley of the Horses at age 17…! I sooooo wanted a Jondalar of my own!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great retrospective, Peggy. I remember that staircase scene from Gone With the Wind. Be still, my beating heart! I also remember my 80-something-year-old grandmother reading Valley of the Dolls, LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Linda – VOTD is so tame compared to some of the stuff out there now!!! In the 1960’s 50 Shades would never have been printed. By anyone


  6. You could have titled your post “The history of opening the bedroom door.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have the hardest time with the sex scenes. Trying to make them emotional but ‘hot’ at the same time takes time for me. I can’t just do them in one sitting when I’m writing. They need to fit the book and the couple and not just there because I’m writing a romance and sex ‘should’ be included.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Meka – isn’t it great we write in a genre ( romance) that has so many ways of expressing love? YOu can make it as sweet or as…not sweet, as you wnat.


  8. Yup, I read my first Woodiwiss book (and still have it, by the way) and I was hooked. It is amazing to think how far we’ve come since then.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cathy Brockman

    Excellent post! I love your take on the topic and the evolution of the sex scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love George Michael, loved Valley of the Dolls, and I LOVED each and every book by Jackie Collins!

    Liked by 1 person

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