How can I write sex scenes where the woman enjoys herself without seeming sexist?

– Anon

Hey Anon, thanks for writing in!

Writing sex scenes is a complex topic with countless possible answers, but when trying to avoid sexism, the best advice I can give is to concentrate on how the character feels, rather than how sexy she looks. A super common mistake in sex scenes is writing the female character like she’s putting on a performance for an unseen audience by emphasizing the attractiveness of her appearance and movements. This is what’s commonly called the “male gaze,” which assumes the primary purpose of the scene is to titillate a straight male reader.

For specifics, I’d recommend reading romance and erotica written by women for women. This isn’t a guarantee, as internalized misogyny is a real problem in some of these books, but you’ll get a much better idea of how to write female characters than you will from reading most male-written sex scenes.

While romance and erotica aren’t a huge part of my reading diet, I can strongly recommend the Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold. It has some problematic elements, especially in the age and power mismatch of the lovebirds, but the frequent sex scenes are very well written to avoid the male gaze and portray the female protagonist’s feelings.

Hope that’s helpful, and good luck with your story!

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