Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh, baby

Funny how one thing makes you think of another thing. Somebody sent me this link today about PeTA trying to get their name in the news asking Ben and Jerry's to make ice cream out of breast milk. On a message board I frequent there came the inevitable debate about whether or not breast milk was "gross," and why people don't see a problem with drinking milk that comes from a cow's udder, but not from a woman's breast.

Breast milk is not "gross." I breastfed my daughter, albeit only briefly because I had problems doing it, and I personally saw nothing off-putting about it. I find it interesting that some people (men) tend to act squeamish at the prospect of drinking breast milk, when said men probably wouldn't have a problem sucking on a woman's breast during lovemaking. As a romance writer I write plenty of those scenes, and as a publisher I read enough of them in submissions. To date, however, I have yet to receive a submission with such a scene in which a woman is lactating.

I don't know if such a thing qualifies as fetish or squick, but the more I think about it, I wonder why. I recall many years ago reading an erotic story (I think it was published in Yellow Silk or some other journal) where the woman was heavily pregnant. Perhaps it tests the comfort levels of readers and writers to consider "including" a baby in an intimate scene, though a baby is often the end result of passion. Anyway, it's just something that came to mind today.

It also has me thinking about the future of Dareville. As couples pair off, will there be children? It's entirely possible - the four heroines of the main Dareville novels are in their mid-thirties. And although their respective menfolk (save for one) are significantly older, it is not improbable for Brady and Ellie, Cal and Sue, or even Jake and Lauren to reproduce in a future story. When you consider Tony Randall had fathered children in his mid-70s, it wouldn't seem to be an issue here.

In many of the erotic romances I have read, the probability of children is used as a plot device, particularly in fantasies. One series I've read has the main heroes concerned for the future of their civilization, and they must mate with chosen Earth women to propagate their race. In subsequent stories the children are present, then quickly ushered away with the nanny so the lovin' can happen. In other stories, the kids are grown and gone.

I hadn't considered expanding Dareville's population in this manner until now. Part of me has been reluctant to do so for fear it will limit opportunities in future stories. It may seem odd for me to think this way about book characters, but I suppose it's different when you create them. I recall Lynn Johnston talking of all the hate mail she received when she killed off Farley the dog in her comic strip. Sometimes I wonder how people would react to learn of the stork coming to Dareville.

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