You Are Not Owed Sex ~ Outside the Margins with Megan Derr

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Megan Derr goes Outside the Margins today.


I always dreaded dating growing up. Dreaded everything it entailed, everything connected to it. All I wanted was to be left alone or to hang with friends. I hated the idea of sex, hated that I hated it, hated that no one would leave me alone. Sometimes I caved and went out with people, usually after being pressured (or tricked and manipulated by well-meaning friends). It always ended badly and I unwittingly hurt people who didn’t deserve it. It took a long time for me to figure out there’s nothing wrong with me, that I’m not broken, or a prude, or a frigid bitch. That it’s okay to be happy exactly the way I am.

Maybe it’s strange I love reading and writing romance so much, I don’t know, but people read and write things all the time that they’d never want to experience in real life. Why not me? Romance is great, it has everything the other genres have and more. No one here bats an eye at anything I do, and there’s nothing more fun than writing about two nerds falling in love the hard way.

So it’s frustrating, and even heartbreaking, to see over and over the same problem that I have endured IRL for my entire life. “It’s a good story even though there’s no sex,” and “it’s just not a real romance if there’s no sex,” and “what’s the point if there’s no sex,” along with dozens of other equally hurtful phrases. Whether intended or not, if you say things like this you are hurting real, actual people. You are telling them their love doesn’t count, their affection doesn’t count, their relationships don’t count. You are saying that unless people are willing to fuck, they don’t matter. You are telling writers who may be uncomfortable writing sex for any of hundreds of reasons that they’re worthless.

And that’s a shitty thing to say, a shitty attitude to maintain. Writers are not your bitches. Stories don’t owe you sex any more than a person owes sex to a date, a lover, a spouse. Romance has always rightfully prided itself on how open and honest and accepting it is about all shapes and shades of sex. Why then, when presented with a story that doesn’t have sex, does so much of this community largely sound exactly like all those people who bash our genre? Why do so many sound distressingly similar to all the men wailing about being friendzoned?

The romance genre is better about sex and relationships, and all the permutations thereof, than any other genre. It’s what makes us great. What makes a haven and home for so many. But remember that ‘no sex’ is one of those permutations, and as valid as all the rest, and in the future stop shaming and hurting people who have only ever asked for the same acceptance everybody else gets.

~Megan Derr



About Megan Derr

Megan is a long time resident of LGBTQ fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet.
@amasour .

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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12 thoughts on “You Are Not Owed Sex ~ Outside the Margins with Megan Derr

  1. Valid points. I have had review scores lowered in the past for not including sex. The thing is if the story doesn’t need it or if it’s not going to happen organically, I’m not going to add a scene just for the sake of adding it. If it doesn’t belong, then it simply doesn’t belong.

    That being said, I did write my first sex scene in a short story for an anthology earlier this year and it was tough as heck! It made me respect authors who can write it with some regularity even more. Seriously, it’s a heck of a lot more involved writing than one would imagine.

  2. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sex isn’t everything in a relationship. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those things that once you’ve read it once, you’ve read it a hundred times. I don’t mind sex when it’s organic (or fun and character building) and fits with the story, but too often I find that books devolve from story-based to sex-based and I’ve honestly become put off by it.

    I don’t mind when a story has sex, but likewise I don’t mind when it doesn’t. Not to mention, as you pointed out, not every relationship has to have sex for it to be cemented as a legitimate relationship.
    The bottom line is, a book shouldn’t be defined on sex. Especially when it just doesn’t seem to flow with the story. If a reader’s preference is the physical interaction, it’s understandable that it’s what they want, but I don’t think it’s particularly hard to make sure the books they read include it. Many that do will indicate it ahead of time in some form of a warning.

    To each their own, I suppose, and I guess it’s the same reason I tend to stay away from books that warn of it—because they probably have a good portion of the book engaged in it, opposed to a single (or few) scenes they don’t feel a warning is necessary for.

  3. Excellent post. IMHO there is room for all kinda of stories in the romance genre and that includes those without on page sex. Some of the best stories I’ve read don’t have on page sex scenes. A couple of of my favorite series have little to no sex in them.

  4. For every person who says those things there are 10 more who love that sort of non-sex stories (who love your stories!). I love both, I like when there are sex scenes that you almost can feel the heat and when there aren’t, when you can feel the love between the characters with just a kiss or a word.
    Just a few days ago I fnished my re-read of Dragon Slayer by Isabella Carter (and I can’t wait for book 2!) and it has only a handful of kisses between the MCs but that doesn’t matter at all because the story is captivating!
    I guess it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea but that what makes this genre so great, different stories for different people.
    By the way, I look forward to The High King’s Golden Tongue. =)

  5. I enjoy reading about the growing emotional intimacy of characters along with a interesting plot, I get tired of stories where the sex scenes seem a good portion of the story and the story or characters have very little development. I get bored and skim over the sexy parts. BTW, I’m a fan of your stories.

  6. Thank you so much for this post. I get so frustrated myself when I got to review a book and see other people have rated it lower because of lack of sex. The most important thing in romance to me has always been seeing the two fall in love, establishing a believable relationship. More so than a lack of sex, I get annoyed with sex scenes that feel shoved in just to show that oh, yes, look how attracted to each other these two are. Though I generally have zero interest in sex, I might get a little frustrated when there’s build up towards it and then we never get to see any action, haha.

  7. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here even though I agree with most of what Ms. Derr is saying. I do not require sex in a book or story but sometimes it’s nice. Sometimes a story feels incomplete without it. And maybe that’s the case with some of the comments Ms. Derr pointed out. She did not feel the story needed sex but the reader did. The opposite could also be true. She may include a sex scene in one of her stories and the reader may feel it was unnecessary or took away from the story. It’s a personal opinion and it will always vary.

    Ms. Derr’s life experiences made her who she is today and I respect that. As a reader my life experiences make me who I am and I ask for that same respect. I think it’s a “shitty thing to say” my comments or feeling on a story are not valid or are less important than hers. Suppose my life experiences made me see sex and intimacy as a way of feeling loved and cherished. What if my childhood was without any love or affection from parents or other loved ones? What if as I got older sex with a partner, who cared about me, finally made me feel loved and cherished. What if I see sex as the ultimate act of love, commitment and the ultimate romantic act? Is that wrong? Does that make me a pervert? Are my feeling less valid? Is it wrong for me to want to read a great sex scene after reading 200-300 pages of strife and hardships a couple endured to finally get to the point of making passionate love to one another?

    Again, I see Ms. Derr’s point and I agree with her but as an author she’ll never be able to please every single reader. Some people want a very strong HEA in every book. Does that mean every author, including Ms. Derrr, should write an HEA into every story? Some readers want tons of background on every character or they claim there was no character development. Does that mean every author and every story should include 20 pages of background on every character, every time? There will always be readers who perceive things are missing from a story, who perceive things should have been left out, who don’t connect with characters, etc., etc. Even mood or RL circumstances dictate how a story is received at the time it is being read. If I’m having a particularly bad day I love nothing more than to come home and lose myself in a good book complete with a smoking hot sex scene and maybe even some dirty talk. The next day if I’m still reading that same book but I’d visited a friend in hospice care that afternoon I’m going to receive that sex and dirty talk differently. If that sex scene and dirty talk was at the end of the book my review and comments are going to reflect my mood when I finished the story. Is that right? Is it wrong?

    I respect authors tremendously. I can easily see how Ms. Derr and other authors feel when a reader gives negative feedback or comments on their hard work. I know it’s easier said than done but they can’t take it personally. Write what you love to write. Write what feels good to you. Some readers will love it. Some won’t. Accepting our differences is supposed to be what this genre is all about and that acceptance should go both way.

    • But if your complaint is that “there’s no sex so the book is no good,” then you’re not being accepting. When your opinion of a book without sex boils down to “then what’s the point,” you’re not being accepting.

      That’s not a matter of reader preference. That’s a matter of judgment.

      Romance takes many shapes and forms. Love takes many shapes and forms. Some of those forms do no include sex.

      And this post isn’t about negative reviews. It’s about negative attitudes towards romance that doesn’t include sex. Which is also a matter of judgment.

      If a reader is looking for a book with sex in it, that’s why publishers/vendors use heat ratings or content labels.

      Readers aren’t wrong for wanting to read sex in their romance – nor did Megan say that. Readers (and authors) are wrong for negative, judgmental attitudes towards romance without sex.

      There’s room for everyone under the romance umbrella.

  8. If you haven’t done this already, you might consider adding something beneath the blurb that states there is no on-page sex. Readers expect sex in romances, right or wrong, and the declaration that there is no sex might discourage someone from buying the book and then trashing it for lack of sex. A preemptive strike of sorts.

    Brava on your stance. We owe readers a story, period. All else is, as we say in New Orleans, lagniappe. (lan-yap.)

    • One, that is putting the burden on the wrong person. Readers should stop expecting something to which they aren’t entitled. It’s not my job to cater to them and warn when I’m not catering.

      Two, this isn’t about MY books and the labeling is already done across the board by publishers,etc. That’s what heat ratings and such are for, and frankly if a site doesn’t offer that kind of thing (like amazon) it’s not my problem. We do the best we can, as do all publishers and authors.

      Three, it doesn’t even matter. The point isn’t ‘I’m getting yelled at b/c I don’t tell people and they get mad at me for a lack of sex’. The point is that I can add labels until my fingers fall off and people will still say ‘this book was okay even though there is no sex’.

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