Watery Passion: The Struggle between Hegemony and Sexual Liberation in Erotic Fiction for Women

Publication year
Discourse and Society

As texts of desire they provide women with a means to claim their right to pleasure; at the same time, that discursive conquest of pleasure is secretive, masked by the history of romances as a collection of somewhat fanciful but chaste love stories, disguised by the very marginality of the romance as women's reading and, finally, buried in pages and pages of story - of other text - as a kind of camouflage. It is not entirely easy to find sex scenes in romance novels; they have to be read in their entirety before they yield their erotic content. (80)


Females melt and dissolve in response to males' heated actions and words. Unlike fire, then, watery passion is more often gendered passion, a specifically female sexual response to male pleasuring. (89)


In the world of romance, men are consumed by passion and in turn consume women. Women are consumed by men and passion and don't - metaphorically at least - consume a thing. This may reflect an ambivalence about women eating, as well as a distaste for men being likened to passive objects such as food. (92)