Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

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2012 Archives > Jun 2012: Sexuality in Kushiel's Dart (aiming for limited spoilers)

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message 1: by Andy (new)

Andy Dainty (kosmopolite) Firstly, I'm less than halfway through the book, so I'd appreciate limited spoilers beyond that point.

I reached a point in the book where a relationship is discussed and it made me think - there really is no discussion of sexuality in this book. In previous VFH vids, the ladies have talked about homosexuality in Vaginal Fantasy. Here we can see it happening all the time, but without label, stereotype or judgement. I found it a rather refreshing and optimistic piece of world building, and I was wondering what your perspectives on it are.


message 2: by Seawood (new)

Seawood I think it's great! I wouldn't say it's entirely non-judgemental, though. I can think of at least three instances (I'm at 45%) where characters have expressed mild surprise at other characters' preferences (in an "oh, I didn't know he/she swung that way...whatever..." sort of way). One is somewhat startled that Phedre was trained to engage with both men and women, for example, though I would say that was true to that particular group of people.


message 3: by Christopher (new)

Christopher | 14 comments I agree that it is a wonderful bit of world building. It is specific to Terre D'Ange, though. In the second trilogy (and possibly the second book of this one, I don't recall), it is made clear that homosexuality and prostitution are both negatively viewed in the Italian City-States parallel, Caerdicca Unitas.

The way those prejudices are reacted to by the POV characters though reinforces the positive message set by the D'Angeline societal mores.


message 4: by Karly (new)

Karly (karlycay) I was pleasantly surprised, actually. As a gay lady, I've never jumped on romance books because, like the ladies have said in the hangouts, they are pretty heteronormative (except for some side characters). And I am immune to the charms of this "alpha male" character type. So I'm happy to see some ladies and gents having sex with ladies and gents and some representation of non-heterosexual orientations.


message 5: by Felicia, Grand Duchess (new)

Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
Karly wrote: "I was pleasantly surprised, actually. As a gay lady, I've never jumped on romance books because, like the ladies have said in the hangouts, they are pretty heteronormative (except for some side cha..."
Her third trilogy has major romances between F/F characters, and it's so well done! I love the agnostic approach she has about love/sex, it doesn't scream LOOK AT ME IM BEING INCLUSIVE, it's just people BEING with each other. So good.


message 6: by Karly (new)

Karly (karlycay) Exactly! It's not out of place at all, and it's nice to have a world like that exist in literature. I'm digging it a lot. I will definitely keep her third trilogy in mind, thanks!


message 7: by Seawood (new)

Seawood Felicia wrote: "I love the agnostic approach she has about love/sex, it doesn't scream LOOK AT ME IM BEING INCLUSIVE, it's just people BEING with each other. So good. "

That's exactly it! For me personally it's nice to see that bisexuality isn't invisible, too. "Love as thou wilt" - it's certainly blind to gender and sexuality, and to some extent race, though not to class.

Although "love as thou wilt" is not true of the Casselines who are enforced celibates due to their priesthood, rather than eg. people who are asexual by temperment. It's an interesting juxtaposition which lends a certain amount of tension to the story, and I look forward to seeing if/how that plays out in future books.


message 8: by Jillian (new)

Jillian Coleen (jilliancoleen) | 22 comments Yes!!! Agreed - I'm roughly 1/3 of the way through the second book now and I really love the way sexuality of any nature appears to (mostly) just be accepted. Love, love, love.


message 9: by Sophia (new)

Sophia | 13 comments Caroline wrote: "That's exactly it! For me personally it's nice to see that bisexuality isn't invisible, too. "Love as thou wilt" - it's certainly blind to gender and sexuality, and to some extent race, though not to class."

And it's not just that bisexuality exists, it's that it's pretty much seen as the norm. There are a few characters that swing more to one side or the other, but for the most part d'Angelines seem to hover somewhere in the middle. If it's a big deal that someone slept with someone it's because of who they are rather than their sex.

I also rather like that Terre d'Ange is actually still sort of an anomaly within that world, and that the reactions to homosexuality varies from country to country. Within Dart when she's in Gunter's holding his reaction to learning she can pleasure women is just like, "Well what's the point of that?" In later books it's revealed that Caerdicca Unitas is actually fairly homophobic. I actually think it's kinda of nice that those viewpoints still exist because it allows for contrast, and it makes the world feel more real to have that cultural variance.


message 10: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 76 comments That variance in attitudes to sexuality seems to be realistic too when you consider this one area has a religious sect dedicated to sex work.

I wish we had that!


message 11: by Ada (new)

Ada Graves (aideendewinter) | 8 comments Temple of Naamah in Nevada? Or hell, recreate the whole Night Court. I don't know if I can lay claim to D'Angeline beauty, but I'd pledge myself to House Mandrake. Or Eglantine, one of those.


message 12: by Robert (last edited Jun 23, 2012 09:06AM) (new)

Robert (helga666) | 31 comments OK from book two
(view spoiler)

I like how they have ranks in relationships
Marriage: political gain
Consort: for love //marriage can be the same but don't have to be

Lover: those who give you pleasure

Buy splitting these things up you can have a society where there is no stress on gender.

Big spoiler from book 3
(view spoiler)
Very progressive I love it, and she is disgusted by parts of the rest of the world.

*edited for spelling by Cheese


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