Talking about Nipples in Novels

Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

I saw this tweet from Sarah Wendell at Smart Bitches,Trashy Books, and I clicked because I needed that laugh she mentions.

I did not stay long. I hate to admit it, but I was embarrassed. I have no idea why. There is NOTHING wrong with anything that is on her site. No borders are crossed. I was NOT offended, but I found myself blushing. It was one of deep blushes where your face turns a deep shade of red, and the heat just radiates from your body. It comes off of you in waves, each one increasing in intensity, so hot that the person sitting next to you on the subway starts to sweat…

Do you understand why I am confused? I can write something like that without hesitating. I can read things that blow those two little sentences out of the water, both in terms of sex and violence, and I am fine. I can say things that make sailors blush without thinking twice. A large part of my senior year in college was spent on the plaza behind the student center, handing out condoms and samples of flavored lubricant. I even demonstrated how to properly use a condom, using the handy demonstration model provided by the manufacturer, and I did it in broad daylight, with an audience. Why, then, can I not read a discussion about the ways that romance authors describe nipples?

This is where I am – I can read sexy stuff, I can talk about sexy stuff, but I cannot read other people talking about sexy stuff. I feel like a voyeur. I am okay with knowing what goes on inside the heads (and behind the closed doors) of characters. I can talk about those things with people I know. I think I just get uncomfortable (at times, downright creeped out) by knowing what strangers are thinking about those subjects.

This bothers me. Is it a sign that I’m getting old? Is it because I spend so much time with someone under the age of six? Or is it normal? What are your thoughts? What makes you uncomfortable as a reader?