On 23 March 2021, Ever Given, a golden-class container ship wedged itself in the Suez Canal after drawing a supposed dick pic in the ocean. The 400-meter-long beast ended up blocking the world’s busiest trade route for a sum total of six days before it was re-floated again.
The unfortunate event was quick to steer a toilet paper shortage, delay of $400 million an hour in goods including a massive shipment of sex toys, a plethora of memes and its own line of fan merch. Just when we thought the internet’s obsession with Ever Given had finally capsized, a new genre of erotica surfaced—one that will either make you want to throw yourself overboard or wish the ship had kept the canal company for longer.
Titled along the lines of ‘Troubling the Suez’, ‘Inside you for days’, ‘C-anal of pleasure’ and ‘Ever Taken’, the cargo ship has inspired a new genre of erotica with the tag “Suez Canal (Anthropomorphic).” Currently boasting 127 entries on the transformative fanfiction platform Archive Of Our Own (AO3), the genre attributes human traits to the ship and canal—thereby catering to a wide range of audiences with tastes ranging from hardcore BDSM to flowery, Rupi Kaur poetry.
Common tropes in the genre describe the Suez Canal as lonely and “longing for a lover” until the Ever Given—with a “bulbous bow”—wedges into her walls with a promise to “provide the contact the canal has been deprived of for decades” before “finally being pulled out.” This ‘Titanic, but sadder’ romantic trope is a sharp contrast to other entries which feature anti-capitalist satire, where the canal plots her revenge against humanity with Ever Given, a ship loyal to his captain and crew, caught in the crossfire.
By default, these entries could fall under the category of ‘crack fic’, fanfiction that is intentionally absurd and usually written for laughs. However, some of these make a pretty compelling read. For example, one of the pioneering fanfiction in the genre titled ‘XXX-TRA WIDE CARGO STUFFS MAJOR SHIPPING LANE—DELIVERS HUGE PAYLOAD!!’ features the star-crossed lovers going through a rough patch, blaming each other’s steering system and narrow walls for the unfortunate event before livestreaming themselves onto “OnlyFreight.”
The story’s author, who goes by the username GalWednesday, calls it “the most cursed thing I’ve ever written.” “I think the idea popped into my head while I was looking at memes about the Ever Given’s ‘bulbous bow’ and how it had gotten lodged in place,” they told Jezebel. The author further admitted that the research took more time than writing the 263-word story as they ended up browsing Quora for answers. The response? A staggering 10,000 hits.
“The response has been way bigger than I expected, which I think has more to do with our collective need for a stress release valve than anything about the fic itself,” GalWednesday said, enjoying how feedback alternated between “funny, thank you!” and “JFLDJSLFJDS I HATE THIS.”
We can either blame Chuck Tingle for popularising anthropomorphised inanimate objects or the millennials and gen Zers’ love for absurdist humour, but Suez Canal/Ever Given erotic fanfiction is out there and multiplying with no limits to human creativity. Given its masturbatory weirdness and avant-garde drama, it makes one wonder what they would title their own fanfiction about the 2021 power couple. I would go with ‘The one with the deck picks’ or ‘cruising for a bruising’. What about you?
If you’re already a fan of erotica, then you know the reactions that turning a page can have on you. Flushed cheeks, increased heart rate, a little lip-bite… And all of a sudden your imagination is in overdrive. Reading about people getting down and dirty can be an incredible turn on. What’s the secret?
Let’s get all science-y for a moment. A study in the National Library of Medicine found that 90 per cent of women used ‘mental framing’ (also known as scenario conjuring) to get aroused. And a 2009 study on porn and arousal published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that women became aroused by the context of the story rather than the visual offering of porn. That’s a lot of science backing up the fact that women need a little something extra to get what they need. But why? Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? We asked a few sexperts in their field.
A lot of the time in mainstream porn, the man is in charge and the woman is subjecting. The sex is being done to them rather than with them. There’s a lot of control and it’s borderline non-consensual at times. But the thing about erotica is that it puts the power back in the woman’s hands. She is completely consenting to sex and being an active participant; she’s fully in control of her sexuality.
As the editor-in-chief of erotic fiction subscription service LVH, I noticed that porn tends to classify women as ‘good girls’ or ‘sluts’: it doesn’t empower women. Women have had their sexuality repressed for so long, that we’re not sure how to be ourselves when it comes to expressing what gives us pleasure, and that harms our relationships. The Lady Victoria Howard stories give women that all-important context with characters they can emotionally identify with and sexual fantasies that they can engage with using their own imagination to personalise it, and frame the story within what turns them on. When women are able to draw inspiration from a character that we can relate to, it gives us permission to say, yes I’d like to do that too.
Let’s face it. Most porn is made with men in mind. It’s very to the point and visual; there’s no imagination or creativity involved whatsoever. Well, that’s the opinion of M, editor-in-chief of award-winning sex and relationships blog Sex & London City, who says that women are drawn to the escapism and fantasy of erotica: “Erotica goes so much deeper than porn—if you’ll pardon the phrase. It provides a fantasy, and a way to escape everyday life. Rough P in V sex or the ‘moneyshot’ just doesn’t do it for women; they want to be seduced. They want a life that’s glamorous, sexy, and pretty. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about the sex. It’s about having the life of someone who is desired, craved… and having lots and lots of sex because of that. The sex is just a happy consequence.”
The sex itself doesn’t really matter. It’s everything around the sex and the build up. When it’s done right—when there’s a connection—sexual tension can be just as good as an orgasm itself. Yep, I said what I said!
I’m not saying that women don’t watch porn—of course they do—but it’s the type of porn they watch that gives us clues into what women really want. Did you know that women love lesbian porn? It’s true!
According to Pornhub Insights, lesbian porn is 151 per cent more popular with women than it is with men, and that number isn’t just LGBT women either. Huge numbers of straight women are flocking to girl-on-girl action. Why?
Take a look at any ‘straight’ porn video and you’ll notice that it’s all about the dude. He’s usually got a huge member, sticks it in the girl dry and thrusts until he climaxes. But what about the girl? What about her pleasure? This is the point I’m trying to make.
The majority of porn is built for men. Many women (I’m not saying all) want to see something involving their pleasure, something they can relate to. Which is why girl-on-girl porn, which can involve a lot of cunnilingus, is so appealing. But it’s also why erotica, where the woman is usually front and centre of the story and indeed the sex scenes, is even more appealing.
Megwyn White, certified clinical sexologist and director of education at sexual wellness brand Satisfyer, goes into more detail about what women want: “Women are sensitive creatures, endowed with a multi-sensory pleasure map that includes details of physicality, sensitivities to touch, aroma, lighting, plot line, and more. We remember these details, and use them to connect the dots to our own pleasure maps. Women are attentive to emotional details as well, and crave polarity within a sensual conquest to energize their interest. Edging a woman’s excitement is exactly what erotica is so good at doing. By oftentimes holding back overt sexual contact, and instead stimulating simultaneous sensual cues embedded within authentic sexual tension it allows a woman’s innate ability to map into the layers of details that form her unique sexual template.”
Leading on from erotica being all about wish fulfillment, is a woman’s desire for emotion and connection. In general, women prefer reading adult romance and erotica, rather than watching porn, because emotional context is far more important for a woman’s sexual arousal than for a man. There are a few women porn directors who have tried to make it more female friendly. As Petra Joy said in an interview with The Guardian, “Women enjoy seeing a curve of arousal and like to understand why these people are having sex and how they got turned on. Women want to see credible female performers, women of all sizes and looks who genuinely enjoy themselves rather than porn clones with fake nails, hairs and boobs faking it for the camera.”
As we know, traditional porn typically has very little depth and is extremely thin on storyline, which doesn’t seem to bother men, but it’s certainly a barrier for women. Often it’s about as arousing as watching paint dry. Having said that, a story involving a hot-looking house painter would interest women, but there has to be a credible story.
You heard me: write us a good story, then add the sex.