It’s All Punk Rock

Jen Giacalone, one of Ylva’s newest authors, and host of the Greek Girls Story Salon podcast, talks about her varying degrees of interest in smut and more emotional scenes.

Do you love steamy wlw sex scenes? The kind that fog up your glasses and leave you reaching for your paper fan and a glass of sweet tea as you declare that you have “the vapors”? Me too.*

*Except when I don’t, which happens.


You have to appreciate it when an author gets creative and finds new ways to describe things that we have all thought about, read, or (if we’re lucky) even done. But lately, I’ve found myself less interested in the graphic details of a sapphic couple’s lovemaking. Is this evolution? Am I aging out of smut?

Good God, I hope not.

What does seem to be happening, though, is that I am becoming more interested in who the characters are, and why they are banging, rather than reading every detail of how they are doing it. As my granny once said, there’s only so many ways you can write about sucking on a titty, and I have to admit, she wasn’t exactly wrong. (OK, my granny didn’t really say that but it’s something she would have probably said if we’d ever gotten around to talking about this sort of thing.)

The truth is, my interest in the explicit waxes and wanes, and there’s nothing wrong with being at either end of that spectrum or somewhere in the middle at any given time. I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t read, but I am telling you that all levels of heat have their value and virtues, so to speak, and that there’s joy to be found in sampling all of them.

I’ve had times where I’ve read a story and found that the explicit sex was actually disruptive and skimmed over it. It felt like, “Hey, I’m trying to understand who this lady is, and this graphic snogging is kind of distracting me from that.” I’ve had times when I’ve read a wonderful story and wished that our heroines would, in fact, get it on. I’ve read stories where they do get it on, and it’s so damn satisfying because we’ve spent time with them, gotten to know them, and the emotional content of the scene brought it to a different level.

Emotional complexity is my jam, as a reader and a writer. Sorry, not sorry.

But I’d be lying if I said that sometimes I didn’t just want to read something about a MILF-y boss seducing her innocent, eager-to-please secretary.


A great deal of societal disdain gets heaped on the genres of romance and erotica, mainly, I think, because it is made by and for women. The existence of erotica, written primarily by women, for women’s sexual pleasure, is an inherently queer thing, and a thumb in the eye of folks who would deny that women are interested in sex, enjoy it, and even (gasp) enjoy it with each other. So, it stands to reason that some folx may feel some internal shaming for consuming the sexiest of what sapphic erotica has to offer.

Or maybe you feel a bit punk rock about it. If so, good. You should. It is a bit punk rock. It’s a whole entire middle finger to societal pressures for women to thread the impossible needles of compulsory heterosexuality, Madonna/whore complexes, and the tangled, jumbled mess of seemingly contradictory expectations of what women are supposed to want, like and enjoy when it comes to sex.

I had a lovely conversation with author Anna K. Wrenn on my podcast where we talked about this very thing: lesbian erotica is, dare I say it, a bit of a radical thing to create and partake in. So why not wear that badge with pride?

But don’t lose sight of the fact that women being able to see themselves portrayed as whole, complex beings, exploring the depth of what loving each other means, is, in its own way, pretty punk rock too. We live in a society that reduces women to caricatures very often, particularly in heterosexual fiction. To see ourselves portrayed as whole people, having brave relationships that are still frowned upon in many places, is a gift. To envision our heroines existing in a world that is just a little more welcoming to their whole selves is healing. To read something that gives us dimensionality, that considers and reflects feelings that we’ve lived through is perhaps quieter, but it is its own form of rebellion.


It should go without saying that if you know that explicit sex is triggering for you in any way, I’m not saying to go throw yourself on your sword. Know your own limits and respect them.

But that’s different from skipping the hot, kinky stuff because you’ve got your conservative Christian auntie’s voice in your head, hollering at you that you’ll go to hell. Or limiting yourself to the hot, kinky stuff because of some preconception about not being “into” romances that dig into feelings and who these people are.

Sometimes you want enough jalapeño on your taco to burn your tongue off. And sometimes you just want to taste the taco. Both are valid. Hold space on your table for both. Dig in and enjoy works that stir your heart. Or, you know. Someplace a little bit lower.

If I have to boil down what I’m saying, it’s this: don’t limit yourself. Sample the sweet romances, go face-down in the unapologetic smut. You only live once. And honey, it’s all punk rock.

Jen Giacalone is a neurodivergent queer nerd who has lived many lives and brings with her a wealth of experience to tell high-octane drama, thriller, and mystery stories across books, film, and TV.

After spending her twenties as a rock and roll frontwoman, and her thirties as a graphic designer in boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, she’s currently in what she likes to call her “final form” as a writer.

You can usually find her disappearing down rabbit holes of fascinating research on random subjects that will turn up in one of her books. And, of course, she sprinkles a little glitter on everything she touches.


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  1. Motorcyclegrrl September 22, 2023 at 19:12 - Reply

    Hey Hey! Nice 🥰 You are the best writer.

  2. Kimberly Davis September 22, 2023 at 20:21 - Reply

    Fantastic read!

  3. Elizabethgoudge September 22, 2023 at 20:37 - Reply

    I think Ms. Giacalone manages to bring something to her erotic writing which is highly uncommon, and that is individuality. It is one thing to write good smut. It is another level to continuously find new ways to talk about intimate experiences so things that we have seen before become new. Jen does something which rises above both of these levels: she brings an understanding of the individual needs of that character, and thus shows us aspects of ourselves. I have discovered more about what I wish for in my intimate life through reading her work than anywhere else I have looked. And that is a gift in any life.

  4. Mary September 22, 2023 at 20:41 - Reply

    Absolutely love the way you describe our love for erotica (and everything in between) as punk. I love it, felt guilty about it due to my Catholic upbringing – surprise surprise! But, I embrace it now and I cannot emphasize enough how much I love that you flesh out your characters before anything even remotely intimate (in all its ways) happens between the sapphics in your stories. You understand your audience/community and, best of all, yourself!

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