I thought I wrote erotic romance for women - so why are so many of my readers men?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Adult Romance  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

I thought I wrote erotic romance for women - so why are so many of my readers men?

Later this month will see the publication of my twenty-third erotic romance novel. I have been publishing erotic romance for a few years now. When I first started out, I had it in mind that only women would be interested in my stories. This is possibly a very naive statement, but it is the truth. But then, thanks to feedback like this, I was surprised and delighted to discover that a good proportion of my readers are men:

“It’s so good to hear a female voice telling us what it’s like. Hundreds of guys are suddenly better lovers!”

Traditional opinion might suggest that “Women read erotica, men watch it”, but I haven’t found this to be the case. And apparently, neither do the stats. Some of the big publishing companies are reporting that men make up at least one third of the market for erotica, particularly in the audiobook space.

As you might imagine, many psychological studies have been done in this field. They conclude that, when it comes to sexual excitement, men and women respond to different sets of triggers, as well as some shared characteristics.

In general, men’s arousal patterns and sexual excitement are instinctively triggered by their brain registering “lust-inspiring images”. The erotic stimulus activates the part of the brain responsible for getting an erection and their physiological response is largely uncontrollable. A second common trigger for men is observing women experiencing sexual enjoyment. For these reasons, men often enjoy pornographic films, particularly where there is specific focus upon the expressions and sounds made by orgasmic women.

Conversely, a good proportion of women (not all, of course!), report finding pornographic films shallow and demeaning. (Personally, I have to say I'm always disappointed by a complete lack of storyline ha ha).  This can be explained by the different triggers taking place in the female brain and genitals. Female sexual excitement is complex and much more focussed on the concept of an ideal man, rather than visual triggers. As a result, many women may lean towards the written word in the form of erotic romance, as opposed to pornographic films.

Of course, the different responses between men and women are entirely instinctive, linked to biological survival and the preservation of the human species. Women are pre-programmed to think ahead before acting. Careful consideration of their choice of mate is vital, for the welfare of both themselves and their children. Men are pre-programmed to….do their thing!

So, back to my original question. Why do men read my books?

I’m happy to be in contact with a number of my readers, so I asked that very question. Here are a couple of responses:

“In my experience women just seem to be better writers of erotica than men. With men, all the women have gigantic tits and all the guys have ten inch cocks and never lose an erection after they come.”

“Women tend to write more sensually and with more emotion and yours goes into details of feelings of arousal and a building orgasm in much better detail and far more believably than men. You also have just the right amount of kink with some bondage thrown in.”

So it sounds as though my stories (quite unintentionally as it happens!) might be hitting some of the triggers for both men and women; a slow-burn, romantic story containing an alpha male, providing enjoyment for my female readers. And yet, for the male readers, I provide a realistic experience of sex from a woman’s standpoint, with enough detail to get those “lust-inspiring images” triggering the brain.

In all honesty, it is probably best not to dissect it too much! As with all things in life, it is about perspective and personal choice. For me, I’m happy so long as I am providing enjoyment for my readers, whoever they might be!

Fenella Ashworth x



Fenella Ashworth

Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction.  All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access.  Her bestselling novels are 'To Love, Honour and Oh Pay' and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica 'Erotic Couplings' Hall of Fame (Top Rated).
Please sign up to her newsletter for the latest news, and access to freebies, including a copy of the recently published 'Bad girls go to Heaven'.

Submitted: December 19, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Fenella Ashworth. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Dick Wood

Maybe your writings are giving guys a game plan into what women like.

Sun, December 20th, 2020 8:23pm


:-) I hope so!

Sun, December 20th, 2020 12:51pm


there is internet porn only for women too.It is mainly about a womans facial expressions as she is being fucked.It has no visuals of penis or vagina or breasts in many instances.It allows the womans imagination to take over and have that "perfect man" fucking her that you mentioned.

Wed, December 23rd, 2020 4:12am


I think the primary reason you find men interested in your erotica, Fenella, is because you're a damn good writer. If a guy is going to pick up a piece of erotica and hang with it till the end, he has to find it interesting from the start. Women, I believe, are more patient readers. Grabbing your reader early and putting something 'interesting' in every chapter is an important technique for capturing male readers.

I've followed a few stories on here with guys and we discussed those along the way by private messaging. Guys get bored quickly and easily if you don't constantly feed their imagination. The misconception is that guys don't have the ability to visualize literary imagery. They absolutely can do that. But they don't like a lot of meaningless details or excessive extraneous description.

Guys like naughty words, at least occasionally. They like at least a little superficial kink. Above all, they like to be able to imagine themselves as the heroic protagonist who gets the girl, and it's all the more enticing to make that character believable....imperfect, if you will. Because none of the guys reading erotica are replicas of the perfect specimens described in most grocery store paperbacks. I think the same is true for women readers when it comes to empathizing and endearing ourselves to characters.

I would agree that some guys read erotica as a form of tutorial on lovemaking - or, at least, they say they do. I'm not so sure that it's not an excuse to keep reading, because some of them think they are too testosterone to be reading romance.

Just for your edification, I've personally found a plethora of guys particularly interested in the 'older woman, younger inexperienced guy' plot. Lots of guys relate to that fantasy because they actually lived it. I think women find the storyline interesting as well.

Sat, January 2nd, 2021 5:03am


Thanks so much for your (as always, well considered, intelligent and helpful) comments DampKitten and happy new year to you. I've just finished writing my next book (Right Hand Man) and in it, the guy is 39 and the woman is 44, so not a massive age difference, plus he is FAR from inexperienced! I might have to have a think about the older woman/inexperienced younger guy plot for one of my next books this year :-) x

Sat, January 2nd, 2021 2:24am

Silky Fox

Great perspective on what makes erotica appealing to both men and women. I haven't been writing much lately, but when I started, I tapped a friend of mine - a guy - for input and advice. It was more on what men are feeling with specific sexual acts, what visually appeals to a man, things of that nature. He was very, shall I say, forthcoming with his comments and I found his input valuable.

I read once that when you write from both perspectives, whether it's erotica, romance, adventure, whatever, you have to tap into the male (or female) part of your brain to make it sound authentic. I agree that women like the build-up, the slow climb toward orgasm, and appreciate the descriptive words. I've also learned to write in the first person: "Francie felt his warm, hot lips slowly crawl over her (fill in the body part)" instead of just describing the action. I also put her reactions in the first person, not the universal "she." I think women may tend to substitute their own name as they read and make it personal. Maybe they'll try it out later with their significant other. I also do this with my male characters, describe how "Charlie" is feeling, instead of a "wham bam" type of scenario.

My advisor said to me once that he couldn't figure out who I was writing for; men or women. I asked if he enjoyed it, did it get a reaction from him and he was rather enthusiastic and candid in his answer, so I figured that I'm on the right track.

Thank you for writing and posting this. Very much appreciated!

Sat, February 13th, 2021 1:46pm


As a male writing erotica I too tend to find varying degrees of gender equality in the comment section.
Like yourself it also shows the differing views and opinions from both sides of the mattress, even some people take points in the story from different angles.
I think anybody that still reads today is btter for it, and I do hope more men take up the literary mantle to become more diverse and involved as women do.
You are so right that the majority of male writers do over emphasize female anatomy or a masculine characters prowess, but it also shows how men think.
Even though this piece of yours isn't a story I was searching for, I'm glad I stopped by.
Maybe you could critique some of my work, it is always a pleasure to find others views on how I write.
Now I've found you I shall endeavour to read up your list as well.

Fri, June 25th, 2021 8:56pm


Hi there! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and I wish you the best of luck with your endeavours :-) x

Fri, July 2nd, 2021 12:49pm