Why More M/M Romance Should Include Frottage

Last month I did a poll asking what blogs people would like to see based on prominent themes in my book, A SPARK IN HIS HAND, the first of Voltaik, a sci-fi trilogy launching from City Owl Press in June 2024. Votes for “there should be more frotting in M/M romance” poured in, so here we are!

So you don’t have to look up “frotting” and get some saucy diagrams: Frottage is a sex act in which two people put their penises together and rub/stroke for mutual pleasure. There are many members in the cult of frot, but this blog will focus on fictional cisgender dudes.

There’s a lot of sex in ASIHH. The main character, Marcus, is struggling to put together an identity as a disabled man who has been stripped of his autonomy, which includes processing his sexuality. At the beginning, he doesn’t even know he’s gay. Each intimate scene pushes Marcus toward greater understanding of his relationship with Ishaqra, the love interest, while also building his confidence.

Most of the sex between Marcus and Ishaqra is frotting/oral. This isn’t meant to make some big political statement; it’s simply the vibe befitting the characters in these moments. There’s a scene that does involve anal intercourse, which in my humble opinion is hella sexy, but I wouldn’t describe it as more passionate or more vital to their connection than any of their non-penetrative acts.

I wish this attitude was more prevalent in M/M romance. I read dozens of M/M novels, and find myself disappointed when outercourse doesn’t appear as an option for the lovers. It goes beyond disappointment when lube isn’t available and they insist on having anal intercourse anyway. At least 50% of the time I will DNF books that prioritize lubeless anal over a safer sex act that can be comfortably performed if lubricant is not available. (Sometimes lube is available, and the bottom insists on taking it dry anyway, which is… another conversation entirely.) In most of these scenes, frotting would be equally intimate, but the narrative doesn’t treat it as “enough.”

The prominent patriarchal myth is that penis-in-vagina coitus is the only “real” sex act, with all others being “foreplay” leading up to the main event. Seeing that projected onto the queer community is frustrating. Gay sex should not be defined according to hetero-patriarchal standards.

Penetration is not the ultimate act of intimacy. For some, it can be, but the message that other intimate connections are lesser is deeply harmful and alienating for people who prefer non-penetrative sex. The pressure to conform to heteronormative standards can drive people into uncomfortable sexual situations, which carries over to gay love scenes that prioritize penis-in-anus sex as the most passionate expression of love, even if, realistically, it would cause damage to one or both body parts.

The place I’d most like to see more frottage is during impulsive encounters, where neither of the characters have lube or ambiguous containers of salve/oil. A passionate kiss turns into the desperate need for more, and prolonged oral would mean they’d have to stop kissing. I cringe whenever a story pretends spit is enough lubrication to make anal intercourse comfortable (it’s not), even though the characters could have the same face-to-face connection by frotting.

People outside of the main frot-friendly demographic might consider the act antiquated, but it really isn’t. Many queer people carry condoms and lube packets nowadays, which is fantastic, but even with supplies, anal intercourse still isn’t always feasible.

Recently, new startup CockBlock Toys released a sex toy to assist frotting. The CockBlock is similar to a fleshlight, with two holes that allow both parties to penetrate the toy, and a gap inside so their perfectly-positioned dicks can rub together. It’s accrued positive reviews, reinforcing the fact that frotting is still very modern, hot, and a great way to connect.

I once encountered an author discussing how readers complained there was only one sex scene in her trilogy—which was untrue. There were multiple scenes where the characters pleasured each other with hands or mouths, but only one involved anal intercourse. Without penetration, these readers considered all other sexual encounters to be incomplete.

Part of me worries ASIHH will face similar negativity, but most of me doesn’t care. As a queer person, I have no investment in performing heteronormativity, not in real life and definitely not in my books.

Thanks for reading, to everyone who made it to the end! I’d love to know your thoughts. If you feel so inclined, make sure to add A SPARK IN HIS HAND on Goodreads and follow me on social media so you can observe more blathering.

Be well!

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