... Why are male writers so bad at sex scenes? | Life and style | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
An interesting question. I think the problem comes from the fact that the sexual act itself has limited literary potential. What I mean is that if you take just about any bodily activity and settle down to describe it in terms of its detail and meaning, you're not going to get very far. Think of blowing your nose or going to the bathroom, or whatever. (What's going on in your mind and heart at such times may have the potential the physical operation itself lacks).
Henry Miller's sex scenes work for the same reason Chaucer works: They are ribald, filled with a sense of underlying absurdity.
In writing, sex gets in the way of the erotic. There is a long short story by A.E. Coppard called "Judith." There is a scene in it that takes the reader just to the threshold of a sexual encounter. But it stimulates the imagination in just the right way.
Miller's best sex scenes are intentionally comic. D. H. Lawrence's, however, tend to be unintentionally comic. See in particular The Plumed Serpent, as bad a book by a major author as exists. Love, lust, passion may drive us to have sex, just as a car can drive us to Niagara, but the car remains a car, a vehicle, quite separate and distinct from the landscape that thrills us, and what thrills us about sex is a good deal more than what Alex in A Clockwork Orange liked to call "the old in and out."