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Bed, Bitch & Beyond: Our Bodies, Outdoors

Today I bring you another burning question from the mailbag:

From a reader who wished to remain nameless: Outdoor Sex: pro or con? as an outdoorsy-girl, I always fantasized about doing it in a big field, but each time I've tried it, I've been poked in weird places with odd plants and bumps (even through a blanket & sleeping pad), or stressed about potential hikers, or something else. It's just never been as good as I'd hoped. What about you? Good question! I like the outdoors, and I like sex. Are they two great tastes that taste great together? Well...only sometimes.

The sexual revolution was supposed to bring an end to the church-and-patriarchy-approved "lights off, nightgown pulled up, missionary-only" sex we associate with the bad old days. But a few decades later, the pendulum's swung completely the other way--movies, novels and TV always celebrate impassioned interludes where the sexual attraction is so wild and irresistible that the participants simply must go at it no matter where they are. The beach? Of course! Hotel elevator? Sure! On the desk at your office? Why not! Liberated women are supposed to be passionate and up for anything, and our media culture favors portrayals of slightly transgressive sex. Breaking taboos and stereotypes is supposed to make it that much more enjoyable. Making love in your own home, in a bed, behind a locked door is so...old-fashioned. Why not proclaim your sexual liberation by getting naked in the great outdoors?

For me, having spent most of my adult life in New York City, opportunities for al fresco loving have been infrequent. But there have been a few, I tried to make the most of them.

Whether you enjoy having sex outside depends in large part on whether you get your thrills from exhibitionism. Some people simply do not. For the rest of us who are willing to give it a try there's always the chance you'll be watched, unless you're in a very remote, unpopulated locale. Personally, I'm a bit like this tipster: I like the fantasy of doing it in an open field, with the fresh breeze on my skin, abandoned to pleasure in the most primal way. But in my fantasies I don't have to worry about the errant hiker or golf-course worker stumbling upon us--or, worse, remaining hidden, recording the whole thing, and then downloading it to the 'Net.

I once had sex in on a moonless summer night in Prospect Park. The giggling and making out part was fun, but I found myself unable to relax, both because twigs kept poking me in odd places and because I was sure that the NYPD park patrol--or muggers--would pop up out of the bushes at any moment. Also, it is surprisingly challenging to get a condom out of the package and rolled on the right way when it's pitch black and you're both relying mostly on your sense of touch. Just sayin'.

I had a better experience with a boyfriend who owned a brownstone with its own backyard. We were fond of hanging out there late at night, drinking wine, and rolling around in the grass. We were pretty much invisible to the neighbors, and yet, I still got the exhibitionist thrill of being naked out of doors. It only felt risky, which was exactly how I liked it. When we broke up, I was sorry to lose that backyard.

For those of you who hike, camp or live in less densely populated areas and want a primer on how to maximize your outdoor experience, I highly recommend LuAnn Colombo's very informative (and funny!) paperback: How to have Sex in the Woods, which gives tips on everything aspect of outdoors love-making, from the challenges of contraception and hygiene to how to pick the perfect spot for your rendezvous. Good luck!

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