There's a great piece in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review by Katie Roiphe regarding the inclusion of sex in novels by American male writers over time. Roiphe argues that it's a generational difference, as writers like John Updike and Philip Roth would be very explicit and close to raunchy in their fictitious encounters, while newer authors like Dave Eggers shy away from racy jaunts and, instead, focus on relationships.
But what interested me the most about this piece was the note Up Front from Roiphe, who said that while male writers are writing less openly about sex, women and gay writers are much more open to experimenting with it now, and how the feminist revolution is largely to thank for some of the change.
A while back when a girlfriend and I were walking by a billboard for
the Vivica Fox-hosted reality show, "The Cougar." I made some snarky
comment about this not exactly being the equality feminists dream of, and the friend gave me a cheeky grin and said, "You know, that
older woman is only 39."
That's less than five years away, folks. Apparently I don't have long
before I go from flirty thirty-something sexual adventurer to predatory
over-the-hill sexual adventurer, at least in the eyes of TV producers.
I should probably call ahead to see if they can line up some callow
youths for me. But the problem is, I'm not particularly attracted to
young men. In fact, I already know I would just plain suck at being a
I have three little brothers who range in age from 23-18. The little
brothers have friends. More than once, the friends have hit on me, and
some of these guys were--objectively speaking--pretty hot. But while a
college athlete's body is a thing of beauty, I wasn't all that tempted.
First of all, I knew that even just a fun roll in the hay would condemn
my brothers to years of "Yo, Sharper, I fucked your sister!" I couldn't
do that to them. Second of all, as I recall from my own experience,
college guys are fairly lousy in the sack. Energetic and enthusiastic
maybe, but their technique usually needs a lot of refining.
Granted, there are some women who like that. Madonna, when asked about
her predilection for very young men, once said: "They don't know what
they're doing, but they can do it all night long." Yikes.
From the reader mailbag: Can you please talk about sex while you're on your period? Should I be offended if my boyfriend would rather not? Shouldn't he be willing to accept my body no matter which phase of the moon it is?
Well, this is one we've all dealt with many, many times, right?*
I think responses to menstrual blood vary widely. I personally have no problem getting busy during my period--throw down a towel to preserve the sheets, and I'm good to go. I was lucky that my first serious boyfriend was completely unfazed by my period, so I didn't get any negative messages about it early on. I've had a few guys say "No thanks, I'll wait," and I just took it in stride. Everyone should be able to say no to sex if there's something about it that makes them uncomfortable, including mensturation. While that was occasionally (sexually) frustrating, it wasn't a big deal. And plenty of men don't mind at all, especially since I use condoms pretty much 100% of the time, so it's not like he actually comes nto contact with the blood anyway.
Where I did have problems was on the very rare occasion I got an "Eww, gross!" response. Those men received the Feminist Lecture Series about how my vagina does not exist solely for their pleasure--it's part of my reproductive system, and if they couldn't handle that, they could get the fuck out.
Earlier this week we talked about the joy of no sex. Today, I'm singing the praises of casual sex.
I've simply never bought into the idea that all sex must live up to the shining heteronormative ideal of candlelight and roses and true love (which, of course, will progress naturally to an engagement ring and a poufy white dress.) Now, I was always told growing up that "sex is what you do when you love someone." Well, yes. But also...no. Fun sex with your friends has its place too, and for me, having fuck buddies is one of the most enjoyable perks of being single, especially during dry spells between relationships, which is why my friend Jill often refers to them as "the dick in the glass case" (imagine a fire alarm: In Case of Horny Emergency, Break Glass and Grab Dick.)
The forthcoming Kanye West and Lady Gaga tour/collaboration/alliance/bizarro-pop-Voltron makes sense for so many reasons. Primarily: Kanye and Gaga are both famous because they do weird things in public. Do you like their music? Do you not like their music? It doesn't matter! What did you think of the weird thing? Did you think it was weird? Because, if so, they have succeeded! And even I, an earnest unpacker of Meanings for lo these many blog posts now, have to admit that I enjoy Kanye and Gaga primarily because they make Meaning effectively useless.
We have an endless fascination with tales of women and revenge, from cheating husbands forced to grovel in public to a little well-executed arson in an evil ex's home. But while schadenfreude makes for fun reading, does the media's rush to cover stories of public payback help perpetuate stereotypes of women as victims and men as wrongdoers? Or is revenge just really that sweet?
Facials, hairlessness, porn stars as role models...is internet porn changing sex for teenagers and twentysomethings? How has the rise of mainstream, accessible porn started fucking with teenage brains, both male and female?
Caster Semenya is fast and strong and far from dainty. When it came to light last week that an athletic organization was secretly testing her sex, the sports world and mainstream media got a refresher course on an important reality: while our society tries to strictly divide people in male and female, the science of sex is far more murky.
South African Semenya is shaping up to be one of the fastest runners in the world, but if the International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) forced battery of tests (including a gynecological exam) find she's too "male", she could be stripped of her medals. The IAAF stopped mandating the outdated sex tests for athletes back in 1992 and the reasons for testing Semenya range from fairness to racism, depending on who you ask.
Over at the Huffington Post, Jane Devin points out that males whose genetics make them sports stars are groomed and applauded, not subjected to embarrassing tests. You have to ask—if Semenya had thinner shoulders and a more delicate chin, would her competitor's allegations ("Just look at her," sniped a fifth-place finisher at a recent race) be given legitimacy for even a second? I think not.
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?
What happens when a popular columnist and writer pens a "refreshingly honest--and brilliantly witty--celebration of the joys of getting wrinkly?" Nothing good.
Don't let the advance billing fool you--Virginia Ironside's new memoir is a misogynist, anti-sex turd wrapped up in fancy gift box of faux-empowerment.