I love the title of this blog post so much I’m considering making it the title of my next novel.
Except people might assume I was writing erotica, rather than science fiction, so that is a major drawback. False advertising and all.
Plus, there is not really all that much sex in Mark of the Pterren, which is unfortunate, as I’m sure I’d probably make actual money and quickly earn 200 Amazon reviews if I wrote like Jackie Collins or E.L. James or Nora Roberts.
But enough with my lack of marketing savvy. It’s time to prove this blog post is all about sex.
I give you —
This hot couple kissing —
And this guy grabbing this chick’s butt —
And this guy with a really nice arm kissing this woman’s thigh —
And these cute guys touching each other —
And waterfall foreplay —
And these women kissing —
And this guy with a five o’ clock shadow kissing a woman wearing a bra —
Can I deliver the goods, or what?
I promised All the Sex, and there it is! Throes of ecstasy and lips of passion and people with gym memberships and shiny long hair and black lacy underoos.
I also read an interesting nonfiction book this week, about the history of the sexual revolution, and feminism’s role within that revolution. The book was published in 1986, written by Barbara Ehrenreich (I adore Barbara Ehrenreich!!), and two other women named Elizabeth Hess and Gloria Jacobs, and it’s titled Re-Making Love: The Feminization of Sex.
I actually thought the book was going to be about how romance is portrayed in fiction, on film, and in other art mediums, but this book isn’t about the portrayal of love at all, but about the mechanics of women’s bodies, how those mechanics have been misunderstood (or outright lied about) over time, and how the sexual revolution that took place beginning in the ’50s with a gyrating Elvis, and continued throughout every decade since then, has led to a very different relationship between the sexes, including new understandings about homosexuality and transgender sex, by 1986. (The height of the AIDS scare, I might add.)
Though I was surprised to find myself reading about changing perceptions involving the blunt mechanics and purpose of sex, none of the information was really new. Especially since I read the nonfiction book What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire over the summer, and blogged about how much I learned about sex from that book (which you can read here) — anyway, Re-Making Love didn’t contradict anything summarized in What Do Women Want? and was therefore even easier to read.
Re-Making Love illustrates the progression of where our common understanding of sex was in the Dark Ages (i.e. the 1950s and early ’60s), and quickly summarizes how America’s understanding of this body function transformed from an idea of sex as “missionary position between a man and woman to procreate” and the heinous belief that “women are not to feel pleasure, but endure this humiliation being done to their bodies for the sake of their husbands’ pleasure and to gain children” and the Freudian theory that “if women don’t orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, they are frigid” — which eventually gave way, over decades, to the modern understandings of “there is a variety of things people do with each other that can be called sex” and “women mainly have orgasms by stimulating the clitoris” and “sex does not need to exist solely for the purpose of procreation.”
I’m paraphrasing, but that is essentially what the book is about.
Chapter 3 is titled “The Lust Frontier: From Tupperware to Sadomasochism” and touches on those at-home marketing parties women throw for each other, which can involve tupperware, but can also involve sex toys and S/M supplies. I have never been to one of these sex-toy marketing parties, so it was nice that one such party was described in detail in the book.
Chapter 4 is titled “Fundamentalist Sex: Hitting Below the Bible Belt” and illustrates how modern Christian fundamentalism basically adheres to the tenets of sadomasochism, just without the safe words and any belief that women (the submissive partner, or “bottom”) should experience pleasure during sex.
(And remember, fundamentalism is different from evangelicalism, just so we’re clear — fundamentalists, in any religion, are a breed apart.)
(Fundamentalism involves extreme viewpoints, usually by making spiritual teachings political, which spurs vociferous activism, and the cartoon above illustrates why a lot of people are frightened of fundamentalism in any form, no matter which religion one is discussing.)
In Re-Making Love, there are several examples (given in quoted interviews) of fundamentalist women being brutally abused by their husbands (beatings, whippings, other violence, etc.), and when the abused women seek help, are told by their church officials that it is a woman’s job to submit to her husband, no matter what that husband is doing. However, while S/M sexual partners play roles during sex, they leave those roles when the experience is finished, whereas fundamentalist couples adopt S/M roles that never stop. The abuse is not created for mutual pleasure, and never ends.
Such a brutal existence, and not one I would ever want for myself. I love being cherished and taken care of by my husband, as well as having a division of labor in the home, and I like regarding my husband as my partner and teammate. It’s a mentality that has taken us more than 10 years of being together to reach, as we have fumbled along (as so many couples often do) in figuring out how to meet each other’s needs, but we have that teammate mentality now, and I would never give that up for a fundamentalist lifestyle.
Our spiritual beliefs, however, are ours to choose, and for some people, fundamentalism remains the best course of action. It can just make for challenging reading when the beliefs people choose institutionalize and condone abuse of any kind. A lot of us hold a counter belief that we should do no harm to others, first and foremost, and non-fundamentalist Christians often quote the “turn the other cheek” line from the Bible, rather than promote a “let your man beat you into the ground” mentality.
But there was actually one main idea I wanted to share in my post today, in reflecting on Re-Making Love, and that idea was motivated by a paragraph written in the book’s Conclusion.
In evaluating the sexual revolution as a whole, the book discusses women’s ambivalence about their hard-won sexual freedoms, by summarizing topics discussed in the book like the pill, legalized abortion, the continued stigma against promiscuity, the conservative backlash against urban single women, fear of AIDS and other STDs, the fear that giving men sex outside of marriage means men “will no longer marry” and leave women economically vulnerable– since many men still make a lot more money than women, etc.
Then there is this comment given in support of the statement that women are “more vulnerable than men to the hurts and dislocations of a society that is sexually more free than it is just or caring” (p.200) — (and this is the only place in the book where this topic was ever mentioned):
“And, sadly, women still ‘depreciate’ sexually far faster than men. The gray hairs and wrinkles that lend character to a man’s appearance only sabotage a woman’s. One result is that divorced men are much more likely to remarry than are their ex-wives, and the gap widens ominously with age.”
That’s all the book had to say on the matter of women and aging and appearance, as the paragraph ends there and the discussion goes back to women’s ambivalence about their hard-won sexual freedoms.
So I just want to say some things about women and their so-called “depreciation.”
You might want to strap on a helmet before you read my ideas about this.
Okay, helmet on? Here we go.
1. Not all people find aging people ugly, or “no longer sexually attractive.” Women included.
Are there men out there in their eighties (or nineties) flirting with teenage girls (and actively trying to have sex with them)? Sure. Are there men in their fifties marrying girls right out of high school? Sure. But not all men are like this. Personally, I don’t care much for people who put all of their sexual interest into a person’s outer packaging (which has nothing to do with us, it’s up to our genetics and so many other factors, 99.99% of which are completely beyond our control). I don’t find men (or women) who do this attractive, because I think obsessing to this degree over looks is stupid, and stupid, vain people are not sexually attractive to me.
Note: I don’t hate people like this, I just don’t want to spend my time around them. And I certainly wouldn’t want to go to bed with them. This type of thinking squicks me out.
2. Older men who are widowers have a much greater desire to remarry than older widows do. Men want to remarry in greater numbers. Women do not. For a lot of women, the freedom of staying single, or cohabitating, or just dating, is preferred. Men and women get different things out of marriage, and for a lot of women, one marriage is enough, and they simply don’t desire a second (or third, etc.). So why are women being viewed as “depreciating” because of lower remarriage numbers, when remarriage isn’t even something the majority of them want?
Seriously, this is just a ridiculous argument. If you are an aging widow, you are a f****ing badass, and I don’t think you should have to remarry for anyone to believe you still have worth. Be single, date, cohabitate, travel the world, swim with whales — it doesn’t matter to me, just go love yourself and rock it, and let someone else moan and cry about gray hair and wrinkles.
3. You are as attractive as you want to be. Charisma is internal. If you are a woman, and believe that your gray hair, wrinkles, and extra pounds make you unattractive, then that is what you will be: unattractive. If you are a woman who looks at older women right now and thinks, “Wow, that old woman is hideous,” then you are carrying a belief about older women “being ugly” that will damage your own aging sexuality more than any man will. We turn ourselves on or off (sexually) based upon the beliefs we carry about our bodies. If you think your aging body is ugly, then you will radiate that. If you think your aging body is beautiful, than you will radiate beauty. Simple.
4. We will always live in cultures that prioritize youth and a “cultural standard of beauty” to promote and sell art and merchandise. Youth is exciting because young people represent the unknown, and potential, and confusion about life. (Just look at the pictures I posted above for proof of this.) But as aging people know, there is still plenty of the unknown, and potential, and confusion about life as the years roll by and the wrinkles accumulate. That confusion just takes different shapes than high school or college woes, or starting-a-family woes, or buying-my-first-house woes, etc. Just because we slap young bodies on everything from car commercials to toothpaste doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of people who don’t fit that model, and still find each other beautiful. Please, do not buy into this belief that we all “turn ugly” (sexually or otherwise) as we age. As the decades roll by, people will still find you beautiful, and you can still find yourself beautiful, and seeing the beauty in yourself is far more important than other people seeing it, anyway.
And there you have it — my reflections on Re-Making Love, sex, and sexiness. You may unstrap your helmet and engage in some waterfall foreplay now. Or squeeze someone’s behind or something. Because I’m not ambivalent about the sexual revolution at all — I think it’s fantastic!! Yes to Sex! I’d put that on a bumper sticker, but people would probably mistake me for a hooker, which would be awkward, so I’ll just leave it here in my blog post, and go make some coffee. And return Re-Making Love to the library.