Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Scent of Desire

It's an overcast day, grey and rainy--the kind of day that fills me with an ineffable yearning for something, or someone. As I sipped my coffee this morning, my thoughts drifted to a man I know, and I wondered how he would smell. (And no, this man is not my husband. As I have mentioned, even good ol' house-buildin', church goin' Jimmy Carter entertained "lust in his heart." As far as lust in the heart goes, I allow myself free rein.) I had a desire to press my nose to this man's neck and deeply inhale his scent. The idea was strangely pleasing to me. (In real life, I can see this exploratory neck-sniffing being a bit problematic as I scarcely know the man and, at the very least, highly socially awkward.)

I have no desire to mate with this man (okay, maybe I sort of do--and no, mom, dear husband and various other concerned friends and family, I won't), but my sense of smell is eager to work its biological duty to detect if he would be a suitable mate. When we smell someone, we are sniffing out their genetic make-up and determining if they will be a good match for producing genetically sound offspring. (Read more about it here if you're feeling sciencey.) You want someone who is dissimilar enough to you so it's not like inbreeding, but similar enough so it's not outbreeding. (I'm too lazy to look up the word "outbreeding," so you can handle that one. What do you want? I'm working for free here.) There's no universal foxy scent, though if there is one, I'm quite sure it is exactly how Javier Bardem smells. As the article puts it, "One woman's Romeo is another women's raunchy." Our efforts to disguise our natural scents with various sprays, perfumes and the like are mucking about with our biological wisdom.

Our sense of smell resides in the primitive, reptilian potions of our brain and most of the information we gleam from scent comes to us subconsciously. But as I've talked to women about their sex lives, I've found that some women are quite aware of much they rely on their sense of smell. Mara, for example, is so attuned to her sense of smell that she can actually smell her husband's desire. "If he's naked, I can smell a certain level of arousal, almost a cum smell," Mara reported in her In Bed With Married Women True Wife's Tale. (Mara, btw, loved her TWT. "Wow!" she wrote, "I want to have sex with me.") Another woman can't stand men who have what she intriguingly terms "the peppery smell."

Another woman I interviewed described her tepid sex life and mentioned in passing that she didn't like the way her husband smelled. (For the record, her children are delightful and not at all genetic mutants.) Later she wrote back, entirely screwing up my theory about the uselessness of body sprays, etc...:
I don't think we have a natural pheromone connection. My first really serious boyfriend had the pheromones that made me absolutely crazy and it didn't matter if he was sweaty or filthy or dressed up or whatever . . .  he was just hot to me. This will sound bizarre but recently my husband started taking showers just before bed and piling on the scented body wash and he smells so much better to me. He feels fresher and more in the mood.  I love the way he smells and it makes me feel much more aroused.  We kiss a lot more and sleep with less clothing. He says he's going to shower every night now.  
So--you there!--help me get me attention away from my inappropriate neck-smelling reveries. Tell me what role scent plays in your sex life. Do you like how your mate smells? Have you even been attracted (or not attracted) to someone because of their scent? And does anyone have any idea what the hell "the peppery smell" might be?

*Postscript: If you like reading swoony prose about the senses, I highly recommend Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses.

(photo: www.flickr.com/photos/mysteriouskyn/135998094/ )

PS.  This is an old as fuck rerun. Do not be alarmed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What is Feminist Porn Anyway?

Well, my friends, I am a feminist porn virgin no longer. As faithful In Bed With Married Women readers will recall, I've written about porn before here (and okay, here, too, geez, get off my back) but had only seen the usual freely available Internet variety, i.e. guy porn. This weekend, I broke down and ordered some so-called feminist porn. I was quite pleased to discover that feminist porn was not--as I had halfway feared--naked chicks sitting around discussing equal pay for equal work, but rather porn designed to appeal to women.

The movie I got was called Matinee. Here's the blurb for it:
Two theatre actors who play onstage lovers without much zing -- until one critical peformance, when they decide to improvise. The results will thrill you as much as they do the Matinee audience who watches them really begin to make love. Bridging the gap between indy art film and sex film, this plot-driven, scripted mini-featurette by US-born, Amsterdam-based filmmaker Jennifer Lyon Bell features real actors performing their first-ever explicit scene, not porn performers, and the result is smart, nuanced, and oh-so-sexy.
I was into the idea of porn as "smart" and "indy art film," so I had high hopes. And damned if the thing didn't totally work for me. I was quite surprised, actually, that I liked all the emotional stuff, fuller story line, etc... I had no idea I was, yeesh, such a... girl.

So now, much like Tiresias (yes, most of my knowledge of Greek mythology comes from Peter Gabriel-era Genesis records), I feel that I have experienced the male and the female side of things. Well, at least porn watchin' kinds of things.

With Matinee, I could see all the appealing-to-the-ladies elements in action, but I still fell for every last one. And what exactly are these elements of girl porn? Well, here, I made a list for you. Perhaps you can clip it and consult it next time you're watching porn.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Bad Dave, and Why Every Woman Needs One. Maybe.

Readers over at The Frisky were recently all up in arms about an article 12 Kinds of Sex Every Woman Has To Have Before She Settles Down, calling it "inane," "slutty"and "stupid." (Among the 12, if you are planning to take it as serious life advice, were sex with a girl, with a way older/way younger guy, with an artist, etc...)

I don't mind things that are inane, slutty, etc... and in fact, would submit that the article missed one very important type of pre-settling down sex--sex with a mean guy (aka, that asshole, what a dick!, etc...) Hooking up with a mean guy offers many Important Life Lessons. Plus when you're not busy sobbing over him or in the corner scrawling forlorn poetry, the Mean Guy is kind of fun, in a weird, unhealthy masochistic way.

My own mean guy--who I will call Bad Dave, because that is his name, well, the Dave part at least--was a friend of a friend who ended up being one of my housemates in college. Six of us lived in a big Band-Aid colored house in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bad Dave was not horribly attractive, made unflattering clothing choices and was slightly plump, but he bore a passing resemblance to Bono and was a philosophy major. He was big on late night discussions of topics such as "What is Art?" which, to my college self, was so fucking deep. (And, to be perfectly honest, I would still probably still be sucker for such talk.) But what made it all work for us is that he had a mousy girlfriend away at Harvard, and I was slutty and generally drunk.

Our relationship--embarrassingly, probably my most long-lasting one of the year--was sort of an extended series of booty calls, all the more convenient because his room was right next door to mine. This could have easily become tedious--get drunk, go knock on Dave's door, blah blah blah--but what made it interesting was that there was always a weird power struggle going on, with me always on the losing end. It was psychological S&M, kind of like that movie "Secretary," except with poorer-quality cinematography and I didn't sit in a chair peeing on myself.  Bad Dave would give me instructions like

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vagisil. VAGisil. Vaaaaaagisil. Yeah, Sounds Bad No Matter How You Say It.

A friend sent this e-mail today:    

Subject line: "The first line of a Vagisil ad I saw today..."

"I found out the hard way -- all feminine washes do not get rid of odor."
Unfortunately I was eating at the time.
Ha ha, I thought, then went out to walk my dog. About halfway through the walk, the question occurred to me: What did this mean--"found out the hard way”? To me, “the hard way” implies more--much much more--than perhaps absently noting that one does not “feel so fresh.” No, “the hard way” implies something big happened, really big. What had gone on with this lady and her odorous vag? A beau passing out?  Co-workers holding an embarrassing, yet ultimately helpful, stench intervention? If so, was an actor reenactment involved? My friend had not specified, and now I needed answers! “The hard way....”? It was a curious choice of words. Surely it meant the chick in the ad had suffered some sort of major public humiliation due to her poor choice in feminine wash (whatever the hell a feminine wash is). Had people been injured? Were authorities summoned? Were parts of her office building cordoned off?

Vagisil feminine wash with odor block protection skin - 12 ozAnd, dear Lord, that name--why did they have to name it Vagisil anyway? I mean, can you imagine being part of the Vagisil product-naming committee meetings? You would have to sit there, talking earnestly about vaginal cream and brainstorming names for it--Springtime Freshness! M'Lady's Secret! Butterfly Kisses!--without laughing like a 5th grader. Then, when someone suggested something like Vagisil and everyone nodded sagely in corporate agreement, you would not only again have to stifle your laughter, but also your overwhelming urge to stand up and scream, “Vagisil? Are you fucking serious? Really? VAGisil? What the fuck! I am so out of here!” (In case you were wondering, Combe Inc., the makers of Vagisil, are not also the makers of Anusol.  They do, however, make LiceMD and OdorEaters which, in my opinion, are also in need of some major name makeovers.)   

So anyway, I’ll let you know what I find out. In the meantime, enjoy your lunch.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

America's Getting Freakier, Plus Your Question of the Day

I'm not saying I have my finger on the pulse of America's sexuality or anything--that would be sexual harassment--but yesterday, the very day I wrote a post on vibe ads in coupon section=a country gone sex crazed, a lovely and attractive reader informed me of an LA Times article saying that Americans really are getting more freaky, or as it's put more scientifically in the article, "expanding their sexual repertoire."

If you don't like to receive your information from legitimate news sources and instead prefer it from half-assedly researched blogs, here's the lowdown:
Across the lifespan, Americans report they are masturbating, alone or with a partner, engaging in oral sex and experimenting with same-gender sex more often than they owned up to in the 1980s, according to a study released Monday.
Apparently Americans, both wigged out by STDs and feelin' freer and sexuality open in a society that puts vibe ads in the freakin' Sunday coupon supplement, are expanding their sexual palette beyond straight intercourse--insert-p-into-v, repeat until done--and incorporating more oral sex, anal sex, masturbation and same-gender sex. In other words, straight people are having sex more like gay people.

It's all good news for the ladies, who are reporting higher levels of orgasms than before. "The vast majority of women indicated that their most recent experience of sex was highly pleasurable and arousing," said researcher Debby Herbenick, PhD to Lemondrop, bringing to mind an unbidden image of researcher Debby Herbenick, PhD, after sex, rolling over and telling her lover in a scientific manner, "I would like to indicate that that was highly pleasurable and arousing."

Ironically (or predictably, depending on your position on the whole Corporate Overloads Taking Over The World issue), the survey was sponsored by the makers of Trojan condoms, the same company that plastered vibes ads all over the former Squaresville of the Sunday supplement.

Which brings me to our question of the day:
--Would you use a coupon to buy a vibrator at your local Target or grocery store? (Factors to consider: $2 off coupon ain't too shabby vs. possibility of seeing neighbors and/or coupon problems. "This coupon for the fingertip vibrator isn't going through! Hey lady, did you purchase a fingertip vibrator?")

I honestly don't know if I could. Even though I am--in the words of the darkly handsome Long Beach Press- Telegram columnist Tim Grobaty, a "sex bloggatrix"--I don't know that I would have the balls (metaphorical ones, mind you) to just march into a store, greeting the neighbors all the while and tossing various sex toys into my cart. "Price check on the inflatable Javier Bardem!" Yeah, no. Still not ready for that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So We Talk About Our Vibrators Now? Is That How It's Going To Be?

Do you think that sex toys are too outrageous for you? Well, girl (or guy, or highly intelligent blog-reading monkey), you need to get with the times. To wit: Who do you imagine being the most sexless, repressed, adventure-averse people on the planet? How about the readers of those coupon supplements that come in the Sunday newspaper? (newspaper: a daily or weekly publication on folded sheets; "He read his newspaper at breakfast.")

Okay, I'll admit it, I read those supplements (Yeah, yeah, keep your snarkery to yourself. I'm poor. I clip my damn coupons. So piss off), but I don't think I'm the real target demographic. These Sunday supplements--if you are tossing your money about like Mr. Monopoly, and thus unaware--are full of the very squarest of merchandise: Bradford Exchange collectable plates (This week: Michelle Obama "The First Lady of Fashion"), stretch pants with the pleats built right in (no ironing!) and support socks ("Will not make you sweat!")

This week, however, I also saw this headline: "TWICE THE TURN ON." It was not an ad for the Clapper, or Life Alert or a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed or something, but the Vibrating Touch from Trojan. "Perfect for enhanced stimulation," reads the copy coyly, but I'm no fool, I know what they're talking about. It's a flippin' vibrator, right there in the staid old paper! ($2 off coupon, btw.)

On the Trojan web site, they are a little more blunt about what's really going on with this "enhanced stimulation" business:
Designed to be petite and discreet, the TROJAN® Her Pleasure™ VIBRATING TOUCH® fingertip massager is the perfect little aid to help create big pleasure, providing thrilling vibrations right at your fingertips..  
I don't know, it's all freaking me out a little bit, like finding a Hitachi Magic Wand* in your Grandma's drawer. (Grandma, as you know, only did "It" three times because she has three children.) Is our society really this open about sex and "thrilling vibrations" now? Are support socks-ordering grandmas also carefully clipping coupons to save $2 on vibes? Has the whole world gone plumb sex crazy? I don't know. But I am wondering if I should clip that coupon. I do like a bargain...

*Historical note: The Hitachi Magic Wand was long billed as a "massager," but became notorious for its intense personal "massages." The Hitachi plugs in with an unwieldy cord, it's loud, pretty expensive, and has the subtlety of a chain saw, but it reportedly can put just about anyone over the top in a couple seconds.