Sunday, February 19, 2017
Which is weird, because I can barely even say the word "vagina." (I'm even a little iffy on "angina," though rest assured, if there were a medical emergency, I'd probably manage to choke it out.*) I'm not alone in this. Even Eve Ensler, Little Miss Vagina Monologues said: "Doesn't matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say."
True that. However, I think I am going through some sort of vaginal consciousness raising which, I know, sounds completely horrible, like it would involve attending meetings, holding hands with caftan-clad strangers, and answering dreadful questions like "What is your vaginal song?"
But you see, vaginas don't just exist as they are--well, I mean, they do--but they're also subject to the Prevailing Attitudes of the Day. In the 19th century, for example, girls who learned how to masturbate were considered to have a medical problem. Writes Ensler: "Often they were 'treated' or 'corrected' by amputation or cautery of the clitoris or 'miniature chastity belts,' sewing the vaginal lips together to put the clitoris out of reach.'" Which, I imagine, certainly did the trick.
It was only a few hundred years ago that the existence of the clitoris was still a matter of serious scientific debate. And even today, we're still sort of iffy on some pretty major issues such as the G-spot's validity, what the hell a woman's ejaculate is, and whether or not there are different types of orgasm. Science, it seems, doesn't quite know what to make of female sexuality, and by association, vaginas.
So, yes, vaginas are mysterious and hard to figure out. But guess what? That's what so good about them. What fun would it be if you solved it all at once?
I think that's why the Prevailing Attitudes of the Day re: vaginas and the stupid bleaching and plastic surgery are bothering me so much. Because all of those things are about making the vagina chaste-looking and less, well, womanly. Like a beginner vagina that doesn't know anything. The lips of a vagina that has birthed babies and been well fucked are lush and flushed and swollen. They are not tiny and pink and virginal. They are full and open and just...so ripe.
I started thinking of them as being ripe, like a rose in full bloom, after reading this passage from Michael Pollan's Into the Rose Garden on roses and female sexuality. (Yes, I said "like a rose in full bloom." And yes, I know I sound like I'm talking about singing your vaginal song and all that, but hear me out.) In the piece, Pollan writes about his Maiden's Blush rose, also known as Cuisse de Nymphe Emue which means "the thigh of an aroused nymph."
Maiden’s Blush...seems to press her sexuality on us. Her petals are more loosely arrayed than Madame Hardy’s; less done up, almost unbuttoned. They are larger, too, and they flush with the palest flesh pink toward the center, which itself is elusive, concealed in their innumerable folds. The blush of this maiden is not in the face only. Could I be imagining things?
No, Maiden’s Blush is certainly not the old lady I expected when I planted roses. And though Maiden’s Blush bears an especially provocative bloom, every one of the old roses I planted, and all I’ve since seen and smelled, have been deeply sensuous in a way I wasn’t prepared for. Compared with the chaste buds and modest scent of the modern roses, these old ones give freely of themselves. They flower all at once, in a single, climactic week. Their blooms look best fully opened, when their form is most intricate; explicit, yet still so deeply enfolded on themselves as to imply a certain inward mystery....More than most floral scents, the fragrance of these roses is impossible to get hold of or describe “it seems to short-circuit conscious thought, to travel in a straight line from nostril to brain stem." Inhale deeply the perfume of a Bourbon rose and then try to separate out what is scent, what is memory, what is emotion; you cannot pull apart the threads that form this . . . this what?...
If the allure of old roses is in the frank sensuality of their blooms, then what are we to make of the development and eventual triumph of the modern hybrid tea? Maybe the Victorian middle class simply couldn’t deal with the rose’s sexuality. Perhaps what really happened in 1867 was a monumental act of horticultural repression. By transforming the ideal of rose beauty from the fully opened bloom to the bud, the Victorians took a womanly flower and turned her into a virgin, "a celebrated beauty when poised on the verge of opening, but quickly fallen after that."
Deeply sensuous? Frank sensuality? Short-circuiting conscious thought? Oh, Michael Pollan, this is why I love you so! (Oh, also for your excellent points on monocultures, sustainable farming techniques, and whatnot.)
But I wonder, are we doing the same thing with our bodies? Will we keep trying to bio-engineer chaste-appearing closed-up girl vaginas, forever "poised on the verge of opening," while foolishly missing out on the best damn part--the extreme fuckability and lush sexuality of a woman in full bloom?
*This is a lie. Instead of "angina," I would say "chest pains."
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
According to a survey in the Telegraph, three-quarters of people over 45 think sex became less enjoyable after they turned 40. The average 45+ person has sex once a week and this Sex of the Week--which is generally done in the missionary position, in a bedroom, with the lights off--rarely lasts more than 22 minutes, including any sort of foreplay.
And if all this weren't enough, 31% of people had cut a session short because as the Telegraph so Britishly put it, "They were too exhausted to carry on." "Simon, I do say, I am exhausted and can no longer carry on. If you've not come, perhaps a nice wanking off for you, old fellow?" (In marginally-related wanking off news: I was looking up British slang terms for masturbation and discovered --to my horror--that "jill off" is a vulgar term for female masturbation. How is it that they know?) But anyway, these Brits are so out of shape they can't even manage a boring session of weekly dutiful sex. Brits, mind you! Not drive-thru window-using, cheeseburger-eating, WalMart cart-riding Americans. I can (all too easily) see being too tired to start sex, but too tired to finish sex? Man, how crappy would you feel if your partner just stopped mid-thrust and said, "Eh, I'm too fat and lazy to continue banging you"?
The good news in a study from iVillage was that nearly half of the women surveyed married the person with whom they'd had the best sex of their lives. But it gets more confusing from there. Two-thirds of the women said they'd rather do something else like read a book, go to a movie, etc... than have sex with Mr. Supposedly Best Sex of Their Lives. A huge majority, 81%, described their sex lives as "predictable," but then they go on to report than most of them are quite happy with their sex lives.
I was confused by the whole survey until I saw that only 62% of women "admitted" they had fantasized about having sex with someone other than their spouse. Oh, come on! Clearly this survey is bogus. Never fantasized about another person ever? What are these 37% of women fantasizing about?
Mmm, my husband comes into bed for sex because it's Saturday. He is wearing black socks and turns off the lights. We discuss who will take the kids to the Brownie meeting, then with little to no foreplay, we get into the missionary position. After far less than 22 minutes, we have to stop because we are too tired to carry on. Oh, God, is anyone else totally hot right now?As you might have guessed, this is all leading to some questions for you. Namely:
1. Did you marry the best sex of your life?
2. Have you ever fantasized about someone other than your partner? If so, who?
3. If not, go back and answer question #2, this time telling the truth, and tell us who.
4. Do you thinking jilling off is a really bad name for masturbating? Mark "yes" or "definitely yes."
(note: this is totally a rerun. Data may now be completely wrong so do not attempt any Major Life Changes based on information obtained herein.)