Today I was nominated for a Sexy Blogger award. Since joining the WordPress community I’ve become aware of the custom of awarding (rewarding?) blogs, and in secretly coveting recognition, I’ve wondered what I would do if one came my way. My blog is supposed to be a work of fiction after-all. Not so much my voice but that of Maggie Valentine, the protagonist of body, remember.
But there’s no denying that in more than a few (wine-fuelled) posts of late, I’ve discovered the joy of telling my own story here. I firmly believe I’ve saved myself thousands in therapy as a result, and let go of many a lingering issue – all so that Maggie can eventually deal with her own issues unimpeded (well here’s hoping at least!).
So! Though I won’t technically publish awards here, I am going to honour the essence of this one because it was always my intention to be provocative and honest about sex – even when followed by my mum and my favourite teacher from high school, ha.
The award itself was bestowed by the erudite Theo Black. Mr Black reminds me often that I am not writing a gendered story, that men and women can be equally moved by honest language and honest sex. I’ve come to value his feedback greatly.
In the way of blogging awards there were rules presented with the nomination, and the one that struck me was the request to provide 5 sexy suggestions … well for this I’m going to use my artistic license and share 5 examples of what that I think is sexy, in the hopes of rescuing that overused and under-estimated word. 5 suggestions around what you could watch or read to make up for the sheer banality of most mainstream and “mommy porn” (I’m looking at you “50 Shades of Grey”!) …
Number One: The Good Wife, CBS Television show
It’s a show with 3 dynamic female characters – the flexible Kalinda, the commanding Diane (“I do need to talk this way. This is how I talk”), and the good wife herself, St. Alicia. Three women who are strong, flawed and for a network show, wonderfully sexy. I could write about it, or I could just direct you to this:
The double entendres, the biting down, the fact that a 45 year old woman is coming on network television and her lover is … well … loving it as she does so. Intimations never looked so good!
(Funny that the morality brigade got up in arms over Alicia no longer being the “good wife” but her cheating-with-prostitutes husband got a free pass or seven from viewers. We’ve got a long way to go babies. But this depiction of a fully realised sexual woman goes a little further to challenging the standard narrative at least).
Speaking of standard narratives, “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha pokes big holes in a ton of them and as a result is both my Number Two suggestion, and my favourite non-fiction book of the last few years:
Sex at Dawn questions the “deepest assumptions brought to contemporary views of marriage, family structure and sexuality” (Oh just those, right!)
The authors highlight our reliance on Chimpanzee behaviour as proof of man’s biological imperative, whilst our equidistant evolutionary cousin the Bonobo gets ignored (quite possibly due to the few inconvenient truths this softer side of the family tree might expose).
If a patriarchal society writes the history, it follows that it also informs the science. Sex at Dawn does a brilliant job of suggesting “not so fast” on a series of opinions we take as fact. My favourite is the standard “men are more visual than women” line (just one of a million ways we are neatly divided down the middle). The authors quietly and quickly deconstruct this theory in the chapter “On Mona Lisa’s Mind”, via a 2006 study by psychologist Meredith Chivers. Go find it. Or better yet, read Sex at Dawn for the full effect.
But be warned, you may never feel the same way about Corn Flakes or S’mores again (so very prevalent in my experience of the American mid-west, ha).
My Number Three suggestion is not narrative, but myth. Specifically Classical Mythology.
Get to know your Greek gods and goddesses. They overflow with erotic example. When Tiresias settles an argument between Zeus and Hera by observing a women enjoys sex nine times more than a man, he is speaking from experience. Because he used to be a she. Or rather he was turned in to a woman, and then back in to a man (something to do with snakes – you know how it goes).
They can tell us all sorts of history that casts women as sexless and powerless, but as long as classical mythology lives to tell the tale, we will have a cast of lusty and powerful goddesses going up against lusty and powerful gods to suggest another version of the story.
(It is refreshing to note that in a mark of true equality, neither gender behaves in a way that is particularly nice through-out!)
For Number Four, I choose to point out that not all sex needs to be twisted to get your chest blazing. Witness what many consider the best love scene of all time – the epic un-cut love scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in the noir film “Don’t Look Now”.
I first saw this film as a little kid – as such I have an abject fear of small children in red raincoats. As an adult I also have a deep appreciation for the film’s beautiful depiction of sex between intimates (I might even get married if I thought it was going to be like that, ha!).
Rumours occasionally re-surface that Sutherland and Christie were actually “doing it”, though the actors strenuously deny it to this day. Either it is the most beautifully scored amateur porn, or a stunning example of sex as art. No matter the truth of it, the scene more than makes up for the fact that kids in red raincoats scare the shit out of me, and remains my favourite homage to erotic love ever captured on film.
Sorry I don’t have a copy to share!
Lucky last, as the antidote to “50 Shades of Grey” (there it is again – I’m sorry, it’s the “holy cows” that really get me), for my Number Five suggestion I recommend picking up (or re-reading) a copy of “Henry and June” by Anais Nin.
The godmother of erotic writing, Anais Nin really did do it best, as I discovered in the corner of a Readings bookstore some 20 years ago. I was once told – “don’t trust a word she says, only the way she says it” – and I’ve read her with an especial delight ever since.
Henry and June might be the most dog-eared book on my shelf, its many folded pages making a map of my desire. This diary of Nin’s relationship with both Henry Miller and his wife June is, as my copies’ cover attests via Alice Walker, “A very erotic book and profoundly liberating”.
Anais herself states, “Writers make love to whatever they need”. Here she desires Henry, and she equally desires June. Sex informs the writing, and the writing most definitely informs the sex.
As a study of one woman’s erotic life, there is nothing quite like it.
So there is my little list inspired by The Sexy Blogger alliance! Each of the 5 inform the spirit and tone of body, remember and that of its writer.
As viewer, as student, as historian, as voyeur and as a reader I have learned so much about my own desires. And what could be sexier than that 😉
You pulsate through even the question of what to have for dinner”
– Maggie Valentine, body, remember