Monthly Archives: July 2015
Today I want to talk about bakeries. Well one bakery in particular. Today I want to talk about the ButterCooky Bakery in Floral Park, New York because it’s not only a feast for the taste-buds, but it’s a total feast for the eyes as well. Sadly these days there are fewer and fewer real bakeries and more and more groceries with a bakery-ish that makes pastries and breads-ish. But real bakeries, aw, now those are a true national treasure!
To me, Bakeries are like art galleries in which you get to eat the art. I’ve always loved to look at the way the displays, but I’ve never actually seen a display quite so eye-popping as the one in the ButterCooky Bakery. In fact the ButterCooky is so stunning, that it’s become a place of pilgrimage for me. OK, so it’s only my second trip to NYC, and the ButterCooky is not actually in NYC, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still a very inspiring must-see.
This year I made the trip on my last day in New York. I had a 9:30 PM flight back to the UK, so plenty of time to hang out and write locally. We’ve stayed the last two visits to New York in Floral Park because Raymond has gone for martial arts training and the dojo where he trains is in Floral Park – an easy ride on the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station and Midtown Manhattan. The best of all worlds – he trains, I play tourist! But I digress. The ButterCooky Bakery has the distinction of being right across from the dojo. That was originally how I discovered it, and I have it on good authority from Raymond’s sensei that more than a few of his students are frequent visitors after workouts. Apparently the ButterCooky is quite famous in the area.
After several hours of writing, I made my move Mid-morning. I loaded up my backpack with my laptop and my
camera and headed off at a very slow trudge toward the ButterCooky. The TV in the breakfast room of the hotel had promised another scorcher with heat index of over 100 and, by 10:00, it already felt pretty close. It’s about a twenty minute walk from my hotel to the bakery and I arrived wilted and glowing, very much in-need of the cool breath of air conditioning wafting from the front entrance by the cake display.
I’ve never seen so many beautiful baked goods to choose from – dozens of kinds of cookies, whole display cases full of pastries and breads, a display case higher than my head full of cupcakes along with biscuits, buns, pies and croissants and probably a dozen other delectable I missed in the total overload of visual gluttony. I’m sure I would have been overwhelmed by it all and completely unable to make a choice if I hadn’t gone with one special treat in mind. The real reason for my perilous journey through the heat was a great big fat cream-filled chocolate éclairs. Even knowing exactly what I wanted and wanting it with a passion, I still stood stunned for the first five minutes, taking it all in, letting my eyes enjoy the calorie-free feast before my taste buds tackled the delectable calories. When it came my turn at the counter, I ordered one beautiful
éclair and a much-needed iced coffee and asked if I could take pictures. Apparently I’m not the only person to make that request. The manager only smiled knowingly and said go ahead.
But first things first. I found a quiet, marble-topped table with a view of the whole bakery and the street outside, then I sat down to write, enjoy my éclair, and gird my loins for the task of photographing so much yumminess.
Cakes! Beautiful cakes! Round, voluptuous layer cakes, frosted, piled high with fruit, latticed with butter cream frosting, covered with coconut and almonds and all manner of scrumptiousness. I watched several people
come in for special birthday cakes, often more sculpted than decorated. They all nodded their approval and then the cakes were lovingly boxed up and taken away. Oh, and cupcakes – everything from Big Bird to fluffy kittens, from French poodles to flower gardens. I watched one couple pick out a dozen and a half of these little masterpieces for their son’s birthday party. I’m pretty sure they walked out with a whole zoo of cupcakes. I wonder how much you can learn about someone’s personality by the kinds of cupcakes they choose – by the kinds of pastries they delight in. Now that would be an interesting study.
Oh, and the éclair! A total orgasm for the taste buds. I savored it, I made it last, I totally delighted in every chocolaty, cream-filled nibble. Now you might ask just how inspiring is a chocolate éclair? Well, I managed a thousand words sitting there in the yummy surrounds of the ButterCooky relishing my éclair and iced coffee. It’s especially nice when inspiration tastes so good, and how could I not be inspired by something so totally cream-filled?
Once the éclair was gone and I’d licked the last of the sticky, bitter-sweet chocolate off my fingers, I got about the
serious business of taking piccies. Then I thanked the clerk and headed back out into the heat.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a food Philistine. If it takes more than thirty minutes, I’m not likely to cook it. I baking repertoire consists of oatmeal cake, snicker doodles and coconut cream pie – all simple, all family recipes I learned by doing from the time I was a little girl. These days they only happen once a year if that. But even though I’m no foodie, the magic of cooking and baking and creating beautiful food isn’t lost on me, and there’s a very real magic involved in taking something into myself that’s as beautiful as it is tasty. As I walked back to my hotel room, a thousand words more done on my WIP, thinking about my ButterCooky pilgrimage, 2015, I could completely understand why food inspires in so many more ways than simply taste and nutrition.
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark
fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and three
cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Virginia Woolf famously wrote in her essay “A Room Of
One’s Own” that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she
is to write fiction”. While that premise has been criticized most notably
by Alice Walker for not recognizing class and women of color, it does provide
much insight into the conditions that may be necessary for a woman to have the
peace of mind to write in her own space.
When I was 24, I looked for my first apartment and I found
one in Laurel, Maryland, equidistant between Baltimore and Washington, D. C.
The layout of the apartment as well as the grounds in which it was situated were
important to me. I ended up getting a third floor apartment with one bedroom
and a den, which was not common in this complex. My balcony faced a lovely
courtyard full of trees. I was also directly across from the swimming pool.
After I moved in, I used to sit on the balcony after getting home from work at
dusk to watch the bats fly around the courtyard. It was a great way to enjoy a
glass of wine after a long day and relax in my surroundings.
That den was of vital importance to me because it became
my writing room. It also faced the courtyard so I could see the trees from my
window. Most mornings and at least for an hour every evening, I sat down at my
Brother typewriter and retreated into my own world. I was in a writer’s group
so I always had something to prepare. I was the sole horror writer in a sea of
romance writers, which is ironic considering today I write romances and erotic
fiction as well as horror and dark fiction. I never published anything mainly
since I had no idea where to send my stories. I merely enjoyed the art of
writing and sharing with the group.
I took the lessons I learned from having my own room and
money and applied them since. Today, I don’t have a writing room but I do have
space of my own and the means to write unencumbered because my husband is the
primary breadwinner in our household. I’m aware many women do not have that luxury.
I’m grateful that I do. Woolf might have underestimated the amount of money a
woman needed to have the freedom to write, but I recognize that she’s talking
about having the freedom to write without having to endlessly worry about day
to day troubles such as putting food on the table or paying the electric bill. It’s
hard to write when your children are going hungry. I’m also aware many women
write under such conditions and do a wonderful job at it. I don’t earn enough
to support myself on my writing. I don’t know many writers who do. They need to
either have financial support from elsewhere like parents or a spouse or they
hold day jobs.
My point is that women somehow need some sort of space where
they can go to get in “the zone” to write. We’re in the process of
moving, and the apartments we’re looking at will continue to give me the
freedom to write. We live in Rockport, Massachusetts, which is on the
Massachusetts coast. I’m a five minute drive to the beach. It’s fairly
expensive to live here, and I’ve been looking for a reasonably-priced place
that isn’t a summer rental that also accepts cats. We did find a gem that would
be perfect for us, but it’s in a city nearly a half hour away from here. The
price and space were very hard to turn down, but we realized we’d give up far
too much to move out of the small town we’ve lived in for 17 years. I’d have to
give up my daily walks on the beach with my first mug of coffee for the day.
I’d give up drives along the coast. My favorite beach chocolate and ice cream
shop. Our favorite family-run eateries. The Fourth of July bonfire on the
beach. The lighting of the Christmas tree downtown complete with free cups of
hot cocoa. Santa Claus arriving in Rockport harbor on a lobster boat to greet
the town for the holiday season. I might have had a room of my own in the house
out of town, but I’d have been miserable. I can’t write when I’m miserable.
I don’t like where we now live. The entire apartment complex
is run down and the apartment itself is in dire need of repair. This new place
gives us hope. An example of it is pictured above. The grounds are lovely. I need a beautiful view. I would have difficulty feeling inspired with a view of a parking lot to the local supermarket. I can have an
outdoor garden to grow my herbs, peppers, and flowers. We might even be able to
have a smoker outside. During the warmer months, the patio or deck (depending
on whether we get a ground or second floor apartment) will become another room
where we will enjoy meals and drinks on lazy days. I can even get a laptop and
write outside if I wish.
Having the peace of mind to write is as important as the
stories I write. Although I hate where we live now, I am fortunate enough to be
in a position to write without disturbance. While I don’t have a room of my
own, I do have headphones I put on to listen to music while writing. I go
inside my head to find the inspiration I need. Once we move to a much nicer
place, I will have more freedom and more ease to write. I need that since I’ve
had a bad case of writer’s block since January, when my mother and one of my cats died one day apart from each other. I can
occasionally write, but not as frequently as I had before January. In fact, I
just finished and handed in an erotic romance fantasy story for an anthology.
So the drive is still there. It’s just hard to come by.
Virginia Woolf was on the right track when she said women
need money and a room of their own to write. I’ve found that room doesn’t have
to be a physically space for her alone. It can be a state of mind. Many women
write while living in dire circumstances such as poverty or a bad marriage, but
it is much more difficult for them than it is for a woman with enough money to
live comfortably and with support from friends and family. I’m fortunate to
have both, and I know that.
by Jean Roberta
I learned a new word recently, and that’s always a good thing for a writer.
While reading a list of available books for review that was sent to me by Dr. RS, long-term editor of The Gay & Lesbian Review (Massachusetts, formerly produced at Harvard University), I noticed this title:
Love’s Refraction: Jealousy and Compersion in Queer Women’s Polyamorous Relationships by Jillian Deri (University of Toronto Press, 2015).
I asked RS if I could have it for review. He said I could, but he suggested that a shorter review might be better than a longer one, even though another member of his posse of reviewers had advised him to devote a theme issue to polyamory. He suggested to me that any book with the word “compersion” in the title is probably too abstract and obscure for readers of a scholarly queer magazine.
He sent me the book anyway, and I soon learned that “compersion” means the opposite of jealousy: a feeling of shared joy that results when one’s lover acquires a new playmate or friend-with-benefits. The fact that “compersion” is less-well known than “jealousy” is a clear sign that in Western society, only monogamous couples are considered normal, and that jealousy (even when it inspires murder) is assumed to be the normal reaction to any violation of the monogamous bond.
Even for those who have been “out” as gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transpeople for many years, the dominant model of sexual/romantic commitment has enormous gravitational pull. RS’s comments about the large, fascinating concept of polyamory showed what looks to me like a queer (inconsistent) streak of conservatism. Although we have been exchanging emails for years about books which may or may not have relevance for an educated LGBT audience, we haven’t had any direct philosophical debates about our personal moral codes for engaging in sexual/romantic relationships.
RS did tell me that he considers polyamory to be a largely imaginary condition, i.e. many more people think about it than put it into practise. This seemed to be his main quibble about running a theme issue: is there an actual polyamorous community? If so, where are these people? (When I mentioned the above book to a friend and colleague who grew up on the West Coast of Canada, he suggested that all the women who were interviewed for the book probably live on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.)
When I mentioned RS’s quibble to the local director of the campus LGBT center, s/he (born female, now identifying as male) laughed and said he could put me in touch with quite a few folks who identify as polyamorous, if I want to interview them for a theme issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review. Egad – I already have enough writing to do, even during my summer break from teaching, but what an intriguing research project. The journalist/researcher side of me wants to meet as many polyamorists as possible, and hear more about how compersion actually feels, since I’m fairly sure I haven’t felt it myself.
If there is a thriving community of practising polyamorists in the small city/large town where I live (population about 200,000, government seat of a Canadian prairie province and home of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), there is probably a bigger tribe of them under RS’s nose in Massachusetts. Their reasons for keeping a low profile seem painfully obvious to me. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that divorce, the sex trade, and homosexuality couldn’t be mentioned on television.
One of the reasons suggested itself when my spouse (the woman with whom I’ve lived for 26 years) asked why I was reading that book, and why the topic interests me. Her anxiety was clear: was I suddenly planning to hook up with women, or men, or both? If so, was I simply going through a kind of post-menopausal frenzy, or was I planning to embrace a new lifestyle? If I was standing on the edge of a cliff, contemplating a leap onto a dozen mattresses already occupied by welcoming bodies, was I planning to discard her as an outworn First Wife?
I assured her that my interest is scholarly, more or less: as an erotic writer, I have already described polyamorous relationships that are intended to last for a lifetime, but I need more information about how such complex connections actually work, and why/when they don’t.
Lest my spouse sound more suspicious or insecure than I am, reading this book has reminded me of painful experiences in my dating past, when “I’d like to see other people” generally meant “We’re done, so get lost.” Women, in particular, are raised in most cultures to be polite and avoid scenes, which might be good training for humans in general, except when it prevents honest communication. The women I dated before the beginning of my current relationship in 1989 often tried to leave me behind by dropping hints and pulling away rather than by rejecting me directly. Their ambiguous behavior included “friends” who suddenly seemed to occupy so much of their time that they hardly had any left for me – but when I asked, they would assure me that we were still an item, and they certainly weren’t breaking up with me. I would rather march through a field of stinging nettles than go back into that swamp of doubt, dread, humiliation, and resentment.
Re the possibility of my spouse jumping off a cliff onto the mattresses below, I’m sure she could find welcoming bodies down there. In her sixties, she is still attractive, engaging, and a long-term community organizer who seems known to half the town. Years ago, when she made an unusual visit to the local queer bar by herself, she was apparently enticed by a male/female couple who regularly trolled the bar for individuals (usually female) to join them for threesomes. Apparently they assured Spouse that they would treat her well and that she had nothing to fear, but (according to her account the next day), she was turned off by their unvarnished lust, and said no. When I heard this story, my feelings were more mixed. Of course they found her appealing, which validated my taste. I knew who they were, and they had never approached me that way – was I less of a babe? What if she had said yes, and what if the couple had wanted to see her regularly, without me? Hookups that turn out to be peak experiences are not guaranteed to stay casual. I was relieved by her ironclad refusal to even consider it.
Reading a book seems safe enough. And I’m committed to the belief that knowledge, even when it’s painful, is usually better than ignorance, even when it’s comforting. For the foreseeable future, I’m willing to continue down a path of asking questions and seeking answers. Comments welcome.
I don’t really post exercises here, but I used this recently at a talk I did at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in London, and it seemed to go down really well with attendees. So here goes… I hope you’re inspired 😉
I’m going to give you a theme, and I’d like you to write something down that’s outside the box. You may or may not use it in future, but I think if it sparks your imagination, it can only be a good thing!
- Curvy men or women
- Sex at work
- Twenty-four hours in a city
The reason I included the twenty-four hours in a city example is because I’m Managing Editor for the City Nights series from Tirgearr Publishing. These are novella length (25 – 30k) contemporary erotic romance stories that take place within a twenty-four hour time period in a city somewhere in the world. They’re all completely standalone stories, and we’re releasing one per month, with a break in December. We’ve just released the thirteenth! So if this is something you’re interested in, the full submission guidelines are on their website. I’d love to see some more submissions!
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several
editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic
Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and
co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.
She owns Erotica For All, is book
editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth
of The Brit Babes. Find out more
Join her on Facebook
and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9
Hesiod et la Muse by Gustave Moreau (1891)
By Lisabet Sarai
When I was younger, I was bound to Erato, the muse of erotic poetry —and occasionally Polyhymnia, who governs sacred verse. Producing poetry was as natural as breathing. Any powerful emotion could trigger the urge to set pen to paper and capture the moment, but most of my poems dealt with love and sex.
I didn’t think about them. I would simply sit down, and they happened. Here’s an example, from 1979:
Is is tides, stars?
This wordless urge
timed to the night,
like circadian clocks?
pure and irrational—
out of telephone wires
and strange desires
over two thousand miles.
burning and blind,
making me wild.
The wires whisper
and reasons whither,
as I hurl myself
from the Santa Cruz cliffs.
In general, these poems didn’t follow any rules. They had no formal structure, though they chime with alliteration and internal rhyme. They were pure expressions of the need, lust, confusion and joy that swirled inside me.
After I married, the flood of poems mostly dried up. I think this was largely due to a deficit of erotic angst. I was fulfilled, happy, busy with real world adventures. I had neither the leisure nor the motivation for poetic introspection.
In the last few years, though, I’ve started creating new poems, in response to Ashley Lister’s monthly writing exercise on this blog. In case you’re not aware of this feature, on the 6th of each month, Ash explains and gives examples of a different poetic form, then challenges readers to produce their own instances. Curious to see if I still had Erato’s attention, I’ve tried my hand.
Here’s a piece from 2013, a form called a quatern.
The line between delight and pain
you’re teaching me to tread. Again
your leather licks along my spine,
your fingers in my hair entwine,
your blades their bloody trails incise;
the line between delight and pain
grows blurry as you kiss my eyes
and dive for pearls between my thighs,
splayed and shackled. Now your cane
paints ruddy stripes across my flesh,
the line between delight and pain:
ecstatic, luminous, insane.
With blood and tears, with spunk and sweat
you baptize me. Appalled and wet
I teeter on the edge again,
the line between delight and pain.
Very different, indeed, though I’m still dealing with the same themes. The experience of writing these new poems is radically different as well. This verse doesn’t well up naturally. It must be coaxed, massaged, manipulated. Craft dominates inspiration. And yet, the final results still surprise me with their ability to evoke emotion.
A similar transition has occurred in my prose. I’ve written in the past about losing my innocence as I gained experience as an author. Like many first erotic novels, my Raw Silk represented an outpouring of very personal fantasies. My characters’ passions closely mirrored my own. Blissfully unaware of genre constraints, I let my imagination flow uncensored onto the page. I wrote to arouse myself, first and foremost, not for an audience. Yet that novel remains my most popular, largely, I believe, because of its authenticity.
Certainly it’s not the writing that’s responsible for its five star reviews. I cringe a bit when I reread the book, noticing the excess adverbs, the overly long sentences, the repetition and the stilted dialogue. Nevertheless, readers respond (I believe) to the erotic energy in the tale, the confessional tone and the realistic emotions (realistic because they were my own).
Over the years (sixteen now!), my work has become less naive, more conscious, and more polished. Though it’s abundantly clear that most readers couldn’t care less about style and craft, I get personal satisfaction knowing that my recent books are far better written than my early ones. I’m still wistful, though, remembering the days when I wrote without thinking about markets, reader expectations and word count—when I wrote whatever turned me on, regardless of how raw or transgressive or over-the-top it might be. These days it’s nearly impossible for me muster that electric thrill that propelled me through 80K+ words in six months.
Perhaps in compensation for lost spontaneity, however, I’ve gained a measure of control. At this point in my career, I can decide when I start how I want a story to unfold, and much of the time, the results will closely match my intentions. I’m not waiting for the muse to tap me on the shoulder. Lately, I find I can often summon her at will. I can place my order with her—a story of roughly N words, with such-and-such a tone, aimed at a specific theme, with a desired level of sexual intensity—then let her take over.
Some of my favorite stories in recent years—“Fleshpot”, “The First Stone”, and “The Last Amanuensis” in particular come to mind—so perfectly fit the images I had for them before I began that it feels like magic. They are exactly the stories I wanted to write. And despite my comments above about writing being a more conscious and deliberate process now, I’m really not sure how that happened. Of course, that’s the nature of expertise; you internalize the skills until they are more or less automatic. You set yourself a goal, then let your inner knowledge move you in that direction.
With poetry or prose, I am no longer the mad, magic-inspired oracle I used to be. Perhaps, though, I am more of an artist.
Now I’m facing a fascinating dilemma. I’ve agreed to edit and expand Raw Silk for re-release. At last I’ll be able to fix all the awkwardness in the prose, all the overwriting. But in the process of editing, will I lose the spark? I’m not the same person I was when I wrote the novel. For better or worse, I’ve changed. Can I preserve the heat and authenticity, especially in the new chapters?
I’ll summon the muse to work with me. I expect to need all the help I can get.
City Nights Series
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Ongoing series, there is no deadline
Read other books in the series to see what we’re looking for. Then . . .
• Pick a city somewhere in the world that hasn’t been taken. You may
wish to contact the managing editor to put a hold on your chosen city.
• Write a contemporary erotic romance that takes place within a 12-24
hour time frame.
• Novella length only (aim for 25K)
Submission details at:
I know it’s the weekend. You’re probably busy with all sorts of summer fun. However, I want to remind you that it’s also Sexy Snippets Day!
This is your chance to share the hottest mini-excerpts you can find from your published work.
The ERWA blog
is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we’ve
decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity
to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence,
we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day’s post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link, if you’d like.
Please post excerpts
only from published work (or work that is free for download), not works
in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate your readers and
seduce them into buying your books!
Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It’s an open invitation!
Of course I expect you to
follow the rules. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or
includes more than one link, I’ll remove your comment and prohibit
you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I’ll say no more!
After you’ve posted
your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to Facebook,
Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.
By Donna George Storey
Lube Jobs: A Woman’s Guide to Great Maintenance Sex by Don and Debra Macleod. The book had sat neglected on a shelf for years when it finally caught my attention during a recent effort to reduce the clutter in my house.
Should I keep it? Read it? I remembered that I first saw the book at The Museum of Sex in Manhattan, and I probably assumed their staff knew how to pick out a good sex book from the many on offer. I’m also pretty sure I thought the “provocative menu” of sex scenarios, bedroom-toy tips and erotica might satisfy both my amateur anthropologist’s interest in the way sexual pleasure is presented in our society and my erotica writer’s interest in new situations for my characters. The remainder mark on the bottom edge suggests I also fell prey to my weakness for a bargain.
I sat down to give it a skim.
To quickly discover that the promotional copy did a decent job of hiding the true message of Lube Jobs, at least to my eyes. I certainly had no idea I was purchasing one of the most infuriating books about sex I’ve ever read.
If only I’d scanned the introduction, I might have saved myself three bucks and a lot of teeth-gnashing.
The authors propose that a man is like an automobile. “He, too, needs full servicing on a regular basis… Lube Jobs is for those times he wants sex, but you want sleep.
Even in the healthiest and happiest of relationships, many women find that their partners crave sex more often than they do. The lube jobs in this book are a great way to provide maintenance sex. They keep your man satisfied during those times you’d prefer to pass on the passion while at the same time sustaining your sexual connection as a couple.
When it comes to performing maintenance, attitude is everything. It must never be considered a chore: your partner will catch those vibes and feel self-conscious, guilty and eventually resentful. Instead of dismissing maintenance sex as an obligation, embrace it as an opportunity to show your man how deeply you care for him and how important his pleasure is to you. By satisfying his carnal needs and desires even when you’re busy or not in the mood, you show him that his sexual contentment is a priority for you.”
Let’s pause for a moment to check the publication date. A wife cheerfully sacrificing her body for her husband’s thoroughly foreign carnal needs—it has to be a mid-nineteenth century marriage guide, right? Alas, no. Lube Jobs was copyrighted in 2007 by a publisher in the Penguin Group. Which means, as we know, a long list of professional, purportedly market-savvy gatekeepers expected a good chance of profit from contemporary book-buying wives.
Here’s what readers get for their money—a 250-page guide to sex for women who want to fake it in the bedroom. I don’t mean just faking an orgasm but everything along the way from making sure you praise the length and girth of your husband’s penis to surprising your man with a quickie outside of the bedroom whenever possible.
In all fairness, the reader also gets some truly sad stories about marital relationships that almost failed because the wife lost sight of her husband’s sexual needs. These parts of the book were poignant, in spite of the message that came along with them. The authors themselves had a long drought of physical closeness early in their marriage when their son was born prematurely and the stress of his care consumed most of the wife’s time. Finally, even though Debra really wasn’t into it, a sexual encounter pleased Don so much, she was glad she made the effort.
Another wife put sex low on her to-do list until she grew suspicious when her husband took an unusual late-night shower after she turned him down yet again. She opened the shower door and was shocked to catch him masturbating. The husband was mortified. He slammed the shower door closed and yelled at his wife to mind her own fucking business. (I am so on his side here.) The fact she had been such a bad wife that she reduced her husband to a covert self-abuse session in the shower compelled the wife to join him and give him “the best hand-job [he]’d ever had.” Obviously it was supposed to be a happy ending but the whole scene made me feel incredibly sad about our society’s shame around sexuality.
Sadder still was the woman who sheepishly admitted other wives might envy her because her boyfriend was “a very sensitive lover, very considerate, but there are times when a woman just doesn’t want to have sex no matter how good her lover is.” This woman would fake orgasms so he would stop bothering her so she could “do her part” and get it over with. One time she was trying to give her partner a hand-job and he kept pushing her hands away and trying to kiss her breasts to arouse her. She used his tie to secure his hands to the headboard to put a stop to the annoyance. He thought she was being sexy, but she was just being practical. The authors conclude: “Now that’s maintenance sex done right.”
There you have it, a philosophy to live by.
Angry as this book made me, I still feel that every person, woman and man, in these stories deserves sympathy. Sex is a complicated thing. And I realize that life throws challenges at all of us. There may indeed be times when a couple has health issues or stresses such that a woman bringing her husband to orgasm quickly with “tricks” and getting no sensual attention in return could be an acceptable choice for the couple. I have a good imagination, and this is still a stretch, but it’s possible. It’s also possible a man might have health issues and would want to bring his wife pleasure, but this scenario was not mentioned in the book.
That’s because the whole point of the book is that maintenance—or practically speaking “male-pleasure-only”–sex will strengthen a relationship because of the accepted universal truth that men need sex more than women do. The authors argue that men need sex to feel bonded to and appreciated by their partners. I know a number of women who say they want sex more than their husbands do, who crave that kind of appreciation and are unhappy without it. But in the worldview of Lube Jobs, women’s greatest sensual desire is sleep. The reasons for this supposed female lack of sexual interest go unquestioned.
In other words, this book profoundly disrespects women’s sexual desires by ignoring we have any–beyond pleasing our men and keeping them from seeking other outlets in affairs, strippers, porn or (gasp) masturbation. However, I believe that Lube Jobs also disrespects men by reducing them to simple “machines” that only require the satisfaction of an ejaculation, but who are unable to care about the complexities of their intimate relationships.
If a man is worth choosing as a significant other, he deserves better than a “lube job.”
Several male Lube Job reviewers on Amazon assert sentiments along the lines of “any man whose wife did this for him is the luckiest man in the world.” Really guys? Is this true? You’d be the happiest man on earth if your woman did all kinds of sexual tricks while you did nothing in return? Happier than if you both pleasured each other and you knew your love and attention satisfied her as much as hers satisfied you? Happier than if your partner trusted you to share what made her feel most appreciated and turned her on because you took the time to ask and care and maybe read some books to learn a few new spicy tips to make her happy?
And, if I may ask, how would you feel if your wife asked you to please her in her favorite ways (whether we’re talking sex or, if you insist on believing women don’t care about sex, something else intimate and demanding), but requested, as a sign of your love, that she not have to do anything for you? Would the admonition to have the right generous attitude be enough to keep you from feeling resentful? Would you feel closer to your wife because you’ve been allowed to show how much the relationship means to you, even though your needs and desires were neglected without discussion or question?
Maybe your answer to all of this is “yes,” but I don’t totally believe you, especially with regard to the questions from the maintenance-providing perspective.
For I must maintain that maintenance sex does not bring a couple closer together. Lube Jobs is not self-help, although it is categorized as such on its back cover. Its unequal approach deepens the problem of marital sexual dissatisfaction by creating emotional distance, resentment and anger.
Coming of age during the Sexual Revolution, I certainly felt resentment at how few men seemed to care about my pleasure in the midst of this supposed orgy of sexual delight. I was still subject to cultural messages that men “give” a woman an orgasm, but if I didn’t receive it, preferably in a fairly short period of time, I was frigid. Or that being desired or “cuddled” and giving him pleasure is enough for a woman. Claiming my right to pleasure was difficult, scary and took hard work over a number of years. My lovers were not always as understanding as I would have liked, but for me it was very important that sexual pleasure be equal, so I didn’t stop asking. And I didn’t insist my partner figure it out without any input from me. No man can figure out what a woman wants if she doesn’t tell him. Besides, it’s much easier to say yes to sex, even if you’re tired, if you know you will be satisfied. I say all of this not to sound superior. One of the many blocks to sexual awareness is that too many people claim to be sexually sophisticated from birth, unlike the rest of us slobs who have to bumble around to figure it all out. But I do want to say it is possible, though not easy, to break free of the cliche that men need sexual release because it comes fairly easily (to most of them, male sexual difficulties were never mentioned) and women are fine with cuddling because their elusive, complicated sexuality just isn’t important to them since it’s too much trouble for everyone to figure out.
Every partner in a couple has her/his own history, her/his own psychological and physical needs. No example in Lube Jobs challenged the model that men need sex more than women, that men are visual, that men would be more than delighted with one-sided pleasure on a regular basis. These all might be true for a given person, but I need and enjoy sex. I want my partner to be happy and not just dutiful. I’m very visual. Last time I checked, I’m not a man. More to the point, no man would be happy with me if he told me my pleasure didn’t really matter to him, because I sure as fuck would not be happy with him. And I know I owe his desires the same respect I expect for my own.
Now that I’ve written this review, I can do what needs to be done. Lube Jobs doesn’t even rate the library donation box. It goes straight to the recycle bin. If only we could get rid of the outdated and toxic worldview it espouses so enthusiastically, maybe we’d all be happier.
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
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