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