Who already has a BA, is contemplating taking her Ph.D. but can’t, it seems, decide between marriage guidance, psychology, literature, fashion or economics.
Had a sad, sad letter from a reader who said that his marriage which seemed ‘to have been made in heaven’ had gradually deteriorated and a wife who had once been ‘enthusiastic about rubber love’ had now turned totally against it. How, he asked, could he revive her interests; how could he get her to be more like me?
Marriages made in heaven have the same troubles that beset other imported goods. It is impossible to get long guarantees; you can’t get spare parts when bits break down and the repair charges are outrageous. You have to ask yourself, does it run? Have you looked under the bonnet recently and had a good heart to heart with the engine?
I don’t wish to sound unsympathetic or frivolous over a serious matter but I find an unforgivable take-it-for granted attitude among men (and quite a few of my sex too) and a failure of simple communication.
As for being ‘more like me’. Hold it! I have traits and personality defects that would certainly have never encouraged some of you even to take me out of the saleroom. Why wish my character on someone whom you presumably fell for on a basis of mutual attraction and qualities that I am pretty certain I could never aspire to?
Presumably you have both changed and matured over the years, and your tastes have changed; alas, you can’t expect them always to change in step. All sorts of outside influences come into play; children, jobs, economic and cultural factors.
There have, though, in any relationship to be anchor points. The question is was ‘rubber love’ as you put it, one of these? Did you both recognise it as such? If you both did then, yes, you have a real problem. I don’t know the answer to that one (I wish I did) except to say that you need to talk about it seriously, frankly, and without bitterness.
One thing you need to establish with her is what rubber means to you; not as a substitute for her as some kind of a threat to her but as a means of helping you to fulfil your relationship. Remind her of the early days of courtship and love.
Then for God’s sake, listen to her analyses and sympathise if you can. If she says something like ‘I can’t stand the feel of it now’ then you have to find out why, and I think part of the problem comes back to the type of costume.
Instead of something like a diving suit consider a loose, soft latex gown – meet each other half way.
Basically, though, we are talking about sex and if the lady tends to be indifferent about the act itself then nothing is likely to induce her to put on a costume in order to perform. Courtship is passion and romance; honeymoon is novelty and lust but then along can come the tedium, boredom and monotony, the three prime destroyers of marriage and love.
‘I can go for months and months without getting the urge’ a friend of mine told me, as if she were talking about going to the theatre (and with less enthusiasm). ‘But if I let him, he would be at me every night’.
Hardly likely she would even consider black lingerie.
So, gentlemen, you must first tackle the problem of simple, enjoyable sex. You must woo her and court her and set cut to satisfy her. Don’t leave her dangling between earth and heaven while you are groping for the cigarettes muttering “Great, wasn’t it”.
Once she has been up to the top of the mountain with you, then you might find a sympathetic approach to almost any deviation you might like to think of. But take it slowly and always finish, like the song says ‘with a loving kiss’. And, I would, add, a sexually satisfied woman.
FACT AND FICTION
Typing the serials for the magazine and the supplement and reading some of the fiction submitted or published in many of the other magazines that appear in the office from time to time (yes, occasionally I am allowed a moment to study them), I am both puzzled and irritated.
A lot of this fiction is far removed from any reality yet it seems to be read avidly by the male readers. The sexual practices are either impossible or absurd; the characterisation at a level that shows my sex in a very poor light. Some of it is laughable; some of it makes me angry as it denigrates the intimate relationship between a man and a woman.
The stupidity extends to widely published fiction including the work of authors like Norman Mailer who has made a fortune out of writing about sex.
Now I am certainly not one of those women who abhor reading about sex. I can get ‘turned on’ by literature just like most of those with red corpuscles who can read. Note, I mentioned literature, and my complaint is that most of it lacks the fundamental pretensions to be that.
To exemplify the sort of thing I mean, I offer this passage from a story which will not be included in Atomage:
“She could feel his presence in her most private chamber. She tensed her latex layered, sexual musculature, straining against her bonds, and let out a high pitched shriek of tortured pleasure, a curlicued squeal that slithered over her tongue like a convict breaking for freedom in a prison riot”.
This kind of overwritten nonsense with its inapposite similes could never turn me on, yet there is much in literature and poetry that can.
In the matter of sexual honesty, may I commend you to the Alexandria Quartet_ by Lawrence Durrell. In these four books sex is examined in a, to me, astonishing and revealing way as “comic, sinister and divine in one” (Balthazar).
“This eternally tragic and ludicrous position of engagement” says Durrell in Justine; a “posture so ludicrous and ill planned, seemed the result of some early trial which might, after centuries of experiment, evolve into a disposition of bodies as breathlessly congruent as a ballet position”.
Durrell, in my view, is right. There is nothing dignified, or even aesthetically beautiful about the sex act itself. The four letter word commonly used to describe it seems to me to express perfectly its nature. I use it privately in that context without ever feeling it coarsens or demeans the passion and the pleasure of the experience.
To dress – or undress – for the ‘performance’ should be a matter simply of choice and agreement. To wear leather or rubber, or tie, or bind each, or both, is surely only of personal significance, a private addition to a ritual already so absurd that it is wonderful.
Despite this apparent absurdity, for the woman, the sex act remains the single significant act in a human relationship that is capable of transforming and qualifying it. Yet because of its universal priority, the sex act is also the most misunderstood. The endless, repetitive, unimaginative literature, the sly conversations, the continual innuendo, the crudity, the tasteless displays, the pseudo humour and the so called ‘visual aids’ have all combined to devalue the act itself as well as reducing the associated and essential tenderness.
“From this (act) sprang all those aspects of love which the wit of poets and madmen had used to elaborate their philosophy of polite distinctions. From this point the sick, the insane started growing; and from here too the disgusted and dispirited faces of the long-married, tied to each other back to back, so to speak, like dogs unable to disengage after coupling”. (Justine)
I labour this point because so many women have been discouraged and disillusioned by what they have read, what they discovered and so have failed to adopt a proper perspective and a sense of humour.
Now read the last paragraph again and substitute, please, ‘anen’ where I have written ‘women’.
The pop music business has much to answer for, but a greater proportion of the blame for sexual misunderstanding and non-co-operation is down to writers like Mailer and authors of purient sexual bondage stories which, have no literary pretensions and treat sex as if it were a kind of internecine warfare.
Durrell has one of his characters describe the sex act as a psychic experience more than a physical one: and I concur. What I want to know is whether other readers agree with me and what other women readers think about sexual writing? I’d like to hear from my sex including my shy correspondent, the other ‘H.H’ (who tells me her husband won’t let her give an address as I might want to interview her). I’d like to know if I have support for my view that if ‘dressing for pleasure’ was given the support of good fictional writing, more of my sex would be inclined to favour and encourage their husbands to adopt practices and rituals that at present are dismissed as unhealthy fetishism.
If a woman is asked to wear outfits of his choice in the interest of ‘dressing for pleasure’ then surely she is entitled to design some outfits for him to wear to please her? My argument was very persuasive. The picture on this page is a little idea of my own, which seemed to me to combine most of the essentials that he likes, plus some, shall we say, improvements of my own. The design for the all rubber outfit is what I like to call my Mark 1. It has many practical features which I think will be obvious to my more discerning readers.
The poncho worn over his latex suit allows free movement and while I might agree with him it is not quite long enough, a further 6 inches (150 mm) to cover the tops of the Atomage boots should be all that would be needed. Any longer and certain stimulating facets of the visual aspects might be sacrificed together with the comfortable convenience of not having too many folds of loose rubber to contend with at what I might describe as ‘the point of use’.
Exhaustive tests of the Mark I, showed a surprisingly high level of user satisfaction despite early grave doubts. He even used the word ‘bizarre’ which I thought unkind in view of some of the designs he has produced for me from time to time.
As I pointed out to him, it would need only a few hundred to adopt this style on a wet day in town and very soon it would be the shabby gaberdine raincoat that would be considered ‘bizarre’. The trouble is I don’t, to date, detect a pioneering spirit, although enthusiasm for its other applications is very noticeable, especially when I put on a costume with comparable features.
I would gladly welcome readers’ views and, from the ladies, their own ideas of what you would like to see worn by the male as a stimulus for ‘dressing for pleasure’. I may publish them together with possibly my design for the Mark 11 in a future issue.
Seeing this is the issue about leather; I have an excuse to go on again about my second favourite subject. I was struck, too, by the sad tale in the letter from the reader who bought his wife a leather coat only to have her change it for two cloth coats. As well as being unsympathetic, undiscerning and utterly ungracious, the was not being practical.
My leather coat is now six years old, it cost £90. I have worn it in winter, snow, sleet and hail, spring showers, summer floods and frost, autumn wind and waterspouts. It now knows me so well that it waits in the hall for me all ready for me to take it out like a well trained dog. Now it needs a new lining and a new belt, but it still looks good. According to my reckonings it owes me nothing. It has cost me £15 per year. Now I also reckon I would have needed three new cloth coats in that time at say a total of £180, which works out at £30 per annum – exactly twice as much. And imagine how the fabric coats would have looked after being soaked a few times.
My custom made leather boots (not one pair has ever let water seep in) have also been ‘cost effective’ (see how I slip into the economic jargon as easily as into a pair of Atomage boots) and compared with buying either commercially made boots or shoes, I am way ahead. And this does not take into account comfort and terrific good looks.
All in my leather I flatter myself that I attract more attention than the ladies who spend their stipend in the boutiques and bargain basements of the big stores. I also keep warm and dry.
If I buy a new leather coat (hint!) this year at a cost of £200 and wear it for only live years (and in this country with its delightful climate you can reckon on wearing it solidly for nine months of’ the year) that is still only £40 per year. A close friend of mine had her coat for two winters – cloth, of course – and it went off to Oxfam. Although she said she got it for ‘far less than your leather coat, which I could never afford’. Economics is a wonderful thing. It is lucky for the rag trade and my race that my sex isn’t interested in simple arithmetic.