Helen continues her column with her comments on cloaks and on close encounters of the consummate kind.
The rainy season arrived on time and I tested my new red, satirised cloak made for me by Douglas Rubberwear with complete satisfaction.
I was standing at the bus stop admiring Mother Nature’s skill in designing rain that could travel vertically as well as horizontally and looked about me to see how my patient fellow travellers were faring. Behind me a young lady was gradually dissolving like a sugar plum fairy into her patent twin strap open toed sandals; her pseudo-suede jacket visibly disintegrating. Her companion was wearing a showerproof (sic) coat cleverly designed to channel the water dripping from his hat directly down his neck, and their expressions and conversation added nothing to an already gloomy day.
In a journey across London I counted exactly two, people who appeared to be dressed in a manner that afforded proper protection and I am forced to the conclusion that most people eschew rainwear as being unnecessary, unpleasant and unfashionable.
So I am enjoying typing and reading the new three part series on the history of rainwear – which explains a lot. It still though does not explain why the rainwear departments of the larger stores have so little to offer that is practical. I wonder if the smell given off by so many weatherproof garments, especially when new, has not a lot to do with it? Go into a store and have a sniff – see what I mean?
My cloak is perfectly lovely – cut in a half circle – with lots of lovely ripples. But then cloaks turn me on irrespective of the material or whether I am wearing one. I like to see the swing of cloaks particularly on men, and if they are ankle length the way they are kicked up when walking.
I love to see the male sex in cloaks such as in some of the costume movies on TV.
Anyway, to continue – my cloak is in scarlet, and when the sun comes out it gleams and shines. But then you can see for yourself from the picture in this issue. One thing I have been told about cloaks – shop detectives regard them with great suspicion. I can see why. I can carry a suitcase invisibly under the folds of mine.
“The trouble is” I was told, “that when man started to walk erect instead of on all fours, he lost sight of his major interest in life”, which, of course, made me laugh. But then I find the readers of Atomage that I have met all seem to be blessed with a sense of humour, which I think is a very healthy sign. Sex, as I have observed before, is not only fun but funny. Speaking seriously, the trouble is that men and women often take it far too seriously helped very little by the popular magazines who treat sex simply as a means of boosting circulation.
Readers’ Digest, the magazine that offers instant, reconstituted facts in palatable form came to the conclusion (August 1979) that sex isn’t crucial for a happy marriage. One of those surveys that seem to involve such sad people found that two per cent of the ‘happily married’ couples they interviewed said they never had intercourse, and eight per cent said they had it less than once a month. Forty per cent said that they had intercourse two to four times a month, while thirty-one per cent reported four or five times a week.
On the other hand the agony column of Woman published a letter: ‘My husband and I are well suited in every way except that I think there’s something wrong with him sexually. He”s 30 but only wants to make love about five times a week, and if I refuse he never persists, just says ‘Okay’. Shouldn’t he be more insistent? And shouldn’t a man of his age want to make love more often?”
This same magazine later carried out a survey which seemed to prove this point that men didn’t really value sex. Seven out of ten husbands said it was the wives who make the advances, and it was they and not the man who went out and bought the black frilly nightdresses! (and perhaps rubber?).
So contrary to the belief that we just lie on our backs and think of England, the conclusion of this survey is that we are all smouldering away just awaiting for our passions to be aroused.
But do women respond to pornography? They all, it seems from the surveys, enjoy sexual fantasies.
Anthea Disney wrote recently in The Observer on the growing campaign in the U.S.A. against ‘porn’ and the activities of WAP (Women Against Pornography) but points out “The problem with pornography as a whole is that it is in the eye of the beholder. We all think we know it when we see it but what is erotic to me may be porn to you and vice versa”. She goes on to point out that “Sexual roles and expectations are changing rapidly. Women are becoming more powerful, economically and emotionally. Yet fashion photographers like Helmut Newton are making a splendid living by depicting women in chic bondage – in one case a model in boots, bra and with a saddle on her back (and her lipstick in place) on all fours on a damask covered double bed. The editors who buy these pictures for their fashion magazines are mostly women and most readers of fashion magazines are women. Brutality chic is financially supported by women”.
It really comes to this: we badly need to establish a tolerant attitude towards sex. We need it in public life, we need it in private life.
The publicity that sex is getting is a good thing – and a bad thing. It opens up a subject that has been left in gloom and mystery for far too long and it has frightened many into thinking they are failing if they do not achieve an orgasm on every possible occasion – or have sex on every occasion.
The problem for the man is that perhaps he has lost sight of his sexuality. So much depends on him and consequently he often needs the stimulation of more than the mere sight of his loved one. So I am willing to accept ‘porn’ if the end result is mutual satisfaction.
I am increasingly mystified by the nature and the compulsion to certain materials but I am more than happy to accept – and be grateful for – what has been described as ‘fetishism’.
It costs a woman little more than a certain amount of discomfort to wear what her lover or husband wants her to wear. The result is worthwhile in terms of humour and love. Some of my very best and treasured moments would look so totally absurd to an outsider – that even I have to laugh afterwards.
There really are no hard dividing lines between the garments and the materials and when they are worn. Some may be reserved for the bedroom but a man can be ‘turned on’ anywhere even though he cannot express himself physically except in private. It is nice to wear something that is mutually satisfying at every level – fashion, comfort, protection and sexual attraction. It is nice sometimes to wear something just for Him. Love and sex depend on variety as much as they depend on a stable foundation of mutual trust, respect, friendship and humour.
The ‘inability to relax’ was the basis of sex problems reported by a high proportion of the women covered in the Readers’ Digest survey: ‘life-long inhibitions, fears and guilt may contribute to tension, it’s also hard to adjust to instant intimacy when the bedroom door closes’.
That is why I was very struck by the Intimate Interview in this issue. That is why it is so important to discuss what seem to be problems; important to choose and wear things and do things that meet each others needs.
‘I can’t do it’ said one lady reader to me ….. it’s all very well for you, but I just go all cold and tense when I put on a rubber suit. I’ve tried and tried for him but it is impossible for ….. I can’t help myself …..”
I have every sympathy. I, too, go cold. I dislike gas masks ….. but I have worked out all sorts of things I can do and I can wear, and it now works well – very well indeed.
My sex are suckers for gifts: leather coats, diamonds, an oil well, deeds to a property in Spain, any old thing like that and we are known to become positively winsome and melting and Very Grateful. for it isn’t the thought, it is the present.
Men, though, are very odd about gifts. They tend to get embarrassed when you place a ribbon wrapped parcel on the dinner table, beside the burning candles and the decanted claret.
“Is it my birthday?” he’ll say nervously, hoping like hell he hasn’t forgotten the wedding anniversary again, “No”, you smile, “open it and see”.
Then he picks up the parcel and weighs it carefully as if to check if it is ticking. Most women by this time would be tearing frantically at the wrapping paper, every nerve of curiosity sending out urgent signals. Not the male. He’s running his mental computer for sins of omission, for most men are suspicious of surprises and anything unsolicited.
A particular occasion and a particular parcel of recent date was a pair of fishing waders. They are soft and green and folded into a parcel of intriguing shape.
Flashback: Both of us sitting in a taxi waiting for the lights outside the Dunlop HQ in London, and he sees a pair of waders with unusual leg fastenings in the display window showing the products of that company. He tries ‘phoning and writing to find out where he can buy a pair with, of course, total lack of success, but I am made of considerably sterner stuff and believe that if something is advertised for sale it follows that you should be able to buy it in return for folding money. This, it seems, is an entirely novel concept in the rubber trade, but I like to be an innovator.
Cut now to three months later and I am on the telephone to a firm in deepest Kent who sell only to the retail trade except that there isn’t any retail trade! But there is a sympathetic sales clerk (of my sex, of course) who, I discover, is also a fan of Rudolf Nureyev and so I am allowed to become a wholesale customer buying just one pair!
Back to scene at the dinner table and a close up of an expression of pure astonishment, disbelief and rapturous pleasure.
I am pleased to report that is was well worth the determined effort. The boots, seen here together with his other favourites – the new long leg Atomage Waders, have been tested and found to be most satisfactory (I think they are waterproof too) and gratitude has been suitably demonstrated. A point my sex may like to note.
Which goes to prove, I think, that it is the thought that follows the present that really counts.
Two little questions: 1) Why is it that fish prefer to see their hunters in green boots rather than black? 2) Why is it that the largest rubber company in the U.K. have their waders made in Korea?