Lecture to the ladies.

Good evening. If those standing at the back of the hall would like to move down to the aisle seats they will be able to see the lantern slides more easily. Thank you.

The subject of this evening’s talk is sexual inspiration and I apologise to those of you who came expecting to hear Mrs. Bradley’s illustrated talk on rearing Beagle Puppies for Profit. Mrs. Bradley is making a good recovery after the rabies injection and Miss Pagett will be serving her delicious home made scones and tea at the conclusion as usual.

Let me begin by saying that the basic design faults of men are known to all of us. There is little really that can be done about them at this stage of human history that does not involve major surgery and the use of still experimental transplant techniques pioneered by the late Dr. Frankenstein. We can, however, seek for some fundamental changes in mental attitude through our own determined efforts and without our espousing the dubious cause of women’s lib.

The paradox of male reasoning is that while the males believe that women are diametrically different from them both physically (vive la difference) and mentally (thank God) they are convinced that women closely resemble them in their sexual nature and attitudes. Ironically this is the only major respect in which women really do differ from men. Men have the unshakeable but entirely erroneous belief that women respond to the same sexual stimulii. It is not enough for a woman to dress up in a rubber suit, boots, gloves et al in order to please and inspire the male who is erotically and pleasurably stimulated but such attire, but she must be erotically inspired as well. I don’t happen to like wearing any masks or gasmasks, and yet I am continually told that if I persevere I will come to love wearing them, whereas I know perfectly well that I won’t.

There are men who become acutely disappointed and disillusioned if the wife or partner cannot share his enthusiasms; cannot become his convert and disciple. I am talking principally now about wearing rubber or leather or vinyl or high heels or corsets, but the same applies to fishing, rugby, football and any of the many other enthusiasms of the male adult. It is, though, only in the sexual field that the serious problems arise: the if-I-loverubber-then-you-should-love-rubber syndrome.

I get letters: “How can I get my wife to like wearing rubber in the rain”? The answer is that you can’t, if she doesn’t want too. Love and gentle persuasion have been know to soften attitudes and there is a lot women will do in order to please and show their affection. We are probably prepared to love and honour to the best of our ability but for quite a few years now we have ignored the word “obey” in the marriage lines. I am not even sure that the word is still there.

One basic problem though is sex the other basic problems is the way it is linked with material things. We live in a society where we are subjected to a barrage of sexual temptation on TV, in the cinema, and in the marketing of every type of household and personal product from toilet paper to toothpaste. Sex has suddenly become a social duty. We are not asked if we want it. Everyone is doing it, so you must do it too, and if you are not very good at it you must find something extra to live it up like a bit of bondage. The male is expected to have a means of keeping his penis hard; it doesn’t matter what it is. The female is expected to have a means of keeping his penis hard; it doesn’t really matter what it is. The female is expected to be available (and panting) at any time of the the day or night.

It is not my intention to be cynical about sex. What I am trying to say is that sex is now sold as the universal panacea at one time it was the church that contained the answer to every human dilemma – or so some people assumed.

Sex is promoted in a manner that is totally unjustified. Have you observed that the majority of popular humour is either frankly sexual or has sexual undertones. Much the same can be said about mass marketing methods.

The curious thing is that leather and rubber never really sold well for female clothing until the materials were given a sharp sexual connotation. Unfortunately, the marketing has now been so overdone that purely sexual aspects have ended by giving leather and rubber (and some plastic) clothing a taint that has damaged them as far as the female is concerned.

Recently, in a belated bid to redress the balance, a marketing campaign started to give rubber a new image as a useful, wearable, material. Possibly the rubber producing companies helped to finance the publicity that resulted in editorial features with pictures in all sorts of magazines. Just to give one example, on November 27 the magazine Sunday (News of the World colour supplement) produced a two page feature with the heading “What No Wellies”. I quote: “Before you peel off your rubber gloves today, stop! They could be your most valuable fashion accessory this year. The rubber clothes – and bags – belts and bangles – have at last bounced in out of the wet. In fact, there is so much sensation the wet. In fact, there is so much sensational stuff, we decided to leave our wellies in the garden shed … Now rubber is fun fashion for everyone and if you are worried that you look like a Michelin man in a limb hugging latex skirt, then simply add all the amazing accessories to your gear instead. Forget about these clothes being cold and clammy … This material is smooth and velvety to wear, and it looks sensational set off against shiny studs and silvery chains”.

Over the Atlantic in Canada Ottawa Mail did a feature on 23 year old Raffael Briatico, who has been designing clothes in Neoprene and artificial rubber. Again I quote “He’s designed and manufactured coats, vests, cocktail dresses, bustiers, gowns and accessories with neoprene as thin as 1.5mm Instead of seeing women and men bundled in feather bed look alike down coats, Mr. Briatico sees this fabric as the perfect alternative.”

Certainly some of the pictures of his creation would gladden the hearts of our readers and I must say that I was certainly impressed to see some sense of styling and form fitting. There are admitted difficulties in sewing and fastening the material, but it may be the start of a trend and I would certainly like to see some of the garments here in the pages of Atomage. I would even be quite willing to wear some garments myself if I really was convinced that the material is not cold and clammy and free of that warm decaying odour that is disliked by most of my sex.

Yes, there are going to be lots of men who are going to regret these latest attempts to “de-sex” rubber. There are going to be lots of men who will assert that the attempt will fail. The point is though that if a range of garments such as cloaks, dresses and boots can be made that look smart, are well made and chic, and feel good, then the ladies will wear them. Maybe you have noticed that during the winter weather the colourful Neoprene knee boots with the Cuban heels have become ever more popular in the streets in the rain. Partly this is due to the high price of a good pair of leather boots, whereas these boots are comparatively inexpensive It is also partly, I feel sure, that these boots do not invite the same sexual connotations as some other rubber footwear.

Trying to assess what is pleasantly and what is unpleasantly sexual about some forms of clothing and materials is difficult. We have to begin by trying to inject a little honesty into the whole subject of sex and we must try to weed out all the psychological jargon. Let us give the thumbs down to the TV films and books that feature the obligatory bedroom scene with the female threshing about and moaning estatically. (How did we ever manage to fake orgasms before we had all these artificial aids to show us the way?)

I am not advocating a return to the Victorian attitudes of sex. In those bad old days, sexual licence flourished in private while public and religious rectitude ensured that “respectable” women remained the victims of fear, ignorance and uilt. Women of good family were not expected to enjoy it when they were obliged to sacrifice their virginity on the marriage bed. (The idea was to get themselves pregnant as quickly as possible). There were told they should close their eyes and think of England. If they suddenly found, like Queen Victoria, that they did enjoy it, they kept this knowledge a secret, especially from the husband. He had been taught that a wife should ‘do her duty.’

Victorian attitudes extended well into this century. Indeed even until the time I came of marriageable age. My mother warned that on my wedding night it would sting like a burn but decent girls were expected to behave with decorum and silence, and keep quite still until he had finished.

We were well into the second quarter of this century when it was accepted that it wasn’t sinful to enjoy sex in marriage. It wasn’t until the 50s that the sex manuals arrived and began to offer advice on technique. The only manual I was ever shown had pictures of Adam and Eve without the fig leaves and graphically described the joys of motherhood in a way that made me shudder.

So is it really surprising that women are still nervous about dressing up in clothes that could be thought of as being deliberately sexually provocative, and oppose any of the so called fashion norms? Even today there are many women who consider a black nightie thoroughly indecent. Men should try to understand that many women are still filled with guilt. They still need a lot of coaxing and a lot of understanding even to examine the whole area of “Dressing for Pleasure”.

To begin with, both men and women need to strip away all the guilt and furtiveness. Dressing for pleasure needs to be made social. Unfortunately, there are many men who consider that this would strip away the best of their excitement. The comedian, Woody Allen, once joked “Is sex dirty? Yes, if you do it right”.

I welcome the efforts of Atomage to “socialise” the wearing of leather, rubber and vinyl; to encourage party events where people can dress as they please without being labelled sexual perverts. I have done my best to encourage my own sex to take part in these events. I have especially admired Atomage in its success in creating beautifully made streetwear and it has always been a matter of regret that the magazines have never managed to become so financially successful that they could help to support a series of factories all over the world that would turn out Atomage designs, not just in leather, but in rubber and perhaps neoprene and vinyl – at prices that people could afford.

This would be the time for it. When I first wore my high shiny boots and my cloak there were many of my sex who said “I could never dress like that in public”. But I don’t get those remarks any more and I now often see streetwear that is far more outrageous (also, so often so very badly made) and of a kind I would never have dared to wear.

So if we can free ourselves from the absurd sexual connotations of materials and manners; if we can get the male to review his attitude and his approach, then surely we will all benefit. I don’t think it is any contradiction to say that it is nice, it is normal, to wear something and perform actions that individualise sexual response. It is very nice to wear a make up or a perfume or a style of dress that provokes in private sexual inspiration. It is not nice to model a style or dress or perform a ritual that is, in itself, a sexual object.

Sex is an emotional expression and it must always be individual, happy and humorous. Without laughter, sex is simply a muscular response: it is the person and not the penis that should be fulfilling. It is the person who should turn you on to sex and not the dress, or the actions or the ritual. These are simply private extras to be selected on the basis of discussion and curiosity. I am all in favour of fantasy, by the way.

I object though to sex being degraded and cheapened by commercial interests. I object to those dreadful films and video nasties that turn sex into a hideous circus. Love and sex should be fun. Full of nerve tingling excitement – not pain or cruelty; not dominance or submission.

I am starting a new crusade. Is any one joining me? The banners are at the back of the hall and I am sure there will be no shortage of suitably clad volunteers who would be willing to be chained and handcuffed to the railings in Hyde Park?