Can a man make love like a woman?

Can a man make love like a woman?

Sex therapist in the ‘hood  Several years ago, a merchant in my neighborhood learned that I was both an MD and a sex therapist.  The next time I was in his shop, he asked me if I could get him some Viagra. “How long have you had erection problems?” I asked. “I don’t,” he answered.  “But my wife and I have been married for 30 years.   To tell you the truth, sometimes I’m too tired or preoccupied to get hard without the Viagra.” What was this man’s problem, exactly?   He wanted to have sex with his wife, even though he wasn’t feeling that strongly turned on.    Evidently there were other reasons he wanted to do it. Sound familiar?  Of course:   He wanted to make love like a woman.   Things women take for granted about sex Women can have sex with their partners any time they want.  They don’t have to be very excited.  Sure, some lubricant might be required, especially over 50.  But the absence of peak excitement isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. A woman can make love for other reasons besides strong desire.  To feel close, or emotionally connected to her partner.  To promote loving feelings.   Or just for the simple pleasure of the experience.   Even occasionally to keep a partner happy even though she might be too tired or preoccupied to be really into it.   A useful book on the subject calls it “Good enough sex.” One wouldn’t want ALL one’s sex experiences to be like this.  But once in awhile it’s OK.   Especially if the alternative is not to make love at all.   If there’s one thing that sex research repeatedly shows about successful long-term couples, it’s that they keep having sex even when if...
French women say, “Enough with modernism!  Give us long baths with expensive body wash!”

French women say, “Enough with modernism! Give us long baths with expensive body wash!”

The New York Times reports today that Cinquante Nuances de Grey (that’s French for you-know-what) is now selling briskly in France — despite a hearty and unanimous condemnation by the French literary elite. According to the article “A Defiant Oui for ‘Fifty Shades” by Times columnist Elaine Sciolino, French critical opinion on the book has pointed out that its BDSM is not philosophical enough.  And that its characters are too obsessed with hygiene (translation:  too many scenes involving long baths). I was most struck by a quotation from the French publisher Franck Spengler — about whom the article states,  “eroticism is for him a ‘space of freedom and rebellion, liberated from moral criteria.’ ”   Sciolino notes that Spengler dislikes the book’s ” ‘American-style Puritanism’ in which sex acts can only be justified by love.” The justification of sex by love, though scorned by the French critical establishment, is apparently just the thing French women want these days. Who can blame them?   According to the New York Times article, in the traditional French erotic novel, “most of the time it’s sex without love and women are submissive to men.”   When the book first came out in English, American critics compared it unfavorably to established works of literary BDSM such as Pauline Reage’s Story of  O (in which, for those of you who haven’t read it recently, the heroine is branded with a hot iron, has her labia pierced, and finally becomes a faceless slave)   And the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom (in which young women are ritualistically murdered and then ground to bits). Apparently Cinquante Nuances was...
Slow Sex in Manhattan

Slow Sex in Manhattan

“I want to know what became of the changes We waited for love to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams Of some greater awakening? –Jackson Browne, The Pretender   The cultivation of sexual mindfulness One rainy Friday afternoon in mid-summer, I traveled uptown to speak with Nicole Daedone, a former professor of semantics who now devotes herself full-time to teaching what must be one of the world’s most curious mindfulness techniques. At Daedone’s OneTaste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, and at workshops she conducts around the world, practitioners gather together to do “Orgasmic Meditation” (“OM for short”) —  a simple technique, really, but an odd one. OM is done in pairs.   In OM, a woman undresses from the waist down, lies on her back and receives direct clitoral stimulation from her (male or female) partner for fifteen minutes.   Not to achieve sexual climax necessarily, though that might occasionally happen.   Rather, just to practice sexual mindfulness for its own sake. That’s it.   That’s OM. So why is this strange practice  suddenly so popular?   And why is Daedone’s book, Slow Sex:  The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm currently getting 4 and 1/2 stars on Amazon?   Sex in the 21st Century Daedone’s work arrives at a curious point  in modern sexual history. With erotica flooding the internet, sex has become pretty much just another consumer commodity.   Most Americans today are either overworked (not particularly conducive to good sex, which requires leisure) — or else unemployed (DEFINITELY not conducive to good sex).   Many young people’s experience of sex seems to involve drunken...
Eros, Spirituality, and Crying During Sex

Eros, Spirituality, and Crying During Sex

Most recent in a series of articles  and interviews based on the new book Slow Sex by Nicole Daedone.   This is article 4 in the series.   My fellow sex journalist Tracy Clark-Flory was a guest at one of  Nicole Daedone’s weekend retreats  for women at Le Meridien in San Francisco last year.   One of the events was a live demonstration of Daedone’s technique of what she calls Orgasmic Meditation (OM) with a female volunteer.  (See references 1-3 below) During this public OM session, the volunteer apparently experienced one or more sexual climaxes, accompanied by loud vocalization. Writing later about the experience for Salon, Clark-Flory described the experience as having been “both arousing and deeply bizarre.” She also noted that during the demonstration two women in the audience were silently crying. I’m not surprised that Clark-Flory found the experience arousing, or bizarre.  But I’m disappointed she didn’t inquire more why those two audience members were crying. I would love to have asked them.   My guess? These women were crying because the scene, strange as it was, touched something profound inside them.   Not unlike what might cause one to cry during especially satisfying sex. Say what one will about Daedone, one must credit her with having followed an intuition that there is something profound about deeply felt sexual desire. Peak desire involves a sense of specialness, of connectedness, even of sacredness, that shares something with peak religious experience.  It’s not hard to imagine eros and spirituality sharing some special part of the human self. In her book Slow Sex, Daedone writes about her clients coming in saying that they’re...
Before the last word is said about Fifty Shades

Before the last word is said about Fifty Shades

Here’s a question: Does anyone have any idea why Fifty Shades of Grey has sold so many millions of books? I’m asking because in all that I’ve read about this book, I haven’t seen one mention of what it’s really about.  And why it’s been such a runaway success. Is it because of the explicit sex scenes? (No, I don’t think so.) Is it because of the BDSM? (Not likely.) No, the reason Fifty Shades has captivated so many American women is this: It’s a book about impossible love – made possible by courage, persistence, and luck. Just like Twilight: A young woman falls in love with a vampire.  Impossible.  But they make it work. In Fifty Shades a young woman falls in love with a deeply damaged man who is a sexual dominant.   He needs a submissive woman, and he’s had many such women.   But he hasn’t been able to fall in love with any of them.  So he’s deeply lonely. He meets the heroine, who of all the women he’s met, does not have a submissive bone in her body.    So it’s impossible. She too has never been in love before. But by the end of Volume 1, she has against her will fallen deeply in love with this tormented man.   In the first book . . . At the very end . . .  in a moment of profound tenderness, she tells him she loves him.  His response is brief.  “Oh, no,” he says. She leaves his place immediately, goes home, falls on her bed and is wracked with sobs.  She is broken. Except...