I was overjoyed this morning to read an article running in Playboy magazine, by the editor of this anthology you see that will be out in a few short months. That’s Shawna Kenney.
There is no small degree of irony for me in all this. Why? you might be asking…
1. My story “A Little Irish Honey” is in the book.
2. My father Bob Vosse was a contemporary of Hugh Hefner — and in fact he was a pornographer in very much the same way.
3. My intro to sexuality came through literature.
4. I came of age during the 1970’s, when what we had was a book called “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
5. I’m a heterosexual sex-positive feminist.
6. My best friend and I peeked at Playboy when we were fourteen and one of our friends actually posed for it just past High School.
7. I have had to live with the Madonna/Whore mythos all my life. Are you one? Or the other?
The reviews for “Book Lovers” are starting to come in over at Goodreads. It’s one of the most incredible things I have seen, to look at them. I can’t wait to read the book, just to see the stories in it and how Shawna picked them. I feel very lucky to be in the book.
Feminism for my generation had to do with sexual equality, coming on the heels of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. We were thrust into a world that looked like post- “Easy Rider” the film. Guys viewed women as meat, in their own personal meat market. And let’s face it, my own father’s films fed that mythos.
You have to read this article of Shawna’s. You do! The irony of WHERE it’s published, AND what it takes on. “The Case of the Missing Orgasm.” Right!
Men schooled on pornography have NO CLUE about women and orgasms. It’s ridiculous.
I’m trying to think about ONE film that has even come close in mainstream to showing it. I’m drawing a blank. “Secretary” did so NOT do it for me. I like the sexuality portrayed in the film “The Piano.” Or say, “The English Patient.” Female agency does that for me. I could take the Dominant/Submissive trope and just say “Stuff it.” I have. Many times. My generation had total sexual equality. It wasn’t always perfect or necessarily pretty, but it was equal.
Imagine the hell of being a teenage girl with a dad like mine. My mother left him when I was thirteen precisely because of what he was doing with his films. Imagine never having a Father’s Day, or a dad there to meet all the boys who started knocking in that free-for-all culture that was coming of age at the end of the 70’s.
I LOVE what Shawna has written!
In a world where women make up half of the population, most cultural representations of orgasms focus on the male “money shot,” with mainstream movies and porn either ignoring female orgasms altogether or giving it the short shrift. Sure, it’s all fiction, but if, as Albert Camus said, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” and the truth is that both sexes like getting off, why not have equal screen time? Studies show that most women don’t routinely have orgasms during intercourse alone, yet you’d never suspect it from what you see in foreplay-lite movies and television series.
All of which raises the following question: What are the long-term ramifications of men and women repeatedly seeing that all it takes is a good 60-second pounding to make a woman come (see Jason Statham and Amy Smart in Crank), or that every act of intercourse ends in a scream (Kim Cattrall in Porky’s) or that the man’s visible ejaculation is all that matters (the hilarious boredom of the film crew in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, when the two main characters merely “make love”)?
From hook-ups to long-term relationships, when people don’t find women’s pleasure important enough to work for, discuss or depict, no one is well served. “We’ve been sold this bill of goods that we’re in an era where people can be sexually free and participate equally in the hookup culture,” Kinsey Institute biologist Justin R. Garcia told the New York Times in November. “The fact is that not everyone’s having a good time.”
And more often than not, it’s women who miss out. Science backs me up here. A survey of 24,000 college students cited in the New York Times article found that 80 percent of guys had an orgasm during their last encounter, while only 40 percent of women did.
I’m on the premier writer’s list for Erotica in the web. Do you know that there are hardly ANY stories written about women having orgasms? I’m serious. One of the writers there said to me, when learning about my father — “I’m surprised you would even WANT to write in this genre.” This was after a piece he did in which the woman was basically asphyxiated while giving a BJ.
You know? I like to think that my father (he’s dead now) would be sort of proud of me for saying, “I’d hate to think that’s what women think a BJ is,” to that guy.
It’s a feminist thing for me to write what I write.
And, I’m so, so, so very glad I met Shawna, and also Seal Press.
ps: If you want to see what I call Literary Erotica you can pick up my book Gardenias in the usual places. Maybe Hefner could read it? What goes around comes around.