Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bad Sex Between the Covers

Thank you, Literary Review (UK) for tickling our funny bones (though not our erogenous zones) with The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, which have been "awarded" annually since 1993. The original purpose was to "draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it."

The 2007 winner was a passage from The Castle in the Forest, Norman Mailer's last book about the birth and life of Adolf Hitler. Here's the award-winning passage, which describes Hitler's conception:

'Are you alright?' she cried out as he lay beside her, his breath going in and out with a rasp that sounded as terrible as the last winds of their lost children.

'All right. Yes. No,' he said. Then she was on him. She did not know if this would resuscitate him or end him, but the same spite, sharp as a needle, that had come to her after Fanni's death was in her again. Fanni had told her once what to do. So Klara turned head to foot, and put her most unmentionable part down on his hard-breathing nose and mouth, and took his old battering ram into her lips. Uncle was now as soft as a coil of excrement. She sucked on him nonetheless with an avidity that could come only from the Evil One - that she knew. From there, the impulse had come. So now they both had their heads at the wrong end, and the Evil One was there. He had never been so close before.

The Hound began to come to life. Right in her mouth. it surprised her. Alois had been so limp. But now he was a man again! His mouth lathered with her sap, he turned around and embraced her face with all the passion of his own lips and face, ready at last to grind into her with the Hound, drive it into her piety.

Read other samples of horrible writing about sex (not to be confused with writing about horrible sex, although the two may overlap) here.

I wonder, is there a place for a competition for the best and worst writing about senior sex? Send your nominations with quotes that show the merit (or lack of merit) of your nominee, please!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Condom Sense

Many seniors assume that we don't get sexually transmitted infections and are not at risk for HIV. They're dead wrong. Consider this:

  • About eleven per cent of all newly diagnosed HIV infections are in people older than fifty, and a quarter of those are older than sixty.
  • The risk of AIDS is increasing at twice the rate in people over fifty as compared to the increase in people under fifty.
  • Heterosexual HIV transmission in men over fifty is up ninety-four percent, and the rate has doubled in women since 1991.
  • An Ohio University study found that about twenty-seven percent of HIV-infected men and thirty-five percent of HIV-infected women over fifty sometimes have sex without using condoms.
  • Older women are particularly at risk for blood-borne diseases like HIV or chlamydia because their thinning vaginal lining and lack of lubrication lead to tearing during intercourse, permitting easy access to the bloodstream.
If you’re dating or in a non-monogamous relationship, the issue of safer sex needs to come up early. Some of my women readers write me that they feel uncomfortable asking a new partner to use a condom. They are often newly in the dating game after divorce or death of a spouse. "If I ask a man to use a condom, it sounds like I don't trust him," they say. "If I have them on hand myself, he'll think I sleep around."

My belief is that if you can't talk about safer sex with someone, do you really want to invite that person inside your body? But I know it's hard, especially if you've been in a long-term relationship and suddenly find yourself out in that scary world of dating, sex with new partners, and the risks that weren't a part of our blazing youth.

The Condom Conversation needs to happen before the heat of passion has a chance to melt your resolve. When the sparks and kisses signal that sex is likely in your future, talk about barrier protection. Agree to be prepared when you're ready for the next stage, whether that means next weekend, weeks from now, or in an hour.

In my single past, these approaches served me well:
  • "I always use condoms with a new partner to protect us both."
  • "I'll buy the condoms -- do you prefer a special kind?
  • "Do you have condoms, or should we make a run to the store?"
  • "Your condoms or mine?"

What if your date refuses? I've had occasions when a man refused to use a condom, saying something like, "Sex with condoms just isn’t enjoyable."

I would reply, "Is no sex more enjoyable?"

At this point, I knew the date was over, and I was glad to know in advance that he didn't value my sexual health or his own. If he was willing to go to bed with me without protection, then he did that with his last partners, and they did it with their last partners, and so on.

Take a look at Sue Katz's blog post titled "Seniors Get Infected, Too (Often)" for some startling information about the lack of HIV prevention education for older adults.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What to do when your sex drives aren't in sync?

"Lonely in Thirties" posted a comment to another post, and what she said is so important that I'm repeating it here so I can address her points. This reader is 38 and has been with her husband, age 42, since she was 17. She writes,

My husband used to want to have sex every day if not more often. I did not want it as often but tried my best to accommodate him for many years. Around the time I turned 35, I noticed a huge jump in my sex drive, I would say 3 times a day, every day, would now satisfy me. All I think about is sex and my orgasms are explosive, usually having multiples back to back.

Her reason for writing is her disappointment with her husband, who no longer wants to have sex as often, mainly only on the weekends. She writes,

I am very frustrated. I thought this is what he wanted all these years, a wife who wanted to have sex as often as he did. He claims he still wants me and wants to have sex but, gives a long list like I used to as to why “now” is not a good time. Is there any hope his sex drive will return?

It seems unfair to give myself to a man all these years and not have him reciprocate. I feel resentful, rejected, and hurt. I have always been faithful to him. However, I admit I fantasize about an affair or even leaving my husband for a younger more virile man. It would be nice to have a man keep up with me, not fall asleep on me. Yet having been with one man so long, I worry that a younger man would not find me attractive, or only want me just for sex. Is this true? Are there sexy men out there in their twenties that want a woman my age?

If I end up staying with my husband I think I should to go back on the pill or something to rid myself of my sex drive. I’d rather not have one then to feel this way. Is this it? If I stay with him will I be subject to years more of frustration?

It's impossible to say whether her husband's sex drive will increase again, or whether a younger man would find her attractive (I suspect he would!), but there are a couple of other important issues here besides the obvious difference in sex drives. I wish I could ask Lonely in Thirties these questions:

1. How was communication about sex before your desire changed? Could you each ask for what you wanted? Were you able to talk about what turned you on? How do you communicate about being interested in more sex now? If you have trouble communicating, a counselor could help you break through the barriers and gain a much better understanding of each other and the relationship, as well as this specific desire disparity issue.

2. Have you explored solo sex? Your own fingers and, if you like, a vibrator, would let you enjoy your orgasms, whether or not your husband was in the mood. If you're considering infidelity, try fantasies and pleasuring yourself first. You may find that you can enjoy yourself with deep satisfaction without risking your marriage.

Lonely, if you return to this blog and read this, I hope you'll comment again. Although you're younger than most readers of this blog, your concerns are those that many readers (both men and women) have, and I welcome you to our community.

-- Joan