Vile Bodies

A Probing Question

June 23, 2015

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A Probing Question

What I don’t know about sex can fill a book. (Literally!) But somehow, contrary to the natural order of things, I became more naive as I entered my fifth decade.

For example: Back in 2010, Toronto Life ran a salacious profile called “The Secret Life of a Bay Street Hooker.”(Americans, read in “Wall Street.”) In the middle of reading it, I pointed to one paragraph, stuck it under my husband’s nose, and uttered four words I’m proud to boast I’ve very rarely said to him before or since, regardless of the subject at hand:

“We’re not doing that.”

Here be the graph:

There are some things most men want, she explains, but aren’t comfortable asking of their partners. Asked to elaborate, she looks coy, then lowers her voice and tells me that she does “a lot of anal work” with her clients. This is an erogenous zone most women overlook in men, she says: “I have a little strap-on I sometimes like to put on, and they’re totally into it. I’ve only ever had one client turn me down.”

My husband’s bug-eyed, shaken-head reaction was the same as mine. (Hey, sexual compatibility is vital in a happy marriage, right?)

But I still felt stupid.

“Even as a carnal bumpkin, I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the notion that some heterosexual males were into, er, prostate play.”

Even as a carnal bumpkin, I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the notion that some heterosexual males were into, er, prostate play. My meager knowledge was acquired at arm’s length, via blessedly brief pop culture encounters:

Shortly after 9/11, I saw Dennis Miller perform at a remote Ontario Indian casino (“It’s great to be wherever the fuck I am…”). About the 72 virgins promised to Muslim terrorists, Miller said he was less than impressed by that reward. “One or two would be okay,” he joked, “but at some point you want to get a finger up your ass.”

Then there’s Sir Ben Kingsley’s indelible performance in Sexy Beast (2000), playing the anti-Gandhi, a gangster named Don Logan. Staring into the middle distance, Logan recalls a one-night stand, and says with less-than-convincing disgust:

During what we were doing, she tried to stick her finger up my bum. I nearly hit the roof, you can imagine. I mean, what have you got to think of a woman who’d want to do that?

So until I read that Toronto Life piece, I had no clue that somehow—in the interim—mundane, matter-of-fact male sexuality had progressed (if that’s quite the word) to include apparently impossible-to-resist wearable fake penises.

I then shared the call girl’s comments with my Facebook friends. To a man (and woman) they expressed surprise and disgust.

Now, you might object that they weren’t likely to have any other response, and you could be right. However, the point is, that 2010 article was my first clue that the “strap-on”—despite the negative reaction of everyone I knew, and it being one of the tackier and more ridiculous-looking sex toys (which is really saying something)—was penetrating the mainstream (or at least the cult-stream).

Because the thing is: What I don’t know about sex I make up for in my admittedly less thrilling (or lucrative) expertise in trendspotting. I correctly discerned at the start of 2014, for example, that the baby goat was poised (atop a horse) to overtake the sloth as “the new panda.” (Pro tip: Brace yourself for the spring 2016 Nehru jacket revival…)

But as so often happens, I was five years ahead of my time. It wasn’t until last week that New York magazine’s vaunted declared 2015 “the Year of the Strap-on.”

Their female writer takes it for granted that you already know that the use of such playthings is referred to as “pegging” (but of course!). Sadly, her faux-breezy prose betrays someone whose urbanity was only recently acquired and is all a bit of a Sally Bowles pose:

Take this scene from the first episode of Netflix’s Sense8: Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and her girlfriend Amanita (Freema Agyeman) are having thrilling, headache-curing sex. I’m no prude, but even I was surprised to see a dildo splash on the ground. Brava.