I want you to come inside me.

Julianne Moore to Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights, 1997


Have you ever done this before?

Naomi Watts to Laura Harring, Mulholland Drive, 2001


She wants both of us.

Peter Coyote to Nick Mancuso, about Carol Wayne, Heartbreakers, 1984


I mean, I woke up this morning, and I felt like my boobs were bigger. I mean, do they look bigger to you?

Jennifer Aniston to Jim Carrey, Bruce Almighty, 2003


The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin'

"Big Bottom," Spinal Tap, This Is Spinal Tap, 1984


The narrator writes of the breasts of one of her friends: "I'd like to eat Hélène Lagonelle's breasts as he [the lover] eats mine in the Chinese town where I go every night to increase my knowledge of God. I'd like to devour and be devoured by those flour-white breasts of hers."

Viv Groskop, Au Revoir, Tristesse, Abrams Press, 2020, review of L'Amant by Marguerite Duras; pp.120-121; brackets in original.


My poor pussy, rent and sore
Dreaded yet longed for one fuck more.

1865, quoted by John McWhorter, Nine Nasty W*ords, English in the Gutter: Then, Now and Forever, Avery, Penguin, 2021, p.151.

Talk Dirty to Me

There is an old question, "What do women want?" This is supposed to have been asked by Sigmund Freud -- Was will das Weib? -- of his friend and supporter Marie Bonaparte. There are, of course, different kinds of answers. One level is political and social, to be free of traditional legal and customary disabilities imposed on women (although Nietzsche, his apologists should note, says that these are good), as well as to be free of harrassment and violence, including getting pinched by Italians and even, evidently, hearing cat calls from construction workers. This is presumably the uncontroversial and bipartisan program of a generalized feminism.

The other level of the question is what women want in sex. Marie reportedly became a patient of Freud for a complaint of frigidity -- it is not clear whether Freud was actually any help there. The female body is a mysterious and alien landscape to a lot of men, especially young men; and the details of female genitals can remain obscure, not only to adult men, but sometimes even to adult women -- who need a mirror to examine themselves closely, and will need the help of a gynecologist, or textbooks, for interior knowledge. What feels good to women is something to which men may have no answer, even before they realize that different women like different things, and respond in different ways.

I hesitate to admit how old I was before my first girlfriend warned me, ante factum, that when girls are sexually aroused, they get wet. There is perhaps more awareness of this now, when Joan Rivers could joke that "I haven't self-subricated in twenty years," although the significance of this, indeed, might be lost on younger or more naive viewers of Fashion Police. It was always a magical moment, in foreplay with a hot date or new girlfriend, to explore her body and find my finger wet with evidence of her excitement and readiness. I have lost the reference, but not long ago I heard a woman publicly comment about the appearance at an event of a sexually appealing male personality, such that, "There wasn't a dry seat in the house." The male response, such as I experienced to a degree seeing Naomi Watts cup Laura Harring's breast in Mulholland Drive, might indeed be unfamiliar to a naive young girl (as memorably figures in some dialogue by William Hurt in Body Heat [1981]), but an erection is something much more easily graphically represented than female wetness. Also, we get jokes like the famous one from Mae West (1893-1980) -- "Is that a pickle in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me" -- where it would be difficult to imagine how the corresponding female excitement would similarly betray itself -- although erect nipples could do so, with sufficiently thin material over them.
Keith Garvey, Sweet Things,
S.Q. Productions Inc., 2016.

The female phenomenon, of course, only occurs between menarche and menopause, and intially may accompany the first onset of menstruation, for which naive and uninformed girls, especially in the past, may be unprepared. I've had one woman tell me about the terror of not knowing what was happening to her, even as her mother closed her in the bathroom while, evidently, calling the doctor. I have heard from another woman whose mother, worried that her menses might start while she was away at summer camp, tried to hurriedly explain what might happen, from which my friend took away the idea that she was going to begin laying eggs. Well, sort of.

An encounter between male naiveté and the full reality of female sexuality was something I noticed in the television series Unhappily Ever After [1995-1999], which was a cruder and crazier knock-off of the ground-breaking Married With Children [1987-1997]. Noteworthy in the series was the fetching Nikki Cox, married for twelve years to comedian Jay Mohr, and the unfortunate victim of some later, ill advised plastic surgery. Also memorable was comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who supplied the voice of a stuffed bunny, "Mr. Floppy," with whom the alcoholic and questionably sane father of the family, played by Geoff Pierson, held extensive conversations. Ed Bundy never fell so far.

I did not watch this series regularly and may never have watched a whole episode straight through, but I came across it occasionally while channel surfing. At one time, I caught a scene where the hard luck son of the family, played by Kevin Connolly, has apparently been stalking a girl he was interested in [don't try this at home!]. He finds her in a parked car with a date, who can't handle her sexual desires and actually runs away. Connolly approaches, to find her expressing her frustration, and is invited into the car. After a moment he asks, "What's that smell?" Her answer is simply, "Girl." This was way over the top for network television, even in the days of Bill Clinton. The "smell" is the scent of her readiness for intercourse, for which the change in partners is no inhibition whatsoever. Connolly, who usually has trouble interesting girls in the ordinary ways, hits the jackpot. On this occasion, anyway.

This city is called the City of Enchantments; it is ruled over by Queen Almanākh, a sorceress of extraordinary power, a devil in the body of a woman. Her desire never ceases to burn, so that each time a young, strong and handsome stranger comes to this island, she seduces him and makes him mount her an infinity of times, for forty days and nights. By the end of that period he is completely worn out, and she changes him into an animal; in his new form he recovers and adds to his strength and then she transforms herself into a female of his species, a mare or ass perhaps, and is again mounted repeatedly. After that she resumes her human shape and makes new lovers, new victims, of those she can find. There come nights when her desire burns so hotly that she is mounted one after another by every animal on the island. Such is her life.

The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, rendered into English from the Literal and Complete French Translation of Dr. J.C. Mardus, by Powys Mathers, Volume III, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964, 1972, 1986, p.97.



καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου.
Et sub viri potestate eris.
Your desire will be for your husband.

Genesis 3:16; addressed to Eve.

The Victorian cliché was that women have no sexual response, are not interested in sex, and only allow men to lie with them because it is their duty, and they want to have children, or they do want to please their man. As we see, this contradicts Genesis 3:16; and Queen Victoria herself, apparently, was a lot more enthusiastic than this and was worried when, after nine births, her doctors recommended that she have no more children. She asked in alarm if this meant that she and her husband could no longer be intimate. I am unaware of the response from the doctor, although it wasn't long before the death of Prince Albert settled the issue. In the history of royalty, we can often identify the couples who actually like each other, from the number of children they have. King George III and Queen Charlotte had fifteen children, they reportedly actually slept in the same bed -- unusual for royal couples -- and George never took mistresses -- also unusual for royalty [note].

This notion that women are sexually inert seems to have not existed before the 19th century. The Greeks had no doubt that women had strong sexual desires, and Greek mythology featured the testimony of the sage Teiresias, who had been both a man and a woman, that women experienced more pleasure in sex than men -- for the disclosure of this secret Hera blinded him in retribution. There is no doubt of the sexual desire of women in the Thousand and One Nights, as we see in the long quotation above. Except for this sorceress, however, the Nights has few examples of this extreme degree.

Indeed, part of the misogynistic smear against women rulers was always that they are consumed by lust and use the power of their position to gratify unlimited desire. We find this defamation used against Cleopatra, the Empress Wu of China, the Empress Theodora, Catherine the Great of Russia, and even, to an extent, against Queen Elizabeth I of England. Catherine is still slandered with the popular story that she died while trying to have sex with a horse, which fell on her. The advent of Christianity did not alter the foundation of this; but we got the addition of the idea that through their desire, women tempt men into sin. This was also consistent with the idea that women rulers, freed from the inhibitions imposed on them by men, would not be able to control themselves.

Thus, women might be seen as inherently dangerous, like Eve, and even potentially evil, without being carefully controlled. The ideal life in a corrupt world is to withdraw from it; and so monks and nuns live in the best way. If nuns were cloistered, their separation from men protected the women and the men. Men can be priests and mendicants, which puts them out in the world, but not women. Eventually, nuns become teachers and even nurses, which also exposes them to the world, and the world to them, but there is less danger with them mixing with children and with the sick than in other secular relationships.

The Victorian inversion of this placed all the desire, and so all the temptation, in men, with women naturally pure and virtuous. This inversion may be the result of the Protestant abolition of monasticism. If women withdraw from the world, it will only be into the home, while men are out in the world whatever they do.

A consequence of the latter, in the circumstances of the age, would have been the historic opportunities for men to take off for the wilderness and for the East, accompanied only by other men. This may have had a homoerotic aspect to it, but the sexual outlet for exploring or pioneering men was usually with the local, non-Western women, whose own appeal and desires could be of a very different kind from white, European women.

The fantasy of European men with "native" women was something genuinely lived out by the original Nabobs in India, someone like Sam Houston among the Cherokee, or the sailors who discovered that Hawaiian women might swim out to their ships, naked, and offer themselves for so small a consideration as an iron nail. Captain Cook had to set guards over the nails -- with sailors then sometimes prying nails out of the fabric of the ship itself. And we should not forget how in 1945 a 16-year-old slave girl was gifted by King ʿAbd-al-ʿAzîz ibn Saʿûd (1875-1953) to the sixty-year-old Harry St John "Jack" Philby (1885-1960), father of the Cambridge traitor Harold "Kim" Philby (1912-1988). Philby had three children with the girl. The King should have known this would contribute to some kind of racist "Orientalism," although Nietzsche, the darling of "Progressives," says that we should "think Orientally about women," über das Weib immer nur orientalisch denken. Nietzsche apologists need to pay some attention.

Paul Gauguin, Merahi metua no Tehamana, "Tehamana Has Many Parents," 1893; Art Institute of Chicago
Today, there suddenly is uncertainty about the status of the great artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), who, when he was in Tahiti, slept with Tahitian women, often young women, even very young women, and had children by them. A 2019 exhibit of Gauguin at the National Gallery in London (which I attended) could not resist "problematizing" Gauguin because of this "colonialist exploitation" of Tahitians, some of whom, of course, he immortalized in portraits, as at right.

Since we know, from reports by Captain Cook and others, that Polynesians had few scuples about the youth of nubile (but not noble) girls, it is hard to imagine how Gauguin is supposed to have resisted. Artists are not famous for their celibacy or inhibitions. And while politically correct artists now pose as paragons and even prophets of virtue, racial and otherwise, the pose usually seems to be just that, a pose, suspicious in its self-righteousness and convenient social conformity [note].

We have Oscar Wilde saying, "No artist has ethical sympathies." How things have changed. What hasn't changed is "Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming" [Preface, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891]. Politicized art criticism is totally corrupt, and not the least bit charming. In those terms, the National Gallery exhibit itself was corrupt, like almost all contemporary literary study.

Before long in Hawai'i, white men married into noble families and even royalty. The arrival of white women in India and Hawai'i tended to make "honest" Victorians of the men; but in a place like Hawai'i a local mixed class, the Hapa Haole or "Part Hawaiians" (to the U.S. Census), had already been created. The "Bishop Estate," with its extensive lands, which many residents of Hawai'i lease for their homes, derives its name from Charles Reed Bishop (1822-1915), but the lands themselves were from his wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884). A similar story is told in the movie The Descendants [2011] -- which failed to consider that the lands of the family could be leased, rather than sold, to the developers, with restrictive covenants on what could be done with it.

I was on the fringes of this phenomenon myself in my first marriage, living with my wife's grandmother, who was born in 1893, and who said that local people who wore shoes back then were ho'ohaole, "making like white people." Unlike the mixed population, the mestizos, of Spanish colonies like Mexico, all the Hapa Haoles of Hawai'i have enjoyed an elevated status, shared with Hawaiian nobility and the monarchy. With that, of course, went Victorian morality, leaving us curious whether the inability of the Royal Family to reproduce itself, including Princess Bernice herself, was an artifact of New England Protestant sexual inhibitions.

Here's the KY. I want your finger in my ass [note].

Hold my breasts. They're each a good handful. That's what they're for. Feel their weight. Wouldn't you like to hold them all day? It'd take a load off my back.


I need a quickie before we watch the movie. Do you want to watch?


I wore a loose, fly-away top and no bra so you can play with me. I can also flash if need be. I know what "SUYT" means [note].


If I'm wet, that means "Fuck me!"

Shameless Woman, what Mad magazine used to call "Scenes We'd Like to See."

Many women are reluctant to say what they like. One side of that, apart from just being shy, may be the feeling that men do not like to be instructed in such things. There will certainly be such men, who don't like being told because it implies that they don't know what they are doing, especially if they actually don't know what they are doing. The other side of the matter, however, may be the feeling of many women that men should know what they are doing, either from experience, or because men should naturally know, or because a man should be able to intuit, empirically or telephathically, what a particular woman likes. If he cannot intuit that from subliminal clues or telepathy, then he must not be in love with them. None of this applies, of course, if both lovers are young, naive, and inexperienced just because they have had no time in life for experience yet -- cf. The Blue Lagoon [1980].

Experienced men know that different women respond to different things. Thus, they can test the waters and find out fairly quickly what particular women like. The woman may not be aware that this is what is being done, or they may realize that the man is trying different things. Women, of course, can also be ignorant of the male body. Although the penis is fairly obvious, which parts of it are responsive and which are not will not be obvious, and also may vary somewhat between men. I am not aware that testicles are sexually sensitive or responsive, but there is a general impresson that they are, which then may actually be the case for some men. And some men may just like the idea of their testicles in a woman's mouth, which can be arousing even if the glands are otherwise insensitive, except to pain.

Men discerning what it is that a woman likes is not a one way street. A woman should have some interest or concern in what the man likes; and even as a new lover experiments with her to test her responses, she should note how he likes what she does.
A man may like a woman on all fours, for instance, with her breasts hanging free, and with vaginal entry from the rear, "doggy style." Some women do not prefer this, for various reasons, such as that she likes facing her lover; she doesn't like her breasts hanging free; a rear entry does not as directly stimulate the clitoris; and that the particular angle of the vagina in her body may actually make the entry uncomfortable, especially if she keeps her body horizontal. Or, a woman may like rear entry because she can just close her eyes and concentrate on the sensations in her genitals and her free breasts. This may be a position where, with a mind floating away, she voices the name of a former lover [note].

At the same time, the man may find rear entry, through the cushion of her buttocks, and the depth of the entry, particularly pleasurable, with the sight of her swinging breasts, which may be fondled, and her cascading hair, which can be grasped, particuarly arousing. Just the sight of a woman on all fours, with her genitals visible within her buttocks, thrust high in the air, can be particularly arousing. At the same time, a woman on top of the man at the same time benefits from maximum control over her own stimulation, while displaying to the man the edifying sight, and tempting to the touch, her own breasts in motion, and even bouncing, both on her vertical torso, and while leaning forward.

We then have the perplexing cases of what women would like men to want and what men would like women to want. This gets displayed and explored in a lot of erotica and pornography. Indeed, the large body of romance literature for women consists of little but fantasies of what women would like men to do and be like. The irony of this, as I have noted elsewhere, is that what goes on in a lot of romance literature looks a lot like rape.

So, we now have the strange and remarkable popularity of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey [2012], the first of three books, by E.L. James, a woman who originally wrote "fan fiction" about the Twilight series. But, where Twilight had simply been about a woman's romance with a vampire, and then becoming one, Fifty Shades of Grey is the "romance" of a relationship between the young, naive, and virginal Anastasia Steele with a worldly, rich, and controlling businessman Christian Grey. Indeed, "controlling" meant bondage & discipline (B/D) and sadomasochism (S&M). The first book ends when Anastasia, who has already been seduced, and tied up a bit, solicits a full rigor spanking, just to see what it is like, and discovers -- remarkably! -- that it hurts. She leaves -- for the time being.

The success of Fifty Shades of Grey, its sequels (Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed), and the 2015 movie, with sequels (all terrible), was extraordinary, not just considering the content of them, but also because the books seem to be examples of rather poor writing. Salman Rushdie is reported saying, "I've never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace." However, he therefore seems to have read it.

Why should bondage, submission, and sadomasochism be so popular to an international audience mostly, evidently, of women? One might think that such themes would only appeal to men. However, wrapping it in the "romance" package turned out to be the ticket to female appeal. There may also be the popular theme that a good woman can reform a bad man -- by way of suffering and devotion. Feminists must cringe.

This reminds me of an American woman I met in Beirut in 1970. She really liked a movie called The Collector [1965], which is about a butterfly collector who, without much interest or experience in romance, decides to "collect" a woman. He does, and holds her prisoner, without, apparently, any particular sexual interest in her. After attempting to gain his trust so that she can escape, the misadventure results in her death. The movie ends with the "collector" looking for another victim.

I found pretty much everything about this movie unappealing, if not appalling. And I am not adverse to kidnapping or bondage fantasies. But this story lacked what I would expect to be the sexual raison d'être of any such story. But something about it pushed the right buttons with my friend. This still makes a lot less sense to me than Fifty Shades of Grey. If it is a "romance," the lack of erotic interest, consumation, or even affection would seem to contradict the premise. It would almost have made more sense if the collector had collected women the way he did butterflies -- dead. But then that would have been a very different, and even more horrific, movie genre (cf. The Cell [2000], whose aesthetic and stylishness, with Jennifer Lopez, distracts from its necrophilia).

The only thing that interests me about The Collector now is that it starred an unrecognizeable Terence Stamp, who was otherwise off my radar until I saw him in the The Limey [1999], with, of all people, Peter Fonda. And a much better movie than The Collector.

What Fifty Shades of Grey, The Collector, and other questionable romance literature may have in common is "fantasy." Few might mind being tied up, or even "kidnapped," by someone they already love and desire. But as I have also examined elsewhere, a lot of the bondage and discipline stuff starts to sound tedious and boring, with other pleasures or necessities of life conveniently ignored or forgotten. But in fantasy and "pornotopia" all is possible.

Pornography

The Erotic as an Aesthetic Category

The Girl in a Dress

Gender Stereotypes and Sexual Archetypes

Ethics, Critique of Feminism

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Copyright (c) 2018, 2020, 2021 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

Talk Dirty to Me, Note 1

A curious revival of a kind of Victorian picture of female sexuality emerged in a book by Shere Hite, The Hite Report on Female Sexuality [1976, 1981, 2004]. Since a feature of 1970's feminism often was the idea that women don't need men, Hite expanded on this with information, by way of interviews with women, that sexual intercourse is entirely unnecessary for sexual pleasure and fulfillment in women. Clitoral stimulation will do the job, and Hite reported that women actually found masturbation superior to intercourse. If true, then the presumed preference of men for intercourse would simply be part of patriarchy and sexist oppression, precisely fitting the Victorian characterization I have given that women "only allow men to lie with them because it is their duty, and they want to have children, or they do want to please their man." The proper feminist doesn't need any of that, except perhaps for reproduction by artificial insemination. Keep that dick away from me.

There is a history involved there. Freud was aware that women could orgasm through clitoral stimulation, and in fact it was often the practice of physicians in the 19th century to administer therapeutic orgasms through massage to women who seemed to not experience them with their husbands. Under various euphemisms, electric vibrators were developed and sold that were actually for this purpose. Vibrating dildoes and butt plugs are the multipurpose successors.

Freud decided that clitoral orgasms were an immature form of sexuality. Orgasms during intercourse were the mature, developed, and more satisfying practice. For some reason, this began a controversy about whether there actually was such a thing as a "vaginal" orgasm that was different, much less superior, to the clitoral one. Hite seemed very much to be in the tradition of denying, not only that there were vaginal orgasms, but that intercourse played any role whatsoever in desirable female sexuality.

The sensible answer to this would seem to be, in equal measure, "It depends," and, "You're nuts." Different women like different things and have various responses. Some women just don't like intercourse. And they don't even need to be Lesbians. I knew one such who actually became a Catholic nun. Otherwise, it might strike one as rather odd that Nature would equip women with genitals, absolutely essential for reproduction, and yet restrict sexual response to an organ that actually isn't essential for reproduction. It is hard to imagine what kind of evolution, or what kind of Divinity, would provide for anything so pointless. Even the useless male nipple can be sexually responsive, but its response is communicated directly to the penis. A sexually inert vagina would be a remarkable oversight, unless Nature or the Deity didn't care whether females had intercourse and children. Not likely.

When Hite later came out with a book on male sexuality, which also claimed that men preferred mastrubation to intercourse, this seemed, not just preposterous, but to confirm how unlikely her results had been with women. A political agenda, one that seemed all but hostile to life, not just men, looked to be at work.

An addition to this strange mix of issues was an old claim that there is an area in the vagina, the "Gräfenberg Spot," or "G-spot," that is sexually responsive and actually responsible for vaginal orgasms, or at least the really good ones. Whether this organ even exists is still a matter of dispute and uncertainty, and the testimony of women trying to find it seems uneven. Part of G-spot lore, if not its mythology, is that the tissue corresponds to the prostate gland in males, which, if stimulated through the anus, can produce orgasms and ejactulation in men entirely independent from stimulation of the penis. Oddly enough, there are videos at porn sites showing this happening. This is said to corroborate the claim that G-spot stimulation can produce "female ejaculation," where there is a gushing of vaginal juices during orgasm.

As one might imagine, the possibility that the G-spot falsifies the thesis of "no vaginal orgasm" resulted in bitter polemics. However, in the 70's and 80's the matter seemed to fizzle out, perhaps because the whole business was so silly to begin with. After all, some large percentage of women, perhaps a substantial majority, like intercourse, and prefer it to mastrubation. It just depends. Some women of my experience do not lie still during intercourse but raise their pelvis up to meet and receive the penis. I take this to mean an active desire for penetration -- which we also see when women are on top and control all the movement.

Also, there are women who can achieve orgasm simply from the stimulation of their breasts and nipples; and from my own experience, it is possible for a woman to achieve orgasm from no more than the external stimulation of her anus. The girlfriend this happened to objected that the orgasm was with an empty vagina, which was not as satisfying for her. She would start to orgasm and then desperately grasp my fingers and direct them into herself. I did not make that mistake again [note].

I had one girlfriend whose disenchangment with her husband was in part the result of his preference for anal sex. This reminded me of a letter to Penthouse back in the 70's, from a woman who had taken a lover precisely because of a similar preference in her husband. The letter, of course, recounted the day when her husband came home early, her lover sought refuge under the bed, and her husband decided it was time for his favorite form of intercourse -- another insult to "my once proud ass." A great phrase. My friend, of course, rather than endure such insults, got divorced.

However, while my girlfriend's enthusiasm for vaginal intercourse was considerable, she sometimes asked me to help her achieve orgasm by inserting my finger in her, guess what, anus. This was then directly efficacious. It left me wondering. Was she in fact naturally sensitive there, or had her husband's practices stimulated a sensitivity? Will never know.

All of this seems a bit off the map from feminist dogmatics, whether there is a G-spot or not.

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Talk Dirty to Me, Note 2

A striking intereaction of artistic lack of inhibition with social propriety and conformity concerns the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). For some years Joanna Hifferman (1843-1886?) was both model and mistress for Whistler. At right is one of her famous portraits, "Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl," also called just "The White Girl" and "The Woman in White" (1862). Strangely, the painting was a bit of a scandal because of the plainness of the dress and grooming. It defied conventions. Hard to understand now, especially in comparison to something Le déjeuner sur l'herbe. When Whistler fathered a child on a maid, Hifferman actually raised him.

But when Whistler's mother came to visit from America -- yes, that "Whister's Mother," Anna McNeil Whistler -- Hifferman and all her possessions where cleaned out of Whistler's house. Nevertheless, his mother knew about Hifferman and, of course, disapproved. That didn't stop Whistler from soon acquiring a new model and mistress, Maud Franklin (1857-1941?).

Meanwhile Whistler seems to have handed Hifferman off to the notorious fellow artist Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). Courbet produced paintings that we might think of as more properly scandalous. Below, we see Le Sommeil (1866), also called Les Deux Amies and Paresse et Luxure ("Indolence and Lust"). This was hot enough that it was not shown publicly until 1988. Indeed, it is hot enough that we would not be surprised to find it in modern Lesbian pornography. Curiously, it was specifically ordered by a Turkish diplomat, Halil Şerif Paşa. Since this may remind us of paintings of harems by people like Delacroix, who can be accused of "Orientalism," this is a nice turnabout. The Turk, who likely was familiar with real harems, probably could not get a painting like this back home. Indeed, there is little direct sense of harem Lesbianism in the Delacroix paintings. This is now more a modern idea, which is why my friend Lynn Burson learned belly dancing. Paresse ("sloth") we have seen among vices.

So, even while James Whistler tidied up his life so as not to embarrass his mother, he seems to have treated his actual women as disposable. There is some uncertainty about the later lives of both Hifferman and Maud Franklin, even though Franklin bore Whistler, who never married her, two children. It is not clear that Paul Gauguin treated his Tahitian women with the kind of carelessness, even cruelty, that we might gather from Whistler's behavior. And exploitative colonialism is not a factor, although, since Hifferman was a poor Irish girl fleeing the Potato Famine, perhaps we could work that in.

With Gauguin, we might reflect, not only that the girl's age would not be a problem in the local culture -- indeed, the first young (13 year old) local girl he got involved with, Teha'amana, was offered to him in marriage by her mother -- but that a child out of wedlock would not be either. In a lot of Polynesia, and elsewhere in the Pacific, a woman having a child before marriage, as long as she is not nobility (or Samoan), is more displaying evidence of marriagabilty than of the opposite. Only multiple children begins to look improper. Also, children are always welcome in the extended family. Taking one in is called hānai ("love") adoption in Hawai'i, and it may not always even be with the consent of the mother. Thus, there is little ground to ever consider a child "illegitimate." My first wife's grandmother was hānai adopted into the Mormon Nāinoa family, and she grew up a proper Nāinoa. Back in Europe, Whistler could rely on no such custom.

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Talk Dirty to Me, Note 3

When I was a student at Robert A. Millikan Junior High School, in Sherman Oaks, California, in what must have been 1963 or so, I was on my way, I think, to my Algebra class. Ahead of me in the hall was a girl, someone I didn't know. Around me walked some guy, who I also didn't know, who swept up behind the girl and goosed her, i.e. pressed his finger low between her butt cheeks. All the girls wore skirts or dresses in those days (it was the "dress code" of the school, as it happens), so the material gave in a good bit when he pressed on it.

She was startled, of course, but turned around toward him and did not seem at all displeased. She said something, which I do not now remember, but the tone was encouraging or flirtatious in some way. I gathered that they knew each other already.

I had never seen anything like that and seemed to be seeing something from a different walk of life, and certainly from a different level of sexual awareness. Indeed, it is not something I would ever see again, outside of the movies, which must mean my life path never crossed that of the sort of boys and girls, or men and women, who would trade in such an interaction.

But I can imagine a sequel, that the girl might draw the boy aside, into a private area, put her arms around his neck, and instruct him to reach under her skirt, into her underpants, and pursue the thought and action that would follow from his beginning.

Since not everyone likes "anal play," this scenario might not suggest itself to very many women. Nor do I think of many women dreaming of receiving a goosing like that. Something anthropologists or psychologists might study.

My old Junior High is now "Robert A. Millikan Middle School, Affiliated Charter & Performing Arts Magnet." At the time, we were told that Millikan (1868-1953) had determined the charge of the electron. I did not learn until many years later that Millikan was the first President of the California Insitute of Technology (1920-1946), and that he had invited Albert Einstein to visit in the Spring Semesters of 1931, 1932, and 1933.

While Einstein was there in 1933, Hitler took over in Germany; and Einstein never returned home. He did spend the summer of 1933 in Europe, in the Netherlands; but that Fall he took up a position at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, and afterwards never left the United States again.

A lot of that would have been a better story for us at Millikan Junior High. Millikan wanted Einstein to stay at Caltech, but he decided to go to Princeton. Naming the school after Millikan probably was consistent with the promotion of science education after the panic over the Soviet lead in the Space Race. This was parodied by the comedy of The Firesign Theatre, whose routines often featured a school called "More Science High" -- although I then saw them actually spell it "Morse Science High." This was the arch rival of "Commie Martyrs High," which would probably fit with many schools today. There certainly is no longer much interest in actual science, which has been politicized and denatured.

At Caltech, Einstein played in a string quartet with Roy Beaumont, who was recruited for that purpose from Pasadena City College. Beaumont later taught, infamously, at Los Angeles Valley College.

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Talk Dirty to Me, Note 4;
Breast Liberation

The supreme moment of 60's Feminism came when it was decided that brassieres were oppressive. Well, clearly they were forms of bondage, like all shackles and chains. Young women demonstrated by publicly burning their bras, doubtless the moral equivalent of young men at the time burning their draft cards.

There may not have been a male on the planet to dissent from this view, and there was a brief, blessed period when young American women might go around with free breasts, often wearing the kind of thin, soft "peasant" gowns that were then also popular. They allowed maximum freedom for the breasts.

Unfortunately, that period was indeed brief. One reason may have been that the fashion, indeed, attracted, not just male attention, but unusual levels of male excitement, not unlike the thong bathing suits of the 1990's. This might not have seemed like quite the right idea to serious Feminists, who never had sex appeal in mind.

The other objection to bralessness, of course, was the consideration behind a lot of historic female dress, dress created by women, not by the patriarchy:  breasts that are moving or bouncing around are not necessarily comfortable or convenient. They may draw male attention from miles around, but, as Katy Perry says, "they just get in my way." Thus the Mediaeval bodice, or the 19th century corset, or the modern brassiere simply, one way or another, hold the breasts in place.

The corset, which also cinches the waist, also gave rise to moral reflections, that the passions of women were thus also serendipitously restrained, but the prime visible effects were, indeed, to cinch the waist, thus exaggerating the contours of women, and to raise, separate, and hold the breasts. This may have been overkill, since such confinement perhaps was a high price, compared to bodices, just to immobilize the breasts. Also, far from exhibiting moral virtue, corsets now tend to be associated with kinkier kinds of sex.

Bras address no more than a single issue. Women who wanted to do something about their waists in the 1950's could wear girdles, whose confinement and discomfort led to a well deserved rejection by young women of the 60's. They now seem as dead as the Dodo.

Meanwhile, bras could, if desired, push up the breasts, create décolletage, or display more of them in low cut dresses or tops. Demi-bras can even uncover the nipples. However, if custom bras are part of the arsenal of sex appeal, the alternative of dispensing with a bra altogether seems to have largely dropped out of consideration. But, again, nothing is going to inflame male passions quite as much as breasts moving around under filmy and diaphonous clothing, as we see with the young cyclist at right, whose clothing could be right out of 1968. In fact, I don't think that is practical. The skirt could get caught in the bicycle chain. Actually, all she needs to do is gather up the skirt and tie it, leaving her legs bare and the material out of harm's way. That would be fairly sexy in its own way.

That is what I thought a few years ago walking down The Mall in St. James Park in London, on a Sunday when it was closed to traffic. There was a young woman wearing a long, loose, filmy, white skirt, much like in the photo. But it was a warm day, and she had tied it up, exposing her legs. Just right for riding a bike, but otherwise an appealing way of showing off her legs. It worked for me.

A proper fly-away top is loose and does not stitch or gather the fabric below the breasts. Thus, it hangs free from the ends of the breasts, opening a space below them, vulnerable to eye or hand. Some tops are called "fly-away" if they are gathered below the breasts but hang free below that. Also, a top or shirt can be called "fly-away" even if it is made of a stretch fabric that tightens below the breasts, leaving no open space.

Offering bearer, Tomb of Meketre, XII Dynasty, Metropolitan Museum, New York
Without a bra, dresses can be tailored to accommodate the breasts, particularly with straps, over the shoulders or around the neck, where actual cups can be fashioned, or the straps can be made broad with enough material to hold the breasts. The Egyptians, who had an ancient and durable design of tight sheath dresses that rose from the ankles to just below the breasts, had such provision, as we see at left. The Egyptians also used narrow straps that left the breasts bare, such as we see at right. The most striking may be where two narrow straps are attached between the breasts, holding them apart. Fashion varied, and whether the breasts are exposed, covered, or diaphanously veiled often seems entirely random.

What such designs allow we can see in the movie End of Days [1999], with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gabriel Byrne plays Satan; and early in the movie, as he is walking through a restaurant, he stops to lean down and kiss a random woman sitting at one of the tables. She is wearing a dress with the broad straps holding her breasts. That makes it easy for Byrne to pop one of her breasts out of the dress and fondle it while he is kissing her. Pretty hot. I've never seen that happen otherwise in life or in the movies, but it looks like fun. Later, Byrne is having sex with both a mother and her daughter, where their bodies begin to merge into one. The sort of wild, and disturbing, sex we might expect from Satan.

As with various fashions, male and female, the political climate has its effect. In the ahedonic totalitarianism of the modern university, one thinks more of the Orwellian "Anti-Sex League" than of the strategies of sex appeal. A young woman harranging us about racism and sexism is not likely to be wearing see-through clothing. In the Sixities things were complicated by the competing calls of freedom and militance. Young people tended to prefer one or the other, and Woodstock featured a lot more nudity and dancing than it did fist shaking or protest signs. Today, it is hard to tell. There are riots but no love-ins. One cannot imagine participants in the riots giving flowers to policemen or national guardsmen, as we used to see before. It is now an altogether grim and anhedonic culture, in line with what students have been taught. Hopefully that means it will pass soon, but you never know.

Above is a detail from the recently discovered Ptolemaic coffin of "Ir Nefer," from a shaft tomb at Saqqara. The goddess's breast is exaggerated, where the style of drawing is a bit different from traditional forms. But we get the same kind of clothing as traditional, and the same unconcern for the naked breast.

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Talk Dirty to Me, Note 5

When I was young, my girlfriend and I would try different positions every time we had sex. At climax, she preferred that we be facing, but we always did a stretch of vaginal rear entry.

One day, she said she was curious whether she would be able to orgasm if she stayed on her knees and there was no contact between us except me coming into her from behind. No problem. She climaxed as usual, but subsequently she still would rather that we were facing at climax.

Aria Giovanni, Penthouse, September 2000, pp.94-107
We continued to cycle through positions, but she never showed any preference for coming while on her knees.

I was curious, of course, just what was being stimulated when we were in that position. She was like some of my other girlfriends who always achieved, or liked to achieve, orgasm through intercourse. Indeed, she had not learned to mastrubate, something I always thought was due to the way she felt self-conscious when she tried it. But then, between that, and her ability to climax easily during intercourse, it was not clear how much the stimulation of her clitoris was involved in her sexual response.

Also, she was a woman who seemed to derive minimal response from the stimulation of her breasts or nipples. Being relatively inexperienced at the time, I had no idea whether or not that was typical. I was surprised when I discovered that a later girlfriend could become seriously aroused just from caressing her breasts.

One thing I learned early on with my earlier girlfriend was that after I would achieve orgasm, she liked for me to stay inside her. A man might think that the action is all finished, but not necessarily. Even while I would shrink away and eventually fall out naturally, it would end up over the years quite common that women would rather that I not have a hasty exit. This made it sound like holding a penis in her vagina was pleasurable in itself; and this was consistent with the preference of a later girlfriend that her orgasm was better during penetration. Obviously, that is not how all women feel.

My earlier girlfriend seemed to have an unusual ability, which my other lovers may not have had, or at least never told me about. That was, she said that she could hold off her orgasm until she knew I was ready to climax, and she knew this because my penis would suddenly become slightly larger. She could tell. Then she would let go, and we would have the Holy Grail of "simultaneous orgasm," which was not something I could count on in other relationships. It didn't always work with her, but it was not unusual. She was a very hot girl.

One regret I retain about her was that once she woke me up in the middle of night eager for sex. Since we had sex every day, often more than once, I wasn't quite ready for this particular service call. I don't think she ever reproached me about it, but I reproached myself. I remembered something Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) said in Zorba the Greek [1964] about answering a woman's summons. Years later, when I was awakened in the night by a another girlfriend eager for sex, I didn't hesitate.

Ma Vie Sexuelle

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Talk Dirty to Me, Note 6;
Non-Sexual Excursus

This girlfriend had previously been married to a psychiatrist. He had money, and they had been able to travel a lot. We were out one evening and found Harry's Bar in Century City. This was a branch of the original Harry's Bar, founded in Venice by Giuseppe Cipriani (1900-1980) in 1931.

As happens, there was also a Harry's Bar in Florence, but this was opened by Enrico Mariotti in 1952 and named at the suggestion of his friend Giuseppi Cipriani, especially since "Enrico" is Italian for "Henry," of which "Harry" is an English variant or nickname.

At this remove, I don't remember whether my girlfriend had been to the Harry's Bar in Venice, or in Florence, or both. I did come away with the impression that the bar was in Venice, without any recollection that there were two of them. But whichever it was, she was enthusiastic and went on about it for a while. She did like to name drop about her experiences, which I suppose I'm doing here also.

The Harry's Bar in Century City closed in 2002. There are various Cipriani restaurants around the world, but since 2012 they are now owned by an investment company in Luxembourg. Only one, the original, is still called "Harry's Bar," even as the other Harry's Bar in Florence continues in business. However, the "Harry Cipriani" restaurant in the Sherry Netherland Hotel, on 59th Street at 5th Avenue in New York City, says it is a duplicate of the original Harry's Bar.

My wife and I were in Venice in 2019, and our hotel was literally across the street from the original Harry's Bar, which we passed by every day. We would look in the window and check out the menu occasionally, but it seemed way too expensive for us, so we ate elsewhere and never did visit a bar just to have a drink, as I suppose we might have done at Harry's. Having wine with lunch and dinner, the whole time we were in Italy, we were not in need of any extra alcohol.

Since I was not, at the time, aware there was a Harry's Bar in Florence, and it was not along any of the routes we walked, we never did look in there. I also have no recollection whether the Harry's Bar in Los Angeles was intended to look like the original. I don't even remember whether my girlfriend and I ate there, or just had a drink. It was a long time ago.

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