Love your column. That said, at the risk of sounding like a p.c. crap-spewing psycho, I am going to take an issue with your sentence, "Kind of the way that the single mothers at the playground cannot stop themselves from crawling all over married men who show up there with a baby" ["Quid Pro Shmo," 1/10/07]. I see your point, and obviously there are such women, and they are perhaps plentiful enough to make their own category. I’m a single mom, though, and I’d never, ever, ever do such a thing, and I’m sure there are many others like me. I think I would have appreciated the word "some" prior to "single mothers" in your response. I know it might seem like semantics. But really, my life as a single mom – including the socializing on the playgrounds with married women – is hard enough without my favorite columnist perpetuating myths of all single moms wanting other women’s men just because they oh so easily fall for nurture-exhibiting dads.
You don’t sound psycho at all! I sounded sloppy. I have to admit that after first reading your letter I just assumed you had to be wrong – no way could I have written that line and failed to modify "single mothers" with "some" or "You know the ones I mean." I meant to imply the "some," but apparently I didn’t ply it well enough.
I was actually writing not about single mothers but about women who are attracted to nurturing men, which is not at all a bad thing, especially when you consider the sort of men some other women are attracted to. Just to be clear, the playground thing really does happen. The men I know who’ve reported getting hit on while out with their babies were all wearing wedding rings too, and all were bemused to find that anyone would take them for anything like available in any way. If there are also married guys who take off their rings to take the baby to the park or single guys who borrow a baby and hit the playground circuit and aren’t fictional characters probably played by Hugh Grant, they don’t want to meet me. I stopped carrying pepper spray a while back, but I could start.
Regarding your answer to your reader who has trouble maintaining an erection while wearing a condom, you made a number of useful suggestions but omitted what I think is an important one: try a bigger condom. For years I struggled to get a condom on and maintain an erection, fumbling, stretching, squeezing, and fretting when I just wanted to be fucking. It wasn’t until my late 20s that a girlfriend suggested I try the bigger variety. I was skeptical, as the only other erections I’d seen were massive porno cocks, and I knew at a little over six inches I was nothing special in the length department. They don’t tell you in sex ed that it’s really girth that matters, at least when considering condom candidates. I’ve since tried every large-wide condom that they carry, and I highly recommend Lifestyles Large (they happen to fit me perfectly, but it’s obviously going to depend on details of size and shape). I wish somebody had told me this a long time ago, as it literally changed my life. Not only can I get the condom on easily and stay hard until the job is done, the increased blood flow means I have way more sensation too. Hope this helps.
It’s true! They don’t tell you it’s the width that matters, and I wish they would. I don’t know where my brain was when I was listing all the options and forgetting the condom-width issue, since "it’s the width that counts" is kind of a pet fact of mine. Length may get more press, and it does have its uses, but they are somewhat rarefied. It’s width that does most of the heavy lifting, and it’s width that’s most likely to be missed if absent.
Sex educators, myself included, love to surprise people by emphasizing just how numb to touch the supposedly supersensitive vagina is once you get past the vestibule and, um, front parlor. Even up front, we have more receptors for stretching than for stroking. Then there are all the goodies collectively thought of as the G-spot – paraurethral sponge, Skene’s glands, "crurae" of the clitoris, and so on – which often languish in obscurity or just lie there thinking of England until something curved or just plain thick enough to arouse a response out of them arrives. Width roolz! (Length, by contrast, necessarily droolz.) I hope you realize, now that your equipment problem has been solved, what you’ve got there is, as they say, not a bug but a feature.
Andrea Nemerson teaches sex and communication skills with San Francisco Sex Information. She has been a theater artist, a women’s health educator, and a composting instructor, but not at the same time. She is considering offering a workshop on how to have and rear twins without going crazy, since she’s currently doing that too.