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Obstructions abound

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Dear Andrea:

My wife and I are both about 41 and have been married 10 years. Our marriage has been satisfying except in one big area: intercourse has become impossible, owing (I suspect)to my wife’s multiple abdominal surgeries. The problem is that initially I can achieve nearly full penetration, but as the action continues, a strange foreshortening seems to occur in her vaginal canal so that eventually I am only able to get in about half as far as when we started, and it is somewhat painful, as if there is something actually obstructing me. Do you have any idea what might be the problem, and could you suggest anything that may help? We are both quite depressed about this.

Love,

 Kicked Out


Dear Out:

I don’ know what procedures your wife has undergone, or what conditions caused her to undergo them, but any abdominal procedure, most certainly including hysterectomy and childbirth vaginal or caesarian, not to mention pregnancy itself, can cause nerve or muscle damage, scar tissue, and unhelpful structural changes. Something, a muscle or suspensory ligament, has been weakened. Something is pushing on something or falling into something — I’d assume uterine prolapse (although I’m not a doctor) and needs to be coaxed back into place. No matter which structure has wandered off where (uterine prolapse does make me think a bit of “hysteria,” the “wandering womb” of yore), something, needs to be done, whether more surgery (one hopes not), physical therapy (exercises or dilators), or the acquisition of an odd little item called a “pessary,” which is worn in the vagina.

These problems can be tricky and even intractable, so I don’t want to promise you that it can be all fixed up in a jiffy, but any progress would be better than where you are now. And I hope you two have good insurance, the kind that allows you to see a specialist when you think you need one, not just when your PCP thinks so, because this is going to require one. Assessments like “Nope, looks normal,” aren’t a diagnosis — they are a dismissal.

This is all putting me much in mind of vulvodynia and vestibulitis, the long-dismissed “all in your head” pelvic pain conditions that, due to the efforts of the National Vulvodynia Association and some recent breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment, have received quite a lot of press lately. I’d never given persistent pelvic pain enough thought myself until I started teaching classes in keeping your relationship and sex life going after you have kids. After the third class in which one woman raised a hand at the end and asked, reasonably, “But what if it still hurts?” I realized we are dealing with something of a silent epidemic here, the “silent” element of which can still induce feminist rages in “mostly too lazy/busy for feminist rages these day” me.

We must be honest — if men’s balls fell out on a regular basis, or if becoming a father often caused lifelong painful intercourse, you’d better believe we would hear quite a lot about it.

Love,

 Andrea

 

alt.sex.column: Not the gerbil!

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Dear Andrea:

I was wondering, is gerbil-stuffing for real, or just made up?

Love,

Hadda Ask

Dear Hadda:

I’ve been expecting this question and am willing to accept it as a sort of occupational hazard. Anal insertion of gerbils occurs exactly as often as tripping baby-sitters tuck the turkey into the crib and the baby into the oven. In the interest of science, I ran this by Dr. Marc Nelson of Stanford, who’s worked in ERs for 16 years, and has been looking. And? Many rumors, no gerbils. This is the man who actually saw the patient with a gut-full of Barbie heads, so you just have to take his word on it. Let’s look at this realistically: Why, exactly, would anyone stick a suffocated, duct-taped rodent up his butt? I can only imagine a sort of credulous half-wit, driven to try it by repeated exposure to this question through constant perusal of sex-advice columns. I sure hope I’m wrong. Now, may we never speak of this again.

Love,

Andrea

Dear Andrea,

I need good, detailed advice to improve my blow jobs. I know the basics. I need “tips”.

Love,

Teach me

Dear TM,

I’m not so sure about those “tips,” hon. Men tend to want the whole thing. In order to avoid gagging on the whole thing, I suggest wrapping a slippery paw around the base, which will not only serve to shorten the shaft, but will put control of angle and thrust firmly in your own hand(s).

Now that we’ve established that hands-free operation is not the only, or even the best, approach, what’s next? How about variety? Changing tempo, depth, and degree of pressure as you go will avoid the dreaded “snore job,” and its attendant blow to your ego. You can squeeze and swivel that hand up, down, and around. Stop, tease, breath, even a little bite or two may be appreciated. Think of it as jazz — get the melody down, then improvise.

Your tongue may be your strongest muscle; it can also be the gentlest. And do remember — you may touch, stroke, or kiss whatever you can reach from your present position take breaks to attend to other parts.

All this variation, all these clever, playful moves, may make him thrash, moan, and propose marriage, but will also cause eventual, intense frustration. Somewhere in there, you will have hit on exactly “the move” he requires.

Love,

Andrea

 

alt.sex.column: Positive too negative?

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Dear Andrea:

I’m having a problem with my girlfriend. “Grace” is the hottest girl I’ve ever dated, but things aren’t going so well. She is possessive and gets mad at me for wanting to do anything she doesn’t want to (like going hiking or anything outdoors), and wants to know where I am every second, and who I talked to, and was she pretty, etc., etc. We used to have great sex, but lately I can’t come no matter what she does. It used to be just looking at her could practically make me come. Can this be fixed?

Love,

Not My Dream Girl After All?

Dear Not:

While not news, dissatisfaction can be — indeed, often is — partner-specific. But you two were doing fine before you, well … before you got to know each other. Oops!

Did you notice how in your description of “Grace” herself, and of your relationship, you never once mention being crazy about her? Hot for her, sure But love her, cherish her, want to spend your life with her … like her? Did I miss the part where you said any of those things? No? Then why are we bothering with this? You don’t like her. Frankly, she doesn’t sound all that likable. Go find a mirror and practice saying this: “I’m sorry, “Grace.” It isn’t working out. It’s not you, it’s me.” And then run like hell. She sounds like she might be an ashtray-thrower. And you don’t have a pet bunny, do you?

I’m not wrong about this, am I? We can talk therapy. You guys could go to couples counseling and try to tease out what’s making her feel so insecure, and what, short of never doing anything without her and never talking to anyone not preapproved by her, you could do to assuage it. You could learn some techniques for deescalating your disagreements before they get to DEFCON 1, and you could … yeah, no. You could, but why bother, since do I need to remind you? You don’t like her.

Frankly, I find extreme possessiveness extremely creepy. And even if you’d mentioned anything like affection here, I’d probably be urging you to get out. It’s not like she’s likely any fonder of you than you are of her. You’d think it would be obvious that desire to possess and control cancels out love, but seeing how the model for romantic love on TV and in the movies often goes: “meet cute, then stalk relentlessly until the object of your obsession is broken enough to give in,” clearly it is not.

So we have established that being hot does not actually qualify a person to be your, or anyone else’s partner — any more than having a lot of money does, or having great connections, or the good drugs, or even being perfect on paper and approved of by one’s mother. If you don’t really care about her, or she for you, she is not for you. For once — seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever said this before — your dick is smarter.

Love,

Andrea

 

alt.sex.column: Positive too negative?

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Dear Andrea:

I’m a 40-something M2F transsexual woman (though my gender status isn’t that important). I recently met a great guy I’ll call John and I’ve developed feelings for him. I’d jump his bones in two seconds except for one thing; he’s HIV-positive.

Love,

Paralyzed

Dear Para:

It would be hard to come up with a decision more individual and personal than this one. Plus, this isn’t a situation where I can pooh-pooh your concerns. Of course you have concerns. I have them for you.

Although having some sort of sex with an HIV-positive person is hardly risk-free, it is undertaken nightly by thousands of people who never sero-convert. There are condoms, and condoms are quite good at what they do. And there are all the noninsertive things one can do that are more or less incapable of introducing any virus. It may not be what you want, but it’s doable and, under the right circumstances, you can build a sex life based on what you’ve got rather than what’s missing.

If your big fear is not contracting the virus yourself, but loving somebody who already has it, there is no cute trick with latex or frottage that is going to fix that. Most any article you pull up on the subject is going to contain the statement, “HIV is no longer a death sentence.” Which is true as far as it goes, but it’s not like it’s no longer a problem. Either one of you could be hit by that bus that always crops up when people are discussing the capriciousness of fate. But he could also stop responding to his meds, or develop debilitating side effects, or follow some other course we’re not too up on yet because it occurs 40 years after starting therapy and nobody’s done that yet. We don’t know. And we, being human, like to.

But this sounds like something you can’t just walk away from — you have, as you say, “developed feelings.” But neither is it something you can just walk into. If you’re going to make a go of it, the two of you are going to have to get a therapist with expertise in exactly these issues and work through some stuff. You’re going to admit your concerns. To him. And he’s going to have to admit whatever it is he feels about the prospect of undertaking a long-term threesome: you, him, and HIV.

On other hand, you two are not officially an item yet. You do not have to do this. He probably wouldn’t think less of you if you decided you couldn’t hack it. Well, OK, actually, he might, but you can’t make a huge decision like this one on the basis of conflict-avoidance.

On the other, other hand, it’s possible your decision will get made for you when you spend more time together and find that he’s hopelessly argumentative about baseball trivia or in some other way not nearly as dreamy as you thought. And then you can ditch him with a clear conscience.

Love,

Andrea

Need a shrink?

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Dear Andrea:

Due to a prostate operation, my penis is quite small and I cannot get a proper erection. Will the Fleshlight work for me?

Love,

Shrinky Dink

Dear Shrink:

First off, allow me to apologize for the terrible nom de Altsex I stuck you with. I am a bad person. But I am also very sorry for your woes. Postsurgical shrinkage and erectile dysfunction are both common and totally NOT FAIR.

Reading around on urology sites, the shrinkage is not supposed to be that major. Have you spoken to your urologist about what this, since it may be an ongoing process and, maybe, just maybe, something could be done to halt it? Granted, there seems to be something of a dearth of information about these effects, but yours should not go unreported or uncomplained-about.

There are products on the market purporting to restore lost length after surgery, but since I never see them mentioned on sites like WebMD, I’m not about to go touting them myself. They are there. I assume that if they prove harmful, it will be more to your wallet than to your tenderer parts, but proceed at your own risk.

What may work, both to prevent or, one hopes, restore lost length and lost function, is an element both abundant and well understood: our old friend oxygen. It would be awesome if you could just go hanging your business out in the fresh air and up it would sprout like those time-lapse movies of beanstalks unfurling. You cannot, but Viagra and its cousins, while pricier than oxygen and requiring a prescription, are hardly difficult to acquire. Here is eminent urologist Dr. Larry Goldenberg on using sildenifil citrate nightly as a postsurgical therapy, on the Prostate Cancer Canada Network’s site:

The main premise behind treating erectile dysfunction is to stimulate the circulation of blood into the penis. Doing this will protect the smooth muscles in the penis, the nerve tissue, and the blood vessel linings. Stimulating blood flow to the penis, even if it doesn’t give men an erection, is “keeping the tissues healthy while the nerves are recovering or the blood is finding its way back down there” more regularly.

I urge you to see if popping a pill at night is all it would take for you to get all your function back. It may not work, but it is so very worth investigating.

On to the Fleshlight, definitely the best-known male masturbation device. It vaguely hardware-y looking, heavily marketed, and offers a variety of disembodied orifices for your orifice-entering pleasure. It is not, however, an erectile dysfunction therapy or a magnifying glass, so I am not sure how it is supposed to either heal or enlarge you. But there’s something to be said for “use it or lose it” in these cases. Even urologists don’t seem sure if the loss of erectile function that often follows prostate surgery is due to damage or simple lack of use (or lack of faith). So yes, actually, I think a toy could help. Like Viagra itself, an uncomplaining, expectations-free inanimate object can help alleviate performance anxiety.

Love,

Andrea

Anticlimax

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Dear Andrea:

I’m living with my first “serious” girlfriend and everything is great except the sex. As far as I can tell, she is having orgasms but I’m not. When we have sex I have to finish myself off with my hand. I don’t think it’s supposed to go this way.

Love,

Disappointed

Dear Dis:

You don’t say whether you’ve ever had intercourse with anyone else before Serious, but I’m going to guess not.

So anyway. A little self-stim never hurt anyone. I don’t think that part is, in and of itself, a problem. Technically, it’s actually a solution. It could be a bit grim, though, to always have to rely on your own devices despite having gone to all the trouble to acquire and keep a partner.

Typically, anorgasmia and, uh, semi-orgasmia are usually a girl problem, with guy problems tending to run to the can’t-get-it-up, can’t-keep-it-up, and “whoops!” varieties. Or maybe you’re on SSRI antidepressants, which I’m kind of hoping you are, because that can be fixed.

No? And no blood pressure meds either, right? Or any scarring or neuropathy or … no, you’re like 20 years old. So it’s almost certainly not some physical thing. Probably you are entirely capable of reaching orgasm easily but you’re not letting yourself.

Do you think you might be going kind of out-of-body and are watching yourself perform instead of feeling yourself feel? Are you wondering if she really likes having sex with you or is just pretending? All this falls under the clunky-sounding rubric of “specatatoring,” and you can get out of the habit but it does take some work.

Are you anxious? Worried about keeping it up? Judging yourself? Raised to believe that sex is bad — or that premarital sex is bad? Or are you fine with sex but terribly worried you’ll get her pregnant and ruin everybody’s life?

Obviously that last one can be addressed with technology. And other anxieties can be salved through other technologies, be they drugs or meditation or talking to each other so you can stop wondering and worrying about what she might be thinking.

But maybe what’s wrong is the intercourse itself. An old instructor of mine used to teach that sex is nothing but fantasy plus friction, and if you’re OK in the fantasy department, maybe you need more friction. Move! Put her on top. Try it from behind. I don’t care, just try something else. And try more lube while you’re at it, and also, less.

Or maybe you are one of those men, not rare but rarely spoken of, who just don’t like intercourse much. You didn’t have this problem back while you were still letting yourselves have teenage sex before you moved in together. If this is the case, all you have to do is add back the stuff you like to the stuff she (presumably) likes and boom, everybody’s happy.

Final possibility? You two are not very good at this. This, too, is OK — lack of knowledge and lack of skill are entirely curable conditions.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Once bi-tten

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Dear Readers:

In a recent column I asked the, um, asker (how can I have had this column for over a decade and still not know what to call the people who ask me questions?) what exactly she thought people would assume about her if she came out with it and identified herself to new acquaintances as bi.

We all know that for a fair number of people the first thing that springs to mind when they hear “bi girl” is some version of “slut.” But there’s another whole anti-bi bias that’s rarely discussed: bisexuals are assumed by some Kinsey 6 types to be luxuriating in hetero privilege, and are scorned, if not actively shunned. While I grant you that a bi person out with a date of the socially sanctioned gender will be presumed straight and may be welcomed in a way she surely would not be had she chosen to spend that night with Eve instead of Steve, this is indicative of a far farther-reaching social ill we all need to be working on and not, you know, the fault of that harmless bi-chick heading for the hipster bar to drink PBR with some guy she met volunteering at the film festival. And boy, can there be a lot of judging going on about such things.

I urged my correspondent to come out and be proud — because how else will we ever achieve our fabled place at the table? — but bisexuality comes with a set of problems that are especially galling: nobody really knows what the hell it is.

There are the mostly straight folks who fooled around with same-sex friends back when everyone was doing a lot of X. There are people who have long, stable, serially semi-monogamous relationships with no gender preference whatsoever. There was a guy who sat in the Bi Guy chair on sexual preference panels at San Francisco Sex Information trainings who later admitted he hadn’t had his Bi Card stamped in so many years it ought to be revoked. And there was the other guy at SFSI panels who sat in the Straight Guy chair who explained that he once had a long, serious, romantic, and sexual relationship with a man but eventually realized that it wouldn’t work because he is, in fact, straight.

So, bisexuality. Often not what you think it is. Tell them you’re bi and who knows what they’re going to hear. So having told my original correspondent that, yeah, of course she should come out with it whenever appropriate, I think I will reconsider. Yes, she should (we all should) continue to stop and correct people who assume we’re heterosexual just because we look or do how/whatever it is they think only heterosexuals look or do.

But you have to be prepared to explain yourself. And honestly, there are times when you just aren’t gong to feel like it. You don’t have to feel like you’re letting down whatever side if just sometimes you’d just rather skip it.

Love,

Andrea

Got a sex question? E-mail Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Fine bi me

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Dear Andrea:

I’m a woman who likes women and men. I’m been in a serious relationship with a man several years. Having recently moved back to my home town, I’m wondering about something. My close friends know about my orientation (I don’t like the word ‘bisexual’ because of all its connotations and my general reluctance to label myself) but now I’m meeting new people, colleagues, etc., and I feel weird about not addressing this important part of my life. Is it OK to tell people, or should I just shut up?

To compound things, my parents don’t know I’ve ever been anything other than straight — do they need to know? I wouldn’t tell them how many sexual partners I’ve had or anything else about my sexual past, but …

Love,

Bi Serious

Dear Seri:

Great question, bless you. Also, tricky question, so … damn you?

There are, of course, excellent reasons to tell. National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11, mark your calendars) exists for good reason; coming out is one of the few personal/sociopolitical acts I truly believe can affect serious change. Most homophobes not of the Fred Phelps God hates whoever God is hating this month variety aren’t motivated by hatred for the abomination as much as they are simply uncomfortable. This discomfort is in some ways excusably human, born of bred-in-the-bone suspicion of the Other but seems totally anachronistic now that most of us aspire more to “love thy neighbor” than to “Oook! Stranger! Hit him with a rock!”

The more sexual minority folks come out the less anyone is able to claim not to know any. And the more you come out to people who already know and love you, the less comfortable those people might be, in future, with Otherizing others. Ideally, they become less comfortable with hearing others Otherizing others, as well, and there you go. Presto social change-o.

There are other reasons to just tell people. You want live an authentic life. You don’t want to deny who you are, and you don’t want other people making assumptions about you. Right?

But there’s another school of thought — the TMI Is Bad school. We are surrounded by too much information about everyone and everything and honestly, people, have a little decorum. There is a time and place for everything. Thanksgiving dinner, for instance, is not the time to tell Uncle Morris and Aunt Sylvia that you live with your Mistress and two co-slaves, and you have this very interesting piercing, would they like to see? That isn’t being authentic, it’s just being shocking and stagey for effect.

So, should you just shut up? I would say generally not. When someone assumes you are heterosexual in that blithe, blind, assumption-making way that people make assumptions, there is no reason not to say — when you want to, “Actually, I’m with Gary now, but I’m bisexual.” The end. It might sound odd, but the more often people say it, the less odd it will sound.

And that’s the point.

Love,

Andrea

Got a sex question? E-mail Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

Flipping out

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Dear Readers:

I get a lot of press releases and ignore them unless they’re for books, kid stuff, or sex toys. But I have been remiss on one count: I have not solicited any samples of sex stuff aimed at men. There is something inherently humorous about fucking an inanimate object (see Portnoy, Alexander and Pie, American) that simply doesn’t seem to apply to the dainty art of buzzing yourself to glory . Object-humping is not dignified.

So I owe men’s sex toys an apology and sent away for something. What arrived was essentially a featureless white cylinder with some recessed white buttons. Very classy. It’s called a “Flip Hole.” Uh, maybe a little less so. Do you want to fuck a flip-hole?

I don’t know anyone who does but I might know someone willing to try it. On the first go, my reviewer gave it about a B, and admitted, modestly, that it seemed to run “a tad small.” And the tight fit caused some of the lining to squish out the front in a disconcerting manner. On later investigation I was impressed with the internal topography, a ribbed-and-bumpy silicone sleeve the texture that maps very creditably to my own mental impression of what the inside of a vagina ought to look like, if was clear more jellylike. The company, Japanese fancy sex-stuff outfit Tenga, did its research. And also implies in its materials that it’s supposed to be that tight. It is called, rather baldly, an “ultratight masturbator.”

So the Flip Hole, ickily named or not, is well-designed and functional. It is easy to clean, which is what all the flipping is about; the sides wing open to give full cleaning access, avoiding the “squishy can full of jizz” impression given by earlier generations of men’s toys. It’s so tidy looking and hygienic that it hardly seems sexy, but when it comes to things you are supposed to stick your one and only precious into, you could do worse than well-designed and hygienic. And I will avoid rude jokes about those adjectives not applying to perhaps the majority of partners picked up in haste at the end of a drunken evening.

Does the thing have any downsides, besides the price, which is, to be fair, standard for boutiquey sex toys? Yes. Although the business end is made of silicone, we quickly noted a lingering industrial solvent scent, like a freshly opened cheap vinyl shower curtain that clung to the object and to anything inserted therein, as well as our hands and everything we touched, requiring showers and extra tooth brushing to get rid of. A long shower just for the Hole, followed by a nice air bath, only just began to diminish the pong. I’m pretty sure extended exposure to sunlight would help, but as deepest city dwellers we are at a loss to find a place to air it out not visible to passersby or accessible to children. So it stinks like the plasticy-est of plastic things, and I can’t recommend that part unless you have yourself some very serious Barbie fantasies. In which case, have at it.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question about sex? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Flash dance

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Dear Readers:

In the high and far off times, there were these smeary newsprint tabloid “lifestyle” papers that had a few columns in the front and then the rest was nothing but tiny, poorly-printed personals ads looking, for kinky sex, right now, very few questions asked. Most were illustrated with what might have been part of a cartoon of an elephant, shot head on, but were actually close-ups of the advertiser’s no longer private private parts.

No matter how ready and eager to go RIGHT NOW you might be feeling some particular evening, would you pick a sex partner based entirely upon a blurry photo of his junk? No? I mean, even while looking for, say, a penis, don’t you need more than a picture of a penis on which to base your decision?

Let’s say you’re not looking for a penis. I mean, you are, but you’re hoping it arrives attached to a person. So you place or answer an ad (online this time) and eagerly open the e-mail that arrives in response and — SURPRISE — out jumps … the weenus. You shriek and hit, appropriately, the “junk” button and remove the person from your list of possible persons of interest, and maybe are a little less keen to open the next one.

This may have been the right response — if what they’re looking for is the same reaction your old-fashioned dark-alley flasher is usually after: shock and fear. Most purveyors of nonconsensual exhibition are seeking a sense of power over their startled (almost invariably female)witnesses. It’s an act of (small, pathetic) aggression, penis mightier than the sword, that sort of thing. If it happens to you, remember to laugh.

But what of those who are not hoping to frighten, but to woo? On the odd chance that anyone’s reading this who actually has sent out an unsolicited dick-shot while trying to get girl to like him, I offer a friend’s description of how she reacts when she would like to be your friend and then you go do something stupid like send her a big unsolicited picture of your wang: “I was chatting with someone from OKCupid and he asked if I wanted a more recent picture and I said sure and bam! full-frontal nudity.

My feeling when this first happened was gross-out. Other feelings I’ve had other times: anger, jadedness, shame-on-me-they-got-me-again-ness, and finally, “Hey, well, maybe that turns them on to send nakey pics to a stranger, so I hope they got something out of it because I certainly didn’t. I don’t walk up to someone in a pub and introduce myself just so he can whip his cock out right there and then, and so that same thing turns me off when it happens online.”

This has been a public service announcement.

Love,

Andrea

Got a sex question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Get fit

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Dear Readers:

The subject of size-discordant couples is a perennial favorite and will only get more so until such time as we Americans fulfill our apparent destiny and become a nation of like-size giants in height and girth. Until then, though, making a couple’s ends meet will continue to be an issue and a puzzlement. Pillows, ramps, and wedges sold expensively as sex pillows and less appealingly but more affordably at medical-device emporia will do but many couples would rather eschew such artifice and stick with the basics. First, short woman, tall man.

The woman can kneel on the bed, crouching forward a bit and stabilizing herself with her arms, ass toward the edge. Unless the guy is the Jolly Green Giant, he should be able to steer into her with just a little doing. She will be more comfortably positioned on the bed than if bending over while standing up, too.

Now, heavy woman, thin man. For this, I took the discussion to one of the invisible rooms full of invisible friends I frequent out on the interwebs. Here is what my favorite invisifriend said, in all her surprising, not to say shocking, candor. Say thank you!

I am very fat. My husband and I are both about the same height, and he’s slender. We both have joint problems. We also have awesome sex. Here are some things that work for us.

The best all-around position is what we call scissors. I lie on my left side, knees slightly bent, and raise my right leg. He kneels and enters me, and we roll over, me pushing off with my left leg so that he winds up lying on his side and I have my right leg over him. My left leg is between his two legs. I am almost, but not quite, lying on my back, and we’re at an angle to each other. This is great because it’s completely comfortable, he can reach to touch me, and we both have good access to me for hands or vibrator.

If you have the right furniture, cowgirl can be very easy. This position blows his mind. We line up a rectangular ottoman perpendicular to the sofa, and he lies back — propped up on big pillows — with his butt on the ottoman. He’s lying near one end of the sofa so that I can use the arm to help take my weight. All I do is straddle the ottoman and him (they’re almost the same width) and lower myself. Once down, I can rest my arms on the sofa, lean forward, or sit upright. He has a fantastic view and it’s perfect for kissing. Only drawback for me is that I can’t really get to my clit.

Three or four pillows also helps for doggy-style, so I don’t have to rest my entire weight on my arms. The sofa and ottoman are also handy for this. I put one knee on the sofa, one on the ottoman, and he stands behind me while I rest against the sofa arm, piled with cushions.

So get on that, readers, won’t you?  

Love, Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

 

alt.sex.column: Resolved

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Dear Readers:

I’m pretty sure last year’s New Year’s resolution was to get a New Year’s resolution column in on time. So that one’s out, but there is still time for me, and, more important, you, to do a sex-and-love-life audit and figure out what’s wanting and what you could do about it in the coming year. Here are some ideas.

1) No faking it. Have you been faking it? Quit that. If it’s going on and on and you know it’s heading nowhere, say that. Conversely, if it’s a nice relationship and generally good sex but just not going to go that way for you this particular time, just offer to get partner off and it’s your turn next time. No harm done, and no faking.

2) Try something new. Obvious, I know, but honestly, do this. I’m not going to tell you what the “this” ought to be. But just because you haven’t noticed the rut, doesn’t mean you’re not in one. Maybe it’s just so deep you can’t see the way out. Or maybe things could be even better.

3) Read up on other stuff. You don’t have to try the new stuff, just find out about it. But maybe if you investigate X thing, you’ll be inspired to try it. Maybe knowing some new weird stuff will just make you fun to talk to at parties.

4) Buy something new. Sex toy stores like Good Vibrations, Blowfish, and Babeland make it easy and not even embarrassing. If you’ve been there, done that and yawn, maybe you could go to Etsy or one of the other handicrafts marketplaces and find something a little different, like the tentacle dildos. Or if you’re already over one-of-a-kind handmade blah blah, make your own!

5) Rummage. Find something that makes you feel irresistible and/or invincible. The usual suggestion is fancy lingerie but if you’re not the girly type (none of this requires you to be an actual girl) maybe it’s boots or a corset. Actually, those are mine, find your own.

6) Do something nice to (not just in) your bedroom. Clean it, declutter it, maybe paint it. Buy it new sheets. Cracker crumbs and a dirty ashtray do not a sensual oasis make,

7)Stop waiting for people to notice you and ask someone. You can do it. Hide behind technology if you like, but do it.

8) (Big One) Figure out what you want. Read around, look at porn, read the nice catalogs, pay attention to what crosses your mind just before you decide you’re in the mood, or while you’re doing it. Reflect on episodes that really worked for you. Don’t just do what you’ve been doing or what you think you ought to be doing, put some serious work into figuring out what you want to be doing.

9) Tell your partner. And this brings us back to 1), don’t fake it.

Happy New Year.

Love,

Andrea

Gor a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: N-O

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Dear Readers:

For weeks I’ve been trying to say something about Julian Assange and certain people’s eagerness to believe him yet somehow even eagerer eagerness to believe horrible things about his accusers, but I keep not having the heart. The whole story is just so discouraging — have we really come no further in our understanding of what constitutes nonconsensual sex? Is it really still necessary to vilify the accusers? Are we really still wondering if in fact no really does mean no? Apparently so. And are there really very many people smart enough to read a blog but stupid enough to believe that sex without a condom is prosecuted as rape in Sweden? Again, yes! No wonder everything about this story depresses me.

The main thing keeping me from commenting on the story, though, isn’t the fact that watching progressives happily dismiss serious allegations against one of their heroes as long as they come from women throws me into a funk. It’s the other, less convenient one that this is a rape case and ought to be treated as such (provided, of course, that he did it). I can’t say what I keep wanting to say: “It is perfectly obvious when something is rape and when it isn’t, so why are we even arguing about it?”

Let’s first be sure that we understand that Miss A’s allegation is that she said, “Stop, not without a condom,” and he held her down and did it anyway, without a condom and without her consent, IOW, rape.

This brings us to this utterly creepy other category that rarely gets discussed: quasi-nonconsensual or barely-consensual sex. I wish it didn’t exist. It muddies the waters and gives ammunition to the would-be dismissers of sex crimes and lionizers of sex-criminals. But sadly, not all of what we usually end up labeling “bad sex” and filing under “Did that, don’t do it again” is as simple as anorgasmia, raw spots, premature ejaculation, or cases of beer goggles in action.

Everyone had had an experience, sometimes many, where they consented to sex they had no question they didn’t want, often in hopes the pursuer would fall asleep so they could go home. Most did it because trying to convince somebody probably drunk and maybe a bit belligerent that sex wasn’t going to happen was going to take much longer and be more emotionally taxing than just getting it over with.

Did anyone consider these experiences to be rape? Nope. People who have been raped, however, have no trouble determining the difference. For themselves.

It’s when you try to apply your own standards or your own experiences or your own sense of how things should be to other people’s realities that you run into trouble. As most of us know, there is another category, that of consent given grudgingly to avoid a situation perceived at the moment as potentially even ickier than giving in to what you have no desire to give. But it’s because there are such gray areas, not despite them, that it’s a good idea to actually listen to someone who tells you s/he was raped.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: V-ball

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Dear Andrea:

I’ve always fantasized about girls kicking me in the balls. I have always secretly desired it, especially women or girls wearing sexy boots. I have always had a thrill for women dominating men. When I would watch the TV show V, I would dream of Diana kicking Mike Donovan in the balls with her sexy stiletto boots. She is one of many women I would have liked to have been kicked by. What causes men to like it? Why would us guys enjoy such pain and agony?

Love,

Ballsy

Dear Balls:

Not again! Oh, OK, I guess there’s something new to address here. But the last part, the standard ball-kick questions, get answered like this: Nobody knows, and nobody knows.

What I do find interesting is that this is such a guy thing, I mean, certainly there are women who enjoy ball-kicking in fantasy, and even in reality, and many would even do it for free. But the fact that (most) women do not themselves possess testicles does not fully account for the lack of similar fantasies on the masochist side of the sadomasochist divide. Other forms of crotular pain delivery, sure. Breast bondage/tit torture? Oh my word yes, you don’t want to go Googling that unless you have a couple days off and a good system for cleaning up your hard drive afterward.

I’m pretty sure that the ball-kicking fantasies connect to something in men that goes way beyond “this is a good way to get maximum pain delivery with minimal effort for either giver or receiver.” It is that, sure, but if it were that simple we would see finger-stepping or eyeball-poking represented with similar frequency, and we don’t,

So, in short, Mr. Balls, you are getting off on the domination and, more specifically, the humiliation aspect of having a female person appear to endanger the supposed locus your precious masculinity. Although I am not even sure that I can define “masculinity” in any way that is useful (maleness is simple, masculinity is, again no pun intended, hard), I am nonetheless quite certain that whatever it is, it does not reside in the testes, nor can such an abstract attribute suffer physical harm at the business end of a stiletto pump. But I get that it feels as though it can, and I get the turn-on. It’s a big one.

People are forever asking me, around S-M topics, if power-play would even be a turn-on in the absence of real-world, not-fun, not-funny social inequality and I have to say sorry, dunno, we hardly have a way to test that, do we? So I have no way to tell if your rather popular fetish would have the same draw if the whole idea of the “powerful woman” did not carry with it the baggage of some multi-thousands of years of the subjugation of women, and a nearly planet-wide horror of anything feminine sneaking in to emasculate, oh, anything. That, defied, still carries quite a kick, At least as kicky as that V woman’s stilettos.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Chimps R Us

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Dear Readers:

When our kids were first identified, at four months or so, as a girl and a boy, we were thrilled. We also immediately launched into a series of jokes about always having a control for any sex- or gender-based experiment, which gradually tapered off as the kids developed and/or learned how to express their own essential personalities . Oh, and also, probably, because the jokes weren’t, as jokes go, all that funny.

I was not one bit surprised when the kids began to diverge along traditional gender lines, early on, with Boy being attracted to things that shoot, go ZAP! or explode while Girl put things in other things and carried them around, sorted cards or beads, or played dress-up. This despite few of these objects being purchased for or dangled in front of either child in particular. They just liked what they liked, and still do.

So it comes as no surprise to find me fascinated by this story (widely reported but this version is from Discover magazine’s Web site).

“In Kibale National Park, Uganda, female chimps have taken to carrying sticks around with them. There’s nothing obviously unusual about that — chimps are clever tool-users who use sticks as probes, projectiles and spears. Sonya Kahlenberg and Richard Wrangham … suggest that the stick-carrying chimps are playing at being mothers. It might seem like a farfetched idea, but the duo make their case strongly. These sticks tend to be twice as thick and long as those that they use as probing tools and the chimps often carry them when they aren’t doing very much. Some even hold the sticks while they sleep.

On top of that, females carry sticks more often than males (even though they’re not more likely to use sticks in general). It’s also the young females who carry sticks. Adults only did so if they didn’t have any children of their own. Without any form of teaching from the adults, it’s likely that the youngsters are picking up the behaviour from each other.

Kahlenberg, Wrangham and others have even noted several instances of chimps treating sticks in a motherly way. One (a male) went as far as making a separate nest for his stick. Another (a female) started patting her log while her mother did.”

This is cool, yes? Yet despite whatever such a story has to tell us about the inborn-ness of gender identification, parts that point to culture more than nature are what fascinate. Despite the headlines, it actually isn’t only female chimp-kids doing this. Even more interesting, this isn’t universal young-chimp behavior; it’s only been observed among this one troupe. So the chimp-kids are, apparently, not so much acting out rigid gender roles enforced by their genes as they are passing on culture. We love culture.

Not that I believe for a second that much of our gendered behavior isn’t pretty much hard-wired in. Sure it is. But if chimpanzees can leave room for children to have and express their own individual tastes and desires, so can we.

Love,

Andrea

alt.sex.column: Mismatch

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Dear Andrea:

My boyfriend has a fetish which, initially, is pretty off-putting. All the advice says to just go with it and make it part of our sex life, which I have done. But it doesn’t really seem to help. He can tell it’s not really my thing, so we hardly ever have sex now. He just doesn’t seem to be into it if it isn’t fetishy, and it’s started to seem like work (to both of us) to try to include his special stuff.

I think he wants to be with someone who is really into it, but he says he loves me. What am I supposed to do now?

Love,

Trying

Dear Try:

My, aren’t you mysterious! Not only do the readers and I want to know exactly what kind of “special stuff” your boyfriend is so fond of, it might also prove relevant to whatever solution I might be able to come up with for you. I say “might” a lot because I might as well get right to it and admit that I think this is probably hopeless. But I still want to know what he’s into. It’s important!

Oh well. I’m guessing this may be something like adult baby/diapers. Or those amazing inflatable suits some people wear and bump each other around in, except probably not those because you simply could not have witnessed (let alone worn) one of those inflatable suits and neglected to mention it.

One generally believes that with good will and good communication, one can make anything work. But one is often wrong. I don’t think this is going to work because you have done the only thing that does work, the thing I would have assigned to you as homework had you not already completed it as independent study: you read up on his “thing” and got yourself up for trying it and did try it, repeatedly.

So you incorporate his fetish into mutual sex and he isn’t all that thrilled. And he isn’t much interested in pursuing his thingie on the side, online with his special thingie friends while being otherwise available to and into you … yeah. That is a sex life waiting politely to be put out of its misery. I’m sorry.

If you don’t mind your personal plight being turned into a PSA, let me pause here for a second to ask kinks and the like to take as much time as they need to come to terms with their true natures but do not drag innocent, unsuitable would-be partners along for the ride. It is understandable, but ultimately, it isn’t kind. Your boyfriend probably meant well. But his kink is not the sort that can be easily absorbed into a mixed marriage.

I believe he loves you. I hope that means he’ll be really good at the “still being friends” stuff when it comes time to still be friends. And I’ll be very nice and wish him a simpatico kinky playmate, later, so you don’t have to. For you, I wish a partner who doesn’t wish you to be one bit different from who you are.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Squirmy

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Dear Andrea:

I have a weird question. I have been with my boyfriend for two years and our sex life was great until recently. But I have started to get really ticklish when he touches me, and it’s putting us both off sex.

Literally when he touches my leg, I squirm away and giggle. I’m embarrassed, and we’re both bemused and frustrated. What’s going on?

Love,

Squirmy

Dear Squirm:

Giggling or getting ticklish is, of course, very common among teenagers and other young folk, and due, just as obviously, to self consciousness, unfamiliarity, and nerves. The cure is time and practice. I’m going to take a guess and say practice is your best bet.

Whatever set this off, it’s not, in a sense, real. You’re not nervous or anxious, and you’re not actually being tickled. It’s all in your mind, more or less.

The evolution of tickling does seem to have it origins in social interaction (most tickling is done by adults to kids, and only jerk parents keep going after being begged to stop). But the reaction — laughter — appears to be purely physical, not dependent on social factors like wanting the tickler to like you.

Anyway. Something has gone funny with your wiring. Probably something he did once set off a ticklish response and the next time he did something similar, the same nerves expected the same sensation and sent the same signals they would have if your boyfriend actually tickled you. Now every time he gets near you, the whole thing happens again.

I can think of two approaches that might help you.

1. Have him approach very slowly and entirely within your vision. Don’t try to “have sex” of any sort, just have him touch you and leave his hands there while you take some deep breaths and relax and let yourself feel how not tickly it is. Repeat until he can begin to move them around a little, and proceed like that till you’ve retrained yourself.

You might also try doing this in the dark. Darwin, delightfully, had some theories on tickling, observing that “tickling provokes laughter through the anticipation of pleasure. If a stranger tickles a child without any preliminaries, the likely result will be not laughter but withdrawal and displeasure.” You, clearly, are not experiencing pleasure, anticipated or actual, but there is still an aspect of anticipation at play here. If you lay down together in the dark, with no touching, until you are entirely relaxed, you might find he can touch you without your nerves freaking out.

2. Go ahead and let him do whatever he’s been doing that is eliciting the tickle response. Do this a whole lot. Hope it gradually desensitizes you. This may sound unbearable, but people do report training themselves out of over-ticklishness.

Try whichever plan sounds less odious. At least you’re pretty safe with your nice known-and-trusted boyfriend to experiment even with approach No. 2, which would be terrible at the hands of one of the many assholes out there who do not understand that in some cases “hahahahaha!” like “no,” means “no.”

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Bay watch

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Dear Andrea:

Our children are grown and it’s just us now, so my wife and I started to indulge in a nude lifestyle here in South Florida. We go to a secluded beach and our sexual adventures increase each time, to the point we are being viewed by others occasionally, mainly by men. All are attracted to my wife.

My fantasy started with me thinking how hot it would be to have one lick her while were making out on the beach. She openly talks about my fantasy to excite me but when someone walks by and I say “Would that work?” she generally offers some reason for why it wouldn’t. Last week I saw a guy walking our way, so I covered her eyes with her bikini top then began saying out loud I need a pussy licker. He smiled but continued walking. After he passed I rolled her over to do her doggy style then noticed he was walking back and had removed his Speedo. She went flat on her tummy on the blanket till he passed. So my question is, is my fantasy a possibility? Would a blindfold be the key for her to enjoy the experience? And is having one man lick her to orgasm while making out with another something a woman might enjoy?

We have been together almost five years and married 11 months.

Love,

Beach Bum

Dear Bum:

Right, and now your children are grown and you are old enough to have problem getting it up, and … oh, never mind. We all know this is fantasy. Let’s not spilt fantasy hairs.

Here is what your fantasy wife is trying to tell you, both in your fantasy and in whatever may have happened in real life to spur you to write this: she is turned on by the casual interest of other men. She is turned on by your being turned on by her being so hot that random passing guys are turned on by her. She did not “go flat on her tummy” by accident (or wouldn’t if this really happened). She does not want those guys to go down on her while you two make out. If she did, she would say so.

I don’t believe that this (if it happened) is one of those cases where a little shedding of inhibition is all she needs. This is not 1970s porn flick starring Georgina Spelvin. This is real life (unless it isn’t) and she is an uninhibited woman (if she exists) and it has been discussed and she doesn’t want to do it.

Even my kids, who are four, eventually believe me when I say such and such a thing isn’t going to happen. Grown men shouldn’t take longer than a four-year-old to believe a person who’s saying, “No, dear. I know you want it and I understand that this is frustrating for you, but I said no.”

And that is that. Unless, of course, it was the Speedo that turned her off. It has been known to happen.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: The fandango

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Dear Andrea:

I am a 38-year-old man who doesn’t have regular sexual partners (basically my whole life) and as a result am a chronic masturbator. Unfortunately, it seems lately when I am in a sexual situation I turn into a minute-man and come within seconds after sexual contact. Never mind intercourse, I’m talking about getting a blow job and shooting my load before my partner even has a chance to gag on my shaft.

What can one do to increase stamina after training one’s self to ejaculate so quickly (meaning I stopped doing 30-minute jack-off sessions in favor of watching a five- or 10 minute porn scene)?

Love,

Minute Man

Dear Man:

I am trying to answer your question, I really am. First, though, I have to stop hating you. This may prove difficult (OK, “hate” may be a bit heavy). Do you think it may have something to do with your phrase “shooting my load before my partner even has a chance to gag on my shaft?” I do! Even the phrases “squeezing one out” and “shooting my load” are vaguely nauseating, but “gag on my shaft” can trigger my gag reflex from here, at what I hope is a considerable distance.

I feel better now. You, I imagine, feel worse, but that cannot be helped. Now, what’s going on with you, and what can we do about it? You probably put your own finger on it when you referred to “training yourself.” It is indeed common, for men (boys, usually) to train themselves to achieve orgasms efficiently, as opposed to pleasurably, and certainly as opposed to pleasurably for any other person who might happen to find her (or him-) self involved. This usually proves regrettable — even solo artists might find themselves wishing for a little more endurance eventually — but is handy if you’re still living at home or had better finish before the roommate gets back.

Are the effects of such a training regimen reversible? Sure. It’s not easy, but you could get a book (the gold standard is still Bernie Zilbergeld’s The New Male Sexuality) or some DVDs, or pull some “how to last longer” videos off the Web.

These are multistep processes, often meant for couples but adaptable to one-on-one practices. “Couples” in this context means people who know each other, so you probably won’t be able to do it with whatever women those are who are consenting to gag on your shaft now and then.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with you. I think that, yes, you have trained yourself, and yes, the absence of a long-term partner doesn’t help. I do need to ask if you’re doing anything with or to your partners besides receiving their attentions. Attending to a lady’s needs is one of the best strategies for delaying your own gratification I can think of. Everybody wins. If, however, you are paying these gaggers, I feel moved to point out that to them, at least, premature ejaculation (especially during blow jobs, which are hard work) is no sin.

Love,

Andrea

 

Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Wham bam

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Dear Andrea,

I’m almost 40 and a newlywed. I was a virgin! Unfortunately, sex has not been good for me. His heart races, he sweats. Me? Nothing. No pleasure, no excitement, nothing! I WANT SOME TOO!!! I tried talking to him and we have tried several positions, unfortunately, his favorite missionary position usually hurts. I tend to just give in and pretend I’m enjoying it. I’m hoping you can help or at least lead me to someone who can!

Love,

Desperate Not-A-Housewife

Dear Wife:

I see several different issues here, at least, starting with: Why were you still a virgin at 40? This is rare enough to merit mention, especially under the circumstances.

2) Does he have a lot of experience to your none, or were you both late bloomers?

3) Pain with missionary position? No good, and not normal.

4) Faking it. A classic example of “seems like a good idea at the time.” Isn’t.

OK, so. I’m going to assume that there was something unappealing about either sex, intimacy, or both, for you to leave it so long. There is nothing inherently wrong with not having sex, but it’s a better fit for those who simply aren’t interested. You manifestly are interested, so that is something to look at.

I’d really like to know if he is having fun while you’re not. It’s kind of hilariously awful to think of you both having ungratifying sex night after night and nobody ever mentioning it, but I’m thinking that’s not what’s going on. He is having OK sex while you are not. Also awful, less funny, and a little harder to broach, what with your having to burst his bubble, but burst it you must. Bring it up as a mutual thing, let’s make it better all around, and so on. But you are going to have to admit that you are not, shall we say, fully engaged. Not talking about it about it is guaranteed to eventually break everything not yet broken. I wouldn’t rule out some counseling with a sex-positive counselor, either.

Finally, you are going to have to figure out what you do want if this is ever to improve. If you masturbate, you fantasize. How can you get real life better aligned with fantasy life? If you’re thinking it would be nice if he started slower, paid more attention to your clitoris, and made sure you were responding before he kept doing something, we’ve got something to work with.

As far as how-tos go, I doubt you need a tutorial in hip-moving. But if you do, there is a world of instructional material out there. It is called porn. If that sounds icky, you can try the amateur stuff or any of the seemingly dozens of series with names like “Better Sex” or “Loving Couples.” Bonus: watching any of these things together is going to at least start you on the way to the sweating and elevated heart-rate you so justly deserve to experience.

I think your libido is fine. You’re not getting excited because who gets excited anticipating something dull and a little painful? Get that looked at.

Love,

Andrea

Got a question? Email Andrea at <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:”MS Mincho”; panose-1:2 2 6 9 4 2 5 8 3 4; mso-font-alt:”MS 明朝”; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:modern; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:-1610612033 1757936891 16 0 131231 0;} @font-face {font-family:”\@MS Mincho”; panose-1:2 2 6 9 4 2 5 8 3 4; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:modern; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:-1610612033 1757936891 16 0 131231 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} p.MsoPlainText, li.MsoPlainText, div.MsoPlainText {margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Courier New”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

alt.sex.column: Love stinks

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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I am newly pregnant and confused. I’m wondering about “pregnancy nose” and why all of a sudden my husband smells so bad to me. I have subtly hinted that he should take a shower before bed, but he showers in the morning and thinks I’m crazy to suggest taking another one. Lots of things smell bad to me right now. Garlic is gross, and I usually love garlic. Cheese and meat are completely disgusting, so much so that that all of a sudden I’m mostly a vegetarian. I can live with that — but thinking my husband is disgusting is not okay.

Love,

Nosy

Dear Nose:

One of the many perks of pregnancy is that we get to announce what we require of other people, partners especially. I have certainly seen women abuse this privilege, becoming iron-fisted little martinets ordering coworkers to change their eating habits or insisting that strangers on the next park bench over extinguish all smoking materials. But I suspect such people were nasty pieces of work before they got pregnant. Nice people are still nice enough even under the influence of bonkers hormones. You may wish to leap up and spray the garlic-beef consumers at the next table with Lysol, but you wouldn’t do it, right?

Neither will you let loose on your husband and tell him to get his OMG-stinky-paws-off-you-Jesus-Christ he makes you sick. But you have my permission to let him know, gently, that your wacky pregnancy hormones have produced the phenomenon often referred to as Bionic Nose and, through no fault of his own hygiene habits, you are having a hard time dealing with his entirely normal mammalian pong.

The Bionic Nose phenomenon is a weird one. It’s pretty clearly estrogen-fueled — women in general, um, smell better than men do, and it’s heightened in pregnancy and during ovulation, when it almost certainly plays a role in partner-choice and the increased randiness most women report at midcycle.

Obviously a heightened sense of smell and its associated squeamishness can help steer a pregnant hunter-gatherer away from tainted or toxic choices, but it comes in less handy when it renders stomach-turning otherwise perfectly nice things like a roast beef sandwich or your husband.

All well and good, you say, but what to do now with Ol’ Stinky there? As we’ve already covered, ask him to shower. Blame it on the hormones. I’m actually opposed on principle characterizing hormones as funny little imp-things that possess you and make you do and feel ridiculous things. Hormones and neurotransmitters are why and how we feel things, and I’m sorry to say that the ridiculous things we do and feel are real; they both cause and are caused by the release and reuptake of body-and-brain chemicals. That’s how it works. But you are pregnant, and I’ll cut you some slack. Go ahead, blame the ‘mones.

Oh, here’s an interesting side note, and one you can use if you need to mollify a husband who now feels stinky and rejected: many women discover that postpartum (and perhaps throughout the entire breast-feeding period) they stink like goats. Maybe that helps?

Love,

Andrea

 

alt.sex.column: Straitlaced

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Dear Readers:

We were lately discussing objects and outfits that make you feel sexier and more attractive, as opposed to fetish items, inanimate stuff you’re attracted to.

I don’t have too much faith in the power of random dress-up to recharge a flagging relationship’s batteries, but I do believe you can tap into your own image of an ideal sexual self and recharge from there. This is not at all the same thing as “If I were thinner (bustier, better hung, had nicer ears …), I’d be able to have the kind of sex I actually want.” That sort of self-judging will just hold you back. And since hardly anyone ever achieves anything like their ideal body, it’s basically just a way to keep yourself from ever enjoying anything.

Donning a costume (sexy underwear or whatever) that you hope will interest a partner is nice, but dressing for yourself will always be more reliable, just as the masturbater needn’t waste time telling him/herself to do it a little harder or to spend a bit more time on foreplay.

It’s about finding a mode of dressing or grooming that expresses — to you — a way you want to be perceived, yes, but most of all the way you want to feel and behave. I’m most intrigued by the way that dress outside the bedroom can cross-pollinate, to positive effect, with sexual self-image. It’s entirely possible to go out dressed, quite respectably, as your secret sexual self. And doing so, not necessarily even on a date, can bring considerable zing back home with you. Think butch or flirty shoes/boots, garter belts and stockings, leather jackets. And corsets.

Corsets, you say? Are people really wearing corsets — again? — and isn’t compressing your internal organs like that kind of unhealthy? People are, and no it isn’t.

And no, ladies of yore did not used to have a rib removed (without, you will recall, anesthesia or antibiotics). Neither are you likely, now or then, to crack ribs, faint, or die of the vapors.

But you can hurt yourself, usually while “tight-lacing” — pulling the thing as tight as you can all at once — rather than “waist-training,” gradually reshaping your body through steady compression. Don’t.

As a visual, the appeal is hardly obscure, harking back as it (presumably) does to the savannah and the instinctual and apparently universal appeal of the small waist.

Do I fear that sometimes wearing a corset (or boots or items generally meant for another gender, or any other signifier you care to name) will have a negative, rebound-y affect on the wearer when not wearing it? No more, I suppose, than I worry that using a vibrator will make it impossible to orgasm without. Rather, I think that conceiving of oneself as the sort of person who would wear a signifier of sexual self-image gives a boost that can carry over easily until the next time one has the opportunity.

And yes, you can do it with the corset on. Can you ever.

Love,

Andrea

 

Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

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Dear Andrea:

We’ve been trying to sex up our sex life (we have been married 10 years and yes, things can get a little boring) and among other things I went to Victoria’s Secret and bought some not too slutty but certainly sexy underwear, and … nothing. He just wanted to get them off so we could get down to business. Isn’t this the kind of thing men are supposed to like? Now I feel kind of silly for wasting the money and time.

Love,

Not In The Mood

Dear Mood:

I’m convinced that fancy underwear, in particular, is vastly over-rated. Males are reputed to be visual responders, while women are said to respond more to words, emotional states, and even smells than to raw visual input. But if you ask men what they really want to see women wearing, most of them say nothing. Or rather, “Nothing, thanks.”

So what will reignite a long-banked fire? In a word, teamwork. Don’t stand there by the bed throwing what amounts to metaphorical sexual spaghetti strands at the wall until one sticks. You want to make a mutual effort to reconnect, which takes time. Skip the last TV show. Prioritize. Let the new sexy emerge organically, and then when (if) you discover that some sort of shopping trip is in order, try going (or leaning over the laptop) together.

At the same time, I would never discount the power of feeling sexy. It could be new underwear or new muscles or a new haircut or new boots (hello). But I’m all about the doing something for yourself that reaffirms your hottitude in your own eyes. And — if you don something that makes you feel that way and then act on it with him, I can pretty well guarantee he’ll notice.

Love,

Andrea

Dear Andrea:I like the way boxers look. But I get jock itch and need to keep out moisture and I think briefs work better for that. Therefore, I usually wear briefs or sling-type underwear. I feel kind of silly in the little tight things, but anything’s better than crazy crotch itch.

Love,

Funny Pants

Dear Pants:

Did you know that “it’s pants” is a very British way of saying “stupid” or “lame” but much funnier? I want to call things “pants!” But meanwhile, I am happy not to be in yours.

Not that we women don’t get our own mortifying crotch complaints — have you never noticed that we get an entire aisle at the big chain drugstores?

One thing I can say for men and their jockular issues is that they rarely go on about them in public. The thing is, women are universally instructed to avoid anything tight and plasticy, so if I were you (so glad I’m not!) I’d want to be very sure what is causing that itch and follow a doctor’s sartorial recommendations. Maybe you’ll hit it lucky and she’ll let you wear boxers, as a man was intended to.

Love,

Andrea