By The Sexy G.
Several weeks ago I attended a lecture at a local Center City book store. The woman, Mara Altman, wrote a memoir about her quest for an orgasm, Thanks for Coming: One Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm, Harper Collins, April 3, 2009 She had her first sexual experience at 17 and then went on a crusade about learning the mechanics of the female orgasm even meeting up with sex gurus.
Altman once worked as a staff writer for the Village Voice. She is an intelligent, gracious speaker and well-informed. The premise was that she spent a decade trying to achieve an orgasm with a variety of men. She tried therapy, sex conventions and various lovers with no success. The talk was most honest, daring, interesting, fun and informative.
The audience was young – 20’s to late thirties with a fair share of men. And overall they seemed very attentive and right there with the speaker. The room was pretty well packed and when questions were asked, something strange happened. To be honest, I was taken aback by the reaction of several of the males.
Here’s what struck me. And it wasn’t the concept of the book. When I closed my eyes and listened to the men speak, I could have sworn the responses were virtually no different than the male contemporaries of my older generation.
When they expressed that they were confounded by what women wanted lots of women in the audience reacted and offered suggestions. It all seemed fine with lots of the usual curiosity. But when the speaker or someone in the audience responded, some of the questioners seemed to go off on a tangent. It my opinion some in the audience had come with their own agendas that had nothing to do with learning about better ways to communicate and having mutually more satisfying sexual experiences. Whenever women spoke about needing various aspects of romancing, there was audible snickering from a few. And I want to make it clear these young men were articulate and intelligent.
There was the implication that when women made known the ways they wished to be pleased for better sex it was interpreted as an insult and a put down on the man’s ability in lovemaking. In other words, when a woman asks for something the man isn’t giving on his own it immediately sets up a hostile environment.
Another young man kept repeating how upsetting women were because almost none of them wanted to have anal sex. Another spoke about the really exciting, hot and sexy women willing to do one-night stands but then weren’t interested in seeing him again. On the other hand, the ones he went out with over the course of several months were sexual duds in bed but wanted a long-term commitment. What was he to do?
For the most part the women seemed eager to make it a two-way street, but several of these young men seemed to have closed minds. There were one or two males who sounded sensitive, but they spoke in a convoluted and preachy manner – almost like a prepared speech. They seemed to be using the right words but, to me, their statements made very little sense as it pertained to the topic.
When questions and answers were nearing the end, one young man who had complained about women who brought attention to their own sexual needs asked the speaker if she were a feminist. The women in the audience protested that the question was irrelevant, and the speaker refused to answer because of the obvious – feminism had nothing to do with a woman searching for an orgasm. I assume that meant a feminist will make unreasonable demands sexually. Does that make her a ball-buster? To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what he meant.
What really rocked me was I heard the retorts I’d expect from an older generation of men, but not from enlightened young ones. So, for the most part, I didn’t see any remarkable changes of understanding and seeking paths to better relationships. The evening set up a rather angry male/female environment that is damaging and perpetuates a lack of communication. I didn’t see men from Mars and women from Venus. I saw a few men unwilling to give up an inch of control, men unable to hear what a woman needs, acceptance that physically, emotionally and psychologically women work a bit differently from men.
As the audience mingled when the talk was over a young woman leaned over and whispered to me this must be the “The Madonna Complex” shockingly still exists. And it is a potent factor in this generation that says there are two categories of women – the Madonna pure mother image or the slut.
Since becoming widowed, I’ve found in my generation of men that there are two major reactions by men when I have made suggestions that might enhance sexual pleasure. One is a smile and a nod of agreement and then a total disregard that anything was said. The other is outright annoyance. The suggestions were rather basic and not experimental. But, for the most part, I could have been talking to a wall and gotten the same response.
And that’s what I was hearing from some of these much younger men. Supposedly, this younger generation of male attitudes toward women had changed for the better. In this venue I saw very little change. Worse, much of the same hostility and resistance to meeting women’s needs still exists loud and clear. It’s true that I’m talking about a handful of verbal males who were willing to speak up on this evening. But, on the other hand, no guy got up to defend the position of the women.
Gentlemen, please open your ears, your understanding and empathy. We might need slightly different kinds of attention and touching than you do. We need romancing. Is that too much to ask when they payoff can be sensational? All we ask is that you listen.
The SexyG firstname.lastname@example.org