An Ordinary Man

Or, Men 101

Month: June, 2015

On Not Being Able to Have Sex

In a CNN.com article regarding penile implants for men non-responsive to Viagra, etc., Dr. Drago Montague, director of the Center for Genitourinary Reconstruction in the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, and professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, is quoted as saying:

“There’s a real need for penile prosthesis, but this isn’t generally recognized by the public and even some medical professionals.  Not being able to have intercourse has been shown in numerous studies to cause low self-esteem depression.”

The article focuses on the medical basis for erectile dysfunction but I submit not being able to have intercourse simply because your mate isn’t interested has a similarly destructive impact.

Dr. Richard Wilson reflects this in his discussions with a marriage counselor in the novel An Ordinary Man in which he grapples with the problem of an unsatisfactory love life:

    “What’s your reaction to this diminished sexuality?”

    “Honestly?”

    “Of course.” Of course.

    “It angers me.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Well, the conclusions I can draw from it aren’t pretty.”

    “What conclusions would those be?”

    Richard drew in a deep breath. “That she’s fallen out of love with me. That she’s getting sex someplace else. That I’ve become physically repulsive.” He paused. “Or, the worst one, that I’m not really worth having sex with anymore because I’m not a good provider.”

Frequency of Sex: An App For That

The techies are atwitter over the fact that Apple’s newest operating system for i-devices includes an app for tracking your reproductive health, including the frequency of sexual intercourse.  This might be more useful than one might think because if there is one sexual issue that is disputed, it is how often a couple makes the beast with two backs; one will say more often than the other will, with both of them likely to be wrong.  I wrote An Ordinary Man with candid input from a happily-married younger woman and laughed when she was horrified that I suggested she mark it on the calendar, including whether it was a “one way” or mutual episode but a month later, she confessed that it was easy to let time get away from you.

Richard Wilson, the protagonist of the story, felt that no more than three days should go by, because that’s how long sperm could live in the female tract and she should always have this connection with him. That’s a little weird, but not the idea behind it; the average man is NOT satisfied with once or twice a week and puts up with that only because the average woman controls access to consensual sex.  Friday and Saturday night do not solve the Sunday through Thursday drought; by Tuesday, he’s already thinking how much happier he could be, and what’s it take if you put your heart into it; five or ten minutes?  If you don’t have that for him, your relationship is in trouble, whether you know it or not.

With iOS 9, you can whip out your iPhone and remind him you snuck one in on Wednesday and make a joke out of it.

Life Imitates Art

kevin-bacon-gq

At some point, the willingness to absorb all of your mate’s less charming attributes fades and you begin to begrudge them, like you would with a roommate. Sharp words, which, she would correctly point out, he would never use with a colleague or coworker, ensue. Minor insults can shape, degrade and finally erode marriages as surely as raindrops can erode mountains. To love and honor forever apparently presupposes someone easier to live with. That turned out to be true on both sides of their particular equation.

    Intercourse had always been the salve they applied to those minor scrapes, to keep them from becoming infected. You might have irritated the daylights out of me earlier today, but you just made me forget all about that; I love you. With luck, she’d feel the same way and say I love you back.  You tell her you love her, at least in a very small part, to reassure yourself that you do. Modern life makes brainwashing yourself essential. “I love you” at the end of a phone call. “I love you” on getting dropped off. “I love you” before going to sleep. Damn it, I do love you. Without doing this, love can start to slip away; as silly as it sounds, you can forget that you are in love with the person next to you. But “I love you” in that sense depends on having fucked in recent memory. Otherwise, you might not really even like them at the moment because one, they did irritate you earlier that day, and two, although they could make it all better very easily, they are choosing not to.

As the author of a deeply intimate book, I’m always glad to see some of my musings reflected in real life. Although the paragraphs above are pure fiction, the NY Post ran a filler piece today about how Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick (married since 1988) dealt with the stress of losing “a lot of money” to Bernie Madoff’s giant Ponzi scheme:

“I don’t think there was a moment where it was like, that thing happened and then we got pissed at each other. It was sort of the opposite,” Bacon revealed to GQ editor-at-large Michael Hainey at a Q&A on Tuesday. “We kind of went, ‘Holy shit. Let’s . . . I don’t know. Let’s have sex or something. It’s free!’”

Yes, the problems remain after you’re done, but you’ve strengthened each other in the process, for free.

Photo: GQ.com

Monogamy Revisited

Thought-provoking article on open marriages by Mel Robbins, an attractive, female CNN Commentator today in which she states the obvious, if, but only if, you think it through:

When you step outside your marriage and into another person’s bed you may say its “just sex” — but in reality you just invited that person to step into your whole life, and they probably will. You’ll be in your kitchen, with your spouse, when the texts appear on your phone. Are you free Saturday? You’ll be driving in your car with your kids, when the song that reminds you of your lover plays. And suddenly, they are right there in the car with you.

It’s a brilliant piece worthy of being read and passed along.  Richard Wilson, the protagonist in An Ordinary Man, looked at it even more mechanically:

One of [Richard’s] rebuttals to Andrew’s enthusiasm about new flesh was always that using a condom meant that Andrew never really got to touch any of it. He and Liz had used one a few times – textured “for her” – but he found them too antiseptic. True sex required the intermingling of bodily fluids; the female covered the male with hers and the male in turn covered the female. It was the best argument for monogamy. No matter how thin and sensitive, wearing one meant you were, by definition, not naked.

Either way, the argument for monogamy remains pretty strong.

Desire Pill

I applaud the stance Pepper Schwartz took today on the “female Viagra” at CNN.com:

I know this has become a feminist issue. But interestingly enough, there are feminists on both sides of the debate: Some support the search for a pill, and believe that women deserve a desire drug, and others feel this is just another plot to label women as dysfunctional when there is evidence that losing sexual desire over the life cycle may be a natural consequence of hormonal change that doesn’t need to be fixed … For myself, the capacity for sexual desire is an important part of my identity and my pleasure in life. If it were ever to go away spontaneously, I would be first in line for that little pill.

Happy, consensual sex and intimacy between people who love each other is an essential part of that love continuing in 99 out of 100 cases.

There. It’s Said

Amy Schumer, whose star as a comedienne is apparently rising rapidly, accepted an award from Glamour Magazine with this remark about her weight: “I’m probably like 160 pounds right now, and I can catch a dick whenever I want.”  While she put it in the context of her BMI, it’s a fact that I suspect remains true across age, weight, color, national origin, wealth, etc., for women. With a relatively decent guy, in many cases. Suffice it to say that the same does NOT hold true for guys who are less than top shelf, at least not with decent women.  When it comes to consensual sex – the best kind – women hold the purse strings; always have, always will.

“Grey” – As in Christian Grey

It was recently annouced that a fourth book in the phenomenally popular Fifty Shades series will be published on June 18th.  This one, entiled simply Grey, tells the story from his point of view and I, for one, am very interested in reading it as I’ve been a student (some say victim) of male sexuality since adolescence.  How accurately will E.L. James, a woman, be able to capture the helplessness a man feels in pursuing a consensual sexual relationship, whether it involes kink or not.  This is something lost in most discussions of sexual politics; sure, males are the rapists, exploiters, and creeps in non-consensual situations – and should be hung for it – but women have the power in friendly encounters.  I’m not sure if my lover and I have ever had sex against her will, but I know we have not had sex against mine.  That’s why we separated.