In Bed with Susie Bright 271: The Female Thing with Laura Kipnis
Listen to a little bit here...
Kipnis writes four essays like Pandora opening her box with more caustic eye this time. In her chapter, "Dirt," for example, she demands to know when liberated women will put down the soap and sponge. She speculates how women respond to the specter of vaginal "dirtiness" with an overzealous cleaning reaction.
With most popular advice manuals today still screaming about how women can obtain what they "lack,"
Laura says women now spend inordinate amounts of time keeping
themselves and their houses spotless. Those bizarre vagina and labia operations would seem to fit that bill too, where you pay a plastic surgeon to "neaten up" your bits.
In my own case, I seem to have lost this "clean gene" many years ago, and I always thought it was because I got away from my mom's discipline, or because I worked so long as a house-cleaner that I vowed I would never treat housecleaning as anything less than a professional job. I never thought that my indifference to scouring might be related to my growing cunt-positivity as a feminist adolescent! I kinda like this!
Kipnis is a theorist, so even though her titles make you want to needle her for advice, she avoids "solutions" like the plague. I'd have a hard time being in that position; I always wanna fix stuff. (Okay, let's not analyze that...)
For example, in her sex section, she writes with some amusement and amazement about the "story of the ever-changing clitoris," the need to justify and explain women's orgasm, which reinvents itself as often as Madonna. The makeover never seems to end. Kipnis likes to consider all the orgasmic permutations from a distance, and says that the very nature of women's genitals, and the fact that their pleasure is not directly connected to the reproductive act, is what makes this merry-go-round of "explanations" such a frustrating loop.
This is something Elizabeth Lloyd (The Case of the Female Orgasm) and Rachel Maines (The Technology of Orgasm) have discussed, with a more earnest feminist motive, and I fall into that camp too. I don't give a shit that there's lots of silly explanations for women's frigidity or flowering... I want gals to put down the vacuum, pick up the Hitachi, take a mirror to their hoo-hoo, and WAKE UP.
My explanation for the contradictory fluff about women's sexual potential is that female orgasm has been not understood, not researched, not considered a matter for science until very, very, recently. It wasn't until the 1980s that women's bodies were considered anything other than an "abnormal" version of the male norm throughout medical practice.
Notwithstanding all the flavor-of-the-month books about how to have a hot sex life, most women are still in the dark about their own orgasm until they're adults, and typically suffer some sort of sense of inadequacy if they are one of the 90% who don't come through hands-free intercourse in the missionary position. Hell, women are still feeling bad if they do come and it's not in the confines of "love" or more traditionally, a marriage.
I know that the TV-crowd is supposed to think that women's sexuality has been revolutionized by rabbit-vibe-buying characters on Sex in the City, but I find that to be light propaganda, an amusement. If as many women used a vibrator, as the number who've only laughed at a vibrator punchline, we'd be living in a very different female world.
Laura says that the idea that women can ever go out and have sex "like the boys" is an improbable fantasy; that given our anatomy, it ain't going to happen— as intriguing as it sounds. She believes this state of affairs hasn't always been factored into the larger feminist story. She has lots of provocative points to talk about, that'll make you wish I kept her locked in the interview chamber even longer than I did!
The most fun, for me, was at the end, when I asked Laura if she wanted to break all her rules against "giving advice" and help me out with a letter from a listener. Laura and I have both written about fat women in porn, so I asked her if she'd like to take a letter from a listener who has been rejected by a new lover who says she's too fat.... OUCH!
Once Ms. Kipnis agreed to respond, my god, the tiger was loose! She gave that woman PLENTY of advice. I'm going to make Laura answer all the letters from now on!
You know... as an aside, I would never, ever, TELL a lover that I was breaking things off with them because of their body type— it's just too fucking mean. It shows some critical lack of empathy, or perhaps missing the point altogether. Sex is not an audition at a modeling agency— thank god. Your erotic opinion, in nearly every case, is about your preferences— not about your partner's potential to be hot to someone else.
I've also never had anyone say to me: "you're too skinny, too fat, too white, too tall, too flat, too busty," — whatever. Am I unusual, or isn't this the norm? It's not because I'm so gorgeous. I'm sure I haven't been the "ideal body" for plenty of lovers, but no one's been rude enough to give me an "exit assessment!" Most people know to keep their mouth shut and simply decline future dates with the classic Marcia Brady euphemism: "Sorry, but something's come up!"
Don't forget, you can be everyone's favorite Santa just by writing to request Susie's free Girly Cards for your friends. Send those requests, as well as your confidential sex questions and feedback about the show to email@example.com. (Episode 271, December 1, 2006.).