A woman I sort of know called the other day and invited me out for a cup of coffee. George said, "This is the 3 rd time she's called - what's so urgent?". I said, "I don't know - I'm not really friends with her. It's more of an acquaintanceship - you know, we've chaperoned a number of field trips together over the years, I sat next to her during the school plays - that sort of thing". George said, "Uh-huh. Well, maybe you'll know her better after the coffee".
A couple of hours later I walked in the door and George said, "And?" and I said, "And she's leaving her husband because he won't go down on her". George dropped his own coffee. He said, "You barely know her - why would she tell you something like that?" I said, "She wanted my advice" . He looked worried. "On oral sex?" he asked. I said, "No silly, on divorce". George said, "Why didn't she just ask for the name of a lawyer and skip the details?" and I said, "Why is it that men never just say, 'he threw the ball into the end zone'?" He said, "Because sports are more complicated than that!" and I said so were relationships. He said, "I don't see why women need to spend so much time talking about relationships - men never do". I said, "Anybody who thinks women talk a lot has never sat through a six hour pre-game Super Bowl show".
I said to George, "Maybe the reality is that men talk about sports the way women talk about sex and relationships - analyzing the play-by-plays, discussing the fumbles and turnovers, anticipating the big plays. And women talk about sports the way men talk about sex - we stick to the basics, like 'yeah, it was a great game. My team won' ". He was pale. He said, "What do you talk about?" I said, "Honey not much - you've haven't been home a lot recently". He looked relieved. I said, "But the visitation sex is pretty great".
George left the room.
I called Rebecca, with whom I've been discussing sex for 25 years. I said, "Do you know that men don't talk about sex that much?" She said, "You're kidding - what about all that locker room talk?" and I said, "I think that comes down to one guy saying, Hey, saw you were out with so and so last night and then the other guy says, yeah! And then they say, 'heh heh' and slap each other on the back and that's it. She said, "No wonder they get in and out of the men's room so quickly!". I said, "I think they save it up for sports talk". Rebecca asked if there was anything about sex on ESPN and I said, no. She was quiet a moment and said, "Well, what's on the women's sites?" and I said, let's check. So we logged on.
I suggested that we start with More, which is after all the magazine for women our age. There, right at the top of the page, was a menu item for Sex and Relationships. We agreed it was nice to lump the two together, but when we clicked through all we could find was an article about sex and the gray-haired woman. I said, "What's next? Sex in a Subaru?" and Rebecca said gently, "Uh, Jane, you just bought one of those" and I thought wistfully of the cherry red Saab.
We checked out another new site for women our age, called WOW. There were no menu options for Sex or Dating but there was a short fictional piece about a married couple named Larry and Marcia who decided to sleep in separate bedrooms. I said, "I wonder if Larry and Marcia have visitation sex?" And Rebecca said, "If they do, they're not talking about it".
We surfed over to Redbook, which we found to be heavy on euphemisms. There was a menu option for Love Life and several articles about how to improve one's sex life. We discussed the fact that Redbook covered its bases by saying "your guy" while heavily implying that the guy was your husband. I said, "The assumption here is that all married couples need a little help with their sex lives after awhile" and Rebecca said we should forward the link to Larry and Marcia.
We linked over to a new site called Shine for women in their 30's and found a menu item that read, Love and Sex. I said, "That's interesting. More magazine doesn't even pretend to include love on their sex and relationships page" and Rebecca said by the time most women reached More they knew better. She said, "This is obviously for young marrieds - look at the article about movies for kids that are long enough to let you grab a quickie while they watch" and I said that was kind of like visitation sex.
We logged onto Oprah where there was a link for Relationships, but in Oprah's world, none of the relationships involved sex. From there we went to Glam, the number one site for 18-34 year old women. I said to Rebecca, "This is like ESPN for women! There are channels for shopping, entertainment, celebrities, health and wellness but absolutely nothing about relationships!" . She suggested that maybe all the sex talk for women that age was on Cosmo, but I refused to link over as the models are all too skinny for words. I said, "They don't eat enough to have energy for sex", so we clicked on iVillage instead.
iVillage had a menu option for Love. I said, "Hope springs eternal", expecting to find a wedding article, but when we clicked on the link it took us instead to "What's Your Favorite Sex Position?". Another click took us to a page with four menu options: Energy Level, Penis Size, Flexibility and Height. It was totally interactive! We started clicking around. Under "flexibility" the options included a link that read, "Just call me Mary Lou Retton". Rebecca said, "It kind of makes you want to take up Yoga again". I said, "If this is their idea of Love, bring on sex".
I went to share my Internet research with George, who was deeply involved in March Madness play-offs. I said, "Well, there's good news and bad news - which do you want first?" and he chose the bad news. I said, "The bad news for men is that one of the sites includes an interactive measuring tape". He paled. "And the good news?". I said, "Not all women talk about sex the same way: some call it love, some call it dating, some call it 'relationships' and some call it marriage". George said, "Okay, now let's talk about what you call it" and I said, "I thought you said there should be less talk and more action" . So he suggested we go upstairs and get the game started.
Jane Becker http://thedamedomain.blogspot.com