Books we read so you don’t have to
By Shelley Masar and Gretchen Giles
A PROFESSOR of theater with an expertise in Shakespeare was once asked by his daughter for a quote to embroider as a wedding present for a friend. She hoped for something from the Bard, but her father was in ill-humor. Cynically he snorted, “Make your bed and lie in it.” For us mortals, the bed, connubial or otherwise, is no simple place. We bring our whole selves–conscious and unconscious, psychologically and socially determined–with us when we lie across it. The following books were selected with that in mind:
The Lipstick Proviso: Women, Sex & Power in the Real World
By Karen Lehrman
Anchor Books, 1997
LEHRMAN, A YOUNG journalist, tackles liberation, femininity, beauty, sex, love, power, and sisterhood with post-movement aplomb. The title refers to her assertion that one can wear lipstick and boss men around in the office with equal integrity. Part of her clarity comes from a glib briskness that will no doubt take her to the top of her profession. Her chapter on sex maintains that it may be in women’s interests and in accord with our biological nature to reconsider chivalry and monogamy, writing, “Chivalry corrects for the weaknesses of men, not women. A man who holds open a door for a woman is less likely to make a derisive comment about her breasts. A man who helps a woman on with her coat is less likely to force her clothes off at the end of a date.”–S.M.
A Guy’s Guide to Dating: Everything You Need to Know About Love, Sex, Relationships, and Other Things Too Terrible to Contemplate
By Brendan Baber and Eric Spitznagel
Main Street Books, Doubleday, 1998
WRITTEN FOR THE KIND of men, who, when they throw off their underwear, it sticks to the wall, A Guy’s Guide takes the vagaries of man/woman, man/man, woman/ woman relationships and jokes about them while imparting some kind-of good information. AIDS and condoms, STDs and date rape, are dealt with seriously, but Baber and Spitznagel are professional comics whose you-sly-dog tone informs this book with a fraternal tee-hee. Following a guy’s life from the first crush of kindergarten through the way-heavy shacking-up of his early 20s, A Guy’s Guide sees men as testosterone-driven fools upon whom women sometimes bemusedly bestow favors. And no one ever knows why. The first time I read it, I hated it. The second time, I giggled. Guffawed. Even tee-hee’d. Why was I laughing? For the sheer pleasure of not being a man.–G.G.
Lovers’ Guide Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to Sex and You
Edited by Doreen Massey
Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1997
THIS IS ONE fascinating encyclopedia, loaded with photos and illustrations–a visual feast. When it arrived, we flipped through it stunned, curious, yellow. No form of sexuality is beyond its pale. Everyone is affirmed. Photographs and reproductions of fine art save thousands of words. For example, an image of a gigantic phallus by Aubrey Beardsley accompanies the quote: “Most men fear that their sex organs are too small. A woman’s reassurance seldom helps to allay these fears, but business success sometimes helps.” –S.M.
Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man
By Dan Anderson and Maggie Berman
Regan Books, 1997
WE WERE CURIOUS enough about the book to ask the publisher for a manuscript copy to preview. This book dares, in the days of AIDS, to go where Armistad Maupin’s Tales from the City went before the sexual holocaust. That is, it plays with the campy, happy sensuality of the gay subculture: “In the gay world, we think too much is made by locking partners into being a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom.’ Even our friend Phil jokingly said, ‘I’m a bottom. Let the top do the work, get it in, get it over with–I want to go shopping.'” The thesis is that no girlfriend, nor most boyfriends, can tell you what’s going on in a “guy’s head or any other part of his body.” It’s a joyful how-to by a loving gay man and an uninhibited straight woman who know and care about each other very well. The sexually experienced and creative may find little that is truly new or inspiring, but it is a good refresher course if your technique has become sloppy. Illustrations help.–S.M.
From the February 5-11, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
© Metro Publishing Inc.