Thursday, April 23, 2009

Let's talk about sex

Some say that when you give a gift to a spouse you may as well make it something you can enjoy, too. I suppose sex everyday for a year might fall into that category. Charla Muller's memoir of her husband's 41st year is truly reflective and she demonstrates how making time for one another enhanced not only their sex life, but many other aspects of their relationship as well and strengthened their marriage. I can be quite cynical, but generally I am pretty romantic when it comes to love and marriage, so it was refreshing to read something from a woman's point of view about marriage that wasn't focused on husband bashing. That being said, I didn't really like this book. If a person is going to write about sex then write about sex. There were too many cutesy euphemisms that I found distracting - things that I would say and giggle about when I was in high school the Big O; "being with" a man ;or "have a go" (which frankly I think sounds more like date rape). Also, despite the fact that Muller claims to have grown up with 80s brand feminism (the same as I did) she consistently uses the word "girls" when referring to her women readers and "moms" when referring to mothers. Both of these make me cringe. My daughter calls me "Mom" as an endearment, but I cannot stand being referred to by others as "Paloma's mom" or when with a group of other mothers being referred to as "the moms".

I actually felt sad much of the time I was reading this book. Muller goes on quite a bit about how regular her family is, and I find it heartbreaking sometimes when I realize that however hard I work hard at lowering my own carbon footprint there are families like hers who don't seem to think about it at all. She seems almost proud of the fact that she drives an SUV (wouldn't dream of owning a minivan - as if those are the only two driving options anyway) and the fact that she only occasionally remembers to recycle. The consumer culture is alive and well despite the dire predictions about our economy. There is a lot in this book about shopping for make up, hair color and the like. There are way too many generalizations about men and women. There is almost a whole chapter dedicated to explaining how women need to have their make up and hair color - two things I don't do. I like my grey. And there is a lot about men and sports. My own mother and stepfather once took me to a Baltimore Colts scrimage (a long time ago) although I protested that I wasn't interested. My mother said something like I should learn to like sports if I want to have common interests with men. No thanks. I found a husband who is not interested in sports, and we have plenty in common. Muller actually takes this advice from her parents and buys season tickets to some such team, then argues with her husband about whether he only loved her for her tickets.

I think perhaps the most depressing aspect of this book was reading about how seldom Muller's friends and acquaintances had sex, and how hard they tried to avoid it. Muller herself claimed she and her husband "hardly ever" had sex prior to his 40th birthday. Certainly I can understand that children can cramp a couple's style, but hardly ever? There was a lot of information about games women play to avoid having sex - taking a long time to get ready hoping their partner will fall asleep, or going to bed long before or long after their husband has. Do gay and lesbian couples cotton to such nonsense, or are these strictly heterosexual games?

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