Monday, 17 February 2014

The Mighty Bush

If you are a habitual reader of The Independent, you would not have failed to notice the raging debate that spread like bushfire last month. It was triggered by a book published by that intellectual giant, Cameron Diaz (not just a pretty face, I’d request you to keep in mind), which, sadly, I have not yet got round to read.

In the book Diaz devoted a whole chapter, imaginatively titled “Praise of the Pubes”, waxing lyrical about pubic hair. Diaz likes them. She grows (presumably) lots of them, these days. Pubic hairs are natural, Diaz would like to inform the world. Not wanting pubic hair is like—Diaz told a girlie magazine—not needing your nose. “Don’t wazzle your vajayjay,” urges Ms Diaz (may be not in these exact words). 

There are many who might not like their noses; and have the option of going under the knife to have it the way they want, for a price that would put many in the mind of a second mortgage. You can change the size and shape of your breasts, ass, thighs, lips, tummy, and penis. I can’t think of a body part that you can’t get upgraded these days, if you have the desire and the financial resources. Getting rid of unwanted pubes is, by comparison, cheaper. Also, is it really fair to compare your pubic hair to your nose (to the nose or to pubes)? Most of us would agree that we do need our noses; a nose serves a function most will have no trouble appreciating. No one in his right mind, I will put it to you, will say that they don’t need their nose.

But pubic hairs? What purpose do they serve other than making your nether regions look like my back garden which has not been tended for months? Apparently they serve important medical functions. (I am full of admiration for the doctors. There is nothing out there that does not have some medicinal value. I read a report in the BBC sometime back that some research has shown that if you drank four cups of coffee every day you were less likely to kill yourself than those who were coffee-free. But four, apparently, is the magic number: you drink the fifth cup and all the benefits are lost.) Some doctors are claiming that shaving your vaginas will put you at a higher risk of developing infections from bacteria the names of which I can’t spell but which sound scary. Shaving your pudenda also makes the skin sore and itchy, the doctors say. Having a bald pussy makes you more prone to herpes, some doctors are warning. (Can’t these problems be avoided by using less blunted razor, and good personal hygiene?) A hairy bush is like armour which will protect you against these disgusting, if not deadly, diseases, though not, it goes without saying, against STD. (It may however serve as a very effective contraceptive.) (I am going to be blunt here: the subject of pubic hair seems to exercise women more than men; or, to be precise, Western women; or, to be even more precise, a large section of Western women; or—I can’t be more precise than this—those women who think the subject is important enough to write newspaper articles on it. Always nice to know that while the world might be facing many problems some women have more pressing and important matters, such as whether or not their girly bits be draped or not by the fur curtain, to write about; and there I was worrying whether I’d be able to pay the mortgage if the Bank of England increases the interest rates.)

Are there any disadvantages of a hairy fanny other than running the risk of catching your curlies in the zipper of your jeans? Sloppy personal hygiene will leave your pudenda with an immigration problem worse than that in the worst nightmare of the most rabidly xenophobic Tory working himself into a frenzy over Eastern Europeans; and the lice will face the more overcrowding than on London’s underground.

Do pubic hairs serve sexual function? That, as my philosophy tutor was fond of saying whenever I asked him any question, depends. 

Does a bush make you sexually attractive? That (again) depends. It depends on what your partner finds sexually appealing. If you have what the feminist Naomi Wolf describes in her book Vagina: A Biography, a heterosexual vagina and the sight of an overgrown patch of briars and brambles gets your partner’s juices flowing, then I’d say go for it. Let those curlies and twirls creep out of your knickers.  If, on the other hand, he does not have a taste for a hairy pie, you’d better do all that is necessary to wake him in the morning with a vertical smile.

Are there any non-sexual pleasures to be had from a bouffant down there? Apparently there are, as Caitlin Moran, a popular British newspaper columnist (and, of course, a feminist), reveals in her book How to be A Woman. Say you are lying down in a hammock on a sunny day, staring at the trees and the birds, thinking of what dress to wear for this evening party. Totally chilled out. What can enhance your pleasure? Why, a hairy fanny of course. What can you do with a hairy fanny? You can fingercomb it (Ms Moran informs). Fingercombing your fanny is one of the many pleasures of adulthood; ask Ms Moran if you don’t want to take my word for it. It goes without saying that Ms Moran disapproves heartily of the practice of robbing your crotch of its natural treasure.

The unspoken subject, the unasked question, the elephant (or the rhinoceros, according to the original German saying), in the esteemed opinion of Felicity Morse who was moved to write an article on the subject in the Independent, is of oral sex. I was saddened (but not surprised) to learn that men are wholly to be blamed. Apparently there are many men out there who don’t want their girlfriends or partners to wear a generous bush. A Brazilian landing strip is as far as they are willing to go. Sea weed is fine when it is crispy and on a plate and when you are in restaurant Hong Kong, but you don’t want it stuck in your teeth when you are licking the sweat off the old meat-curtains. This is clearly unacceptable, Ms Morse says. Your partner must find you sexually attractive as you naturally are; and if he doesn’t and is putting unacceptable conditions before he would consent to taste your bacon sandwich, you’d better evaluate your relationship, is Ms Morse’s (rather drastic) advice. Now, at the risk of sounding like a chartered accountant who sees the world as consisting in its entirety of detailed negotiations—pro versus cons, loss versus profit . . . those sorts of things—, I’d say that if you are prepared to end a relationship over this issue, probably something more is going on in the relationship than your partner’s refusal to get excited in the trouser department unless you remove your beetle’s bonnet. Also, supposing you do consider this matter important enough on its own to end a relationship, how would you ensure that you don’t make the same mistake of meeting another man of similar (perverted) persuasions? How do you find out that he is not going to start retching at the sight of your muff? How would you ask him to clarify his position—so to speak—on this subject before you lower your knickers? A bit awkward, I’d have thought.  

I have to say that quite a few women whom I had the good fortune to know closely over the years, and who never struck me as enslaved by men, refused to sport a generous bush on aesthetic grounds. Some years ago I ran into my immediate line manager in the company I was working for at the time. This was a woman—let’s call her Cathy (they are always Cathys or Hazels or Joans)—was abnormally thin—the type, if I remember correctly, described in Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of Vanities as a bottomless pit—with  a flat face and a disproportionately larger bust. Cathy was not known in the company for her sparkling wit or easy manner, although, to be fair to her, neither was she malicious. She was, in fact, a bit peculiar. She had odd social manners. She never looked you in the eyes while speaking to you, focusing instead on a point behind you at a lateral angle. She also had the habit of jigging to and fro on the balls of her feet like a Morris dancer with haemorrhoids. She was not given to expressing emotions: you could have set her eyebrows on fire and she wouldn’t have blinked an eyelid. To the best of our knowledge Cathy was single and prurient male colleagues would fill the lunch hour with ribald speculations about her sex life, which, the consensus was, amounted to her right hand. It would be fair to say that Cathy was not made for sex. (In my opinion Cathy was not secure about her body and—moved by the spirit of improving her self-esteem—I had thought of complimenting her on her watermelon breasts; but such things are more to be felt than said.) Anyway, when I crossed Cathy in the street, my then girlfriend, who was with me, screeched, as soon as we were out of earshot, “Oh my god! How do you know that woman?” “She is my line manager. How do you know her?” It then turned out that Cathy went to the same gym my ex-girlfriend went to. In the women’s changing room, the ex-girlfriend told me, Cathy would take all her clothes off and roam around stark naked, showing no urgency whatsoever to put on the gym clothes. The other women had taken to calling Cathy as “scary naked lady” or “mad naked lady”. “Why scary?” I asked. “Oh my god!” the ex-girlfriend screeched (she was inclined to invoke the lord’s name in vain), “you should see her bush!” I informed the ex-girlfriend that the chances of my eyes alighting on Cathy’s privates were less than slim. “Oh my god! The woman has probably never shaved in her life. Wild animals are roaming in the jungle down there.” The hair began, the ex-girlfriend—determined to spare no details—said, just below Cathy’s naval and progressed, in ever increasing concentric circle, to the point where the burgeoning line merged, like a river, into the Sargasso Sea on her mound. From there the hair invaded her inner thighs. “It is like a terrier has landed between her thighs,” the ex-girlfriend took recourse to metaphor to further illustrate her point. Words failed—she told me (despite the obvious evidence to the contrary)—to describe the horror of Cathy’s hairy fanny. “Why?” the ex-girlfriend asked plaintively, “Why would anyone do this to themselves?” I had to remind her that Cathy’s only crime was to let her pubes grow unrestrained. “Ugh! It’s disgusting. And why does she have to parade it? One look at it will make you bring up your dinner.” Needless to say that the ex-girlfriend was the type who waxed her fanny to within an inch of its life, wore half a kilogram of make-up, worried all the time that her ass looked fat in her jeans (it did), and (I suspect now) probably faked orgasms.

But surely, I hear you thinking, whether to have your nether region bald as Andre Agassi’shead or hairy as Brian Blessed’s face is a personal choice. I agree. It is no one’s business but yours, or, if you are inclined to include another person in the debate, your boyfriend’s. But, apparently, I am wrong. It is a feminist issue. Why is it a feminist issue? According to Caitlin Moran, as she helpfully elucidates in How to be A Woman, it is a feminist issue because modern women are brainwashed into believing that a shaved crotch would make them look more attractive and more feminine. In other words, if I have fully comprehended Ms Moran’s logic (which I might not have), the decision of the modern woman to shave her fanny is highly suggestive of her cultural oppression. Whose fault is it? Ms Moran knows: the American porn industry. America’s cultural hegemony apparently is not limited to forcing down your throat tasteless food high in saturated fat that will make you the size of a double Decker bus and eventually bring on a coronary; America—via its porn industry—is determined to brainwash modern women into shaving their clits, according to Ms Moran. Modern women obviously spend a considerable portion of their waking hours watching porn—perhaps their boyfriends make them watch it—and think to themselves, “I know what I want. I want my tits to be the size of a cantaloupe melon, like that porn star, and, since I don’t have the dosh to do that I will shave my vagina. That will make me more attractive to men.” Can it really be as simplistic as this? I doubt it, but I am not a feminist, so probably am mistaken.  Or maybe boyfriends or partners of modern women are addicted to American porn and insist that their girlfriend offer a hair-free zone on which they can set their tongues to work. (I can say with complete confidence that those of my ex-girlfriends who chose to go “bald” did so entirely of their own accord. Not a single one of them felt obliged to ask my views.) But maybe porn is to be blamed for the problem of vaginal hair (or lack thereof) in the anatomy of most modern women. On a related (or shall I say nearby?) subject, Naomi Wolf, in Vagina: A Biography, lays the blame squarely at the door of the porn industry for the penchant of the modern men for forcing their girlfriends to have anal sex. Even the Mormons are doing it, would you believe it?

I hope I would not be quartered if I said that the issue remains contentious, with chances of a consensus being reached more remote than the lasting peace in Afghanistan. There are those feminists,  (old, lesbian, Communist types, according to a female friend of mine, though obviously not including Ms Moran and Wolf) who would have you believe that shaving your clit is the single-most act of betraying the sisterhood. And there are those who believe that shaving their vaginas to within an inch of their lives empowers women. Indeed there are those, like Ms Boyle (Sian, not Susan, I should add; in the latter’s case it’d probably be forest not a bush), another writer of article in the independent, who have chosen to permanently remove their pubes by the laser technique. Not because their partners are insisting that they should cavort like porn stars in the bedroom but because they have made the informed decision of getting rid of unwanted minge-mat just in the same way many would want to get rid of the unwanted fur-coat on their upper lips.

If I were an epidemiological researcher of women’s pubic hair, I would consider dividing women into following categories based on their preferences and attitudes towards pubic hair. (a) Women who don’t like their pubic hair and shave them off. There are occasional reported cases of extreme phobia (a case in point Ms Sian Boyle) where the subjects may take the extreme step of permanently removing pubic hair. (b) Women who don’t mind pubic hair but indulge in regular fannicure. They want to pamper their bush and give it a trim from time to time. (c) Women who probably belong to category (b), but just can’t be bothered to have a quim-trim and let the hair grow. (d) Women who deliberately, intentionally and in full knowledge of what they are doing do not shave. A proportion of such women might consider themselves to be feminists. These women might view the women classified here under category (a) and very probably (b)—if they were to become cognizant of the true intentions of category (b) women—as man-pleasing barbies who have taken leave of their free will and senses. (The category (a) women greatly resent such labelling (see Ms Boyle’s article in the Independent) and would be at pains to explain that they want every possible body part as smooth as possible in their quest to appear young.) A further proportion  of category (c) women might be labouring under the belief that having a generous muff makes them more feminine and sexually irresistible.

Finally, there is a compelling case to be made that whatever the women choose to do with their private hair, it is somehow fault of men. I have still not figured out (despite reading How to be A Woman and Vagina: A Biography) how it is men’s fault, but am very sure about my conclusion. Such men, however, are deserving of compassion and sympathy, because they are in all probabilities addicted to porn or chronic masturbation or both. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Book of the Month: Girl with A One Track Mind Exposed (Zoe Margolis)

On page 257 of what is best described as her memoir, Girl With A One Track Mind—Exposed, Abby Lee (real name Zoe Margolis) describes a conversation with a friend, which, for a change, is not preceded or followed by or in the midst of sex. This female friend, who is identified as Cathy, demands sex tips from Margolis, reminding her that she wrote a whole book about her sex life. Margolis protests that the book was not solely about sex; there was a lot of psychoanalytical and political deconstruction of events and feelings, rather than just descriptions of bodily functions; it was not an erotica. The friend responds by saying, ‘Yeah, yeah—but there was a lot of shagging in it.’ Margolis sportingly concedes the point. There then follows a three pages long—I kid you not—dialogue between the two friends during the course of which Margolis explains, using fingers as a substitute to aid the demonstration, how to give a perfect blow-job. Here is just one of the many useful tips: it is essential to keep a glass of water handy, which will keep you hydrated (in the eventuality, I guess, of it going on for so long that you run the risk of collapsing of dehydration) as well as ensure that your mouth is moist. It would appear that giving a blow job is not just about sucking a dick; there is lot more to it than just sucking a dick, just as there is a lot more to Irish alcoholism than just drinking Guinness. I was left admiring the considerable thought Ms Margolis has given to this subject. And, in her case, she has backed up the theory with practice. This is a woman who has sucked a lot of cocks.
I borrowed Girl With A One Track Mind—Exposed from the local library, hoping for some light entertainment, and also hoping, if I am honest (isn’t it curious, the use of phrases such as ‘to be honest’, ‘if truth be told’?: as if we all lie as a rule, and feel it necessary to warn others when we become aware of an impending attack of sincerity—but I digress), for a modicum of filth.

Did I know who Abby Lee was? Yes and No. I had seen her first book Girl With A One Track Mind: Confessions of the Seductress Next Door in the Waterstone’s a few years ago, although I had not bought it at the time. There were a few reasons for that. Firstly, the title and the picture of a woman wearing only knickers put me off a bit. It would be embarrassing for a bloke to even go to the counter with a book, which is a cross between a girlie book and an erotica. The second reason was that I did not want to spend money on the book even though it was included in the 3-for-2 offer at Waterstone’s. On the cover 4 of the paperback edition brief information was given about the author. The author was Abby Lee, who had run a highly popular blog entitled Girl With A One Track Mind, for a few years, and the book was essentially a compilation of her blog postings—at least that was the impression I remember forming at the time. And, the tightwad that I am, I thought why waste money on buying the book when I could go to the website and read it for free? Thirdly, I thought, the book would become a tad monotonous. In as far as I made out, this woman, Abby Lee, had put herself about in order to have sex with a lot of men, and then written about her experiences on her blog. There is not going to be a great deal of variation in the descriptions: after all there are only so many orifices, so many cocks (at a time), so many positions, so many locales, and only so much one can do. If you have read one such posting, you have read all. (This is probably more a reflection of my restricted imagination.) I did not know that the book also offered a “psychoanalytical and political deconstruction of events and feelings, rather than just descriptions of bodily functions”.  Finally, I assumed that by giving a miss to a diary describing escapades of a sex-blogger I was hardly going to miss out on the next Saul Bellow. All in all, I concluded that the book would not be a good value for money. I knew that Abby Lee was a pseudonym of the writer; but all the brouhaha surrounding her outing completely passed me by (again a reflection on the restricted, uninteresting life I lead than anything else).

Sometime back I read Paul Carr’s hilarious and immensely readable Bringing Nothing to the Party, a chronicle of his failed attempt to become a web millionaire in one year. In the book, while discussing web celebrities, Carr devotes a page or two to Abby Lee, a.k.a. the Girl With A One Track Mind. It was then that I realised that Abby Lee was in real life Zoe Margolis and that the Sunday Times had outed her days after her book was published. Carr had also described how Margolis, in her Revanchist fury, created something called a ‘google bomb’ directed at the editor who had removed her cloak of anonymity, which I thought was quite funny. Sometime ago, Margolis wrote a blog on the Guardian website, giving its readers the benefit of her views on sex education in Faith Schools. It was a well written article and I found myself in agreement with what she was saying. However, I would be lying if I said that my admiration wasn’t a tinged with jealousy: firstly—it was the sign of times we live in, I thought (shaking my head), that a woman whose only claim to fame was that she slept with a lot of men and wrote on a blog about it had come to be regarded as something of an expert on all matters sexual; and secondly I could not write half as well as she even if my life depended on it.

So, when I spotted the book Girl With A One Track Mind Exposed in the local library, I hastily put it in the bag. It was, as I was expecting, an easy read—I finished it in a couple of days—and, as I was hoping, was full of filth.

The book is in a diary format and seems to be a compilation of Margolis’s postings on her blog—which she has continued with even after her true identity was revealed—and entries in her personal diary, probably written for the book. It is funny in parts; I enjoyed the entries made under ‘Girl’s Guide’. (In the “Girl’s Guide for Summer—for Men’, the first tip is: “Wash your armpits and wear an anti-perspirant deodorant. Stinking out a tube carriage in summer is just rude.”)

On the flip side, the book, as I suspected, became a tad monotonous after the first hundred pages. In this memoir, Margolis approaches a few themes repetitively, albeit from different angles, metaphorically speaking. These, in no particular order of importance, are as follows:

    •          Having sex is healthy. Talking about it is healthier. Ergo, having a lot of sex and talking all the time about it is a very healthful combination.
    •          Women need to be assertive and should set the boundaries clearly. Therefore when a guy is straddling you with the tip of his erect penis the length of your forearm uncomfortably close to your nostrils, you tell him politely but firmly that you do not want him to come on your face, and guide his dick (politely but firmly) to your breasts.
    •          There are lots of women out there who lack self-confidence. The reason women don’t climax as often as they ought to is they are insecure and unfamiliar with their bodies and lack confidence in bed. Solution? Wank a lot, which would give you an idea what works for you.
    •          Be open to new ideas and experimentation so long as it does not mutate into perversity. It was only after she was f**ked doggie style that Ms Margolis made the discovery that her G spot was best reached in that position.
    •          When you have made your reputation as a sex blogger hiding behind a pseudonym, it becomes a bit difficult to write about your sexual exploits with the same gay abundance as before, after you are outed. (Indeed, if you have deluded yourself into believing that you have become a celebrity and are instantly recognised everywhere you go, on the questionable evidence that a couple of D-list television celebrities contacted you and you had sex with them in some grimy hotel room in London, it may temporarily result in a loss of confidence in your prowess in chatting up men.)
    •          When you have made your reputation as a sex blogger hiding behind a pseudonym, and when your parents and close friends are unaware of what you have been up to in your spare time, it leads to many a monumentally embarrassing situation, after you are outed.
    •         Finally, shagging like a jack-rabbit is no guarantee that you would form a happy, fulfilling relationship (although it should be pointed out that the converse is not necessarily true: you are probably even less likely to meet someone to have a fair go at forming a happy and fulfilling relationship if you don’t shag).

While you do not necessarily have any issues with any of the above, you do wonder whether it could not have been put forth more concisely, say, in 150 pages instead of 320 plus?

The reader is also made privy to a lot of personal information about Ms Margolis, some of which is given below:

    •          Ms Margolis has very large breasts of which she is very proud. The breasts, she will thank you to keep in mind, are extremely sensitive, and at the merest touch, her nipples become rock hard.
    •          Ms Margolis loves to take up the shithole.
    •          Ms Margolis loves to be spanked on her buttocks
    •      Orgasms come as easily to Ms Margolis as shitting. She can climax up to six to eight times in a session (which suggests that they come more easily than shitting).
    •          Ms Margolis’s orgasms are so intense that on occasions she, rather her vagina, expelled the cock with the sheer force of contraction.
    •          On one occasion Ms Margolis climaxed so forcefully that the bedclothes underneath her became soaking wet. She is thus in a position to confirm that women can squirt too; it is not just a myth spread by the porn industry.
    •          Ms Margolis is very horny when she is having her periods. Actually she is horny pretty much all the time; she is—shall we say?—at her horniest when she is having her periods.
    •          Ms Margolis likes to wank. A lot.
    •          Ms Margolis is bi-curious.

All of this is about as interesting and fascinating about, say, reading the dietary habits of Emperor Bokassa. I mean, it is kind of interesting to know that he used to eat children for dinner, but beyond that what? I should hazard a guess that not many women would open their backdoors to men just because Ms Margolis does.
Finally, no amount of pseudoscientific exposition and deconstructive theories can disguise the fact that the book is full of sexually explicit and filthy (albeit grippingly filthy) details that tread a fine line between main stream literature and pornography. The only reason I would not describe the book as porn despite its almost-pornographic content is because of Ms Margolis’s repeated assertions throughout the book that her aim is not to titillate. So, if any of the male readers of these memoirs experiences—while reading the description of a man sitting astride Ms Margolis’s legs and stroking himself and exclaiming ‘Fuck! Your tits are fantastic!’, as she leans over him and presses her breasts together and slides them over his erect member, her nipples pressing against him—more than a soupcon of frisson, it is not because she wants to titillate; they should not pass the blame on to her and take responsibility for their own reactions, however involuntary.

The Girl With A One Track Mind Exposed exposes the limited shelf-lives of Web celebrities like Margolis. Her blog, as per Cover 2 of the paperback edition, became hugely popular and attracted over 7 million visitors. It was named as ‘the world’s most famous sex blog’. No doubt Ms Margolis would have preferred to remain hidden behind the Abby Lee persona, which would have allowed her to carry on disemboguing into ether the juicy titbits of her sexual encounters (which may have inadvertently titillated some or more of the male visitors to her blog), and which she would have published periodically as books. You might say that her attitude towards the proverbial cake was pro having it and pro eating it. What she found out was the more popular her blog became, the more the media became prurient and eventually her true identity was revealed. And the revelation removed at one stroke the attrait of her fame: her anonymity.  She, as they say, had it coming.

It seems to me that Margolis has milked her sexblogging persona for all it is worth and it is about time she gives up her nom de Plume for good, and directs her considerable writing talents in some other direction. How about a juicy novel?