Thursday, July 30, 2009

Men and Breasts

Avignon, the summer of 1981, a dark July night. A small car French-made car is parked in the middle of a vague expanse of greenery, on a road through a vineyard perhaps—or so I hope, because it adds an otherwise absent touch of romance. The light is on inside the car, which makes it all the better to see the show, and yes, that’s 19-year-old me in the passenger seat (I know, “that is I” is grammatically correct but it sounds stupid), leaning over to perform fellatio a blond French fireman.

I’ve been meaning to fill in the details of this story for quite some, a tale I first announced as a random and embarrassing fact about me from my wilder-than-you’d-think-by-looking-at-me past. But I’m having a strangely hard time getting down to writing down this particular going-down story.

“Only a fool mistakes memory for fact” says Stephen Elliott via Erobintica. Indeed some of the details of my French fireman fellatio story are oddly vivid in my memory, many others have dissolved forever in the mists of the vineyards of southern France. And while my international encounter may sound very much like something from Penthouse letters in outline, the only “fact” I’m very sure of is that the scene evokes feelings in me that are hardly erotic according to the popular understanding of the word.

Blogging about what really happened in that car beyond a teaser synopsis somehow forces me to come up against the question of why I write about sex, a question I’m not always able to answer for myself. I claim to aim for “truth” in my erotica, a presentation of authentic sex between partners with complex emotions and dreams and desires beyond mere physical lust. Yet most of my stories I’ve been writing recently are meant to soothe the reader with the requisite two to three sex scenes that might involve some conflict but are guaranteed to end happily, with no lingering discomfort to disrupt any follow-on amorous activity the reader might want to engage in. That’s what an erotica writer should do.

And while I complain as much about the bleak portrayal of sexuality in the literary genre as the questionable authenticity of great sex between total strangers that is so common in sexually explicit stories, I have been known to write bleakly about my own sexual experiences. I suppose the problem is that the French fireman story does belong firmly in the “what the hell was I doing?” category of sexual memoir, when I’m somehow thinking my readers expect empowering, sex-positive erotica. And I don’t like to disappoint my readers.

Another problem is that I feel compelled to explain the broader context of why I came to be sitting in that car beyond “I let a French fireman pick me up at a disco and gave him a blowjob in his car.” This will take time. And blog stories should be, say, 800 words and no more.

Where are these should’s coming from anyway?

I say fuck the should’s. Or at least give them one hell of a blowjob.

And so, I decided to write the French fireman episode in a way that feels right to me, because that’s the story I want to tell after all.

I’m going to start with a prologue, which I’ll call “Men and Breasts.”

I was with the blond French fireman because my breasts are small. Make no mistake, I love my breasts and am very happy with them for many reasons. The nipples are exquisitely sensitive (not great when I was breastfeeding, but a boon the rest of the time). I don’t have to buy bras (except, again, when I was lactating) and when I run, there’s no flopping. I’m well aware that in America the big-breasted women get all the magazine covers and centerfolds, but I never cared in the least except reluctantly and almost anthropologically for one brief period of my life. Let’s call that the “meat market” phase, when I occasionally found myself at large keg parties and discos and other dark, loud places where the only way to choose a potential partner was by looks alone.

I was reminded of these unpleasant days a few months ago at a Seventies Party fundraiser for my son’s school. Many of the attendees were dressed in period clothing, which gave the event the feel of a disco of my youth. I was not dressed up, but naturally my eyes were drawn to the women strutting around in their tight clothes and go-go boots. Of course I noticed the boobs. How could you not notice the boobs? Boobs are noticeable by design. And in this context, a woman is not and cannot be judged by her witty conversation or her artistic endeavors or even her devotion to sensual pleasure in bed. She is judged by the size of her boobs. Intellectually, I can see all the reasons why this is so, many of the same reasons why I seldom went to bars and discos, but it still makes me feel…small.

The night I met the French fireman, I was at a disco on the outskirts of Avignon (you know, where the rival French pope took up residence during the “Babylonian Captivity” in the 14th century) with two other American woman from my summer-study-abroad program. One was my home-stay roommate, a fashionably cute and perky Georgetown Foreign Service School student, the other a sweet-faced blonde from Pennsylvania. We were invited to the place by a thirty something Frenchman named Daniel whom we met at a café on the main strip in the city one Saturday night. On the way to the club in his car, he stopped to pick up another local female friend, Jaqui, and kept telling her “Parlez doucement” because les Americaines didn’t understand French well. Actually he admitted I was pretty good, but the other two, and especially my roommate, his clear target, were indeed a bit shaky.

This happened a lot that summer. French guys we’d meet always told me my French was the best then made a pass at the woman sitting next to me. I guess they didn’t want to talk? It never happened in Japan, but breasts are not such a big deal there, which is surely one reason I liked the place so much. But I digress.

Fast forward to a table in the disco, at the edge of the dance floor, where the stylishly dressed Avignonese youth didn’t really dance together except during the slow songs. The rest of the time they stood facing a large mirror, their lazy gyrations infused with a certain masturbatory quality. (This happened in Japan, too, but by then I was used to it). No sooner had he settled the three of us with drinks, then Daniel quickly whisked away my roommate, who was never to be seen again until I returned to our Madame’s apartment that night. She told me Daniel eventually took her back to his house, invited her to accompany him on a trip to the Riviera and tried—and failed—to seduce her. She resisted his attempts by acting like she had no idea what he was trying to do, pushing her “dumb American” act to its logical conclusion. Can’t talk, can’t fuck.

Actually my roommate was a pretty witty woman, but that’s another story.

There’s another gap in my memory now. I’m not sure how the remaining two of us ended up with two other Frenchman at our table. They might have been friends of Daniel or not. One was dark and crafty-looking with curly hair, the other a slim, shy blond with a trademark French nose. They were both in their very early twenties. The darker man was very courtly and talkative, while his friend just observed and smoked a Gauloise. I remember the operator’s name was Patrice, and after about four seconds, he zeroed in on my companion, the sweet blonde. Who also had big boobs.

At one point, Patrice asked my friend to slow dance, leaving me and the shy guy, Christophe, to talk—or not talk—alone.

That’s when I learned he was a fireman. “Je suis pompier,” he told me, flexing a muscle rather adorably. Here’s the thing I realize now. I was clearly the third pick, the booby prize, so to speak, as I often was in such situations. Being the last to be chosen for the team depressed me and although I tried to ignore it, it made me want to prove myself, or rather prove they were wrong for choosing as they did. In both Europe and America, if I was with other women in some pickup situation out in the "real world" (rather than the protective college world which was somehow kinder to flat-chested females), the outgoing, aggressive guy would always reach for the one with perky, evident breasts. It happened on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence when the ringleader of another threesome, a cute guy who worked in a drycleaner’s, singled out the girl with the largest breasts and I was “stuck” with the guy who’d studied in Germany, because we could both stumble through a conversation in that language. The guy who knew German was actually pretty nice.

Strange how it occurs to me only now that the quieter men I ended up with tended to be “my kind” anyway. Christophe was more handsome and much sweeter than Patrice, after all. My American friend’s story of the rest of her evening is proof as she reported later with a sneer of disgust that he mauled her and resisted taking no for an answer until she fought him off and insisted he take her home.

Hmm, maybe this isn’t such a pathetic story after all? By “losing,” I won in a way. As did Christophe, who was the only cruising dude to actually get off that night, if the other reports are accurate.

Or is this all just another trick of memory?

More to come....


Emerald said...

"And while my international encounter may sound very much like something from Penthouse letters in outline, the only 'fact' I’m very sure of is that the scene evokes feelings in me that are hardly erotic according to the popular understanding of the word."

I really relate to this. I have a number of past sexual encounters that I would describe that way.

"my readers expect empowering, sex-positive erotica"

Maybe your readers are seeking the truth. It seems to me nothing is more empowering than truth.

Thank you for sharing yours.

Erobintica said...

Very thought provoking post Donna. I think I'll just email you.

neve black said...

From one itty, bitty, titty committee member to another...I can relate. ;-)

I wonder if women with larger breasts wish they were smarter, or have smaller thighs, or curlier get the point.

What I find most interesting here is through this somewhat painful singling out process it was you that was really doing the choosing. The universe simply saved the best for last.

The question of why we write erotica is always percolating, isn't? I think it's okay if those reasons change and bend as we gain more inner strength and grow as people and as writers. God, I hope so, because I know my reasons seem to get deeper the more I write.

And for what it's worth, you couldn't possibly disappoint your readers. Not ever.

Great post, Donna. Extremely thought provoking.

Jeremy Edwards said...

I can definitely identify, in a general way, with some of what you're confronting here. My sexual history, such as it was, for the first couple years of college was pretty un-erotic—for different reasons from those applying in your case. Nothing terrible happened; it was just a sparse series of misadventures. I was naive and confused, and my sense of judgment was, uh, still developing.

SusanD said...

Oh, you do write with such honesty, Donna. I think it's this honesty that's part of what makes your stuff so engrossing -- and ingratiating. Truly, there aren't many Pam Andersons out there in the world, so it IS much more fascinating to hear about how "real" or even "normal" people approach their sexuality -- be it from an angle of self-worth, sensuality, or a mixture of these and other things. So it makes this account engrossing, but it's also what makes it harder for you to write -- because you're truly opening yourself up and letting us see the workings of your mind. And I'm quite certain Christophe was glad he ended up with you!

Also, don't tell anyone, but highway hummers are one of my favorite things. They're so naughty on two levels -- breaking all those traffic laws and all, along with the randiness of them. So fun! Look forward to more.

Donna said...

Hey, guys, thank YOU for stopping by. These "honest" posts--hmm, no need for quotes, really, I suppose--are hard to write and leave me feeling a bit naked. But I guess I do want to tell the truth and I do what I have to do. And I think at heart that's what readers want, too. Okay, maybe some want escapism sometimes, but don't we all, lol.

So, yeah, although we all write hot, steamy stories, it is comforting to know what I'm saying resonates with you all in some way in real life :-).

Itty Bitty Titty's been a long time since I heard that! And I know women with large breasts have their own wish list, even if it's "I wish guys would stop staring at my tits."

Again thank you for coming along for the ride through the vineyards!

Nikki Magennis said...

"my readers expect empowering, sex-positive erotica"

Maybe your readers are seeking the truth. It seems to me nothing is more empowering than truth.

Yes. Thank you. I like my titillation (sorry) as much as the next person, but I'm also hungry for honest writing about sex that has the clarity and elegance you bring to it, Donna.

Look forward to reading more!

Danielle said...

awsome job donna..the post is so donna..i mean you write about sex..but somehow you never cross a certain line...and i love how easily porn and poetry blend together in your posts and stories..

what i thought a lot about lately is that most of us writers write a lot about the sex we had, the sex we imagine and the sex would like to have..but rarely about the sex we actually really have..why is that? when i started to think about it i noticed that more or less only sommer and alison wrote about the sex they have..but recently others do follow...i think thats an interesting developement...

talking about sex..and teh whole european / american friend r. is recently dating a guy from the states who stays in aachen for a year..and last night they where in the middle of enjoing theirselfes as R. heared a silent moan out from between her tights..she wanted to encourage him and brusged through his short dreades and said: oh baby you do this really good...which made him dropping his forehead on her pussy and then he start to cry...totally irrited my friend asked the guy what happened..and he startet to cry even more and told her that she is wicked because she made him performing oral sex on her..and back home he and his brothers had sworn together not to eat pussy..ner..under no circumstances...and that him and his huys always teased the guys who were know for eating pussy and actually had always spoken bad about my dear dr donna..a no-pussy-eating desaster..what should my friend do?

Craig Sorensen said...

First, a hear, hear to the prior comments.

You always fuel me with your explorations, both of the sensual and intellectual level. Most of us are real people, but all around us we are often fed "composed" images by the media.

Many people want something else in their appearance, because the ideal is often so specifically crafted. Even those that closely "fit" the look can be self conscious (sometimes more than those furthest from the ideal.)

Keep writing these honest blogs and stories about real people. I, for one, will keep reading.

And I know I'm not alone in that...

LVLM(Leah) said...

I think real and personal experiences are what shapes what we feel and think about sex and are just as valid to be expressed and written as embellished or made up erotica.

From a personal standpoint, I've gone through life with small boobs and I suppose it's had some affect on who I've ended up with and who I've had sexual experiences with.

I was very lucky that the first and second major loves in my life loved my breasts, worshiped them even. So I never really got a complex about them.

But at the same time I've had many experiences as you in which the girls with the bigger breasts got chosen over me. From my standpoint, at least those that chose me weren't doing so because of the size of my breasts.

I've often thought men who choose a woman based solely on appearance not worthy of me anyway.

And... I've known women who have huge breasts and they get so fed up with being treated as sexual objects rather than being looked at for who they are.

Donna said...

Well, thank you, Nikki. I actually feel the same about your writing. While I do like to get turned on, I'm turned on in a different way by the "yes, that's the way it really is" moments in a story. And Craig, yep, that ideal I believe is crafted to keep us in line, keep us buying self-improvement products, keep us from soaring because we're so worried about the stupid stuff. Kudos to every person who sees beyond that, man or woman. MB, your words always inspire me and you are so right. Who wants someone who chooses me because of some superficial quality? He doesn't deserve me, so it all works out in the end. I guess I was so impatient to find that person, the real thing, and not sure I ever would. I'll discuss that more in the next excerpt.

Danielle, you make some fascinating points. Sommer and Alison do write about sex they're having now, and they are both awesome, compelling writers. But I think for every writer, no matter whether their writing fiction or memoir, there is an element of crafting to it, things we leave out. And "total honesty" might not always serve our purposes even if we're writing about what we did last night. This is in no way directed at a specific writer, it's more about the process of writing itself.

As for the uptight American story, well, I've had good and bad experiences with Europeans, Americans and Japanese, so I hesitate to blame it all on the USA (although we do have our national hangups), but well, unless your friend has some mission to enlighten the sexually repressed, or she really loves him, I'd say dump him and fast. No need to waste her time on his issues, lol. Maybe it's not diplomatic, but life is short and there are plenty of nice guys out there who'd love to be with her and eat her :-).

Alana Noel Voth said...

Donna, thank you for taking this on and for posting. I actually understand better than anyone here the sort of courage this writing requires. Sort of drains yet empowers you at the same time. You continue to earn my upmost respect. Peace, A

Alana Noel Voth said...

Hi Em! :-)

Do you mean emotional truth?

Alana Noel Voth said...

Hi Nx! :-)

Here, here. I'm with you.

Donna said...

Gina Maria, oh, boy, isn't that so weird what people say about your body. In retrospect, each and every comment someone made about me as too flat, too fat, not enough whatever, felt like a violation. Some serious lack of empathy in our world.

And your answer to why write erotica is an excellent one. But I always seem to need to have an articulated higher purpose, as if to quiet those voices that say it's a waste of time, you can do better. I don't think I can do better. I think erotica needs our best efforts--and thank you all here for giving it yours!

And Alana, well, you are my inspiration for these "naked soul" posts! Draining and empowering at the same time, yes. And even though I know I have a supportive group of listeners here, it's still always scary. Maybe it's good that it doesn't feel easy though?

Isabel Kerr said...

As I've mentioned Donna, it'd take me a week to come up with a reasoned response to this soul baring post. But I''ll try a couple of spontaneous thoughts.

Your sex honest is the most sex positive. When you write about reality it resonates with many.

One of the things I often strive for in writing erotica is to represent reality of the body, eg. small breasts, a slight stomach, short men, small dicks, a scarred and battered face, etc. as focal points of desire, because I think we fall in love/lust with different aspects of a lovers body, cinnamon freckles, olive colored eyes, regardless of artificial standards; and try to convey the message that we should really look at our own image as a lover would. As you have pointed out in the long term those circumstances where the man went for the large breasts didn't work out for either partner.

At the same time, it is painful to be last picked and I think that only time and experience (eh hem age? : ) )show us that that's really ok, perhaps even better in the long term. To represent this in your writing Donna is inspiring to all.

I hope this makes sense. Thank you for opening up to us Donna.


Danielle said...

@ donna

yes..even if something is based on our private it for real the way we tell it?..i think we often forget things..details..or even cut details out..because of shame..or because parts of the reality dont fit in the plot of the story...i mean you tell about the pretty girl you had a wine tasting with and then a romantic yet hot night under the stars in the vine yard..but do you write that you lied to her and told her your name is miguel sanchez and that you would stay if you hadnt to go back to mexico the other day and that you never called her again..hell no!!!

plus..its not always easy to write about the people you know...i tend to forget to change their names,..which is awfull..ones i changed only the dogs name because i thought thats enough to cover the privacy...

a former lover was mad at me because i wrote something about that she worked as an escort from time to time...she was furious about what people would think about her..i just said she dont need to tell anybody thats her in that story...

so its really not easy to write real real stories based on our own memories... be body positive..i love small boobs and i love wide hips!!...actually i love boobs and hips in every shape...

did you ever notiuced that we all together are a pretty & sexy little colony?..:-)

spam word is aloatic..sounds good..:-)

Donna said...

Isabel, it makes total sense and I have to repeat that one of the many things I admire about you is your ability to see beauty in "unusual" places. It strikes me that the Hollywood even featured face is a sort of shorthand for the eyes of love. These are strangers, so we need them to be easy on the eye as a replacement for that golden glow of attraction surrounding someone we really know and love. But then it gets confused, like you have to look like that to be loved, but it didn't start out that way...does THIS make sense, lol?

Danielle, you sound like a memoirist at heart! And I think we are a gorgeous group of erotica writers. Truly. So full of joy and humor and sensuality. Passion for life is the number one attractive feature for me :-).

Oh, Gina Marie, I think we're victims of the blogland tone problem. I wasn't at all offended by your comment, more explaining my own sort of defensive need to tell the world (not you guys) why writing about the erotic experience is NOT base and worthless.

I will say that your ex-husband's focus on the money as determining the worth of art is very, very common even outside erotica. Isn't that sad? It's so NOT true. I knew someone whose husband didn't respect her writing until she won a scholarship to Bennington. As if we need someone else to confirm our worth (like kids worry about their looks, etc). The money is the least of it. You could make a decent wage writing crap for the big men's magazines, but you'd be selling your soul. But hey, I don't want to go too far in that direction--I want to thank you for sharing and for refusing to buy into that. Your passion for sensual pleasure of all kinds is so beautifully palpable and has brought such joy to my life! That's what matters!

Isabel Kerr said...

Thank you Donna. I really do find beauty in the unusual and the many ways we are attracted to someone/something.

One of the many things I admire about you is your honesty to write about uncomfortable truths in a way that keeps us wanting to read more. Your erotica verite is very compelling.

Gina Marie, creativity is an end to itself and everyone benefits. One good reason he's your EX husband. We should only listen to those who tell us you go girl, because this is what we do, who we are and that is what needs to be appreciated.

Danielle, actually i love boobs and hips in every shape... this is one thing I was getting at the other day on my post, there is love there in the writing of ALL (yeah, I'm refering to you all too) of the male writers we work with, that is what is so appealing.

Thanks Donna for opening this discussion.

Donna said...

"Yes" indeed!

Maryanne Stahl said...

I wish my breasts were smaller. I wish my curly hair were straight. I used to wish I were smarter or luckier or less sensitive and certainly richer.

but like you, I quest for truth. such is the lot of the writer, oui?

great post.

Donna said...

Thank you, MA. And it's easy for others to see and say, but you are so beautiful and rich just as you are. Especially the rich part, cause you're a writer!