By Sophie DuChien
I know that I am late this issue with my contribution, and I hope you can excuse me for being difficult to reach and for not sending you what you may have been expecting. But since I last wrote you my most significant experience was not with any of the men I have been interviewing. While each of their stories was moving, not to mention lubricating (You know who you are!), for me the most significant encounter was with a lawyer.
And in fact, this attorney is a woman. Since LIBIDO magazine played a prominent part in what happened, I think youll want to hear this story.
Our association began last winter when I received the following E-mail from a law firm that is well-known in the East for its work on behalf of womens causes.
Dear Ms. du Chien,
Recently I was given copies of your work by colleagues who brought it to my attention because in the normal course of gathering information on First- and Fourteenth-Amendment issues they found your work and it thoroughly offended them. They targeted you as an example of the worst sort of selling out of women by a woman. And I must say that I, too, am appalled. Your writing, offered in the name of feminism, is clearly pornographic and thus serves only to harm the true interests of women. That it is well-written and funny only compounds that insult by perverting your God-given talent. Dont you know that by going far beyond normal standards of decency with your dirty little stories, you not only bring shame to all women, you encourage men to commit sexual crimes against women?
Of course, I have had to listen to this reasoning on so many occasions that it was only with some difficulty that I resisted the urge to drop the note in the round file. And Im glad I held on, because in the very next paragraph I found what seemed to be an opening. She wrote:
I am sending you this note because I think there is a chance that I might get through to you as a writer, artist and woman of some substance. My head is demanding that you desist, but I know that to yell at you is not the way to reach you. So I simply ask you, as woman to woman, do you have no doubts about what you do? Do you not sometimes feel that your work serves not the liberation of women but their oppression, that what you do adds to a climate of harassment?
I decided I would issue my own little challenge to little miss misguided to see if she was woman enough to meet me half way. I sent her the following, along with three back copies of Libido.
I appreciate your compliments on my "dirty little stories" being well written. But I also reject your notion that what I do is somehow anti-woman. If anything is anti-woman, it is the argument that women need to be "protected" from men by a series of laws that curtail freedoms of the press or expression. Your fundamental error is the assumption that women are necessarily victims of sex. I believe that if women are to achieve genuine equality with men they have to be willing and able to assert their own sexual identities.
I appreciate that you -- and others -- in the neo-Victorian wing of feminism believe you are operating in good faith, but you are missing the point. And sometimes that makes me very angry, because as I see it you are playing directly into the hands of the most regressive elements of our society.
But I am a pragmatist at heart and I also understand that to close this damaging rift in the womens movement we must find ways to talk to -- instead of past -- one another. I suggest that you reread my stories. But not in your office. My work doesnt read well in fluorescent light. I ask you instead to draw yourself a warm bath, light some candles, burn some incense and generally create a private-space atmosphere. Your goal is to surrender your disbelief. I know this is probably hard for you, being an important, hard-driving feminist attorney and all, but trust me, a little surrender -- at the right time and place -- never hurt anybody.
P.S. I hope you own a vibrator?
To be honest, I thought I had a better than 50/50 chance of hearing back from Margo. She wouldnt have written me in the first place if she werent looking for something more than to scold me. And I did hear back.
I think I should resent the inference that just because I believe that in the face of inequality women need special protections against unwanted advances from men that I somehow am anti-sex. I have no problem with sex. I enjoy sex. I love my husband. I firmly believe that the problem here is not sex, but the public display of it.
On the other hand, I will confess to you that I did read more of your work, in a relaxed context, and I found it most affecting. And this causes me some confusion. I would like to discuss this with you in a format more conducive to open communication. But before any of that can happen, I have to have your word that this is all confidential. This is a trust situation for both of us. Are you interested?
Sophie does know a pick-up line when she sees one, so I said yes. And as it happens when the energy in these things is right, she just happened to have business in Chicago. We met for dinner in a quiet little Vietnamese restaurant I know in an out-of-the-way neighborhood.
Margo was younger than I expected, professional as a tack and generally equally as pointed; a woman on a mission. I was simultaneously repulsed and attracted. The bright, intelligent look in her dark eyes was invigorating, but the vulnerability her note showed was not in the least evident now. She wanted to talk about court cases and she rarely gave me an opening. It took me a while to understand that she was nervous. I did my best to be understanding.
I waited until I was pouring the last drops of wine into her glass before I asked her what the confusion her note mentioned was. I liked that she didnt bat an eye while switching gears.
"I sat in the tub and I pulled out the magazines. I have to tell you that I did this not because I expected to be aroused, but because I was going to convince myself once and for all that this kind of material, which should be repugnant to me, would not and could not turn me on. I started out looking for reasons to hate what you had sent me, and initially there seemed to be plenty.
"Some of the photography was more than I could look at. It was far too intimate. And I hated the first thing I read, which was a poem. But then I started reading a story of yours, "Playing with the Goddess," and something changed. I hope I am not revealing too much, but I found that fantasy of women being sexual together in a spiritual setting very stimulating.
"Sophie, I am not used to being aroused by something I read. I admit that I liked the feeling a good deal. And I also tell you that it led to some wonderful sex with my husband. But it also made me feel guilty -- an emotion I dont like."
I nodded in agreement. Nobody likes to feel guilty. I asked her, "Have you had a chance to analyze your guilt feelings?"
"Yes, I have. And I think I can say honestly that it wasnt because I played with myself in the tub. I am aware that masturbation can both be liberating for women and probably is medicinally valuable as well. Once I was turned on, I went back and looked at the photos and realized that my discomfort was in the unashamed sexuality and that in my heightened state, they were stimulating."
"So what is the point?"
"The point is that an enlightened woman simply cannot put her personal pleasures above what is better for the community as a whole."
"How are you doing that by masturbating in your bath? Im sorry, but I draw the line there. I take responsibility for my own body and that includes its sexual side. And I certainly dont want anybody, man or woman, telling me what I can and cannot read."
Again, Margo did not blink.
"My problem is that if that story aroused me, then stories like it must do the same thing to men. And then there are problems. Real problems you cant just wish away. Men are raping women every day, assaulting women, harassing women, demeaning women. That is the problem. And youre just encouraging them." Margos voice was rising, and I realized that three of the four other occupied tables were listening to our conversation.
I chose my words deliberately. "Your problem is that you are confusing sexism with sex." And before she could respond I suggested that we pay the check and go someplace more comfortable to continue this discussion. In the car she agreed to go to my apartment, where she let me talk her into another glass of wine. I said to her, "So did you show your husband the Libidos?"
"Of course not." She said it so sharply I was taken aback. "Why do you say it so vehemently?" Her smile was the first flash of vulnerability she had shown all evening. I wasnt going to let her off the hook. "Were you afraid hed be so aroused that hed jump your bones?"
"Of course not."
"Or that hed go on some rampage in the neighborhood?"
"Of course not!"
"You know you are saying that altogether too much. It leads me to suspect were on to something here. Maybe ve haf a problem viss men?"
I was expecting Margo to get mad at that point. But she fooled me. She said, "I didnt show him the magazines because I didnt want him thinking that I might masturbate with them. I didnt know how he would react to that. This is not something we ever have discussed. And I was afraid to ask him." She paused to let that sink in, and then poured herself another glass of wine. "You know, one of the reasons I called you was that I am intrigued by these sessions you have with men. Want some?
" she gestured with the bottle. I held out my glass.
I cant imagine what that must be like. They are naked with you. I mean, youre not naked, too, are you?" I shook my head. "Okay, so why, exactly, are they naked? Im not sure I understand that part."
I explained to Margo that I believe people are the most likely to be completely honest when they are naked. I tell her that, yes, talking about themselves sexually is a powerful stimulant for a man, so these sessions usually turned into erotic experiences and are thus very revealing. Since I began this project, I have now encouraged upwards of 50 attractive, intelligent, powerful men to stroke themselves to orgasm in my presence. And I admitted just how powerfully erotic the experience is for me as well. I told her, "Its tough sometimes, but I never fuck them." It was only a little lie.
Margo said, "Thats just it. How do you keep them off you? Thats the thing about men. If you encourage them they go crazy."
"I see the problem here," I said. "You look at men and you see testosterone dribbling from their macho chins. Theyre not all like that you know."
Before Margo could object, I said, "In my case its pretty easy. I often pick out the men I want for my study, so they tend to be people I know in other contexts and generally I feel I can trust them to stick to their word. Increasingly I am getting strangers but I put them through a screening program to see if I will allow them to beat off in my presence. I do say no to many men."
"So thats it!" Margo jumped in. "Youre a dominatrix!"
I laughed and said Im not -- although I do enjoy the fantasy. "I just have a few rules, which the men have to accept. And, youd be surprised. Not all of them do actually become aroused. Some just lie there and talk, which is fine. Some of them cry. Men arent as simple as you seem to think."
It was Margos turn to be skeptical. "I may not be talking about all of them, true. But the problem is you cant tell which ones are the dangerous ones. A lot of educated, professional, seemingly enlightened men can turn out to be the worst sort of monsters. I just think were better off, in that case, keeping them all at arms length and surrounding ourselves with as many protections as possible."
I shook my head. I said, "Thats exactly the wrong approach. I think were much better off dealing with them as their mothers did. Reward them when they are good. Youd be surprised at how many men like the idea of masturbating in the presence of an encouraging woman. Its very hot.
"If I think I might have trouble with anyone, I have a pair of large, strong woman friends who come with me. I have had them around 10 times, and no problems." I paused two beats and added, "Does your husband ever masturbate with you?"
Margos eyes focused intently on mine for a moment, and then she sank back onto the sofa, where her eyes slowly glazed over. "I was going to say Of course not, but, yes, it did happen once and I remember it very well. It was before we were married, on the beach, just at sundown. We were making out, passionately. It was very arousing, I remember that. Lots of bare legs intertwining and wet bathing suits and wetter kisses. He wanted to fuck me right there, but I wouldnt let him. I remember enjoying keeping him right on the edge for quite some time. Finally, when it was almost dark out and we thought nobody could see us, he took himself out of his suit to show me how aroused he was. I pretended to be shocked for a minute, but when I kissed him and felt his naked erection poking at my thighs, I was very turned on. I was aware of his hand moving between us, but it took me a while to realize what it was doing.
"I was very much into seeing this because I had never actually seen a man do it, so I figured out that if I put my tongue in his ear I could watch him, but he couldnt really see me watching. And what I saw fueled my fantasy life for years. I felt so powerful."
Margos face was radiant as it broke into a smile. "And youre telling me men do this for you all the time?"
I smiled my warmest smile, and as Margo, beaming, lay back against the pillows closing her eyes, I said, "Not just men."
A nervous laugh escaped Margo, but, eyes closed, she said nothing. I turned down the not-very-bright lights and lit candles. I said "Youd be surprised at the people who come to me. Now that I have something of a reputation the numbers are almost more than I can handle. But I do it because I think of it all as research."
It was my turn to laugh, lightly. But Margo did not react to my joke. So I moved to pick up her feet and swing them onto the sofa. I sat with her legs on my lap and pulled off her shoes. She said, "I think I have had more wine than I realized. Im dizzy." I was soothing; I said, "Relax, Margo. You are safe here." I massaged her feet until she sighed.
I said to her, "Margo, I would like nothing better now than to take your clothes off you and encourage you to tell me about yourself. But I dont think you are ready. And besides youre dizzy. So I am going to switch roles here. I am going to take my clothes off and I am going to tell you something about me. Is that all right with you?"
Margo said nothing, but her eyes opened very wide and they stayed on me as I removed everything but my bra and lay down on the small chaise across from her. I can admit to Libido that by this point I was very into the prospect of being sexual with Margo. She had so much to learn. So I admit it, I was dying to put on a performance that would literally knock the pantyhose off her. I wanted her to feel something of the power of voyeurism for men. I said, "Margo, I know you know a lot about the benefits of beating off, but do you ever do it?"
"Why is that?"
"I dont know. No time
" I could hear irritation rising in her voice. "
Im a 30-year-old woman. Masturbation is something teenagers do, not adults. I have a husband. We have sex. I dont need to masturbate. Why do you?"
I knew I might lose her at this moment, so I said nothing for several moments. Her eyes didnt leave me, and as I began to stroke myself, her irritation gave way to obvious curiosity. I said, "I often masturbate as a way to go to sleep. Sometimes I use it as a meditation to separate myself from a problem or situation that has me feeling uneasy. To me its a tool of self-mastery." I paused a beat. "Do you have a vibrator?"
"Have you ever seen a woman use one?"
"Of course not."
I laughed. "You are about to. I just happen to have one here behind the chaise." If Margo was embarrassed or confused or in any way dubious at this point, it wasnt showing. As the Hitachi worked its magic on me and my eyes lost focus, Margo slid off the sofa and slowly moved toward me. I could see that her mouth was open and her eyes were on fire. I came quickly, even before she got all the way to me.
"Wow!" she said. "That was incredible. Did it feel as good as it looked?"
For the briefest of moments I felt very exposed and foolish. But Margo rescued me. She said, "Do you have another one of those? And I hope you wont take this wrong, but I think I need you to show me how to use it. The one I bought once about 10 years ago had batteries in it and it didnt work very well. That thing looks industrial grade."
After that, believe me, we had a grand old time. Margo had a lovely, lithe, little body, very white and with the pinkest of nipples, which seemed so unused. I loved holding her head in my lap while she had orgasm after orgasm.
Unfortunately the next morning was a little strained. Over coffee Margo felt the need to inform me that just because she had let herself go didnt mean that she was changing any of her ideas about men and sex. I tried to tell her that I didnt expect her to change anything, except to be a little more accepting. But she misunderstood, and left in something of a huff.
Yet to her credit Margo phoned me three days later to apologize. She said, "I had to leave you that way because in the morning I was terribly embarrassed by what had happened and I didnt want it to show. Maybe embarrassed isnt the right word. Maybe confused is better. Even more confused than I was before. But now I have had a chance to sort out my feelings, and I want to thank you for being so open with me. And so challenging. I had to give myself permission to admit that I enjoyed myself as much as you seemed to be enjoying yourself.
"Sophie, I absolutely forbid you to think that because Im saying this that I suddenly am buying your arguments. Im not. And I think you are dangerous. But I do want to see you again."
So, dear editors, there you have it. I have begun a mutual masturbation affair with a McDworkinite female lawyer, straight and married. Its very hot.
The only hard part for me is that we have seen one another only three times since the first night, always when she has been able to route a flight through OHare. Each time she has walked into my apartment, looking like a very cold-fish, efficient professional, all grey suit and her hair in a tight bun. But within an hour she has transformed to Venus on the half shell, her hair cascading down her naked shoulders and a rosy glow on her cheeks. This woman looks very good riding a vibrator.
What else can I say? Im hooked and I just had to tell you. Oh, and by the way, Margo is not her real name. I did promise her to keep this confidential.
Want to see a dramatizartion of this story? Its available as part of Libidos video Ecstatic Moments. To order it, CLICK HERE.
Like this story? Its from The Ecstatic Moment, a collection of stories from LIBIDO. To order it, CLICK HERE.