Saturday, August 22, 2009

More on the Vanilla Sex Magazine Article

Anais writes in a comment:

I want to know why a magazine has to "sell" vanilla sex to anyone. I'd be interested in reading the article just because I can't imagine what it says that could possibly interest me in participating in more vanilla sex and less kinky sex. I mean, yes, vanilla sex can be VERY hot -- but I would never voluntarily damp down the kinkiness factor in my sex life and I doubt any article will convince me to try it.

(Actually, I know a little about magazine titles, and of course this is just one more way to get the word "sex" on the cover, to make people want to buy the magazine.)

I think the question she raises at the beginning of her comment expresses what I was thinking when I first saw the cover. To me, the line "Vanilla Sex: Why It's So Great" register as "Settle for less. It's more than you think." Try recasting that statement in terms of something other than sex, and you can easily create statements of profound absurdity.

I did check the magazine's website to see if I could find the article in question. The only thing on their carousel about sex was this article:

Better Sex Now

but it's more about spicing things up in a moderately non-threatening way. I also Googled the headline as a quoted phrase and turned up another article for a Canadian magazine of a similar title that is cited as having been published in Oct. 2008.

Vanilla sex: The best you've ever had?

I wondered if the magazines might have a common publisher. If you look at the "favicon" (that little image that appears adjacent to the site's address on most browsers), you'll see the silhouette of Pegasus, which is a trademark held by the publishers of Reader's Digest[1].

If you click on the Subscribe link on the Canadian magazine, you'll find that it takes you to a server hosted on the domain. I think this gives us good reason to believe that the article is being repurposed in a sister publication in the US.

I read through the article and have mixed opinions. On one hand, he is right about the overemphasis on techniques when it comes to advice. Sexuality has mental and spiritual dimensions that make it more satisfying. But on the other hand, the article has a subtext that good sex requires the abolition of the unusual or the anxiety provoking. Indeed, it sounds as if he is cheerleading for Scharff's notion of "good enough sex".

Then there is this passage toward the end:

Now that I’m married, sex has assumed its proper place in my life. It generally happens at a preordained time. Sometimes circumstances prevent it; other times there’s a bonus. It’s pretty basic, stripped of all its bells and whistles. Afterwards, one of us might casually say, “That was fun.” Then we roll over and fall into a delicious sleep. Or we might get up and go about the rest of our business, of which—with three boys and two careers —there’s plenty.

He seems so... contentedly suburban, which is anything but what I am. Maybe that's why I found it so irksome?

For an alternative perspective, refer to "White Collar Holler", recorded originally by Stan Rogers and covered here by the Rambling Sailors.

I remember hearing Rogers' version of this for the first time on an episode of Dr. Dimento way back in 1984 and laughing my @$$ off.

[1] -- One of my casual Aspie interests is being able to recognize trademarks and know the formal names of companies.
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