by Eurydice

Q: My vaginal juices taste a bit bitter. Is this diet or genetics? Can I alter the taste?
Q: The skin has grown over my clitoris.
Q: Dear Irma Kurtz: I just want a chick with a dick, I know it's impossible but I'm fixated.
Q: The new man in my life is great except he either has a small dick or I have a stretched out pussy. Is there anything UNDETECTABLE I can insert to make my pussy tighter, so we can enjoy conventional sex?

Q: Dear E. Jean: I love oral sex but I hear semen is very high on calories. Please advise.

A: Every reader is a peeping Tom. This fact has spawned many successful industries through the ages; one of the most widespread and least discussed among them are syndicated sex columns. Across the spectrum, publications like any excusable opportunity to discuss sex. Sensationalized sex sells, period. Tasteful salacious controversy attracts loyal readership. Whether they get us informed, angry or wet, sex columns cutely pimp those of us who write in. Their primary function is titillation (variations on the Penthouse strategy to excite readers, then ice them). Their purpose is to advertise the publication they're in, the personals on that page, the writers instructional books and tapes listed below. Some are placed by the horoscope, crossword puzzle and bridge, and others are advertised on the cover. All of them feed /upon our inordinate interest in other peoples sex lives, our obscene enjoyment/delight in the public display of others private failings.

Q: Dear Ann Landers: I'm an attractive 23-year-old woman with a great job and a wonderful fiancÚ. When I get stressed out, I put on adult-size diapers.

Which is also why it's pretty unimaginable to fetishize any one of them. Their titles lend them an aura of legitimacy, and at the same time imply that sex is a problem, a dis-ease the fine points of whose treatment must be left to experts.

Q: Dear Dan Savage: I run an amputee support group. I'm amp-neutral, but I did let a horny guy feel my stump once for the experience. I have a fantasy of fucking a woman with my stump and I've met some women who are interested, but my wife wouldn't approve. What do you suggest?

Sex columnists are spunky know-it-alls, like imperious depression-era relatives proud of their no-nonsense common sense. No one knows what circumstances makes them sexperts; they draw from experience, self-help libraries, imagination. Some are merciless disciplinarians, prickly control freaks who force readers to accept their version of reality. (I'll fly out there and give you a yucca-stalk flogging the likes of which you'll never forget ) Others are superefficient cheerleaders, personal sex trainers, enthusiastic secretaries in charge of fielding off the ad hoc crowds so the invisible boss hiding in the conference room can attend to the real job of sex undistracted. (Romance, dearest luv, can be made using elements no more elaborate than two pairs of beaming eyes.) They are sexist, sexless, sincere, touchy-feely, self-deprecating, chatty and female (or queer). The most enlightened have something akin to a pedagogy and may be aware of their part in shaping the culture. Of course, all sex columnists are by definition conservative: their job is to spread the norm, to preserve cultural values, and sell copy. They encourage commercialism and conformity. They perpetuate socially needed manners and fears at the individual level. Sex columnists teach us how to think, not fuck. They affect the claustrophobic conviction that anything can be answered. Even cool open-minded upstarts like Savage can't help cloning their readers. It's the difference between being a priest and a prophet: priests preach, organize and re/solve, but they don't invent.

Q: Dear Joy Davidson, Ph.D.: Please explain digital anal stimulation.

Sex columnists disseminate reliable information on anything from instructional videos on female ejaculation to penis enlargement methods, from sex reassignment surgery to bottled female high-schoolers' saliva from Japan. That is their main useful service. They also disperse advice on the mechanics of plumbing; advocate safety; urge readers to come out to themselves or their kin; "name" facts for the weak-hearted or the naive; describe adult etiquette and indirectly provide inspirations for new sex adventures. They enable us to name our phobias and obsessions. They introduce us to obscure sexualities. They help readers overcome biases or resistances, and enhance comprehension and tolerance. (Even genre hybrids like Anka, who uses herself as a sexist ginneypig for the amusement of her indolent readers, can potentially educate and enrich readers sex lives.) Sex columns teach us that we're capable of acts beyond what/those/any we can imagine.

Q: Dear Irma Kurtz: I reach orgasm by touching my breasts--is that possible?

Sex columns spoof real-life sex, most of which depends on a series of stereotypes. They co-opt people into phrasing their millennial confusion. As a repressed culture, we brim with muted questions. As adults, under the protection of anonymity, we can be avenged in sex columns: we can ask anything we've wanted to know since childhood, in print, before a national audience--that's the sweetness of it. People write in to absolve themselves of the monotony/banality of their everyday sex practices. It's fun to fictionalize oneself. For some it can be therapy or, at least, a diagnosis/. In a world where the Frankensteinian Dr. Ruth Westheimer/ authors the new Sex for Dummies (her hypochondriac pointers include "cleaning the bathroom naked together" and "cleaning out each others" belly button), sex columns may be the only outlet for panties and baby pajamas, feed myself milk from a bottle and fall asleep with a pacifier and a blankie. What do I tell my fiancÚ?

Every reader is also a masochistic infantilist, grabbing the paper as if it were Gerber's baby food, anxious to receive clarity, certainty, absolution, eager/zealous for "escape." We all crave discipline. We want to be told what to do by an authority who harbours no pestering inner doubts. We live in the land of option and opportunity, but deep down we want to be free of making choices; there's so much freedom we'd rather have none of it. Having seen a few thousand commercials each in our lifetime, we've grown used to being told what to do by interested parties. Readers are by definition passive, powerless. And sex is the great mystery, the threshing/testing grounds where we prove our mantle as a species, where our line of the race/ lives on or dies off--at best symbolically. The burning questions.

A: No one knows what's good or bad for others. The few specific things one can suggest (wear condoms with strangers) are truisms, easily obtainable from other sources; the rest can be harmful. (Ann Landers' advice to a man complaining of prison rape is, "Get over it.") Unlike fiction, life is based on accident. Language is a logical system invented to add sense to the world, and is not equipped to express the fundamental irrationality of desire. Language is limited and limiting, because reality is unspeakable. We have no vocabulary for sex; we rely on metaphors, euphemisms, dysphemisms and the sanctity of "scientific" terms. Clinical language sterilizes sex. Writing always refers to itself. This literature of exhaustion inhibits rather than represents unbridled sexuality. The thought/talk of sex is not sex. The word sex is not sex. When "elusive little flames play over the skin and smolder it" (I quote Sappho), it's not sex, it's language as a healing tool, an oar with which we can move from absence to presence, from silence to polyphony.

A: Sex columns are a symptom of our neurotic relationship to sex: our pathetic need to intellectualize and analyze sex to keep from feeling insecure. Sex is undefinable, an unrefined overwhelming instinct often outside our control. To many people, sex endangers the self. Being verbally comfortable with sex is no guarantee of being physically confident with it; in fact, the more people think about sex and the more they expect from it, the more trouble they have achieving orgasm/. The sexual revolution made it imperative to talk about sex, but it didn't unrepress people. We don't fuck more or more freely. Talking about it has brought more sexual inadequacies and aberrations to the surface, comparisons are in the air, people feel they're failing more, or feel compelled to experiment since sexual health and trendiness are so verbalized/publicized. All these words remove sex from the hard-gut genital instinct that it is and dilute it. Sex columns attest to our fear of sex--although columnists would claim the opposite, that talking sex is proof they're unrepressed.


Q: I'm a 26-year-old male in love with my 34-year-old aunt. We'd like to declare our taboo love to family and friends and face their wrath, but is our relationship punishable by law?

A: I propose a new form of sexual journalism in which the body has the final/first Word. In a world where rigid binary divisions, normative rules of behavior and immutable ethics have become obsolete, where genitals and chromosomes can be altered or manufactured at will, where the primacy of sex for procreation over sex as pleasure is genocidal, we can no longer pretend that sex is knowable. Despite the quantity of sex copy generated over the years and the randomness and fashionableness of the advice, I remain consoled by the meaninglessness of actual sex. It may be comforting to explain away sex, but you and I know that sex is uncontrollable and unspeakable. It is a visceral revolution of consciousness. It transcends reason. In sex, we can do anything we want.

Sex has and needs no answers. I personally don't care if sex is psychologically formative or aerobically healthful, if it leads to murder or peace. I don't want it explained, but experienced. I prefer things bursting with hungers to any soothing/ sedative. I like to stay surprised, take little for granted, spread the Desire (not the Word), leave all initiative to the flesh and let the senses do the talking/blow up the static, open up the text until it can contain the tangible corporeal pluralistic Real. And if it explodes in the process, it's only a matter of words.