Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Opposite of Erotic is…PMS?

Okay, today I’m blogging about something rather weird, I know. Here’s why: this morning I discovered that although I’m not actually PMS-ing, I am in a PMS-ey mood. I found it interesting that I actually had a mental picture of a “PMS-ey mood.” And I thought, maybe I could do a nice little public service announcement here about what we women actually mean when we say we’re PMS-ing. I know, cool, right?

Let’s start with the title of this post, and I’ll tell you why I consider feeling erotic or sexy as the opposite of PMS-iness. For myself and many women, erotic feelings are submissive--the “go ahead and do what you will to me” kinda thing. We find whatever male has caught our attention to be authoritative, or dominant, or having potential to please us. The guard goes down, we’re eager to play.

On the opposite end of the scale is PMS. Now I realize a lot of women, myself included, experience PMS as worry or sadness. But today I’m talking more about another very common symptom: crankiness. But be aware: this is no ordinary irritability we’re talking about here. For me, at least, PMS-iness is a particular kind of bad mood.

Here’s the common thread of thinking running through my head during one of these monthly “fits of pique”:

do NOT waste my time
your idiocy is fraying my last nerve
how can people possibly do such lame-ass things?
try that again and I will SO punch you

Now I’m not a biologist, nor a sociologist, but I’ll just open my opinionated mouth and say, I think the PMS thing is like being a guy without any of the other guy traits to keep you in check. Like, most guys seem to me to be equipped with a “bygones” gland. It’s what gives them the remarkable ability to let things go, whether it be a whupping at the pool table or having their girlfriend stolen. (Women are not typically like this.)

So when I’m feeling PMS-ey, I get the aggressive feelings of a male, without any “bygones” element. When a car cuts me off on the freeway, I will follow it and give serious thought to tracking the driver to his garage and slapping him. When people at work suggest ideas they know nothing about and I rejected years ago, I hang up the phone and call them bad names to myself off and on over the next hour. Every smoker I see gets an internal comment, “Way to kill yourself and raise my medical costs, loser!”

I know, pretty mean, right? But honestly, PMS can make you feel like those around you got up this morning with a firm plan to ruin your day. They make one little human mistake and you take it as a personal affront. Everyone is the enemy in some small way, some in big ways.

You know, there’s that old saying that if mothers ran the armies, we’d have no more wars. I say, not if they’re PMS-ey…in that case, here come the nukes! And see how this is quite the opposite of feeling erotic? It’s make war, not love.

Well, fortunately, we women are still civilized creatures. I’d bet you any money no one around me (except perhaps the poor unfortunate Davie) even guesses I am capable of such moods. Usually the only beneficiary of all the ill feeling is my own psyche.

And the funny thing about it is, there’s actually a positive side to having the occasional PMS-ey mood. Seeing as most of the time I live my life trying to be cooperative, affectionate, conciliatory, etc., it’s kind of nice sometimes to unleash my inner bee-atch. You know, get the vitriol out of the system. Because it’s really hard to write erotic romance when you’re gunked up with all that negative aggression.

So anyhoo, I’m sure I’ve really enhanced your lives, guys, by telling you the sorts of things your female significant others are thinking when in a PMS-ey mood. You’re welcome. My pleasure. Grrrrrr. :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Impossible Sexiness

Occasionally I like to peruse my husband's PC Gamer magazines. There's not a lot in them I can relate to, not being a gamer myself (except for Peggle, which rules). However, I enjoy the geek banter and the fantasy art.

What continually cracks me up is how computer games portray their female characters. I call it "the BB Phenomenon," which stands for "Bronze Brassiere." Whether they're battling demons in hell, post-apocalyptic zombies, or orcs, these chicks always face danger fearlessly wearing nothing but a bronze brassier and a chain mail miniskirt. I'll bet women in the Armed Forces find this even funnier than I do.

But heck…this isn't war, it's fantasy. If you're going to be staring for hours at a shapely female battling giant spiders on your monitor, why wouldn't you want her to look hot? (Which reminds me to ask the question of any male gamers who read this. Do you always play a female character in third person POV games? Davie does, not because he's secretly a cross-dresser, but because he wants to spend the game looking at a hot female. Makes sense, really.)

Well, back to my point for the day--it's easy to poke fun at the ways men picture their ideal women, because we can see with our own eyes how far they are from reality. But honestly, aren't women just as guilty? The reason we're not so blatant about it is that we idealize character rather than appearance. But cripes, the preposterous characters we come up with! You're more likely to run into Red Sonja than some of these guys. Let me provide a few examples.

Mr. I'm-Evil-Except-with-You. The most common version of this guy is the vampire or other dark character, some fellow who commits heinous acts toward everyone else nightly, but for you is transformed by love into a paragon of devotion. Sure, it plays in fiction. But in real life, if a guy is nasty, cranky, a user, etc., he does so quite consistently. Only fools (and we can be fools, I admit) will think such a man will be different with one woman. And even if that were true, who wants to be with someone who is nice to you but the rest of the time kicks dogs?

The Brooder. Now this is the guy who isn't even that great toward you. And yet, you want him: you want him to share his terrible secret, to take solace in your arms, to just keep doing that really sexy pout. The tortured soul gets us every time. He seems so needy, so interesting. But in real life, Heathcliff isn't romantic, he's just annoying. He never wants to cheer on your favorite team, watch "Seinfeld" with you, or read "I Can Has Cheezburger." Not actually so sexy.

The Superhero. This kind of character would actually be great in real life, but like Red Sonja, is just not, well, plausible. Not only will you be hard pressed to find a guy with Superman's powers, you probably won't even find one with his ethics. And in spite of our knowing this, a lot of women (I'm a prime example) go through life sure there must be a real superhero. Intelligent, strong, talented, sensitive, self-sacrificing, honest, faithful, all one-hundred-percent of the time? Nope, not even Davie. And yet we persist in searching....

The Pirate. Ah for a lusty adventurer, swashbuckling through life, wielding a sword so as to rip our bodices with aplomb! He's rough and ready, a man's man, with testosterone to spare. Throw into this category any of those uber-masculine type guys, like crab fishermen and ice road truckers. What woman can resist? Well, again, works better on paper...also smells better, may have better teeth, and definitely has more free time. Face it, ladies, any guy who is preoccupied with duties that tax his manhood to the brink daily is going to have more on his mind than romancing you.

Yep, without doubt we women do our own version of the BB Phenomenon. Our men are all rock stars, poets, vampires, tycoons, and princes. They swim with sharks, travel in space, and can kill a man with a Colt .45 at fifty paces. They do this and more, all the while staying clean, saying witty things, and taking us out to dinner at least once a week.

It makes sporting a bronze brassiere look like child's play.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Looking for the Most Unforgettably Hot Heroes

Readers, I need your help. During April I am seeking a consensus on who are the truly unforgettable heroes of books, TV and film. And I want your opinion represented!

Back story: I do a monthly column for the Novelspot website, and for my April column I raised the topic. As much as we women can have our “hero-of-the-month”--the latest guy who gets to grace our computer wallpaper for a week or two--we also each have certain faves that seem to linger in our hearts all our lives. Something about them impacts us, hard, and we may even spend our whole lives measuring other males against them, both fictional and real life.

In case you’re wondering which three men I used for my own personal examples, they were:

  • Books: Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
  • Movies: Klaatu from “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” 1951, played by Michael Rennie
  • TV: Ben Linus from “Lost,” played by Michael Emerson

And you can read what I had to say about them in the post “What Hot Heroes Are Unforgettable to You?

I promised to report what I hear in my May column, so please don’t leave me high and dry! You can post in the comments here, or if you prefer, email me at dianalaurence [at sign] Feel free to just give me names, but if you’d like to elaborate on your nominees’ appeal, by all means do so. Again, I’ll take any fictional characters, from books, movies or TV.

Let’s give these unforgettable guys their due!

BTW, the illustration of Mr. Darcy is a piece of a lovely painting by an artist called Sive, which you can see in full here:

Thursday, April 02, 2009

If This Woman (Me) Were a Man, Easy-Peasy!

Maybe I'm weird, but ever since college, I've occasionally given thought to what I would be like if I were male. I'll probably get an argument from my male readers, but to me it really seems like a piece of cake.

Well, in all respects but one: playing sports. I've always been horrific at sports, and the idea of being in the 2 percentile at sports AND male is pretty daunting. I'm sure I could throw a ball better with male shoulders (heck, a male iguana can throw better than me), but still. I do not envy men what they go through as physical competitors while in school.

But that point aside, there are advantages at every turn. Gosh, where do I start?

1. Supporting a family and being "head of a household" are no biggie. I've been the main breadwinner for my family for more than half of my adult years (two different marriages) and managed the affairs of those households almost entirely. I've had to deal with the corporate world (legal, finance, etc.) and all the nightmares that entails, while having the disadvantage of not being taken seriously because I'm female. Done this stuff as a chick...would have been even easier as a guy.

2. Two words: no periods. Ladies, imagine how much easier life would be! Two more words: no pregnancies. Two more: no menopause. Nuff said.

3. I realize if I had a male disposition I would probably be less adept at interpersonal relationships and thus have the typical struggles men have with connecting with their kids. The mom thing is an advantage there. But this is offset by the fact that kids just don't have as high of expectations of their dads. I.e., a little paternal approval and attention goes a long way.

4. It would be SO much easier to be attractive to the opposite sex. I'll explain. Women have much lower standards for physical attractiveness. Assuming I was in the same percentile of objective good looks as a male as I am now as a female, I'd put me at approximately the 60 percentile. Certainly good enough for the majority of women. And absolutely not good enough for the majority of men. As a guy I would be pretty short, decent build except for slight pot belly, pretty damn good for 52. As a woman I am very slight of bust, and, well, 52. Bleah.

5. Which leads me to that issue: Men can be a force into their 60s and beyond. In most respects, women are over-the-hill at 40 by our society's standards.

6. Oops, back at sex appeal: I also know, as a woman, what women find sexy: competence, self-confidence and a sense of humor. I am fortunate to have all these. They are also things that the average man doesn't have at the top of his "want list" for the ideal woman. See how much better I would fare as a guy?

This is a short list, but you get the gist. I would love a shot at being the male version of myself for a year or so and see how well I would fare. Problem is, there are things about being a woman that I would hate to give up. Like being able to be with men without the challenges gay guys must face. And wearing women's clothes without the challenges transvestites must face. And being free to do anything you want without it seeming "unmanly"--like squealing at cute guys and cuddly animals, and doing crafts, and demonstrating physical affection to those of my own sex. And in spite of #2 above, I really liked birthin' babies.

I also will admit that it isn't always easy being a white guy, as nowadays they suffer a sort of backlash for all the generations during which they had the most power. For example, white men of today are not the ones who conducted the Inquisition, enslaved African-Americans, or fought against women's suffrage, and it isn't fair that there are often "sent to the end of the line" because of the errors of their great-great-grandfathers.

I'm also not trying to make the point here that women are superior to men, so don't think that I am. An awful lot of women drive me absolutely nuts. And a lot of my own so-called "feminine traits" also drive me nuts.

And guys, please don't take this smug little blog post as criticism of you. I like men, and know a lot of men I admire. I just happen to think it's less work to be an admirable man than a woman our culture looks upon as worthy of admiration (sadly). But please, go ahead and correct me if I'm wrong!