Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Revealed! The Women I'd Most Like To Sleep With!

All fifty of them in fact.

Leastways that's what I was told by the cover of a magazine this evening. There I was in the corner shop buying a packet of salty-snacks, two boxes of matches, a bottle of savoury condiment and a can of fizzy-pop, when all of a sudden; out of nowhere; one of the magazines on the shelf - FHM or Arena or Heat or Man Alive or whatever the hell those Men's Hip Urban Lifestyle things are called - announced with an exclamation point: "Revealed!" and went on to claim that it contained a list of "The 50 Women YOU Most Wanted To Sleep With in 2004!"

I was aghast. I mean, that's pretty damn presumptuous of them. First of all, just how in cocking christ did they get hold of that information? Eh? That's what I want to know! Even I don't know the names of half of them! And how could they possibly have tracked down that woman standing opposite me at Liverpool Street Station that one time?! I only saw her for 2 and a half minutes, and this is the first time I've mentioned her to anyone! And oh by the way; if they had somehow gotten hold of that information, it would be totally outrageous to print it in a mass-circulation magazine. Right? There'd be legal issues to do with clearing that sort of thing with the people involved. Had all 50 of them agreed to this without informing me? I can't imagine why. And what about me? I never agreed to any of this!

Or did I? Suddenly this bastid magazine has got me wondering whether or not I'd signed some contract in a languid haze of pot smoke...? There was something a few weeks ago alright... it was hovering on the edge of my memory... but no... I felt certain that was the council tax bill. And if it wasn't... then what in cocking christ had I done with the council tax money?

And then suddenly I'm thinking about just what in cocking christ I'm going to do about Darren? And what in cocking christ was Darren going to think when he discovered his wife "bubbling under", just outside the top 10? Which would Darren find the more insulting I wondered...? The fact that Karen's on the list in the first place? Or that she only makes No. 12?

Oh, and before you accuse me of chauvinism, let me assure you that my apparent lack of concern for Karen's feelings on the matter is entirely down to two things:
  1. the fact that if someone told me that; given a choice from all of human kind, I would be in that first dozen? Then it wouldn't matter who they were. Hell... I'd still be thanking them for the compliment some hours later. Days even. Insulted? I think not! If nothing else, it tells me that I'm 11 murders away from getting laid. And that's as close to a sure thing as I'm likely to be this side of the apocalypse.
  2. the fact that Karen has not been twice convicted of aggravated assault committed during bouts of prolonged violence induced by a renowned and pathological jealousy. I mention this only because the same cannot be said of her husband.

And Darren's exactly the kind of man who reads Man Alive magazine, which is what really put the wind up me. In theory of course it's aimed at my demographic too... mid-30s, straight, single, white, male, living in an urban consumer environment. Aren't I supposed to spend lots of money on car stereos with stats like that? I think I am. But I just never seem to get round to it. Plus; my enthusiasm for team sports rates about equal with my enthusiasm for expensive clothes, sports-car ownership and alcohol consumption. In other words, very very low indeed.

But in one respect, I do fit the target audience for such magazines. Because it turns out that if I really think about it, and assuming I could use names like "The woman I saw in the departure lounge at Heathrow that one time who looked a bit like Siouxsie Sioux but not quite as gothy and a bit more 'I've trekked through rainforests'," then I could probably come up with at least 50 women about whom - at some point in 2004 - I did indeed think "I've been single for waaaaay too long" or thoughts to that effect. And somehow Man Alive magazine had gotten hold of the list!

Except, of course, they hadn't. When they spoke of the fifty women that "you" would most like to sleep with, the "you" was referring to their readership in general (who had voted via premium-rate phone lines it transpired). And not to me personally at all. Needless to say I was relieved by this realisation.

All the same - just to be on the safe side you understand? - I burnt down every retail outlet stocking Man Alive magazine within walking distance of Crosfield Street in Warrington (where Darren and Karen live). Better safe than sorry I always say.

I learnt two things from the whole sorry business. First of all that the 'minimum safe distance' when torching a petrol station is a lot further away than you'd imagine. But more importantly, I learnt that the list of 50 women I'd most like to sleep with bears only a glancing resemblance to the list chosen by my peers.

This wasn't something I'd ever really thought about before. I mean, sure sure these lists need to be confined to "celebrities" of one sort or another, simply because it's just not that easy to cast votes for: "My friend Michelle who doesn't realise how much I fancy her, but she's been going out with that dipshit arsehole for, like, ever and I know they've been thinking of buying a place together and that's pretty much that. And anyways she's such a good friend that it would never actually work by this stage. Should have told her ages ago. Fuck it. I'm gonna die alone." And even though Michelle may appear quite high up on a sizeable majority of lists, there's just too many practical difficulties with the photoshoot to allow her into the magazine.

And I understand that. I accept it. Restrict it to celebrities if, as indeed, you must. But what unsettled me was just how little crossover there was even when restricted to famous people (who, after all, make up a tiny percentage of the population. Absolutely miniscule.) The fact is, I'd always considered my tastes faaaaaiiiiirrrrly mainstream. And that's a statement one hesitates to make in public of course (which is why I have no difficulty saying it here). You say the word "mainstream" and people play word association. And very quickly the word "boring" springs to mind. And who in their right mind wants to introduce the concepts "boring" and "my sexuality" simultaneously into any conversation?

Not me. Clearly.

But by mainstream tastes I mean only that I've always had this tendency to fall for women roughly within my own age bracket who look... now, how can I put this without offending anyone...? well... who look like they're human beings. There's more to it than just that of course, but that's pretty much the basic starting point with every crush, love affair, relationship and fleeting daydream I've ever had.

A good half the women in this Top 50 - I shit you not, a good half! - looked almost as much like plastic blow-up sex dolls as they did women! And that's not me being all weird and reactionary about cosmetic surgery. Really! They actually looked like a parody of women. I was baffled. Seriously baffled. The magazine had kindly provided photos which left as little to the imagination as the model / actress / musician / TV person / tennis player / etc had ever done in public. And there was a steady stream of identikit blondes with hugely inflated shiny lips, strange round tits that couldn't possibly exist without some spooky spaceage gravity technology happening behind the scenes, and the sort of glazed smile usually found on smackheads or actors in television advertisements. Was the entire readership of this magazine involved in a mass-participation satire perhaps? And how far did the satire go? Most of the women were models, it's true. I've studiously ignored fashion news my entire life so I was unfamiliar with nearly all of them. "Is the entire fashion industry party to this satire?" I wondered. "And if so, couldn't they all just declare it a job well done and go home now?"

It was The Stepford Wives done by Vic and Bob. And if it wasn't been done ironically then it had no business existing... this... this... this assault on nature! And then I thought, "what am I thinking?! Even if it is being done ironically it has no business existing... this... this... this assault on nature! (albeit an assault on nature being carried out in order to make a comment about 'assaults on nature in a wider sense' to a small group of overeducated wankers)".

Listen. I recall the waif thing in the 90s. Heroin chic? Remember it? Fair enough; I thought back then; our misogynist culture hates women so much that we've finally gotten round to saying it out loud: "I will find you more attractive the more you damage yourself. Don't worry about workout videos and the rest of that crap. Just starve yourself til you black out every few hours. God I love to watch you do that." And I thought... "Wow. We've really hit bottom now. I mean, even if we wanted to we couldn't sink to deeper depths."

But like the 16 year old who reads Nietzsche... I knew nothing! We can always get deeper! Just when you think you've sunk to the deepest part of the ocean of depravity (it's on the moon believe it or not), some bright spark pulls out a futuristic drilling rig, like in Armageddon.

There's an inevitability to it.

Starving's too fucking good for them! Starving's too easy! Anyone can do it! We've only gone and given them an achievable goal. Oh sure sure they'll be plagued with eating disorders, a tendency to self-harm, and all the neuroses we can shovel out through the billboards... but we've given them an attainable goal. And that's not good enough. Yes, yes, I know that Gerry down in Research has come up with some numbers that suggest there could be significant markets created in Products for The Fulfilled Woman... but fact is; I just like to watch the bitches squirm. So we'll accept a reduced bottom line.

But listen... run those "Because you're worth it!" adverts for a while. Keep Gerry happy, OK?

And according to Man Alive magazine, we've taken that extra step. We've got Steve Buscemi going apeshit on top of a nuclear bomb, and we've redefined female desirability as something that requires tens of thousands of quids-worth of cosmetic surgery! Maybe it's just me who finds that scenario unsettling. But I hope not.

Oh yeah...

Alyson Hannigan, by the way. Though there's probably more of that tied up with her character in Buffy than I care to admit in public (later-series-kickass-pagan-lesbian-Willow as opposed to early-series-schoolgirl-victim-Willow to be specific). Yup... Alyson Hannigan and Kate Winslet and Kate Beckinsale.

Well, I figure the only possible reason you've read this far is to find out which celebrities made both my list and that of the Man Alive readership. Right? (Well, it's the only list you're going to get. I'm not going to run the risk that Darren ever reads the full unexpurgated version.) And shockingly enough that was the list in full. All 3 of them! The only 3 women who - upon flicking through the magazine - seemed to be at all representative of my own personal views of desirability.

How could I have slipped so quickly, and so unnoticed, from the sexual mainstream into this sordid fetishistic ghetto?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

(actually it's iotar & not anon.)

So what's the deal with all this "cocking jesus", eh?

That's what happens to Man Alive,
When friends let friends drink & drive.

5/1/05 14:50  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

"That's what happens to Man Alive,
When friends let friends drink & drive."

Amen, brother. Amen!

5/1/05 16:07  

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