By Alexa Day
A few days ago, at the Washington Romance Writers Reader and Blogger Appreciation Luncheon, my mom and I shared fried zucchini and conversation with Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Sarah said she was reading The Infamous Miss Rodriguez, which I later used to demonstrate the power of Amazon’s 1-Click Button for Mom. Mom talked about her favorite male/male romances; she’s partial to rock star heroes these days.
And then Sarah asked what I was reading.
“P*ssy,” I said.
Sarah and I were across the table from each other. I wasn’t altogether confident that she’d heard me, but the table went still, so I guess I didn’t have to worry about that after all.
“What?” she asked, tucking one finger behind her ear. The rest of the table might have heard, but she hadn’t.
“P*ssy,” I repeated, just a bit more loudly. I wasn’t trying to get the attention of the entire room, after all. But this time the whole table leaned in, looking for a confirmation that would lead to laughter and relief. Ohhh, everyone would say. We thought you said p*ssy.
When I said it the third time, I felt like E.F. Hutton. And then I felt really, really old for thinking of E.F. Hutton. Does anyone even remember E.F. Hutton? They’re still around, or I would put an ad here.
My point is that “p*ssy” is a loaded word. Just about 24 hours after the Republican candidate for President of the United States bragged that he could, with impunity, “grab [women] by the p*ssy,” here I was, trying not to shout the word over the appetizers. As a culture, we’ve been uncomfortable with the word “p*ssy” and what it represents for a pretty long time.
Enter P*ssy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer. Put very, very simply, the premise of P*ssy is that a woman’s sexual energy is the most powerful force in existence … and that most of us have lost sight of that. Society has made the study of women’s sexual pleasure into something dirty. It has made women’s sexuality subject to the patriarchy. If women don’t want what men want, in the very specific way that men want it, then society decides that we are in need of correction and guidance. The result is that many, many women lose sight of what they want. Their desires are buried and ignored, and they are themselves diminished as a result.
I would submit that a patriarchal society isn’t always to blame for the suffocation of women’s desires. I thought I was in close contact with what I wanted, especially because I have so few people of influence in my life. But it’s been quite a year. Fear around the loss of one job. Frustration with another. Pressure from tight deadlines. A long, long list of tasks left untended for too long. For a long time, all I wanted was to be left alone — not a great place for an erotica writer to be.
The solution? Living a more “p*ssified” life.
P*ssy describes a course of action, a series of lifestyle decisions, and more than one event that had me wishing that I lived in a more sexually open place. (Is there a Demonstration of Extended Massive Orgasm course near me, I wonder?) Along with the guided tour of the female anatomy, P*ssy invites the reader to invest more time in self-pleasure of the sexual and non-sexual kind. The more time we spend exploring our desires and opening ourselves to the sensual world around us, the more powerful we become. We are receptive and transformative. We become “able to live a life that is based on [our] dreams rather than the agenda other people have for [us]” (page 46).
P*ssy leads us to reconnect to feminine intuition, to the deep well of emotion, to the broad spectrum of desires that have all been stifled by the world’s desire to see us safe, nice, and frankly, more manageable. No matter how we might have lost track of that tremendous feminine force — and so many of us remember exactly when that happened — P*ssy reminds us that it’s never too late to find our way home. The journey definitely has its roots in the sexual; you will spend a great deal of time touching and talking to yourself. Ask Your P*ssy, Panty-Free Friday, and an intense study of “Cliteracy” are definitely highlights of the book. But orgasm is a gateway to exalting the entire body. Dance, luxuriant meals, and indulgent self-care soon join a regimen of self-pleasure, which in turn leads to self-discovery and self-knowledge.
It all starts with p*ssy. In my case, if you’re interested, I finally determined that what I wanted was to spend a great deal of time watching Ray Donovan. In his own way, Ray is more overwhelmed than I am. But the ugly truth is that I would rather watch Liev Schreiber be overwhelmed than be overwhelmed myself. (Unless we’re thinking … well, you know.)
I gave Sarah Wendell and the rest of my lunch companions a much abbreviated version of all this. (I left Ray Donovan out of it. I didn’t even really want to tell you about that, but sharing is caring.) Whether people were interested in just the title or in the premise of the book, I’m not sure. At length, Sarah nodded at me.
“I read something much like that once,” she said thoughtfully. “It was called C*nt.”
No one asked her to repeat that.
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Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and recovering attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers. Check out her new release, Illicit Impulse, for plenty of sex, (experimental) drugs, and friendships with benefits.