"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 9 August 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Sex on the Fritz



Thanks to the teen-hormone opus

American Pie, everyone whose

daily schedule involves homeroom

by now knows that pastry isn't

just for dessert anymore. But

while the scene in which the

overachieving onanist, played by

Jason Biggs, gets happy with an

oven-fresh apple pie is the one

most likely to set tongues

wagging in the school cafeteria,

for our money, Biggs' most

telling moment comes later in

the film. That's when his prom

date, a band geek with

a thing for woodwinds,

unleashes the sexual predator

within and comes at him like a

carnal tsunami, leaving our

horn-dog hero looking like a deer

in the headlights, albeit a

reasonably grateful deer.


Not since Weird Science's

Anthony Michael Hall wasted 90

minutes not closing the deal

with Kelly LeBrock have we

witnessed a movie's wannabe

ex-virgins so ill-equipped to

respond when their hopeful

prom-night prediction — "The

chicks are gonna want to do it!"

— actually comes true.

Things have changed since the

Summer of '42 — so much so

that the most notable aspect of

American Pie may not be its

much-touted raunchiness but

rather the extent to which its

premise is a sheer anachronism.

In light of the latest news from

the sexual front, the movie's


scenario seems as quaint as an

Andy Hardy flick.


That news is this — not only

do chicks want to do it, but

where guys are concerned, this

may not be such a great thing.

Having cornered their quarry, it

seems that men are beginning to

resemble greyhounds that have

managed to overtake the speeding

mechanical rabbit only to find

that they aren't quite sure what

to do with it. Much as the high

school buddies in American Pie

ponder the difficulty of

actually paying attention to

what girls say and pretending to

be interested, so it turns out

that women who, you know, have,

like, needs and stuff are

making a growing number of men

long for the gentle compliance

of a tube sock.



So says Germaine Greer, anyway.

Having penned the influential

sexual-liberation manifesto The

Female Eunuch 30 years ago,

she's back to tell us that an

inadvertent byproduct of her

efforts may be booming sales of

Barely Legal. In her new book,

The Whole Woman, Greer asserts

that the pornography renaissance

of recent years can be

attributed to the fact that men,

who once laid siege to women's

virtue like Mongol hordes

storming a castle, are now in the

midst of a full-scale retreat.

Having come face-to-face with

the sexually assertive modern

woman, it seems more and more

brothers are doin' it for

themselves, having concluded

that blow-up dolls — and

maybe Wendy Shalit devotees

— are far less intimidating.


Further evidence that guys may

not be so hot-to-trot after all

comes from Michael Segell, whose

authority on all things manly

stems from nothing less than a

stint as a columnist for the

chest-thumping monthly Esquire.

In his new book, Standup Guy:

Masculinity That Works, Segell

outlines the latest bedroom

trend: sexual payback. In his

research, he found that more and

more often men are getting women

where they traditionally have wanted

to get them, and then spiting them

by just saying no. Having come

to the realization that women

want it as bad as or worse than

they do — and feeling doubly

neutered by financially

independent women who don't need

a handout from a

lunch-pail-toting lug in order

to buy a box of Ramses for the

bedside table — men are

turning to the only power they

have left in a game where the

rules have changed: the power to

take their ball and go home.

"The only thing that's more

enjoyable than having sex is

making a girl want it and not

giving it to her," one

commodities trader explained to



Lionel Tiger, the anthropologist

who developed the concept of

male bonding, likens such men to

male birds who stop singing when

they lose their territory. He's

got a new book of his own:

The Decline of Males, an

alarmist tome that he calls "a

chronicle of the decline of men

and the ascendancy of women."

Among the culprits Tiger

identifies for the sorry state

of modern manliness is post-Pill

reproductive technology, which

has given "enormous general

power to women," he says —

potentially scary stuff if you

happen to be sporting a Y




Lucky for us, there's a growing

number of folks pondering the

state of the modern male —

as The New York Times reported

recently, masculinity studies is

a growing field of academic

research. Taking a page from

feminist theorists and looking

into the matter of whether

gender roles are inborn or

imposed by society, researchers

are arriving at the conclusion

that, to quote the paper of

record, "masculinity is not

monolithic." It turns out that

the rise of dog-eat-dog

industrial capitalism and the

gotta-stay-strong mentality of

the Cold War may have gone a

long way toward shaping the

ideal of the aggressive

20th-century man —

tough news for the Iron

John set, given that, in the

1990s, Bill Gates has supplanted

Henry Ford as the ur-tycoon,

while the Russkies are splitting

potatoes five ways to stay



If for women the ultimate legacy

of the sexual revolution is not

erotic fulfillment but rather

the very sexual frustration that

men have been whining about in

several decades' worth of

pre–American Pie losin'-it

flicks, then there's no shortage

of messengers lining up to

spread the word. One prime

artifact of our flaccid age is the

hit show Sex and the City,

in which, each week, a

gaggle of sex-crazed Manhattan

women lament the

feebleness of the men who cross

their paths. "I think our

empowerment has put men in some

ways on the defensive," says

actress Kim Cattrall, musing about

the show's essence. In one

memorable instance, her

character ditches a man

because his equipment doesn't

measure up, a plot point

that's sure to send every

self-doubting male viewer

running for the hand lotion,

thereby stoking the very problem

the show seeks to expose.



Meanwhile, the Ginger

Man–with-a-uterus shtick of

Sex and the City author Candace

Bushnell has spawned a legion of

female Portnoys who are flooding

the market with tomes about how

they can't get no satisfaction,

like Run Catch Kiss author Amy

Sohn, whose columns in the

weekly New York Press have

serialized her efforts to quench

her volcanic libido.


And as it happens, the high

school movie, which has so

dependably chronicled male

horniness through the years, is

itself beginning to reflect a

shift in the sexual Zeitgeist.

Colette Burson's Coming Soon

puts a new spin on the genre by

following three Manhattan high

school girls in their frustrated

search for the big O. A scene

in which one of them strikes gold

with the help of a Jacuzzi jet

apparently was too subversive

for the ratings board, which

stuck it with an NC-17 and thus

no national distributor. "It's

easy to market guys looking to

get laid and girls getting

talked into it, but the idea of

teenage girls actively looking

for it is unusual," Burson

complained to Salon. But by

suppressing Burson's message

that "there is better sex out

there," was the MPAA trying to

keep girls in their place or

just heading off unrealistic



In fact, women in search of

satisfaction may find

medical science is devising

new ways to frustrate them.

As they race to develop

a female Viagra, sex researchers

are hard at work trying to

better understand the physiology

of female arousal. This way they

might learn to chemically

enhance it. Hey, we wish them

luck, but still, it's hard not

to wonder if they're barking up

the wrong tree. In

the current climate, it seems a

bit like passing out appetite

stimulants to the Donner party.

courtesy of Poor Richard

[Purchase the Suck Book here]