In the Garden of Desireby Wendy Maltz, Suzie Ross
Drawing on intimate interviews with women of all ages and lifestyles, Maltz and Boss take readers on a journey of passion, pleasure, and self-discovery as
Delving into the uncharted territory of women's sexual imaginations, acclaimed sex expert Wendy Maltz and journalist Suzie Boss expand the boundaries of what we know about female desire and satisfaction.
Drawing on intimate interviews with women of all ages and lifestyles, Maltz and Boss take readers on a journey of passion, pleasure, and self-discovery as they:
- Describe the origins of women's sexual fantasies
- Identify the six most common fantasy rolesthe Pretty Maiden, the Victim, the Wild Woman, the Dominatrix, the Beloved, and the Voyeur
- Illuminate the diverse functions of sexual fantasies from stimulating orgasm to improving one's self-image
- Help women discover their own fantasy style and change unwanted fantasies
- Offer advice on how and when to talk about one's fantasies with one's partner
Gathering evidence from "over 100 women," the team offers a taxonomy of six basic scenarios: The Pretty Maiden, The Victim, The Wild Woman, The Dominatrix, The Beloved, and The Voyeur. "We are the playwrights of our own sexual fantasies, selecting the plot, theme, character, and setting, all for the most personal reasons." Yet the fantasy types they limn are as conventional as their titles make them sound. Is our sexual imagination really so limited? The reader is left to wonder what intrepid fantasies from among those the authors sampled do not fit these categories. Precisely these might be most revealing about authentic, individually achieved sexual response. The authors, alas, are interested only in garden- variety dream sex. Movie stars, body clichés, and conventional scripts loom large in these case studies, leading the reader again to wonder about the extent to which these 100 imagined sex lives have been colonized (and perhaps diminished) by movies, TV, magazines, and self-help gurus. Maltz and Boss do not wonder about this. They want to help women improve their self-image, learn the nine warning signs of unhealthy fantasy ("Does the fantasy lead to risky or dangerous behavior?"), and lead enhanced sex lives. In particular they want to put women who suffer from unwanted sexual fantasies on the path of healing. The approach is commensensical and the narrative is lively at times, but the overall effect is not penetrating.
A fuzzy, warm book without clear aims, serious methods, or tough analytical edges.
- Broadway Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.43(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.08(d)
Read an Excerpt
Faye was nervous. A mother and computer programmer in her midthirties, with a robust laugh and an ample build, she had never told anyone about her sexual fantasies before. In fact, she wasn't sure that she had anything valuable to tell us now. "I don't know that I've ever had a sexual fantasy anyone else would find significant or even interesting," she said. After considering for a moment, she added, "Let me tell you about one experience, though, that I often think about when I want to feel sexy."
With that, Faye adjusted her eyeglasses and took a deep breath. "I didn't deliberately plan this out as a fantasy. It began unexpectedly when my husband and I were attending a classical guitar performance in a large concert hall." As she began to share this story, the nervousness in her voice gave way to excitement and the unmistakable ring of pride. Clearly, this was a sexual fantasy she loved:
In my fantasy, my husband and I have seats so close to the stage that we can hear the musician's fingers slide across the strings. The guitarist performs solo, with a single beam shining a pool of light around him. His eyes are closed, his head turned down and at an angle. From where I sit, I can see his exquisite profile. I notice his lips trembling when he plays one passage with great emotion. His straight, black hair falls across his forehead and moves in rhythm with the music. The performance is so flawless, the notes so clear, that when my husband slides his arm around my shoulder (which he did in real life), I can feel goosebumps rising on my bare arms. As I'm listening and watching, I begin to imagine that it is my body cradled in the musician's arms in placeof the guitar. When he wraps his left hand around the slender neck of the instrument, I feel his tender grip on my own neck. The curve of wood that fits across his thigh becomes the curve of my hip. And the strings, when he plucks and strums them with his strong fingers, echo with a throbbing rhythm between my legs. I can barely sit still as the music soars to a climax.
As she came to the end of her story Faye paused for a moment, then added, "The night of that performance, when my husband began to touch me in bed, I let those images from the concert hall wash over me. I deliberately lay across his lap and guided his hands to the places I wanted played. Only that time, there was no holding back at the crescendo." Smiling shyly, she asked, "Tell me, does this qualify as a sexual fantasy?"
Does it ever.
From the outside, no one can imagine what thoughts or images might be thrilling a woman's senses, igniting her passion, and leading her to heights of sexual pleasure. Nothing about Faye's outward appearance hinted at her lyrical approach to lovemaking or her enjoyment of sensuous sexual fantasies. That's why it takes some detective work to discover what really goes on inside a woman's erotic imagination, and why.
When women like Faye accept their sexual fantasies as natural, normal, and worth exploring, they're taking the first step on a fascinating adventure. By using a new approach for unlocking the mystery of our fantasies, we have a chance to make important discoveries about ourselves, our sexuality, and our intimate relationships. This new approach isn't any more complicated than paying attention to what our dreams have to tell us. But because we're dealing with an explicitly sexual subject, it does require a fundamental change in how most women think about sexual fantasies. In order to learn all that fantasies have to teach us, we need to consider them as treasures--not taboos.
If we're willing to look at our fantasies more closely and from many new angles, we can discover why certain thoughts excite us and others leave us cold. Our fantasies can not only teach us more about our sex lives but also offer insights into our whole lives. Rather than brushing off our fantasies as embarrassing secrets or idle thoughts, we can start using them as the wonderful resources they truly are.
Courage And Curiosity
It takes courage for women to talk about their sexual fantasies as candidly as they do in the upcoming pages. We have encouraged women not to hold back in describing their fantasies, and we haven't censored their language or omitted the sexual heat from their stories. Rather than telling women what we mean by fantasies, we have invited them to describe this world in their own words. "What do you think about," we might ask to get the conversation rolling, "when you're making love, daydreaming about sex, or masturbating?"
Many women are motivated to answer this personal question because they want to make sense of fantasies that have left them puzzled or mystified. They may be eager to figure out where certain images have come from, and why they are such reliable turn-ons.
Gale, a thirty-year-old woman, wondered why, when she makes love with her husband, she often imagines herself surrounded by women bathing topless at the beach. The images feel so vivid to her, she can imagine the smell of suntan lotion and feel the sun warming her skin, just like when she was a girl growing up near the ocean. Yet, she has no idea why thinking about the curves, contours, and nipples of other women's breasts is guaranteed to make her climax.
Sybil, forty-three, wondered why she needs to imagine herself getting punished in order to get in the mood for sex. In real life, she said, her lover is tender, caring, and romantic, "everything a woman dreams about finding." Yet, to get turned on enough to enjoy sex with him, she has to imagine his hand slapping her bare bottom and squeezing her breasts hard. To keep her sex life interesting, she regularly browses porn magazines and reads erotica to find new ideas that she can file away in memory and hook onto during sex to turn up her own response. "Pictures of people fucking don't turn me on, though," she said with a shrug. For reasons she can't explain, she hungers for stories about naughty girls, spankings, and light bondage.
Brooke, twenty-eight, wondered if she was secretly being unfaithful to her new lover when she thought about her old boyfriend during sex. She explained, "These memories from my first real love affair pop into my head so unexpectedly. I imagine my old boyfriend touching me, kissing me, and stripping off my clothes. Then I get turned on. After sex, though, when I open my eyes and see my new boyfriend lying next to me in bed, I start feeling guilty."
Women's natural curiosity about sexual fantasy is far-ranging but typically comes down to these five basic questions:
"Am I normal?"
"Where do my sexual fantasies come from?"
"What do my sexual fantasies mean?"
"If they are upsetting, what can I do about them?"
"Can fantasies enhance or improve my sex life?"
These five questions are compelling,and we'll answer them in more detail in the chapters ahead.
As soon as we start hearing more about other women's fantasies, though, many of us will have a nagging thought. Suddenly we want to know "How do I measure up?"
If we're prone to judge or compare ourselves against other women, we may start wondering if our own fantasies are too raunchy or too politically correct, too sexy or too prudish. We may worry that we fantasize about sex too often or not enough. And that's a big mistake. Exploring our fantasies isn't a competitive exercise. There's no right or wrong way to think sexy thoughts. Although almost all women and men fantasize about sex at some time in life, there's no magic formula that equates certain sexual fantasies with a great sex life.
Instead of measuring ourselves against other women's fantasies, we can use these stories as an opportunity to find out about the range of women's experiences. We've included a wide variety of stories because they illustrate variations and similarities from one woman to the next. As we'll hear, some women love their fantasies and call them up at will to enhance sexual pleasure. Others despise the erotic images that invade their minds during sex. Still others appreciate how reliably their fantasies work, but feel stuck or bored with them. Women nearly always express delight when describing fantasies that have carried them into peak sexual experiences.
By paying close attention to our own reactions as we hear these stories, we gain an immediate sense about whether certain fantasies arouse us or turn us off. And that quick insight can be a helpful clue as we become more conscious about our own fantasy life. Long after their erotic buzz subsides, many of these stories will continue to resonate because of the lasting truths they also tell us about our own sexual style.
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A very thorough and highly erotic book about sexual fantasies. While written for the female side, men can also find it both enjoyable and informative as to what many women are looking fore in a sexual encounter.