Body qualms rubbing off on men

KATHERINE FEENEY
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2012
man in bed
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DON'T BE SHY: The last thing the world needs is more self-consciousness in the bedroom.

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OPINION: Any woman who grew up, like me, scoffing pages of sugar-fluff in ladies magazines, knows cellulite is a pressing concern in the bedroom.

For women, that is. The dial-a-quote blokes featured in the how-to sex articles usually confess they don't care. And real-life blokes who know about these articles usually concur.

So sensible ladies try to shut up the self-critical bits in their brains that poke fun at their tummies, focusing instead on losing themselves in the lights-on, passionate love-making spirit males are supposed to have mastered, with great results, over centuries of sexual development.

This is why a body conscious bloke shocks. This is why when you notice he's fumbling for the light-switch along with your bra-clasp, you pause and wonder "has he been reading Cosmo too?"

If you're like me, you hope he hasn't. Because the last thing the world needs is more insecurity. We're already dosed up to our shape-sensitive eyeballs with body-image hysteria. Bring on an antidote, not more vain-dope - all bitter criticism does is erode the sweetness of life. And sex.

Yet callous treatment of body-consciousness is hardly the best remedy. Tempting though it is to tell him "look honey, you guys have been trying to tell us ladies for decades that when you love someone it's more about who they are than what they look like. So please, swallow that message and harden up. Darling."

Instead, you must reassure and redirect attention. You must lead by example. You must overcome their resistance to reveal with your own enthusiasm for their body. And if there's a real problem - let's not pretend that truly unhealthy bodies are attractive - you work on solving it, together. Because, face it, nobody's perfect.

But since when did gentlemen begin to bother about their bodies? Bother to the point of covering up during sex, or having sex in flattering positions, or, at worst, not having sex at all? Is this a modern phenomenon timed with the rise of plastic celebrity culture? Do we owe the obsession to rampant consumerism that has turned the body into a product - one that must be plucked and waxed and stabby-jabbed with fillers, relaxers, suckers and such?

Or have straight men simply avoided scrutiny - their own, and the perceived scrutiny of their lovers - for so long because they were Boss when it came time to Bonk. It didn't matter what they looked like between the sheets because they had the power to pick and choose who they shared the bed with anyway. They weren't the ones lying back and thinking.

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What is for certain is that a bit of self-awareness is a good thing. No one enjoys an ignorant lover.

Though I am concerned body problems have gotten way out of hand. Just look at the shows on TV, and the idle lives we live around screens, and the constant bombardment of "not good enough" messages.  And I am concerned that it's getting in the way of happy relationships - with each other, and ourselves.

Now, today, the world needs love. And good sex.

-Sydney Morning Herald


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