"Women are beautiful" it begins. Quite so.
"Same sex attraction is only natural". Here here!
I was almost enjoying myself until I read: "The photographs tell a story of
three beautiful women who leave their partners behind for a 'girls' weekend'
and discover a new dimension to their friendship." Oh, god.
Surely, when producing porn and trying pretend that it isn't, it would be
logical to avoid cheap, straight-porn cliche.
Or, if using these cliche storylines, at least dress them up a bit; flesh them
out with semi-believable characters and context.
Women Loving Women does not even attempt to hold up its tenuous storyline.
The book, although centring on sex between women, somehow tries to skip nimbly
around the idea of homosexuality, as if it is a topic to be avoided.
Its target audience, apparently, is women who are attracted to women, and yet
it provides a useful get-out clause for those who are not comfortable with same
sex attraction with the phrase "even when you don't identify yourself as a
bisexual or a lesbian".
Heaven forbid that women who like women should be branded in such a way!
Women Loving Women makes a stab at authenticity by including "Her-Stories"
(that clunky, finicky old feminist terminology recycled once again) featuring
Some of these I can believe, some I just can't.
Waxman disregards several times the majority of historians views on whether or
not these women were gay or bisexual, and seems completely unaware of the
difference between intense friendships (often referred to as love or romance
from the middle ages to the early modern period) and sexual attraction.
Overall, the attempt to pinpoint famous women who secretly loved women feels
like a desperate clutch at straws.
The "Know Thyself" chapter provides a few tips on how to "give good hand".
Waxman gives masturbation techniques cute little names to help the less
enlightened of us remember them.
The next time you're at a loss the bedroom, think "Head Rolls and Taps" or
"Eight is Enough", it might help. Or, it might confuse something that is really
Glancing quickly at these nicknames, I was embarrassed. How could I not know
what an "All Hands On Deck" trick was after all these years?
But on reading the descriptions, I realised that you don't need Waxman's
masters degree in sexuality education to figure out a few variations on
straightforward clitoral stimulation.
My favourite part of reading the book was getting to the "Talk Dirty To Me"
page, which provides a useful list of scripted lines to learn by heart and pop
out whenever the mood takes you.
This is not because they turned me on, or that I would ever use them, but
because they were hilariously void of romance, charm or even sexuality.
Women who whisper in their lover's ears the rather matter-of-fact phrase "I've
dreamed about putting may hand up your box all night" are probably the same
that wear socks during sex and whack the kettle on before they start.
My brother, straight, red-blooded, bodybuilding, action-hero wannabe male, had
a quick flick through the book whilst poking inquisitively around my house. He
opened up chapter 7, "'Three's Company,' hey hey, threesomes!?" he exclaimed,
"This is shite." He quickly added, as his little face fell. Crestfallen, he
asked, "Was this written by a bloke??"
His excitement at the prospect of not one, not two, but THREE women, however,
highlighted another bone of contention I have with the book; namely, that it
subscribes to the notion that women who are less concerned with the gender of
their lovers will naturally be indiscriminate about how many there are in their
bed at once.
In Waxman's words, "You've discovered that you like women? Now you think you
might want to share the experience with more than one partner at once?"
In my darling sibling's words: "Well, lezzers love threesomes, don't they??"
In straight-porn land, dear boy, yes; women sleep with two or three other women
all the time, because they just love showing off in front of a man.
"In the real world? I'd be lying if I said I haven't had an offer, but having a
threesome isn't an exclusively lesbian activity, contrary to the popular,
All of these pernickety points could be excused if the book was genuinely
But a flick through proves to the contrary. Granted, the photography has some
aesthetic quality; lots of light colours and scenery that appeal to the eye.
But we don't buy porn to look at lakes and fields. We don't want sterile,
emotionless pictures of imaginary people.
The women featured are hairless, vein-less, airbrushed creations, with not a
finger out of place (if you'll pardon the phrase).
The expressions on their faces don't indicate heated Sapphic passion; they
appear to be lying around thinking about shopping lists, and just happen to be
Everyone knows that sex doesn't look like this; if anything, sex is hilarious
to watch, with arms and legs askew, strange faces and bizarre involuntary
People fall off beds, tread on unsuspecting cats, and knock plant pots over.
For a sense of realism, porn needs to capture a slight element of this; just
enough to give it some grounding.
In short, don't buy this book if you want to be turned on.
Buy porn that isn't afraid to be porn. If you have a straight, male friend who
likes his Girl On Girl Action to read like an Ikea catalogue, order your copy
Women Loving Women by Jane Waxman is published by Quiver and is available from
bookshops or amazon.co.uk for $19.99
Waxman writes a sex column in Playgirl magazine, the sex and relationships column
in Steppin' Out magazine, and was the host of Aural Fixation on