Movie sex and unsexy undies


Movie sex and unsexy undies

Scenes of rough or unrealistic passion degrade and inhibit us, says DEBORAH STEINMAIR.


IN ZOOM or Google meetings, we're all nattily dressed when it comes to the upper torso, but what's going on downstairs? What do we hide under our clothes anyway?

We're all fruits. Pods, pears, melons, cherries, eggplants, squashes, asparagus, figs, red-cheeked apples. Sweet pastries: vetkoeks, tarts, cream cones. Jolly, juicy stuff that thrives unseen in the shadows. We are sexual beings. I've written about poor sex in books, but what about movie sex?

Men love rough sex on a kitchen table. This I infer from movies such as The Postman Always Rings Twice. How hygienic can this be, wonders my inner Johanna Brandt. Without further ado, the woman is grabbed and thrown down on her back like a bag of potatoes in this traditional space of female submission, of being barefoot and pregnant at the sink. Next to the chopping block, making the flour whirl.

Filmmakers are also particularly fond of frivolous foreplay involving food. Spread dough over someone's face and eat it off slowly. A blob of cream on the nose, a lick of jam across the cheek. Champagne in the stiletto, honey in the cleavage. Caviar in the navel, sushi on the pelvis.

Then a puritanical Emsie Schoeman rises up in me and huffs: don't play with your food! A sagacious Mrs SJA de Villiers protests: enough with the fun and games, that cake needs to go in the oven now. Or Frikkadel in Vetkoekpaleis grumbles: We're working with food here. 


Lesbians prefer sex in the pantry. It's an orderly, secluded space where bottles of pickled peaches and pasta stand guard, where aprons hang neatly. It's dusky and sexy and smells of flour and spices. Is it because the English word sounds like panty and the Afrikaans word like pens? Is it the inner housewife who wants to take stock? My girl is in a tangerine. There's somebody in cinnamon. The loaves have risen nicely.

Whichever way you roll, sex remains, on the face of it, a ridiculous affair that doesn't film well in my opinion. The fanciful food fights are still fun, but when the hero can't make it to the bedroom and pins the object of his desire against the kitchen cabinet so the crystal glasses rattle on the shelf, rips open her blouse causing the pearl buttons to scatter, and enters her standing up with her legs around his waist and feet dangling, it resembles fury. Fortunately he is a jock and she weighs next to nothing, obviously. 

Yes, she is mostly skeletal, because the camera reportedly adds several kilograms. Their unbridled passion seems like a rough, rock-hard business: protruding collarbones and dazzling white teeth colliding, belt buckles clattering to the tile floor. It looks like hammering.

Lesbian sex, on the other hand, is a soft affair full of curves and hills. Can there ever be enough round bosoms and buttocks in a relationship?

The kitchen scene I described above is pure Hollywood. In real households, things proceed quite differently. The dog, who was left alone for a long time, did not go for a walk and was not greeted properly, barks uncontrollably, jumps up and tries to join the game. A sleepless teenager lumbers in, looking for milk and cheesecake.

Lesbians can't pata-pata just anywhere. At least one of the two has a neat streak and will first pick up the garments from the kitchen floor and carefully fold them or go to hang them up. They know someone is going to have to sew all those buttons back on. They are going to feed the dog first.

Bedroom scenes in movies are also unrealistic. No one steps on a Lego block and sings falsetto, no one's underwear is washed to a point way past its shelf life. No one hops around on one leg as she tries to shake off panties that hold her captive like foot cuffs. No one's bra has bent clasps that refuse to give way. 

The lighting in movies is soft and flattering. Not that it's necessary: no body shows any sign of cellulite or hail damage. The dance is perfectly choreographed, like bed ballet. The bed does not creak, the headboard does not knock against the wall. The colicky baby doesn't start yelling, the dogs don't crawl under the covers to settle for the night. No one's elbow knocks over her water glass, drenching her cellphone.

The camera loves boobs and a defenceless pubic bush like a shadow in the night. Only muscular male buttocks and sweaty backs are shown. For the rest, the satin sheets are artfully entwined around the swaying bodies.

The dance seemingly lasts for hours and afterwards there is the tender afterglow; pillow talk and nestling against the man's broad chest. He never turns around, farts and starts snoring.

Tom Waits said: “The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering." I think movie sex inhibits us and degrades the quality of our suffering. We fall short, we bellyflop.

Because who can remember the dialogue and where on earth is my body double?

♦ VWB ♦

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