Chapter Five


Hoo, boy! This is the chapter where most marriage manuals really let themselves go--because it lends itself to such interesting illustrations and photographs, I suppose. Also, the positions of the partners--their accumbency, acclivity, accessibility, acrobativity, actuation, acceleration, acumination, and accuracy--this is the easiest aspect of the sexual experience to vary, diversify, and experiment with.

So whenever sex goes sick, the thing to try is a new position. "I'm sorry, dear, but we've come to the last one in the book, a Spanish invention called el posturo ludicrusioso, plate 101 on page 934. I know you had to go to the chiropractor last time; this could be different. But we've just got to find something that makes it!"

It is interesting that books of this sort--although more so in the past than now--were called "marriage manuals." "Unmarriage manual" would be nearer the truth of the matter. For one thing, when the relationship between a man and wife has come to the place that items of sex technique are a primary concern, it usually is obvious that the factors which truly are important for marriage already are long gone. For another, the chances of saving a marriage by introducing innovative interminglings for instant idyllics is about the same as for saving suicides who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge by painting the bridge a different color.

And yet ... and yet in suggesting that one's position vis-à-vis hisorher partner is the key to sexual fulfillment, the manuals are just exactly right--or would be if they weren't so just exactly wrong.

("Vis-à-vis" is a French term meaning "face-to-face." However, we do not intend it to suggest any limits regarding the positions involved but use it in the broad sense of "in relation to." "Hisorher," on the other hand, is an Ellerian term designed to bring both sexes under one umbrella and keep this book bisexual, as it were--our modest contribution to women's lib.)

The manuals, which are mostly propaganda pieces for today’s sex kick, are wrong in suggesting that physical posture is normally a critical factor in great and good sex. After all, millions upon millions of people managed to become competent copulators before sex manuals even were invented; and even today millions make it without the help of manuals. If these books were purchased only by people who actually need instruction in positional technique and whose relationship truly is improved through a book, my guess is that the publishers would go broke.

For the truth is that learning the mutual operations of anthropological sex equipage is not the same sort of problem as learning to drive an automobile. For one thing, it is a two-man rather than a one-man job (here using "man" in the sense that embraces woman). It employs (or should employ) only union labor. There is (or should be) much better communication between operator and equipment. The equipment is (or should be) much more responsive and cooperative than is the case with most automobiles. And above all, human beings have been made for each other in a way that cars and drivers simply were not; there have been provided instincts which can be counted upon to get the job done one way or another. And whether or not it has been well done is entirely for the participants to say; the opinion of experts has nothing to do with the matter. Thus, in all but the most exceptional cases, the manuals with their position papers are superfluous. On the other hand, they are positively harmful if they disturb contented people into thinking that some sort of sexual paradise lies just beyond them, attainable if only they can find the magic posture, grip, and swing (or, more often than not, the magic partner). But really, the surest way to spoil the fun of sex is to all the time be straining after something that most likely doesn't even exist. This is to transform play into work, fun into fear, and frolic into failure. It is the same sickness that plagues us elsewhere, but in this case it is known as "keeping up with the Johnson and Masters."

However, be that as it may, if "posture" is taken to signify, not the physical arrangement of the players, but how they are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually positioned toward each other, then posture is indeed the very pivot upon which sexual success turns.

Even so, when we make this change in the definition of "positions," we radically change the nature of the problem as well. Rearranging physical positions is easy, because the alignment of bodies is all that needs to be changed; the partners can go on being their normal, twisted, old selves. But finding new positions vis-à-vis each other as persons means that the partners themselves will need to be changed. ("Partners themselves being changed" is not at all the same thing as "a change of partners"--that last is a too-easy ploy which usually fails to accomplish anything except to shuffle the frustrated and compound their frustration.

Moreover, when the question is that of physical correlation, there are any number of positions that couples can assume and still be "right." If a position works, it is correct; and the manuals would indicate that the possibilities are amazing in scope and number. But when speaking of human correlation, there is only one position that is proper and that can be depended upon to work under all conditions, vine, verse, and adverse.

This one and only position is identified as "marriage." (Yes, we are going to go through all that again; after all, some readers may not catch on as fast as you do.)

Recall that marriage is not everything that the state has licensed or the church blessed as being such. It is precisely nothing more nor less than a particular position that a man and a woman can take vis-à-vis each other (and the stance is in every sense a sexual one, too). This relational posture is indeed a profound and subtle one, too fine and complex to be photographed as the other sex positions are--and thus not providing much in the way of exciting resources for illustrated manuals. Oh, certainly it is true that married people can be photographed; but photos of married people also can be posed, just as photos of other sex positions are. (Likewise, married people have been known to pose as unmarried.) But marriage itself is something that definitely cannot be posed. Posed marriages (of which our society is full) are actually no marriages at all.

Many details of the marriage posture can, of course, be varied at will; but the basic elements of the stance are invariable. The fundamental feature is mutual commitment, his making her welfare his own and her making his hers. This commitment is connected to fidelity; fidelity is connected to trust; trust is connected to letting oneself go; and letting oneself go is connected to getting all of himorher; and it all is connected to de head bone. "Now hear de word of de Lawd!" (namely: "Therefore a man ... cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" [Genesis 2:24]).

And hear this real good too: In spite of all manuals that imply otherwise, this authoritative Puritan manual is ready to proclaim that such a marriage posture is the position for sex.

That statement is correct but perhaps slightly misleading; it implies that the position is one thing and the sex something else that takes place out of and sequential to the position. But not so; the very position of marriage is a sexual relationship and would be so even if for some reason the act of physical intercourse could not take place. That is, it is a relationship based upon and made possible by the fact that he is a male and she is a female. The bump and boin-n-ng constitute simply one aspect (and not necessarily even the central aspect) of this larger and immensely grander sex act called "marriage."

It follows truly that intercourse apart from the context of marriage is a truncated and frustrated sex act. It may not be coitus interruptus, but it certainly can be described as sexus interruptus--and with many of the drawbacks of the former.

Buy all the manuals you can find, try all the positions they suggest and invent some of your own; you won't find anything that even remotely approaches the thrill and bliss of the marriage posture. Conversely, once you get going on the marriage posture, you can throw the manuals away; in the great majority of instances questions of physical position naturally will answer themselves. Likewise, if you now are doing it more but enjoying it less (or doing it less because you aren't enjoying it anymore), you would be smart to try improving positions. But the one to work on is the marital rather than the coital.

Copyright (c) 1971