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To bang, to poke, or to fuck.

published: 2010-10-21

Have you ever “fucked” an American? Or as a woman, been “poked” by one? Out comes the racist in me, you may well be thinking. Think as you please, but the fact of the matter is: there are cultural differences in how we engage in and perceive sex. And I have been quite candidly reminded of these differences by Jonathan Franzen. One of the Great American Authors who has written a Great American Novel (not my words). I love his work, and not only the one that has been labeled great. I can’t put his novels down, I keep reading and reading and oftentimes gasping or giggling. And yet, something is always missing. Something at the very heart of things, and I think it lies in the way he writes about sex from a women’s perspective. When he enters that subject, I feel like someone who is desperately left hanging on the verge of orgasm because my lover isn’t quite delivering. Is Franzen not understanding a woman’s experience of it? Or is this, indeed, how the Great America as described buy this Great American Author engages in the art of love-making?
I can’t help but think back to a party I went to in Paris. A Japanese friend turned fourty. She was a concert pianist but anxiety had gotten the most of her and so she was working for some big international consultancy firm. There were geeky Frenchmen at her party, complicated Brits and a few Americans. One of them being all confident nonchalance. Frayed, and in that way: sexy. Yet clearly self-absorbed.
I stood there sipping champagne (this is what everyone does at parties in France, I found out) and eavesdropped on a conversation which was taking place behind me, between two Americans, one of them being that frayed man. They were talking about a woman. Americans are loud, it wasn’t hard not to hear. Suddenly he quite plainly said, “so did you bang her?” I turned around in shock and caught a glimpse of his expression as he had been saying that. His face was no longer smiling charmingly, it was bluntly ernest and filled with contempt.
Did you bang her?

I have been poked – in my younger years – by an American. It wasn’t worth writing about. Until now.

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