Now and then

Last week, I was lamenting the prudishness of this blog, its lack of sexual content, and the torrent of web traffic and popular acclaim that that’s no doubt cost me. Well, those days are over. Via the New Yorker (OK, still kind of prudish) comes this fantastic comparison of the drawings in the original 1972 Joy of Sex with the newfangled versions released in the new “ultimate revised edition.”


If you’re an American aged 30-40, you at some point stumbled as a child onto the original book in a friend’s parents’ book shelf, whereupon the illustrations instantly became lasered into your brain for the rest of eternity. If you’re of this demographic, it’s a little jarring to see the new drawings.

Of the four participants, Seventies Woman is definitely my favorite. Seventies Man looks, in the words of the New Yorker reviewer Ariel Levy, “like a werewolf with a hangover”. Meanwhile, Modern Woman and Man have this weird antiseptic progressive quality that I associate with episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation when they beam down to some planet where there’s a blandly utopian, futuristic human community living. Ho hum. One can only draw worrisome conclusions about where we’re headed as a culture.

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