Laura Ward splits her time between London and Dublin. Having completed a Masters in History, she was Assistant Editor to the Erotic Review.
Erotic Review Magazine
I was twenty-five the first time everything fell apart for me. My boyfriend, Dominic, broke up with me after five years together and we cut short the lease on the little flat we were renting in West Hampstead. This meant I had to scrabble around for a room to rent in London, a city that now felt vast and radically unfamiliar, even after four years there.
Laura washed her hands and stared into the mirror of her parent’s bathroom. Her face was tense and sleep-deprived. The smell of Imperial Leather soap suddenly transported her back fifteen years, to the seventies, her teenage years. As a teenager she had spent a lot of time observing her reflection in this mirror, wondering if she was pretty enough. A white hair in her fringe snapped her back to the present. She plucked it out and examined the skin around her eyes. Crow’s feet, or the beginnings of them, at least. She pulled up her t-shirt and examined her stomach. Puckered and soft, like a deflated balloon. Since having Colm she had definitely aged.
The concept of ‘the male gaze’ has become a powerful signifier in the feminist struggle for parity of esteem. It is more than a description of masculine carnality – rather a crucial component of the taxonomy that divides the human species into male and female. It is a conundrum and issue that is unlikely to be resolved easily for many reasons. One of these is to do with the difficulty (for men at least) of identifying ‘the female gaze’.
It was all so wet, the pages dripping. She pushed him down toward her sex. That’s what she called it, her sex. His fat lips sliding down her flesh as she pushed him, leaving a slug’s trail behind on her abdomen, toward the pale tan lines—can you see it? she asked—in the dark, the infinitesimal blonde hairs matted around her belly button, her hips gyrating, her whole body undulating as if the desk—his desk, in the front of the classroom now—was a john boat gently rocking on the tide. She anticipated his wet face as it stubble stumbled over the pale flesh, his features smeared toward the black jungle mound of her sex.
A new book about breastfeeding reminds us that them hooters have a more serious raison d'être. As an ex-marketing employee of Sainsbury’s, Melissa Addey knows her stuff: she understands how a product should look, where it should be placed and who is going to buy it. She’s a very clever woman indeed. She's also a skilful writer with a chatty manner and a nice, easy-to-read style. She's the mate who is sweetly dispensing advice, just like a good mate should. Both the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) and Mumsnet have given this guide their nod of approval.
The classroom is modern and large, a rectangle of concrete and smooth featureless plaster bounded on two sides by glass windows. There is a long counter along one wall with locked storage cabinets under it, and at one end a sink that is usually splashed and stained with rose madder, Payne’s grey, burnt sienna and yellow ochre; the surprising palette that when skilfully applied to paper make up a body’s flesh and heft and shadows.
The moonlight frames her hair in white neon. It’s all messy and tangled. When the wind rattles the loose planks of the lifeguard shelter, rebellious strands whip her in the face, scatter sand over us both and I hear its distant whistle brushing the trees, mocking the waves. She blinks repeatedly, but keeps gazing absently at my dick, running cold fingers through my pubes.