Jilly Cooper was not a name I knew until today. In the UK, she’s a best-selling author. She writes bonkbusters.
That, too, was a word I didn’t know.
The OED – which added the word in 2002 – defines bonkbuster as “a type of popular novel characterised by frequent sexual encounters between the characters”, a definition that sounds repetitive, but then so is the topic. (The word’s inventor, a novelist named Sue Limb – you there, at the back of the room, no sniggering! – created it in 1988 after a publisher asked her to write a “big thick book with lots of bonking in it”.)
In the US, we frequently refer to such books as romance novels, although most of the romance occurs within the reader’s brain.
So Cooper can claim some familiarity with the concept of frequent sexual encounters, but what she says in today’s Telegraph is that, friends, it’s just not happening much anymore (not for adult women, anyway – do the research on sexual trafficking) because female libidos have been lost.
As in, they’re here somewhere, take a look round, love, maybe we’ll recapture them with this butterfly net.
Cooper, whose writing depends on that segment of the female reading public who feel a certain stirring at the sight of Rupert Penry-Jones or Johnny Depp, is understandably concerned.
“Doctors’ waiting rooms are absolutely brimming these days with women suffering from low libidos. Ours is now a terribly under-sexed society. I have talked to a lot of young women about this and they just don’t seem to do it any more. Honestly. I suppose it’s because we all have so many other demands on our time now,” she said.
Never fear, Jilly!
The recent publication of Fifty Shades of Grey (“While I have heard that it is quite poorly written, I am delighted that it’s giving a new lease of life to the genre,” said Cooper) has revved up the strategically located powerhouses of certain women.
But if I were Jilly Cooper, who is a marvelous-looking 75-year-old, by the way (check out her photo, above), I would get the Telegraph back on the line to come interview me pronto for the answer to those flitted-off libidos.
It’s not the demands on our time. How long does a decent bonk take? Thirty minutes, max? And then there are quickies and lazies and “just one shag before the kids need breakfast”. We spend more time in front of the TV or computer/iPad/Kindle screen.
It’s not our husbands, lovers or partners, most of whom would love to get more action. (If yours is not of that mind, quick, get thee to a counselor or divorce lawyer, because the jig really is up.) In any case, there are ED drugs a-plenty.
It could be mental or emotional illness, it could be stress. It could be anger.
But the most likely culprit? Fat.
The UK approaches the US in rates of overweight and obese people. This 2011 chart compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that in the US, the rate of obesity was 33.9%. One in three Americans is clinically obese. In the UK, the rate was 22.7. Both rates are said to be growing, as is the amount of food required to sustain such weights, and the resultant medical costs.
One thing about sexual desire, it’s propelled by “male” hormones in both men and women. Men have more testosterone, so they often have more desire. But women, too, need their little bit of male “zoom” in their bloodstreams in order to want a shag.
Excess fat doesn’t store sexy, manly testosterone. In fact, it stores its opposite number, the lady with the soft touch: estrogen.
Now, estrogen is incredibly useful. We can’t get along without it, none of us. But it’s a nurturing hormone (in fact, it’s infamous for nurturing malignancies, which is why alternative-medicine people put themselves on starvation diets in order to defeat cancer), not a wink-wink, let’s-get-it-on-tiger substance.
The more fat, the more estrogen.
The more estrogen, the more the natural hormonal balance in the body is disturbed. Raise the level of estrogen, and, male or female, your “male” hormone levels are swamped.
That wandering libido in women? (And, let’s add, overweight men.) It hasn’t disappeared. It’s been overwhelmed by a flood. With help from you, it can make its presence known.
Forget the butterfly net. Porn. Cyber sex. For increased libido, what you really want is a healthier, fitter body.
Weight Watchers, friends’ exercise groups, walking buddies. However you do it – it helps if you work with a friend – shed that excess estrogen. Build up your libido as you increase your strength.
Do it. For the sake of Jilly Cooper’s bonkbusters.