The Cocktail Bar

Minutes of Past Evenings

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NOTE: This conversation runs backwards! For the benefit of regular readers the newest comments are put at the top.


Appreciation

I have found that the more often I view other women in 1950's clothes, the more I appreciate my own body. G.L.S.


The Swish of A Skirt

Alas -- not much attention is given these days to the view of just a small bit of lace, or the swish of a skirt. Where has subtleness gone?
SUZANNE


Learning about Ourselves

I just came across a reply you made to someone in the archives (sorry for not being more specific). It struck me hard because it so clearly explained so much to me, that had been in question. Here's what you said:
Women have always appreciated feminine attractiveness - that is why the way to sell a magazine to women has always been to put a pretty girl on the cover, very rarely a man. Heterosexuality for women contains a high degree of narcissism which is natural and good. Men are not sex objects to women in the same way that women are to men. A generation of feminists has attempted to simulate male-type sex reactions in women (the use of the word 'hunk' being a good example of the project) and the whole thing still seems artificial and ridiculous, as it always will.
A great deal of a woman's sensual stimulation in a heterosexual marriage or courtship turns on her consciousness of her own attractiveness. She is the sex-object, not only to her husband, but to herself.
Wow! I've been learning a lot about myself through exploring your site (along with Femmeworld), but this was a revelation. Perhaps it's been obvious to others all along?

It's worth noting that I'm young, a mere 24, and have grown up in this society. I've always been fascinated by older clothing, movies, and other trappings. But I realize that I've been conditioned by a society that is very different from the way things Once Were.

I'm a heterosexual woman, this I know. And the majority of my friends are men. It's always harder to get along with other women, but once I do, it certainly is remarkable. But I digress... (trying to give enough context so my comments make sense).

I always wondered why I never was moved by pictures of attractive men. You know, many of my friends had pinups in their dorm rooms or would gush over certain guys ... "oh he's so cute," "what a hunk," and so forth. I never got that. Was I weird for not being particularly inspired by the male form? Sure, I knew guys were more stimulated by appearance and images.

Yet, I've always been drawn to, admired the feminine form. Pictures of women and women's clothes and stuff was much more interesting to me. Pleasing. Yeah, occasionally I'd feel a bit of envy. And wonder why I found that more interesting/appealing than the corresponding pictures of guys.

I think this causes many women to question their sexual orientation. It's not something many talk about, either.

Your words were so dead-on accurate! I never thought of it that way, but it's so so true. But it seems if a woman admires another woman, so many assumptions are made. Many tend to assume this implies lesbian tendencies (which, of course, it could be -- but it isn't necessarily the case. God I hate assumptions). And it seems so many women can get all defensive or end up giving into envy and jealousy and the like.

Sometimes I wonder if this isn't a weird kind of reaction to how society seems to view appreciation between women. That it's odd, when it's perfectly natural (regardless of one's sexual orientation).

I appreciate beauty wherever I find it. Women are beautiful and I'm a beautiful woman. That's a source of great joy in my life and I can't believe I ever felt strange about that. Thanks to the folks at Aphrodite for the insightful and thought-provoking commentary.
KAELISSA


The Difference Between Actors and Actresses

Just a brief rider to the comment about a man playing Cleopatra. Yes it is true, no man can play Cleopatra (or any feminine role) as well as a woman, and if any one actually wanted to see a man playing Cleopatra it would not because she wanted to see Cleopatra played, but because she wanted to see a man playing Cleopatra, which is quite a different thing. All this is obvious.

I would add, though, that it is one of the curious things about sexual differences that the same thing does not operate similarly the other way round. When Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet and other great male roles, her performances were genuine interpretations of the roles and not just grotesqueries; and it is entirely conceivable that other female artists of similar spirit might do the same at any time. I recently saw an Aristasian production of part of A Midsummer Night's Dream in which all the parts were taken by girls, the male parts not in any way masculinised but played entirely feminine. The performance charmed a mixed, mainly heterosexual audience. I can hardly imagine a similar all-male production charming any audience except perhaps a homosexual male one.

Some one will be sure to remind us that all Shakespeare's heroines were originally played by boys. But note that they were boys, not men and this only happened under the inescapable pressure of women being barred from the stage. As soon as the restriction was lifted, at the time of the Restoration (in the 1660s), all female parts were taken by women, and, as far as I know no one has since voluntarily produced the plays with men taking female roles, while the reverse has happened and been delightful. Note also that in the popular English pantomime, where role reversal is traditional, the "dame" (a man playing a woman) is always a figure of broad comedy, while the Principal Boy (a girl playing a boy) is the romantic lead.

I mention this not in order to defend female role-reversal (indeed, the whole charm in all these cases lies precisely in the fact that the female player is never seriously de-feminised), but to point out that in our aesthetic reactions to the two sexes, not only are they not equivalent, but they are not even mirror images of one another. Our psychic experience of the sexes is as of two quite different species to whom different aesthetics and different possibilities apply.
MISS ALICE LUCY TRENT


Nursery Governesses and Cleopatra

O wise Aphrodite!
You Speak thus:
The rather silly pretence that men and women are equivalent, expressed in allowing female infantrymen or male nursery governesses, is really the symptom of a society that has lost all grip on reality.
I feel moved to question you further. It is true that most women would make poor infantrymen and most men would make poor nursery governesses. But what about the minority who can do these things. Should they be denied the opportunity.

Let me say that my instinctive feeling is that you are right, but I know this is what many people would ask, and I'd be very interested to know your answer.
JULIET


Thank you. One of the problems with the late 20th century is that it tends to dump everything in the same bucket. To ignore distinctions between things. The point you raise is usually a good one, but not always. Under normal circumstances most women are never going to want to be air traffic controllers or computer scientists, but if a certain number do wish to do these things and have real aptitude, then there is no reason in the world why they should be prevented. This is true of most cases of this sort, but not all.

For example, if a male actor wanted to play Cleopatra, he might be very good at playing the part, leaving aside the fact that he was a man. But that is just what we cannot leave aside in this case. Most people do not want to see the part of Cleopatra played by a man, however well he does it; and even those who do want to see it want to see it for special reasons. It is clearly not the same thing as seeing a woman play it, even if we do want it. It is something else.

Similarly, some men are good at looking after small children. But they are never good at it in the same way that women are. There is a masculine kindness and comfort which is different from the archetypal feminine and maternal kindness and comfort. The best father in the world is never a mother and the best male-nurse in the world is never a nurse.

In the case of the infantry, we admit that it is possible (though not likely) that a few rare women might do the job as well as a man if the mere job was all there was to it. But it is not. A male army is a very particular thing with its own esprit de corps. It is a masculine phenomenon. To introduce a woman into it is to disrupt its very essence. In truth it is not actually possible for a woman to join the infantry, because as soon as she joins it, it has ceased to exist and has changed into something else.

There have been warrior-women in the past but their armies were very different from male armies in spirit and essence. Nothing could be further from their spirit than a modern woman in drag as a male "grunt".

It is these fine and subtle differences between the sexes which (in part) make us what we are, along with many other fine human distinctions that are overridden by the cheap sloganised culture of the late 20th century, with its whole language reduced to the argot of the market-place, the labour-mill and the political slanging-match.

It is time we recovered a little sense and sensitivity.


Does it Compute?

What a lovely site (even if I haven't seen, you know, those hidden areas. But then, perhaps that's part of the beauty of it? Kind of appropriate, really).

I wonder if some of the denizens of the site might recommend some of their favorite books, stores, and other such things. Now I want to read some romantic fiction and am unsure where to start.

I'm surprised by my favorable reaction to this site (and others like it). I'm at once fascinated by androgyny and by ultra femininity. Is this strange? I guess I'm fed up with the societal norm. It seems we're told at once that we're all equal and women are discouraged from being ultrafeminine, yet at the same time we're told what men want (pouting sex kittens wearing crotchless panties and wonderbras). It doesn't compute, does it?

Hmmm. We're told too many things, really. I hate the fact that I have to be careful what I wear in certain situations-- be it for the workplace or if heading into a city area and so forth. Heaven forbid we not match what others want/expect-- those cookie cutout images. Or, worse yet, we look too attractive and get scary attention on city streets. Sigh. So we resort to wearing pretty things undercover, where no one can see. Sometimes we can't even afford to let those glimpses show.

Sigh. Women should be free to be whomever we want. Dress however we want, whenever we want. We can be powerful whatever clothes we wear. It's only clothes. I hate that so many place such stock in such things.

I adore wearing silk, suede, velvet, lace, sheers, and the like. Just because it pleases me and makes me feel wonderful. Pity that if I express this attitude (vocally or by wearing the clothing) I get some men drooling over me (which is fine and good until it gets scary) and making assumptions about me. Others don't take you seriously. What's with that?

Oh I could rant some more, but I won't. This isn't a place for ranting, per se. This is a lovely place, I'm happy to be here. With sisters who understand.
Best,
KAELISSA


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Kaelissa. You write, very perceptively:

It seems we're told at once that we're all equal and women are discouraged from being ultrafeminine, yet at the same time we're told what men want (pouting sex kittens wearing crotchless panties and wonderbras). It doesn't compute, does it?
Yes, at first that does seem like a contradiction, but once you see what is going on, you realise that it does compute. It computes very well. You see, if a society denies the importance, and indeed the very existence, of femininity it is left with nothing but crude animal femaleness. All the qualities that make the human female attractive in a spiritual, intelligent and specifically human way are denied. Women, after all (we are endlessly instructed) are the exact equivalents of men, except in the shape of their bodies (the dogmatists really can't deny that one, otherwise they undoubtedly would). So what have men left to concentrate on? Well, crotchless panties etc.

It is barren and ultimately unsatisfying, but it is all that is left after the demythologisation of the post-60s world. The crushing of femininity and the promotion of raw, physical femaleness are not contradictory, they are two sides of the same false coin.

Only by rediscovering the true magic of femininity, by learning that romance is real and the debunkers are bunk, are we going to get out of this impasse, which is why letters like yours -- and those of some of the truly romantic gentlemen who have written -- are so encouraging.


No More Sweating and Heaving

Thank goodness I have found a site that caters for those of us who don't care for men's fantasy images of women.

I love erotica, but can do without the sweating and heaving images that men seem to find appealing (did they ever leave the stone age). Some men do seem to have a 'feminine side', but even that phrase seems to patronise us. Why can't a man choose to be feeling and sensitive without denying that such traits can be a part of his own nature. The other side of the coin applies to women who feel they have to become men to succeed. We have our share of thugs and lager louts without the excuse of testosterone. Why - the army even lets us join the infantry now if we're stupid enough to want to and can meet their fitness criteria.

I like the opportunity, but now I want men to understand that I also have the freedom to choose a world of silk and lace without implying any kind of betrayal of feminine freedoms. For now only women seem to understand this message.
TONI


Thank you so much. Although we would suggest that there is a validity in speaking of the 'feminine side' of a man or the 'masculine side' of a woman. Certain characteristics do belong to the archetypal feminine or masculine without actually being the exclusive property of one sex. The rather silly pretence that men and women are equivalent, expressed in allowing female infantrymen or male nursery governesses, is really the symptom of a society that has lost all grip on reality. A society in which dogma and ideology have replaced actual human experience, where policy is based not on life as it is, but life as it is officially supposed to be. If it is "correct" to believe that fishes swim in the sky then millions of fishermen (or rather fisherpersons) will be sent up mountains with nets, and if the population starves as a result we will be told that a) at least we have not committed the crime of incorrectness or gone back to the bad, repressive, intolerant days when wicked oppressors told us that fishes swam in the sea and b) the problem of starvation can be solved by an enlightened campaign to send twice as many fisherhumanbeings up the mountain next year.


Freedom!

I think it is very nice to find something like this. I can fully express my feelings and emotions here, and am confident that other women can respond in kind, or help me along the path to further enlightenment. In a world where anyone different is seen a sinful and everyone has the right to cut you down for your views, this is a refreshing change and I feel as though I fit right in. SUMMER


At Last!

Ah, at last! A web haven from bad taste and cybermasculinity! Thank you Aphrodite, and thank you Femmeworld for directing me here!
ZIMM


So Refreshing Indeed

It is so refreshing to finally find an erotic site that is non-male. We (Jessica and Vanessa) have been looking for such a place as yours for weeks. Thank you very much for having us as your guests.
JESSICA AND VANESSA
Honolulu


Another Piece from Suzanne

I just want to add the perspective here of a woman who was also inundated with images of girdles in the sixties. While I'm sure many women probably didn't like them, and were happy to abandon them for pantyhose, there were many women, myself included, who developed an attraction to them, a kind of mirror image of what the men were feeling. In my case, I know why this happened, I think. I was the youngest of four daughters of a very elegant mother. We weren't rich, but my mother had an amazing sense of style and grace. She always dressed beautifully and always dressed us beautifully. From a very early age, I learned that dressing up was a great privilege and pleasure of being a woman, an expression of gender identity. She always wore skirts, nylons, and of course, a girdle. And we, my sisters and I, had the sense that the same was expected of us when we became women.

My sisters and I would play dress-up with my mother's old clothes and girdles. Anyway, when I was a girl, I wanted nothing more than to be like my sisters and mother as soon as I could be. I remember being ten years old, with everybody getting ready for school in the morning (the four girls sharing two bedrooms) and the whole place being a flurry of girdles, slips, crinolines, nylons, my elegant mother coming in to help with difficult back garters, etc. and hating, hating the fact that I was only ten years old. I remember the first time I was allowed, after all that waiting, to wear a girdle. It was Easter Sunday, 1962. I can still remember the joy of that "first girdle" shopping trip, being allowed into the inner sanctum of the corset shop. I remember the pleasure of feeling myself wearing the dress I wore, with hat, gloves, and a tight little girdle with real nylons. I was officially a woman! And I pestered my mother until she allowed me a few months later to wear them all the time. I remember loving the ladylike way they made me look, walk, and sit, the way my girdles hugged me, held me in, reminding me at all times of my adult femininity. I never lost those feelings and they were even intensified when I began to date. While others have mentioned the fact that they served as chastity belts (which they did), there's also the fact that their tightness in that area (I must blushingly admit) increased the erotic arousal of a date, while providing protection at the same time. I liked them so much that, like a small minority of women, I didn't give them up when pantyhose came in. I continue to enjoy them, and they continue to mean to me what they've always meant. I suspect I'm not alone. So, I guess my point is that all of us who were inundated with the culture of girdles back in the sixties were affected by it, whether we were male or female.
SUZANNE


Discovering Our Femininity

As I become more fully aware of the power of my womanly sensuality, I am increasingly interested in finding news ways to explore it. In many ways, I know that many of the same excitements that men believe to be their own domain have a similarly enticing effect for us. It is the control over these areas that separates us from them, and allows us to fully explore our sensuality and our femininity.

While the term "Aphroditism" in the way you use it is relatively new to me, I am certainly familiar with the concept, which is ageless. While it is grounded in times long past, this sensuality certainly evolves just as fashion does. This helps explain the enduring allure of the stocking hem, and the promise that it implies.

Please tell me more about how I can share my thoughts with your group, and how I can learn more about theirs. I am excited about discovering more about myself and my femininity, and yearn to see others doing the same.

For purposes of communication, you can refer to me as "LaValliere", who certainly lived in the spirit of Aphroditism.
LAVALLIERE


Where All the Women Went

As an Adult American White Male, I have been exposed to and participated in (as a consumer) the current barrage of negative images, divisive arguments and sex alienation regarding male/female relationships in the media. I have heard about "new feminism", "new males", "backlash", and all of the other nonsense which seems aimed at driving men and women further apart every day. Although I do not yet have a password for your site, I find the subtle suggestions you present (similar to the heart-thrilling mystique of a voyeuristic encounter) to be both titillating and refreshing. It makes me want to cry out "Thank God! HERE'S where all the WOMEN went!"

I would rather see an active promotion of a feminine ideal where a woman can be strong, intelligent, successful, and so forth, yet still be feminine. Taken in this regard (and I will apologize only for my lack of clarity if this is misunderstood.) I believe that the sexes were never meant to be equal. Equality, of course, is a heavily loaded concept, and perhaps things would be better served by saying that an ideal such as yours allows gender roles to be celebrated for their differences, without being divisive.

I will end my ramblings, then, by saying that I am concerned over your presentation of the site as "by women, for women" while seeming to somewhat exclude men. (I haven't explored it enough to be sure, yet.) Although I agree that in many ways, our two sexes do seem to be different species, I would rather promote a greater understanding between us. I applaude your efforts to educate, and hope that your exclusivity can instead expand into a greater openness between us.
M.E.B.


We actually say "by women about women", which is a little different, although we freely admit that our material was produced primarily for ourselves and other women. If men like it too, that's fine. Our aim is to discover a new feminine erotic sensibility that is valid for women and for those who love women regardless of their sex.

Whether men or women were meant to be equal or not (in any case, are any two people ever equal?), they certainly weren't meant to be, aren't, and never can be, the same. That is what is too often meant by "equal" in the late 20th century and it just makes a hopeless, hostile, neurotic mess of both men and women.

You rightly say that you have been exposed to and participated in (as a consumer) negative and hostile images, etc. It is rare for some one (of either sex) to recognise her own responsibility in these matters. Let us throw away our televisions (or keep them only for pre-1960 films). Let us stop participating in the poisoning of our culture.


To Bounce or not to Bounce

Nice place you've got there ...

... Except for the bouncer concept ...

My life experience has shown me up to now, that there is something to hide, were there is a need for bouncers ...

... However, if she looks like Marilyn Monroe, I'll be glad to let her throw me out every night ...
DANIELE

But of course there is something to hide, darling. That is the whole point of Aphrodite!


Right All Along

I always thought I was alone in my preference to wear stockings and garters in the days of pantyhose. Now I know I was right all along. Besides being healthier, they are much more sensual.
RUTH

Suzanne's Experiences

Suzanne is one of the most fascinating writers we know on the subject of girdles and the erotic feelings associated therewith. She has posted many fascinating reflections on the noticeboard at alt.clothing.lingerie. She has kindly made these postings available to Aphrodite, one of which we reproduce below. We shall be posting more in the near future.

"Girdle Glimpses" in the 1960s

" ... I do recall a high school boyfriend telling me that he fell passionately in love with me one day while watching me deeply absorbed in taking a test, so absorbed in what I was doing that I was oblivious to the fact that my dress had ridden up to expose about three inches of my panty girdle leg. I was both amused and grossed out by his confession. It didn't make any clear sense to me. Why would this have had such an impact? I'm still trying to understand the profound effect these "girdle glimpses" seem to have had upon a generation of males, including my husband and many of the men who have posted to this board. From conversations with my husband and former boyfriends, and from my own memories, I know that boys during the period 1966-69 would: 1) drop pencils, 2) look up as they ascended staircases, 3) enjoy giving presentations in the front of a classroom, 4) sit down on a curb waiting for a school bus, 5) position themselves across from girls at long cafeteria or lab tables, then tie their shoes, etc. all in order to get that glimpse of white girdled thigh and dark brown stocking top. We girls were aware of what was going on, but we were powerless to stop it. I do not remember enjoying having to be constantly aware of where my hem was in relation to my panty girdle leg. I longed for the days when skirts were longer. Still, in retrospect it is amusing to recall. It did definitely fill the air with a kind of sexual energy that seems to have dissipated when pantyhose and slacks became acceptable attire around 1970. And of course, some of us are still energized by our memories of what went on in that period. The only stab I can take at explaining why the "girdle glimpse" had such power is that the period from 1966-69 was the period before sexuality became prosaic. Things were still repressed, in terms of what forms of sexual behavior were acceptable, but things were opening up. Symbolically, the era of the girdle was passing and that of the miniskirt was beginning. While they co-existed, it was possible to see up a girl's skirt, but there still was a strong sense that what was under there was not available. Although you were able to see, you still weren't supposed to, and it therefore meant something if you could. And while an actual view of what was hidden would have been too literal, and would have destroyed the magic, viewing the girdle gave a young man a full sense of a young woman's mystery and otherness, without actually being an unacceptable visual violation of her. It was a sexually charged moment, but it was an unavoidable part of everyday life, happening unexpectedly, fleetingly, suddenly, frequently. Does this make sense to people?"
SUZANNE


Aphroditism, Feminism and the New Man

I just want to say thanks.

Eight years ago my views on what was female were beaten up by a radical feminist girlfriend and The Women's Room by Marilyn French; I became a "New Man". Since we split up (six years ago) I had been a mess, unable to communicate with women on the level since I thought any problem they had was my fault by dint of me being male, and eventually ceased to have any close relationships with women for 2 years.

Only this year have I started to relate to women once more, and the existence of your site and your explanation of the Aphrodite sensibility has been a major relief. I had suspected the existence of this true eroticism through my response (or lack of it) to so-called "pornography", whilst the sight of a well-dressed unselfconscious woman could send me to raptures, so finding a discussion point for this on the Net, more importantly run by women, is truly liberating.

"A great deal of a woman's sensual stimulation in a heterosexual marriage or courtship turns on her consciousness of her own attractiveness. She is the sex-object, not only to her husband, but to herself."
so you said, and this for me is the crux of it all.

Thanks again, YAN


Pastel Oasis

Yes. Why do I start this with "Yes?" Is it a willing yes? An acceptive yes? It is a acknowledging yes.

Yes. Yes, I too am overwhelmed, no, astonished to discover this pastel oasis of femininity.

Internet. Erotica, no, pornography is everywhere. For men, by men. Lusting. Testosterone effusing the Ethernet. Pinching us. Glaring at us. Slamming into us. But not teasing us. Not alluring us. The mystery, lost. The mystery, given away.

But are we not to blame? Our insecurity. Our quest for comfort. We have unveiled ourselves.

And then there is here. Frilly, pink, yellow stucco, and legs. We are allowed to peek at ourselves and our friends. To be naughty. Again.
KAMLESH


Straight Men with Respect for Women

I have sent away for, and await anxiously, my password. At the risk of seeming uneducated about the WWW, and risking a faux-pas, here goes... Does this page cater to straight men who have a healthy respect for classy (again, risking sexism) ladies that are intelligent and enjoy being the powerful and confident female that there once was? Please, no disrespect to those who are into other regimens other than traditional male/female relationships, but this is simply not what I am looking for. Thank you for your attention and patience.
M.M.

A thing that makes us sad is to see how shell-shocked many straight men are after the constant bombardment by the mass-media. You half-expect us to be intolerant, because you know that every one is encouraged to be intolerant -- every one except straight white men who are the only people accused of intolerance.

Yes, there are still plenty of obnoxious straight men out there. We hear from a few, though we don't bore you with their postings (censorship? Well every good Cocktail Bar has a bouncer. Ours is an eight-foot brunette with a figure like Marilyn Monroe and a grip like Charles Atlas). But many of the decent straight men have been scared into an inferiority complex by the weird=good, normal=bad philosophy of the mass-media establishment.

Well, we are not straight and we are not men, but we are not intolerant. Our message is here for every one.


ADD YOUR COMMENT TO THE CONVERSATION

Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
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