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Independent On Sunday

S Is For Sex

By Annie Blinkhorn

August 17, 2003
Copyright ©2003 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited. All rights reserved.

According to this month's Vogue magazine (that well-known barometer of sexual mores), 2003 is the year of the buttocks. The article claims that "Jennifer Lopez is the new Pamela Anderson" and that bottoms have become the new bosoms. Although this is fashion-magazine speak for "tight trousers are so this season", there is something to be said for the current fixation.

Take poor old Kylie - her bum must have a separate agent by now and was the subject of a "life-size" giveaway poster in The Sun. Does anyone recognise her by her face any more? The pop pixie's Tussauds waxwork kneels on all fours, the antipodal ass stuck out at 45 degrees, prompting one perceptive critic to surmise that Kyles was supposed to look primed and ready for sodomy. Now we're getting to the bottom of it (ho ho). The Spectator put it a little more delicately when it asked whether buttock-fancying newspaper editors are simply "encouraging and possibly even being tempted by unnatural thoughts".

Whether it is an explicit invitation or not, the pouting behind is inextricably linked to intercourse. The love of shelf-like backsides in South America is such that young women suffer extremes of spinal curvature through protruding their plump peaches and have resorted to plastic surgery - the disgusting sounding "sub-muscular gluteal implant". One travel writer I know believes that for Catholic Latinos, the "second virginity" is the one that counts, and is prized above the conventional maidenhead. Vaginal sex before marriage is widespread but other explorations are granted only when the man has committed himself and wedding rings have been exchanged.

The J-Lo culo has even prompted academic debate. Magdalena Barrera's essay Hottentot 2000: Jennifer Lopez and her Butt explores the latina diva's bottom, so to speak, claiming, "the public remains hungry for and fascinated by her ass" and tries to establish a link between La Lopez's universal sexual appeal and the fact that she has a white face and an exotic "black" butt.

Bottoms are not just big in Spanish-speaking countries. Our recent good weather has seen yards of knicker elastic on show above hipster waistbands on every high street. (A friend from Puerto Rico told me that a "crackstrap" seen over baggy combats was considered slutty and in poor taste, whereas wearing skintight spray-on jeans is OK.) This has not been lost on lingerie manufacturers who have turned their attention to fancy pants with diamante thongs for flashing, and knickers which make a feature of bum cleavage. And while Italian men are bum-pinchers, the Brits go in for "goosing", a term so playful and affectionate it almost belies its status as sexual harassment. For Scrabble fans, the English language has callipygian (having a beautiful bottom) and steatopygia (accumulation of large amounts of fat on the buttocks).

But what becomes of the masculine posterior in the current craze ? Woefully neglected, as far as I'm concerned. The male bon-bon is God's cruel joke. While the Creator decided to bestow comedy genitals and pointless nipples upon men, he also - unfairly, I think - gave them longer, curlier eyelashes (why, why?) and perfect, pert and perky apple-cheeked bottoms. Isn't there something fundamentally wrong with that?

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