As we celebrate the publication of our 30th issue, E&M takes a look back at some of the hottest articles from Baby’s steamy eight-year history.
Though E&M has never been a publication to shy away from controversial issues, there is no section quite like Baby for when it comes to breaking taboos.
It is also, of course, the only section of the magazine that isn’t strictly speaking a body part. The name was born (if you can excuse the pun) not just of a desire to come up with a term that was gender-neutral, but also to convey a faint sense of sauciness. While nobody is likely to find themselves crying out “Oh Brain!” or “Hey Diaphragm!”, Baby has always seemed to positively invite such a flirty approach.
Baby set out to explore modern European sexuality in all of its guises. Over the past 30 issues, it has made us blush, gawp, giggle and sigh. From selling sex to the disabled and attitudes towards homosexuality in Eastern Europe to steamy Skype dates, there is scarcely a sexual stone that has been left unturned. Little could have prepared us though for the frankness of the anonymous, if voracious author of Issue 25’s Diary of Sexual Frustration (in a Sexually Frustrated Country):
Before we began I was explicit with him that if we had sex it would only be a physical thing, with the sole purpose of physical pleasure. He agreed. Still, looking back I can’t help feeling like I used him. I knew having sex with him would confuse him, but I went ahead anyway.
As befits a section which deals with a side of human life that is all about experimenting and finding out what works for you, Baby authors have, in fact, always been a pretty adventurous bunch. They’ve sought out the best spots for nudism around Europe and visited the world’s first specialist condom shop in Amsterdam; on occasion, they’ve even had a go at self-dating – and discovered they really rather liked it:
Dating yourself has its upsides. You certainly won’t have to wait around for anyone. There’s no worry that you might be stood up. You can’t even really be late for a date with yourself. And there’ll be none of that potentially awkward “your place or mine” business at the end of the evening. What’s more, if you’re single, there’s the added bonus that you might actually end up meeting someone: it’s so much easier to fall into conversation with a stranger when you’re out on your own. Above all, it’s an opportunity to do exactly what you want to do, without worrying about scaring anybody off. Fancy having a tipple at lunchtime? Feel free. Want to cry your eyes out while watching a depressing film? Be my guest, or rather, your own!
Rifling through the Baby archives, it is possible to catch a glimpse of how rapidly Europe has changed since the magazine began in 2008. For example, while there was a time, just a couple of years ago, that online dating was heralded as revolutionising the way we hook up with people, Nicoletta Enria’s recent article about Tinder and other mobile dating apps shows that such websites may indeed already be passé amongst young Europeans.
With columns such as History of Sex, Baby has also examined how people used to get it on across the continent, often yielding unexpected results. Ours is clearly not the first nor the only generation that has ample opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling and varied sex life. As authors Patricia Wratil and Julia Buchholz coyly conclude at the end of their piece on sexuality in the Middle Ages, So next time you hear your grandparents raving about the good old days, you’ll know what they’re thinking of. A gentleman never tells…
However, what really strikes you about the section is the honesty with which interviewees and contributors invariably share their experiences. Whether they are talking about a decision to take on work as an escort girl to fund their university studies or discussing what it is like to have a sexless relationship, we are given a remarkable and often moving insight into an aspect of life that, until not all that long ago, was kept very much behind closed doors. E&M is all about making Europe personal and nowhere is there more intimacy to be found than in Baby.