Who brings the condoms now?

HOT AND BOTHERED, by Wendy Dennis (Grafton, $61). MEN IN LOVE, by Nancy Friday (Hutchinson, $175).

CONTRARY to popular opinion sex did not go out with the '60s. It was just a whole lot simpler then. Today, of course, things are a little different. Today, we have to soil our hands with foul-smelling latex to avoid a disease that could kill us.

Out there is an AIDS lobby instructing the consummation of our lust be reserved for a nice, boring chartered surveyor rather than a football player who has ''been around''.

Unfortunately today women can no longer lie back and think of, well . . . other things, or um . . . other people.

They are expected to do half the work while the ''New Man'' has to be gentle but not weak, malleable but not limp, masterful but not macho, sensitive but not sappy and stylish but not shallow.

Quite frankly, it's all a bit of a sham. For a relatively simple pastime, sex has become remarkably intellectual. The message today is: if you are finding it healthy and harmless you are not doing it right.

Wendy Dennis is one such female. She is very hot and bothered. The subject of sex and love in the '90s is so huge it has catapulted her into a world that feels positively lunar in its unfamiliarity.

Dennis' gripe, having woken up from her '60s chrysalis, is no matter whether you are single, divorced or struggling to stay together, you are definitely confused and anxious in your romantic dealings with men.

She is waking up to the fact that we should have listened to our mothers, most of whom issued one major warning about life: sex is more trouble than it's worth.

Part social commentary, part investigative journalism, part self-help guide, Hot and Bothered tackles the anxieties of modern loving head on, and offers an often provocative, humorous examination of male-female relationships and bedroom behaviour in thisage of sexual apprehension.

Dennis has interviewed hundreds of people, many of them battle-scarred veterans of the sexual revolution and argues that the war between the sexes is over and that the time has come for reconciliation.

''They're tricky things, these social revolutions,'' writes Dennis in her conclusion.

''Particularly when they start hitting people in the privates - or at least the way people think about their privates. That's a vulnerable place to get nailed, especially when you've been caught off guard.

''A lot of us have learned the hard way that a transformation in consciousness of the magnitude imagined in the '60s simply doesn't happen in one lifetime. The psychological price of social progress has been steep - we got more than we bargained for - but as men and women, mates and lovers, we're better off than our parents were.'' There are some helpful tips, the chapter on sexual etiquette has sub headings as follows: ''What if my partner or I have sores or cooties down there?'', ''Who brings the condoms?'' and ''How do you let your partner know you want to try the back door''.

Another sex pest from the United States is also back in paperback, with one of her first works, Men in Love, originally published in 1980.

Nancy Friday has made a career of exposing the deep, dirty fantasies of Mr and Mrs Joe Public.

Men in Love reveals that whatever women's changing attitudes to sex, men can be downright predictable.

It is a volume listing the various sexual fantasies of Les, Lee, Leon, Lester and scores of others - but they are deadly dull.

As Madonna realised, and cleverly exploited for public consumption, they involve the usual fetishes of animals, groups, sadomasochism, virgins and ''watersports''.

In the age of AIDS, this sort of rubbish does have a non-penetrative role to play but when Friday tells us this is a book about men who love women, you know something is wrong.

Buck had this to say: ''I have always envied dogs and their tremendous, long-lasting climax.'' Joey: ''I enjoy getting dressed up as a girl. First I smoke a little pot to help get rid of inhibitions, then I put on a pair of stockings, garter belt (black with red bows), bra with socks stuffed in to give fullness, white lace panties, a half slip anda pretty black dress.'' And all this before their fantasies have even begun.

My advice to the consumer: buy Penthouse, it's cheaper.