Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sex Is Bad Because It Is Not All Mine

I swear I'm not being faux-naive about this. Assuming you're not a religious nutter (and granted, in the US this is an assumption that will be wrong roughly 90% of the time), why exactly is sex bad?

The Observer today reports smugly on the crusade of 80's-vintage-Screw-Magazine-journo-turned-fat-assed-suburban-Dadbot Gil Reavill to call a halt to the pornification of our culture. Seems Reavill, having got his own personal rocks sufficiently off in Bonfire-era New York when he was still young enough to pull ('I enjoyed everything New York in the 1980s could throw at me when I worked at Screw. It threw quite a lot'), has decided that there is now entirely too much off-getting going on for his wrinkled rocks to stand by and watch. Sex is now too mainstream, too public: ''Whether we want it or not, we are inundated, saturated, beaten over the head with sex ... it's egregious, it's out of control, it's too much.'

What seems terribly obvious to me, though apparently not to the Observer, is how egregiously this begs the question. Too much sex is bad because it's...too much. But too much what? Why do Reavill and his non-overtly-religiose ilk think more sex is bad? Do they think sex itself is bad? Is it bad in a group setting? OK to do/think about/talk about in private but alchemically made naughty in public? There are no clear predicates for their condemnation, just this utterly woolly invocation of pernicious excess.

The other two camps in the anti-societal-sexification lobby are a lot easier to engage with. The god-botherers genuinely do think sex is naughty and shameful, in private too but certainly and at all times in public. These are the people for whom poor Janet's modishly-accoutred tit constituted a crisis of instantaneous-Decency-Commission-necessitating proportions, and their numbers are legion. I get them.

Then there are the people like--ha! I just almost said 'the people like Prince'! OK, there are, um, Prince, plus people who also think things similar to things Prince thinks (I think), namely that the barrage of sex is desensitizing: 'Back then, the sexiest thing on TV was "Dynasty," and if you watch it now, it's like "The Brady Bunch."' By this reasoning, the sex-positive anti-public-sex crusader could argue that, like wanking too often too hard, all this exposure is numbing our delicate nerve endings for private enjoyment of the good stuff. This too makes a kind of sense, albeit a weirdly prescriptive kind.

But an anti-sex manifesto by a man who happily peddled the dirt in his salad days, and now peddles his crypto-puritan ass under the banner 'sex industry insider (and concerned father)'? Revulsion and withering scorn are vying for control of my gag reflex.

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