It’s the church’s fault. All those icepicks of Puritanism and daggers of sin stabbing at your pleasure center, endless guilt and shame directed at your own body, the endlessly cruel idea that ecstasy, soft moaning and a hot rush of blood to the netherparts are all surefire signs of the devil, when of course they are the exact opposite.
Maybe it’s your mom’s fault? Or your school’s? Too many lame-ass boyfriends, maybe a cold and sexless wife? Someone somewhere misleading you via bland, guilt-addled example into thinking sex is something to be feared, or dreaded, or used as a weapon, or (even worse) merely tolerated, endured as a grating necessity, something only guys want and women suffer through to lure some sap into putting a ring on it. Wrong. Oh so very, historically wrong.
It’s porn’s fault! Way too much of it, way too easily accessible, most of it far too crass, desensitizing and grossly explicit, even violent, not to mention setting up all sorts of grotesque falsehoods about how each dumbed-down, pneumatically enhanced gender is supposed to look and behave and squeal.
Do you know the first piece of advice given by any sex-savvy doc to numbed-out guys who complain they can’t perform in bed anymore, who can’t get turned on by “real” women? Back off the porn. Let your batteries recharge and your numb imagination spark back to life. For timid or anorgasmic females? The reverse. Try watching something hot, get some toys, experiment, discover new and erotic worlds you mom never dreamed of. I mean, obviously.
But really now. Blaming porn for all the bad sex in the culture today? That’s a little too easy. And besides, good porn can be wildly, deliriously hot, even instructive and helpful. And modern women have more options for good smut that suits their tastes than ever.
What about the media? Pop culture? Sexist hip-hop thugs and reality TV douchebags? That makes more sense; endless are the messages about getting drunk and getting laid, entire Jersey Shore-esque worlds of shallow, mechanical “hooking up,” a quick slam in the bathroom at TGI Friday’s after five too many margaritas followed by stumbling home to pass out, not remembering where you left your underwear or your IUD or your dignity.
Not like this.
What do you think? All valid causes of the plague? The epidemic currently afflicting the culture?
And oh, a plague it very much is. Have you heard? The “hookup generation” sucks at sex. More than just meaningless, more than just dumb, more than just too fast or too drunk, sex among Generation Facebook is just… boring.
But don’t just take it from me. There’s a new, fast little book (smartly reviewed over at the Atlantic) just out by noted religion and sexuality professor Donna Freitas, called The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy (whew), which examines the trend closely. Freitas’ findings dovetail perfectly with what you see in HBO’s Girls and what you read in GQ and Cosmo and what you hear from genders and couples from here to whatever they have in Florida.
In short, Freitas’ book argues that sex among the hookup (read: college) generation is just sort of awful. Nobody flirts, nobody romances, nobody cares about quality or skill or understanding the nuances and deep thrums of the opposite sex. It’s all just fast, drunk and soulless (and lonely), lacking anything resembling authentic human connection. Hey, it’s sex in college. Enlightened females and skillful males? Forget about it.
Who knows what demons and trends are to blame for the nasty trend? Feminism, at least as far as good sex goes, has failed young women, because all that wonderful “empowerment” means young women are now merely acting just as grossly predatory as clueless frat guys. And why not? Where are their smart, sex-positive role models? Who else should they emulate for sexual freedom and wanton pleasure, Beyoncé? Taylor Swift? Lena Dunham? Please.
It’s no better for the males. The “new masculinity” tells men they’re no longer supposed to lead, to wine and dine, to show strength, or to wear anything but a grungy hoodie and an idiotic baseball hat to a party. Forget crusty notions of chivalry and romance; empowered women don’t want to be led or “taken,” and men have forgotten how anyway.
Meanwhile, here comes 50 Shades of Grey to explode everyone’s uptight myth. Guess what? Turns out all those empowered females secretly want to be ravished and all those emasculated males need to learn advanced bondage techniques, and to teach their lady how to properly accept a foxtail butt plug while she polishes his, um, Aston Martin. Got it.
Let us not get carried away. There are tremendous resources available to eager, smart students of sex these days, more than ever before, all sorts of wonderful books, workshops, erotic blogs, videos, columnists, iPhone apps (ahem) even music and culture to train the modern, sexually charged lover in the ways of Eros.
What’s more, as Freitas surely knows, bad, boring sex isn’t confined to drunk college pups. Far from it. Behold Anne Lamott’s sweet little essay over on Salon about her experience dating on Match.com for a year, about how, at 58, she doesn’t need or care much for sex anymore and how, by her lifetime calculation, sex has only meant she’s “waited approximately 1736 hours for the man to finish” and she now “wants a refund.”
Ha. Isn’t that cute? I like Anne a lot, her writing is charming, in a Nora Ephron-lite sort of way. But sweet Jesus with a strap-on, if “waiting for the man to finish” rings true for Lamott’s generation and makes all the bored, sexually inept housewives of America chortle, I have news: You’re doing it wrong. And so is he. And maybe you always have.
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So where does this leave us? Hardcore porn and pop culture chyme have battled it out with idiotic, Bush-era abstinence education and Puritanical shame, coupled to zero advancements in any truly forward-thinking, sex-positive education, and voila, another entire generation that’s a lousy lay, has no dexterity with deeper connection, is largely clueless in the ways of true love. Fantastic.
Can you teach reverence? Can you discover for yourself a sort of gasping, soul-level awe and wonder at the joys and vagaries of the body, the smells and tastes of the opposite (or same) sex, how the divine masculine and divine feminine naturally intertwine in endless rapturous and erotic delight? Can you learn how to properly revere the clitoris and worship the masculine throb, indulge in wild technique and pulse and skin-tingling skill? Hell yes, you can.
But it sure ain’t in the Bible (OK, maybe Song of Solomon). Pop culture largely gets it wrong. Ditto most of feminism. GQ and porn are too lopsided, as are Cosmo and Elle and Girls and even silly candy like Sex and the City.
After all, when all you’re fed is junk food and Red Bull, who will teach you about duck confit and single malt? When all you have is a blunt sexual hammer, everyone just gets nailed.
The Creator of All Things