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  • We're repeatedly given messages that we live in sexually enlightened times.

  • That we belong to a liberated age and therefore the implication is that we

  • ought by now, to be finding sex a straightforward and un-troubling matter

  • we're not after all Victorians or prudes. The standard narrative of our release

  • from past inhibitions go something like this. For thousands of years

  • right across the globe due to a devilish combination of religious bigotry and

  • pedantic social customs people were afflicted by a ridiculous sense of

  • confusion and guilt around sex.

  • They thought their hands would fall off if they masturbated.

  • They believed they might be burned in a vat of oil because they ogle [look at] someone's ankle.

  • They had no clue about erections or clitorises. They will see that

  • sometime between the first World War and the launch of Sputnik 1,

  • things change for the better. Finally people started wearing bikinis, admitted

  • to masturbating, grew able to mention cunnilingus in social context, started to

  • watch porn films, and became deeply comfortable with a topic which had

  • almost unaccountably been a source of needless carotid frustration

  • for most of human history.

  • It seems almost inconceivable now how hung up our ancestors had been.

  • Sex came to be perceived as a useful, refreshing,

  • and physically reviving pass time: a bit like tennis.

  • The one that could sit perfectly well within the context of

  • bourgeois [middle class] family life once the kids were in bed.

  • This narrative of enlightenment and progress, however flattering

  • it may be to the modern age, conveniently skirts an unbutching fact.

  • We remain hugely conflicted, embarrassed, ashamed, and ought about sex.

  • Sex refuses to match up simply with love

  • and remains as difficult to subject as ever, with

  • one added complication: it's meant to be so simple.

  • In reality, none of us approaches sex

  • as we meant to: with a cheerful, sporting, non-obsessive, clean, loyal

  • well-adjusted outlook that we convinced ourselves is the norm.

  • We are universally odd around sex, but only in relation to

  • some highly and cruelly distorted ideals of normality.

  • Most of what we are sexually remains very frightening to communicate to

  • anyone whom we would want to think well of us.

  • People in love constantly, instinctively, hold back from

  • sharing more than a fraction of their desires and tastes out of a fear,

  • not without foundation, of generating intolerable disgust in their partners.

  • In the choice between being loved and being honest, most of us choose the former.

  • But we are then burdened by sexuality, which refuses to stop haunting us.

  • We suffer, and yet may find it easier to die without having had certain conversations.

  • The priority seems evident: to find a way to talk

  • to ourselves and our partners about who we really are, to tell one another

  • without setting off catastrophic panic, offense, or fear

  • what sex really makes us want. It may be someone else or them in a uniform.

  • At the heart of the dilemma is how simultaneously to appear normal

  • and yet achieve honesty about our sexual appetites.

  • Our commitment to feeling normal is important and touching.

  • It means being, or at least trying very hard to be: patient, gentle,

  • considerate, Democratic, intelligent, and devoted to treating people with

  • respect and loyalty, and yet, our sexual imaginations simply refuse

  • to bow to any normative parameters.

  • To start the list, here are just some of the unpalatable truths

  • that stir in our sexual imaginations.

  • It's very rare to maintain sexual interest in only

  • one person, however much one loves them, beyond more than a few years.

  • It's entirely possible to love one's partner and regularly want to have sex

  • with complete strangers. One can be a kind, respectable, and democratic person

  • and at the same time want to flog, hurt, and humiliate a sexual partner

  • who'll be on the receiving end of a very rough treatment.

  • It may be easier to be excited by someone one dislikes

  • or thinks nothing of, then by someone one loves and respects.

  • Though we may try to tame them, our sexual desires remain

  • often an absurd, irreconcilable conflict with many of our highest commitments and

  • values. We need to admit to ourselves that whatever the self congratulation,

  • sexual liberation has never, in fact, happened.

  • This is about more than the ability to wear a bikini. We remain imprisoned,

  • fearful, and ashamed, sometimes with few options but to life for the sake of love

  • true liberation is a challenge that remains before us as we patiently build

  • up the courage to admit to the nature of our desires and learn to talk to our

  • loved ones with pioneering honesty about the contents of our own minds.


We're repeatedly given messages that we live in sexually enlightened times.

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B2 sexual remains liberation remain honesty sexually

Sexual Non-Liberation

  • 105 12
    Ken Song posted on 2017/02/23
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