"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sex Or No Sex–That Is The Question

The personal columns of today have more categories than people to fill them.  ‘Men Seeking Women’ is by far the leanest section.  “Black Dwarf Transvestite seeks like-bodied person of color to share elm trees, the Sunday Times, and Bette Midler.  Age no bar. Just be ready to party” is much more like it.

An all-time favorite is the following:
“Nun on the Run” looking for fun with any real gentlemen.  Early, flirty 40s, pretty face and a behind you could kneel down and pray on.”
Despite its unusual theme – defrocked nun looking for Big Tongue – it is still oh-hum conservative male-female, one-on-one sex.  Nothing like most other ads for threesomes, foursomes, whole roomfuls of midgets, dominatrices, queens, bears, and pump house jocks.  The combinations and permutations are staggering.  Masters and Johnson could not have invented half the variations reported today.  Witches seeking coven sisters, broomstick witches, bloodsucking witches, and New Guinea mud men.

What a sexual cornucopia.  An exotic smorgasbord, a five-star sexual restaurant with tantalizing entrees, sumptuous main courses, and luscious desserts.

In America, everything gets old hat very quickly.  Fashions in clothes, food, and sex pop up in California, take root in New York, and then eventually infiltrate the heartland.  There was a recent personal column in the Buford (AR) Gazette (pop. 4280) which, although still very conservative and read-between-the-lines, is racy by local standards.
Christian man seeks devout woman who will never have to worry. Her soul will be filled and her tank will never need topping off.
This was the photo he attached:



Now there is nothing left in the sexual larder. Plain and exotic offerings have been exhausted. Enter celibacy.
In a culture that clamors with the noisy public narratives of sexual desire, the implacable silence of sexual refusal is the last remaining taboo. At least, that is what the journalist Sophie Fontanel felt when she composed the opening sentence of her bestselling memoir, The Art of Sleeping Alone. “For a long while, and I really don’t wish to say when it was or how many years it lasted, I chose to live in what was perhaps the worst insubordination of our times: I had no sex life,” she wrote. (Jane Shilling, The New Republic, 11.2.13)
It was only a matter of time, but it’s time has come.  For women celibacy is a powerful feminist statement – they do not need men, never have, and total phallus rejection is the most powerful and elegant expression of the true female goddess spirit since Kali.
Fontanel soon found that she had hit a nerve.  Although many women were overjoyed that a sister had finally taken the ultimate step towards complete liberation; others were not so sure.  Lesbians assumed that she had just given up men, not sex, and approached her for favors. More surprising were couples who saw her rejection of men and sex as threatening to marriage.
Fontanel swiftly realized that her elective singleness felt like a dangerous reproach in a world of couples who seemed to want her to be as miserable as them. Even “the marginal couple, Sabine and William, doleful swingers who absolutely had to stay together to have someone to swap—even they found me peculiar”, she writes, adding with a certain complacency, “I was discovering conventional behavior in the most liberated milieus.”
Critics found every possible motivation behind Fontanel’s celibacy – everything from feminism to a sublime rediscovery and celebration of the human body to a post-modern assessment of traditional institutions.  Not so, said Fontanel.  It was just bad sex.
But while there are moments of exaltation in Fontanel’s memoir, on the whole her embrace of chastity seems to have been prompted not so much by a desire to explore a new philosophy of living, as by a deep ennui with bad sex: “I’d had it with being taken and rattled around,” she writes. “I’d had it with handing myself over . . .”
Fontanel found that giving up sex was not a simple matter. It meant readjusting her entire life.  Modern society is based on sexual relationships. Whether we pair off for an evening or for life, we couple. ‘Old maids’ and ‘confirmed bachelors’ are outcastes.  Once it is realized that they have given up looking, they are marginalized.  They are of another breed. Incongruent puzzle pieces.  They don’t fit anywhere.
In each case, it seems that the experiment in solitary living was not so much a route to a recalibration of the author’s intimate relationships, as a kind of protracted emotional spa break. Fontanel’s period of single living was the more extreme renunciation: It lasted from her late youth to early middle age and seems to have included some distressing epiphanies. At one point she got rid of all her books: “Their contents served no purpose. All they did was tell stories.” At another, she felt that she was losing her identity: “Overnight I had become a vague, blurry shape . . . My being had lost the solidity of things.”
The hardest thing about celibacy is shoving sexual desire under the rug.  We are all programmed to want to mate, and we really have no choice.  Although we would like to think that God created us in his image, at least in sexual terms we are more akin to animals than angels. All men want to do is to mount, shtup, boff, hump, copulate, and consummate. Teenage boys can think of nothing but sex; and girls, although more discriminating about their sexual partners, are just as anxious to pull down their undies.

All experiments in celibacy have failed.  Look at the Catholic Church, the last bastion of official sexual withdrawal.  Priests are buggering little boys and each other at alarming rates.  It never was like this before.  Centuries ago priests, although taking the vow of chastity, never thought that it meant no sex at all.  French curés and Italian padres lifted their hassocks regularly and treated their mistresses well thanks to the overflowing coffers of the monasteries. It was the Irish Church which somehow convinced priests and lay people alike that sex was bad.  Although Irish American priests obviously weren’t thinking of their own same-sex relationships when they harangued the rest of us about impure thoughts, words, and actions, they made a good show of it.

Sophie Fontanel’s dalliance with celibacy ended after five years.  She threw in the towel.
All a mistake, apparently. Suddenly, celibate Sophie was transformed back into seductive Sophie; her clothes chic, her nails red-lacquered: “I was back . . . My solitude had been an infirmity . . . Walking along the street, I saw nothing but possibilities.”



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