Can We Reacquaint Sex With Love in a Porn-Filled Society?

I think it was Dr Karl who said something recently that has stuck with me and (somewhat ironically) influenced every idea I have had lately.

He said that people are hugely susceptible to the power of suggestion. That to see or hear or read something is to have it affect us in some way. That this is the reason why people whose surnames are associated with occupations are more likely to take up those occupations.

Bear this in mind as you navigate our media-ravaged, hypersexualised society. There is nothing that you see or hear that does not affect you in some way.

I personally avoid a lot of mainstream media. I started doing this several years ago and I think it has greatly affected the way I see the world and myself. I think it has made it much easier for me to sift through the so-called requirements of ‘Being a Woman’ and cast aside the things that I was doing primarily for the benefit of men. I let my body hair grow. I wear my hair short. I wear comfortable clothes and no make-up. I expect the males in my family to capably contribute to maintaining the home and feeding everyone.

But when it came to building a healthy sex life in a new relationship, after years of abuse and degradation, I found that there were many things that were very difficult to let go of. The idea of needing to be desired sexually, to be attractive enough, to be sexy enough. Even though I am aware of the fact that my sexual desirability does not correlate with my value as a person, I still hear that little voice say ‘what’s wrong with me? Am I not feminine enough?’. Even though I know that my partner’s level of sexual interest in me is not an indication of how much he loves me, that voice still asks ‘why is he even with me?’.

Many radical feminists came to the game late, already laden with the trappings of a life within the patriarchy. Namely, men and children, but also things like mortgages and low-paid careers in ‘traditionally female’ occupations. Some took their new-found feminist perspective and removed toxic men from their lives. But some of us are invested in situations that we hope we can salvage and integrate into our feminist lives. Some of us, for better or worse, actually love our men. Some of us have been lucky enough to find fairly decent ones who treat us like actual people, rather than free labour and sex objects.

We live in a world where sex is for men. You don’t have to look far to see evidence of that. The fact that most porn is directed at men is the most telling. That most prostituted people are for the consumption of men. That so many products are produced with the intent of making women more attractive for men. Women are sexualised everywhere you turn. And at the same time, girls learn early on that a woman’s purpose is to please and serve men. We are told how to look, how to smell, how to act.

We fall into a ridiculous conundrum where we are meant to put an enormous amount of effort into being as visually pleasing to men as possible, as well as being perpetually sexually available, yet we are expected at the very same time to look natural and not have ‘too much’ sex. It’s almost as though we are meant to constantly be in a state of confusion and doubt, like we are being set up to fail no matter what we do.

So sex, for women, is something we should always be willing to have, but never want.

And sex for men is something they should always want. And if they can’t get as much as they want, they need to try harder. And if they don’t want it all the time, there must be something wrong with them.

And amongst all this absurdity, some of us set the goal of achieving a healthy sex life.

I can only comment on what I know. I won’t go into what it is like from a male perspective, as that is not my story to tell, but I will go as far as to say that it is also tough for men who feel that they don’t approach sex like a ‘proper man’. That they too suffer from those little voices that tell them that they aren’t good enough because they don’t fit the narrow stereotype of aggressive masculine sexuality that men are sold.

We all know about this thing called consent. But there are two main problems with the concept. The first is that consent assumes that both parties are negotiating on an equal footing, which is very uncommon in a world where men have established a position of power. The other is that consent is basically an expression of ‘yes, you can’. It still focuses on letting someone do something to you.

Sex has become something that one person does to another. If you don’t believe me, consider the language commonly used to describe sexual activity. Men talk about ‘getting girls’, ‘banging chicks’, ‘getting laid’. The goal is to convince a woman to let him do things to her. It is not a two-way street. The woman is not so much a participant, as a tool for facilitating a man’s pleasure. How she feels about it is not important, as long as she doesn’t say no.

Consent should not be asking for permission, but an invitation to participate. Not ‘can I?’ or ‘will you?’, but ‘would you like to?’ or ‘why don’t we?’.

A genuinely equal sexual encounter is one where the emphasis is on experiencing pleasure with someone, not doing something to them or having them do something to you. There should be care and consideration between participants, whether you are long-term lovers or relative strangers. You should be there for the benefit of both of you, not just for yourself.

Those who think the key to a healthy sex life is ‘variety’, performing more and more extreme sex acts, are probably going to find that these things won’t keep them interested for long. They will always be chasing the next thrill.

I think that there is sufficient challenge in achieving mutual respect, focusing on mutual pleasure and enjoying another person not just for what they do to you or what they let you do to them, but for just being there. I think that learning to let go of your insecurities and quiet that nuisance voice takes more practise and presence than mastering the perfect hand job. That being conscious of your partner and being present and experiencing the sensations rather than going through the motions is part of the key to achieving  a more satisfying sex life.

We know that when the body craves food and you feed it junk, it is never satisfied. What a hungry body is asking for is nutrients, not calories. Until you feed it those nutrients, all the calories in the world won’t satisfy it. But it takes practise, and a lot of eating good food, to understand what your body is asking for. I think sex is kind of the same. When a person craves intimacy, pleasure and respect and but binges on porn or mindless, self-centred sex, that hole will never be filled. They might think that more of the same will satisfy them, but it just takes them further and further out of touch with themselves and with others.

It is not easy. Especially when you have to untrain all those years of shame and resignation and let go of how you think you should feel. First you have to realise that loving sex is the opposite of what mainstream media tells us sex should be. There is no domination, no conquest, no violence, no degradation. There is respect and kindness and consideration. There is ease and enjoyment. But with time you can separate yourself from the pornsick hivemind. And how everyone else is doing it won’t be of the slightest interest to you.

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Can We Reacquaint Sex With Love in a Porn-Filled Society?

  1. Thank you for writing this. Sex without love is a horrifying concept for me (as a potential participant, I mean).

    You describe just what bothers me about the consent idea. It is never equal, never “let’s do this together,” it always reads as the active requiring permission from the passive. Ugh. That’s not the sort of sex I want.

    Liked by 1 person

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