Image by Marc Lagrange via Gala Darling.
Eloquent reader R sent me a link to what I think is one of the best, most relevant and inspiring pieces of sex writing I’ve seen yet: Against Sexual Scandal by Lauren Berlant. It should be read far and wide; it’s not longer than a page but gets right to the point about many pertinent issues regarding so-called sex scandals, and what their chilling effect is on our wider conversations (and self-image) about sex. It’s really inspiring to me. Here’s a snip from the beginning:
Less than forty-eight hours after revelations that he had hired a prostitute emerged, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation. Whatever happens to him now–the ultimate force of the story is not, once again, why big men do stupid sexual things. It’s not about how righteous moralists always create noise to distract us from paying attention to a dark secret they have.
It’s not really even a good opportunity for dancing in the streets because one more powerful person has come tumbling down. After all, some powerful people are better than others, and when powerful people fall from the mighty, naughty force of their appetites, nothing about power is changed at all–quite the contrary. The law, the family, marriage–exit polls suggest that all of these will be the winner here, after being horribly maligned by a man who forgot his oaths to honor them.
Instead, what stories like this really do is to damage the reputation of sex. Whenever there’s a sex scandal, I feel sorry for sex. I felt sorry for sex during the Larry Craig brouhaha last summer. What if he liked being married and procreating and giving anonymous head? What if that was his sexual preference? What if he really was not gay, as he claims, but had sexual desires that seemed incoherent? Some of the response to Craig was like the response to moralists like Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard and now Spitzer–moralists deserve to suffer the same force of negative judgment they wielded on others. Shame on us? Shame on you, ha ha! But lots of the response was sheer homophobia. And all of it was sheer erotophobia.
Erotophobia: fear of sex, tinged toward hatred of sex. Public sexual scandals revel in the hatred of sex. Disgust at the appetites. The strangeness of sex, the ordinary out-of-controlness of sex acts and sex drives that we all experience (if we’re having it). Actually, usually, sex is not a threat to very much. But it feels like a threat to something, which is why so many people stop having it. (…read the rest.)