Well, if that isn’t a Sunday Sport attention grabbing headline my name’s not Wendy.
While the following post makes many serious points, it also has some rude bits which may offend. So don’t moan about it. You were warned.
According to the ‘i’ paper today, 2 out of 5 girls age 11-13 wax their bikini line. It also seems around 46% of teens send sexual or naked selfies to each other as a normal, everyday occurrence.
Obviously this is another terrible sign of our moral decline and we’re all going to die!
Or is it?
You see, one particular line in the article annoys the hell out of me. Will Gardner (stupidly long job-title that basically means he ‘protects’ kids on the internet) says it’s all down to the on-line porn, and that kids need ‘to put what they are seeing into context.’
Exactly what context is this? Is it the mythical context in which all adults are beautifully adjusted human beings, living ideal lives and flowing in the love of each others genitals in monogamous and sanctified ecstasy? Because I for one am tired of that lie.
Porn is not a pustule bursting forth unbidden and inexplicable from the otherwise pulchritudinous perfection of the social body. Porn is not in conflict with an upright and proper community of goodness. Porn is not an embarrassment practiced by a perverse few.
Porn is an inevitable, entirely understandable symptom of our societies sexual hypocrisy.
We tell ourselves that we are open about sex – not like our repressed Victorian forbears – but are we really? I see little in the movies or magazines that even vaguely resembles what I call loving sex.
Cosmopolitan and Hello will happily tell us how we are supposed to be having sex, and set questionnaires to see if we’re doing it right, but they are hardly being honest about physical intimacy. In fact they are proscribing what count as acceptable modes of sexual behaviour, and ensuring we all feel like crap because we can’t fornicate for seventeen hours while hanging from a standard lamp and achieve our minimum of seven multiple-orgasms a night.
Unlike the fairy-tale creatures in the peculiar media world, we work and wash and clean and tire. Our sexual lives do not exist in a soft-focus universe of infinite leisure. Strangely enough, however, it is possible to truly connect with our loved one without taking part in some bizarre race to orgasm, or spending entire weeks writing soliloquies with our finger upon the Utopia that is our partners instep.
The ‘climax’ is really the least of the sexual experience, as genuine love seeks to use our flesh as a new and extraordinary language to bridge our fundamental separation from each other in our isolated bodies. Yes, sex can be fun, like fast-food. We can and should sometimes just bonk because we want to. However, as things stand we are all fast-food and no fine-dining, all bonk and no beauty.
Far from a genuine exploration of sex, our supposed openness really amounts to a lot of people telling us what is acceptable while hiding their obsession with the carnality of congress. Prim people, who wouldn’t know physical liberation if it licked them on the fun-bits, pontificate on proper procreative practices. We obsess over the physical act and it’s possibilities for tactile pleasures, while rarely considering that sex can be mental, emotional and loving – the pleasure generated almost entirely from our passion and desire, and almost not at all from actual touching or naughty bits. Our most sensitive sexual organ is our brain.
While it seems clear that young children don’t have sexual desire – or a wish to engage in ‘a journey towards orgasm’, they are sensual creatures just as adults are. They enjoy a hug, or a back-rub, or any number of non-sexual yet still physical acts. These physical acts feel nice, in a way wholly separate from sex.
Sadly, in part thanks to our hysteria and blindness regarding sexual abuse, we deny children any possibility that they might in any way enjoy having a physical body. We refuse to acknowledge any idea of physical pleasure separate to sexual behaviour and so deny physicality altogether. Then we decide that all children magically reach sexual maturity overnight, as if their doll like, smooth and genital-less bodies spontaneously sprout nice feeling wobbly bits as they sleep the night before their sixteenth birthday. Finally we act surprised when our kids gorge on physical pleasure like a child set-free in a sweet shop. If we don’t teach them to drive we can’t be surprised when they crash the car.
Our whole social discourse around bodies is obsessed with both shouting about and simultaneously denying sexual pleasure. We sell everything from cars to pencils using sex – or should I say using women whom men treat as one-dimensional sexual objects – but then tell children sex is bad. We proliferate sexual imagery in every area of life and then tell people they can’t have sex, or aren’t getting enough, or get the wrong sort – until we’re either repressed beyond endurance or too confused to have sex at all.
Pornography is an animal howl of confused sexual anger, but it is wrong to say that pornography doesn’t reflect real life – it reflects it all too well. Porn is love-making minus the love – sex as pure, physical act, an athletics of (fake)orgasm. Porn is sex used to sell cars, porn is a t-shirt for 10-year olds which has ‘sex-kitten’ written in sequins on the front, porn is anti-ageing cream for women because they aren’t allowed to grow old – because what is a woman if not for having sex with and age isn’t sexy.
Porn is not a sin darkening our pure society, it is everything that is wrong with that society writ large. In porn women are openly exploited and demeaned – with the vast majority of porn consisting of men using women with little care if it hurts them. Porn is obsessed with youth, plastering ‘barely legal’ over everything because they know men want to get them young. Porn reduces sex to animalistic use of the body, pleasure from barbarity, screwing without art or joy but only with a base greed for the next fix, the next orgasm. Porn is not unrealistic, it is caricature, with all that is denied in our world shown beneath the exaggerated lines.
Until we stop lying about how civilised we are, until we mend the rifts caused by accepting both feminism and female exploitation, repression of children’s physicality and the sexualisation of youth, and our conflicting obsession with and denial of sex, we will perpetuate a world in which children know enough to know we’re lying, but not enough to escape those lies. They will not believe, respect or obey us, and as long as they develop sensual or sexual feelings that we utterly refuse to acknowledge they will seek to explore them in unsafe ways.
Small wonder that children wax their barely emerging pubic hair, or that boys in school sexually harass girls, or that children commit suicide because they don’t conform to accepted standards of emaciation.
Naked selfies are probably not the way forward, but somehow our children need to learn to be open about their bodies and outgrow our hypocrisy and hang-ups. We will never help them toward a healthier sexuality by simply refusing to believe they have a sexuality in the first place.
In the name of child protection we seem to be forcing our neurotic attitudes onto the next generation – pointing at the kids behaviour as a way of avoiding dealing with our own issues. Do we simply choose to stay blind to the fact that kids behave as they do because that’s what we show them?
If we can deal with our own mess instead of focussing on children then maybe we can teach them better. One day perhaps they can reclaim sex back from the adults – and build sensual relationships that are not just about bodies, but that use bodies as a pathway to communion, connection and expressions of love.