“Sex and the Modern Girl” was an article in yesterday’s Indy…..following hot on the heels of “My Year Without Sex” in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago. Auntie Doris wrote a wonderful post looking at the latter of these articles, within which she said: ” It’s an interesting article, and I think in many ways it exposes the culture we now live in. So much is sex-related. The media seem to suggest that if you aren’t having it, in as many different ways as possible with different people of different sexualities then you aren’t normal. The reality is that there are millions of people out there who choose to abstain from sex, either until marriage, or until they meet the right person. It doesn’t make the author of this article more special and different, but it is a reflection of society’s obsession with sex that makes it newsworthy.
Choosing to have lots of sex or choosing to have none are equally valid choices, but I do wish that the latter was given more importance (or at least as much) than the former.”
The Charlotte Philby article on Sex and the Modern Girl is, I think, a clear example of the media obsession AD was talking about. It’s an interesting article though, because beyond the sex party element it draws out some of the complexities in modern society about sex and singleness.
Women these days are happy to admit they have a sex drive and that just because you’re single doesn’t mean that you don’t have feelings and urges. The question the article is essentially raising is how should / do modern women who are single meet those needs?
The article essentially gives two ways in which those needs are met: through getting engaging in casual sex of one form or another or through a spot of DIY.
The article indicates, though, that neither of these are a real replacement for sex within a committed relationship and that is what most single women are actually looking for. The getting a bit tipsy and having a quick shag or popping in a couple of batteries are not a replacement for true intimacy…and that is what many single women are actually looking for.
So where does that leave us? Well, quite honestly in a mess I think. Over the last few years I have come across way too many teenagers, and a few older people, who don’t have any concept of self-respect. They have low self-esteem which they try to deal with through alcohol and sex….and then feel empty, escape only comes when they find a stable, happy, committed relationship. On the other hand I also know many single women who are for faith reasons, particularly, choosing to abstain from the casual sex option and are left feeling equally frustrated and subject to low self-esteem….again until they find a relationship. With this second group the problem is made harder I think because they are often linked to an institution that has only become willing to admit quite recently that sex is fun and pleasurable. Thus, they are likely to hear married people saying sex is really good…..but only if you’re married. That’s like sitting there watching somebody eating a bit of cake, when you’d really like a bit, and having them say, “this cake tastes wonderful…pity you can’t have any”.
As for the DIY option, well…..I think it is something we have to look at in context. The fact that women are now happy to go and buy a Rabbit or whatever is a positive thing I think. It means that many single women are able to fulfil atleast some of their sexual needs and desires without getting sucked into the routine of casual sex or total frustration. It sends out the message that sexuality and sexual needs are a part of all of us. However, as AD points out they are just one part of us and not a totally defining part. This is something I believe as a culture we need to get hold of again.
Additionally, though, we need to think about how the DIY option is used. Are we developing healthy imaginations or unfulfillable fantasies with our increased use of this option? Is the rise in the sale of vibrators also linked to a rise in the use of and acceptablity of porn amongst women? These issues are important because again they are linked to issues of respect both for the self and others. The question is not only how do we encourage people into healthy committed relationships but also how do we encourage people into healthy DIY?
I have no answers, as usual I just raise difficult questions….but questions we need to think about.