Decay, Decadence and Industrial Sex

06.26.2004 | David Walley | Cultural Affairs | 1 Comment
A few years ago Esquire magazine published a survey about the perfect woman. It surprised no one that the respondent males wanted someone to take care of the kids, to look presentable, to entertain, do the chores, balance the books, clean up the kiddie poo, pick up the laundry… in short, a wife. Hell, everyone wants one of those, even most of the women I know.

A wife is Western Civilization’s most evolved slave, a convenient mythical creature, halfway between a slave and a domestic, only a domestic you can sleep with and not have any guilt about.  She has the constitution of a horse with the attributes of a nanny, a temptress, a seamstress, an appointments secretary, a psychiatrist, and a masseuse. She’s still a slave, no matter where she went to school or what she majored in.

A.R. Brook Lynn

That men appear to want a slave not an ally shows how frightened they are of themselves, how imprisoned they’ve become by their own roles. Men have become weakened by their reliance on this admittedly wonderful resource, and fall apart without it. They become in Bruce J. Friedman’s cosmology the “lonely guy”, the ultimate product of consumer society Newthink. He is a manager looking for a secretary, powerful only when he can dominate.  

Poor “lonely guy”, he never sees women as partners and equals because he’s too wrapped up in his own misery. Instead, he wants his life to be transformed by the service, not the love of, a good woman. He’d rather have someone maintain him in his weakness, reinforcing his notion that women like weak men. Of course, women too lose their powers by allowing this to happen.

Such relationships are impossible since they become an infinitely detachable experience, like masturbating forever to the same skin magazine. Picture three grunts, a hump and pow!, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, what’s on the TV? Lonely guys never give in to their inner spontaneous imaginings, the unknowns, the male and female elements of their personality. They ignore the fact that good sex takes place among equals, not those habituated to roles. Thus lonely guy-dom is a form of self-control, a packaging device.

Is it any wonder the newsstands are glutted with pictures of buttered buns and airbrushed breasts?

These days it seems that sex has become the exclusive property of science and technology, further compounding the felonious thought people need more mystery and less science.  Try as it may, the  science of sexology will never be able to duplicate the aesthetic of pleasure, how lovers gaze at each other. And android sex won’t work either, for soon enough there’d be a special police force to insure the purity of the technology and punish any unauthorized modifications.  Men will grow lazier, more dependent, less sure of themselves, and less able to cope with even their basic humanity.

Thus the last refuge of decay and decadence turns out to be technology, truly the mad alchemist’s renegade tool.

How do the sex scientists measure the probability of a seduction or the possibility of a sexual contact extrapolated from a chance meeting in a museum or on a subway? How is a seduction not a seduction between two old lovers who’ve been through it many times, who love each other, but things have changed?  How do they measure the knowing of the unknowing? What are they going to write for Psychology Today, “The Psychokinetics of Random Seduction in Singles Bars”?

When a large industrial power is totally involved with sex, having made and lost fortunes on it, having set up whole economies to deal with it, then pleasure is all but negated. One worries about it like interest in money market funds. Think of all those writers, layout people, printers, photo retouchers, news agents, distributors, perverts, and voyeurs who would have to be laid off if people got back into straight sex without the commentary. Federal disaster monies would have to be allocated.

If the object of all this technology is to make what is natural into an obscenity, people would be better off in politics, itself a continuous sea of perversion for thousands of years, ever since the first bureau required a bureaucrat. It’s really the politician’s delusion that bought sex is somehow better than freely given sex, but considering most politicians want hookers, it is any wonder they have to pay for it? Everyone knows that working girls never get their due. But if they weren’t doing their jobs, we’d all probably have a lot more wars so that politicians could watch. It must be a sign of status to be able to pay for sex, but I guess paying for it somehow makes it seem all right. Militant feminists have been saying so for a decade.

These days sex has become inextricably tied to politics and money, while romance remains an emotional issue. Now the problem is how to separate love, romance and politics. If one makes love with the idea of making a political statement, as it seems people have been doing for some time now, then the end result will be unsatisfactory: concept love, which is like dying for a principle which really can’t keep you warm at night.

Having sex as opposed to making love these days has become an act of industrial commerce. Of course there’s still no such thing as a free lunch — a man never takes a woman to dinner unless he’s thinking about having her for dessert, same goes for his apartment. The ethical question raised for women is whether the bird in your hand is worth the Boeuf Wellington in your stomach, right ladies?

Why is it that women seem to be turning their backs on the hard-won gains of feminist activism and looking back longingly at the security of the old roles?  Don’t they realize it’s the roles that keep them enslaved: the roles men play with men, women with women, men with women.

Should they be abolished or stricter? More open or more secretive? Religion’s greatest secret was the transformative power of sex, yet Jewish mystics hide it from their women. Orthodox Christians sublimate it into celibacy, and neo-evangelicals shun it as the tool of the Devil. But mind this, if there’s no release on the physical plane there isn’t going to be any spiritual progress either. Thus theologians shouldn’t wonder when their flocks become sex-obsessed.

Was it better in the old days when it was forbidden and dirty?  Or just silly, like that scene in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex where Woody Allen, the real sexual superstar of the Seventies, was into an affair with a woman who can’t be aroused unless she’s in danger of being caught in the act, sort of the reverse woman in bondage ploy only it’s the man who’s the victim. So there’s Woody, making it in the middle of a fashion show, in dressing rooms, on the 18th green of the golf club, maybe in the middle of a huddle at the Superbowl. Is silliness an antidote to the heavy breathing of the pedophiliac undie sniffer?

How do women perceive this battle? How far have they come if they’ve traded the dime store romance for Virginia Slim ads and Vogue? Does being enfranchised in the current era mean that women also have the right to be exploited by their own kind? How far have you come, baby?

More to the point, women and men should be building bridges instead of erecting barricades. We all need to survive as friends, allies and equals, making love more and reading about it less.

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