Why is being sexless so trendy? Oh, let’s blame Samantha.
Wait. Well, first, let’s pull back and look at what this trend even is. Erica Jong just penned this piece entitled “Is Sex Passe?” which seems to follow up on the Observer’s “Sexless and the City” piece. The Observer blamed the rise of facebook and the fact that we live in public n the fact that young people are no longer terribly interested in sex, Erica Jong claims that young women place more emphasis on monogamy and motherhood.
Is this even a real trend? Well, I don’t entirely know. Have you had sex recently? Like in the past… year? Was it okay? Kind of fun? With noises and stuff? Okay, well, I guess sex still exists and people still have it.
But look, I really belive the answer here comes down, as it so often does, to the fact that we like to be shocked by everyone else’s sexual habits. And this is how we get to the part where Samantha swept in and fucked up everything for everyone, by having all the interesting sex.
Oh, sure, you could say that a lot of sexual territory already got trammeled by the feminists of the 1970’s. Look at things we associate with that age! Being swingers! Key parties! It was Erica Jong herself who said in Fear of Flying that women fantasized about a “zipless fuck” where you’d, say, just have wordless sex with a stranger in a train bathroom. Which actually sounds terribly awkward, but let’s overlook that, and just say that the 1970’s were a kooky time when shocking your parents was worth any amount of uncomfortably bouncy standing up train sex.
Then years passed and people got more unconventional. Candace Bushnell wrote the Sex in the City column, where sexy people just did all kinds of sexy things. Namely, they went to sex clubs and had a lot of sex with people they were not terribly nice to. Baby, they did not do it like they were friends. They kind of did it as though they disliked one another intensely.
And then Sex and the City the TV show came along, which seemed infinitely nicer than the column, and basically just meant that everyone did everything, and nice girls were having sex with rabbits and Samantha – well, Samantha was off swinging from a chandelier while fornicating. Who even knows what Samantha was doing. It was weird, that’s what it was. And it all seemed terribly normal.
In fact, it came to seem so normal, that by Sex and the City 2, the only way left for Samantha to shock anyone was to get fingerbanged in public in a Muslim country. Getting fingerbanged in a New York restaurant, would, I suppose, have seemed positively quaint. And even that didn’t shock viewers. That shocked only the Muslims in the movie, and there was some sort of point about how every woman has right right to get fingered in full view of highly religious people if she wants to.
Oh. This was a movie we, young people, took our grandmothers to. Even they were not shocked.
And I think that might have been the time that the younger generation collectively lifted up their hands and said “we have no sexual ways left of shocking people. We’re done. Everything is now acceptable.”
But if everything is now acceptable the only way we can have fun judging people’s sex lives – and judging people’s sex lives is fun! – is to talk about how little they’re doing it. It would not be shocking if, say, you found out your neighbors were furries. Or perhaps it would, because furries are interesting, but it would be interesting in say, the way that discovering someone only ate monochromatic food would be interesting. You would pause, consider it for a second, think “huh” and then go on with your day.
Not doing it, well, that seems infinitely more interesting. That, in the current climate, seems weird and kind of subversive. Saying that you were shocked – shocked! – when Samantha got finerbanged in front of Muslims is a more rebellious and interesting thing to say in this day and age than that you want to have sex in a train.
And young people always want to do the vaguely rebellious, society odd thing. That’s just kids being kids.
And all the while, normal people are still probably have normal sex normally, just the way they always have. But it’s always been boring to say that.