I am so SICK and TIRED of the fact that seemingly everybody in the whole wide world is obsessed with sex. It is a univeral game that everyone wants to play, and win.

A limited amount of sex is, of course, necessary for the continuation of the species. A certain amount of sex is also useful for those who want it, as a tool for forging and maintaining the emotional bonds of a romantic coupling. Additional sex, while unnecessary, can be quite enjoyable in the right circumstances.

But let’s not go overboard.

Sex is not the only thing that is necessary for the continuation of the species. We also need stuff like food, water, healthcare, clean air. Stuff like that.

Sex is not the only useful tool for creating or continuing the bonds of romantic love. Other useful items include conversation, mutual respect, shared interests, compatible beliefs and attitudes. Stuff like that.

Sex is not the only thing which is enjoyable. Other enjoyable activities include eating and drinking well, reading a good book, learning new things, spending time with friends, gardening, exercise, theatre, cooking, abseiling. Stuff like that.

But we aren’t obsessed with the Other Stuff, stuff which is necessary, useful or fun but which is not sex. We are obsessed with sex. It is everywhere – advertising, television and novels and films are crammed with it, we love to gossip about who is doing it with whom, giggling with our mates, eyeing up a potential partner, leering at porn, using prostitutes, raping women.

It’s all sex, sex, sex. The Other Stuff, the stuff that isn’t sex, well it just isn’t as sexy, is it?

I’m fed up of it, I’m fed up of seeing anti-porn / anti-prostitution / anti-rape / anti-sexual-violence / anti-objectification / anti-sexualisation-of-little-girls feminists having to preface their remarks with “I’m not a prude” as if it would matter if they were.

A “prude”*, someone who finds sexual flaunting distasteful and undesirable, is clearly not something that anyone wants to be. If you are a prude, you lose all credibility in matters of sex or sexual abuse – because if you are prude, it automatically means that you do not like sex, and do not think that anyone else should like sex. Right? And, since not liking sex obviously makes you a lone nutter, nobody in their right mind would listen to you. Right?

[* By the way – the word comes from the same root as “prudent”, and originally referred to a woman who was wisely cautious in matters of decorum and modesty. Despite the virtue and good sense implied by its roots, the term is now one of reproach, for a person who is over-cautious in these matters. Hardly the worst sin in the book, though, is it?]

Well, put me in the prude camp and be done with it. Sex is all very well, but yes I do find sexual flaunting distasteful and undesirable. Having anyone thrust their sexuality in my face is really quite disconcerting, whether it be by putting lads mags next to the tills at the supermarket, or recounting one’s sexual predilections under the pretext of feminist debate.

I don’t give two hoots whether anyone concludes that therefore I am anti-sex (whether for myself or for anyone else). Even if I were anti-sex, which as it happens I’m not, that doesn’t discount the value or credibility of my opinions on sexual abuse or exploitation.

Women in porn are abused and exploited.
Women in prostitution are abused and exploited.
Women who are raped are abused and exploited.
Women who are the victims of sexual violence are abused and exploited.
Women who are objectified are abused and exploited.
Little girls who are sexualised are being prepared for abuse and exploitation.

And for what? So we can get off. So we can keep women in the fun, sexy roles that patriarchy has laid down for them. So we can have orgasms without having to make any effort to develop a mature, individual, respectful, responsible sexuality of our own.

So they can enjoy themselves at the expense of our freedom.

Whether or not I, or anyone else, happens to like sex or not has no bearing on the abuse, no bearing on the exploitation, no bearing on the motivation for that abuse and exploitation.

So let’s not talk about sex.

Let’s talk about abuse, exploitation, and freedom. And let’s not pretend that anyone’s right to look at sexy images trumps a woman’s right to freedom from abuse. Let’s not pretend that anyone’s right to exchange sex for money trumps a woman’s right to freedom from exploitation. Let’s not pretend that rape and sexual violence are the dangerous fantasies of women who changed their minds afterwards. Let’s not pretend that the right to have fun and have a laugh through the objectification and sexualisation of all women, and even little girls, trumps a woman’s right to freedom.

So let’s not talk about sex.

Toning down our ridiculous obsession with sex is not going to stop us from enjoying ourselves. But it might help to change the focus of debate for those who are suffering as a result of this obsession, for those who don’t want to play the universal game, for those who are silenced by fear of the label “prude”, for those who have something better to do on a Saturday night than get laid.

Get this addiction, this reverence, this obsession under control and see what it’s doing to the human race, to women. Think, before you join in with those titillating chats that reinforce the uber-importance of sex over any other kind of social intercourse. Think before you open your mouth to suggest that someone’s “right” to sex, or sexual material, or sexual gratification is more important that someone else’s freedom. Only think.

Think.

And then, if you can bear it, talk about something more interesting instead.

Advertisements