Consensual sexual acts, I am reliably informed by experts, are fantastic. Not only do these acts provide great pleasure—honestly, thanks for the tip—but can make you a better person.
This view of sex acts as freeing, even productive, is now common to many persons. We encounter the feminist view that the masturbating woman is one actively engaged in self-improvement. The Australian startup community sees sex not only as justification to post a picture of a heaving hottie with a management book on her tits, but a way to become a more effective hunky entrepreneur. And it’s good for your mental health. And it’s good for your skin. And it’s good for your cardiovascular health. If undertaken at particular times of day, it is even better for everything, because that’s “science”, as science has become popularly misunderstood by the servants of Rupert Murdoch.
As we discussed last week, our man Freud dropped the whole “sexual repression is the problem with everyone” idea and turned his later attention to death. This didn’t stop a lot of dicks—and twats, to be fair—from holding with the 20th century Freudian-lite belief that sex could make everything better: sex is a form of self-therapy. And, again, is most especially good for your productivity. If you have enough of it, sex can even make you hate your job less.
Money and sex have been so intertwined by mass society and the culture that endorses it, we can hardly rail at Sexpo, spilling-over into Melbourne this week, for doing the same.
Now. Nanna here isn’t saying sex is bad. She is merely making the case that the view of sex acts as “good”—as an office productivity tool, as helpful to one’s sassy feminism, as a way to cut down on heart medication—is one produced by a particular time and place. Not all peoples view sex as a means to an end (save for that obvious one, probably). Not all Western periods have held with this self-help view. And if you don’t believe me that the idea of sex as a useful thing for the development of the self is one specific to our time and place, ask this dead French bloke.
Like a lot of pastimes championed by bad newspapers, unsurprising feminists and/or self-help gurus, this one is ultimately viewed as a way to acquire money. Or, to acquire it for someone else. I mean, seriously, Journal of Management? You want my intimate acts to be studied for their useful “workplace spillover effects”. Stop looking under my doona, where I and I alone shall assess the consequences of any “spillover”.
All of which is to say that money and sex have been so intertwined by mass society and the culture that endorses it, we can hardly rail at Sexpo, spilling-over into Melbourne this week, for doing the same. If you want to sell anal beads to people, I’m fine with that. This is far less repellent and exploitative than the academic suggestion to business managers that they should encourage their workers to have sex for the sake of the firm. Honestly, it is less repellent to me than charging for a self-help class on female masturbation.
Still, Sexpo is a bit repellent, and I say this not as a judgey-wudgey old lady who urges for your abstinence. I have no interest in controlling your consensual pleasure. I just get the shits when other people do have an interest in precisely that. And they do this less at Sexpo than they do in business school.
But, still, they do it, and this is just eee-ewe. Also, I have found, on my two previous visits, that there are few
structures so inimical to desire as Jeff’s Shed.
My point is that when guidelines about sex are exchanged, even in a “liberated” context, it becomes something that eludes sex.
This building, designed in the ‘90s style of Neoliberal Shite, is known more formally as the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre. Look at it. LOOK AT IT. Then look at the thing whose function it replaced. I am no student of architecture—nor of sex, come to that. But I know a structurally suggestive building when I see it. Let’s give it up for the Victorians, who put boobs on top of buildings and, for all their outward moral ways, were clearly having much better sex than people who go to ‘bating school.
Not my point, so excuse me. My point is that when guidelines about sex are exchanged, even in a “liberated” context, it becomes something that eludes sex. I mean, unless it’s just me who must feel as though she’s committing some sort of transgression if desire is to form? Possible. But, unlikely.
I am just not convinced that anyone feels “liberated” at Sexpo. I mean, it’s difficult when there’s some bloke running about in a Penisaurus suit, for a start. But it is my more general view that when one has not only permission but an instruction to be “bad”, being bad loses much of its appeal.
Again, Sexpo is not the worst violator of sex. When I have visited, I’ve met small business-people who seem very happy creating artisanal items for sticking in holes. I met a couple once who made woodwork dildoes, which, if I had not been immediately tempted to call the Therapeutic Goods Administration with cries of “SPLINTER IN THE VADGE”, would’ve made me feel warm toward their sexy whittling. That was years ago, though. I imagine that now exhibitors, yet to be listed on the official website, are chiefly corporate.
The order “have sex! It’s great for your skin!” (which it absolutely isn’t, as it often means I go to sleep with a face of full makeup) it’s still an order.
Everyman pornstar Ron Jeremy will appear this year in a retro-themed exhibition. This guy is not exactly as marginal now as he was in the past. Mr Jeremy’s bigtime media deals aside, this fragment on the Sexpo website shows just how inhospitable to sex an event like Sexpo must necessarily become: Ron Jeremy is the world’s most recognisable adult film star.
Really? You allow this claim to promote what is chiefly a heterosexual event? Ron Jeremy is most recognised? Not Tracii Lords or Jenna Jameson or Sasha Grey or Linda Lovelace? If your audience has been so truly focused on Ron Jeremy as to eclipse the memory of the true stars of straight adult entertainment, which are all women, then they are probably as bored by naughty vids as I, in later years, have become.
My own interest in accessorising sex or watching varied depictions of sex or generally buying things to help the sex evaporated. This is in part because the desire for sex evaporated along with all the widgets it seemed to require. But, this unconcern was not only down to a natural laziness, but by what, it seemed to me, to become a moral order: have sex! Enjoy it! It is good for feminism or productivity or psychological function!
This may be true for some. But it cannot be true for all. And, it must not be true for all. Even if the order is “have sex! It’s great for your skin!” (which it absolutely isn’t, as it often means I go to sleep with a face of full makeup) it’s still an order. And are we not agreed that ordering people about how to do their pleasure is intrinsically harmful?
Still. It’s not exactly coercion at Sexpo. They very clearly just want your money and are not really promising to make you a better person. If you haven’t previously overdosed on military-themed bondage vids, worn a nursey outfit or asked your special someone to colonise your rectum with surgical-grade silicon before, it could be worth a visit. You know. For example.