Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: I'll Be in My Bunk

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  • DeepRed,

    Doesn't Poe's Law come to mind with these people?

    And from a strictly scientific viewpoint, Dr Joycelyn Elders was right. Sometimes the anti-PC brigade can't handle the truth.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4301 posts Report Reply

  • John Russell,

    I searched for Music of the Gays on iTunes. Doesn't exist. Very disappointed. Watching old Glee episodes instead.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to John Russell,

    Watching old Glee episodes instead.

    Watch the one with Neil Patrick Harris in it. That’ll be your September Gay Quota right there.

    And from a strictly scientific viewpoint, Dr Joycelyn Elders was right. Sometimes the anti-PC brigade can’t handle the truth

    One of the most distressing things in that UTNE article is one of the case studies: a woman who got married at eighteen because she thought being allowed to have sex would rid her of these terrible plaguing sexual thoughts. Contrary to everything we hear about marriage and sex drive, it didn’t work.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt,

    Lovely piece, Emma. Sorry I'm breaking the rules around here by simple compliment with no added extra opinion, but hey, I figure I'm allowed.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    I have not much to add, though I have some thoughts I will articulate at some point.

    I would however like to point out that it is testament to how much you and your friends have changed my life that not only do I understand the title of this post, I snorted when I read it.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    "I'll be in my bunk." Money shot at about 32 seconds.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1310 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    Also, given that her name makes her sound like a character in a romance or erotic story I am doubly disappointed in DGM.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    Money shot

    Nice NZNTM reference, maam.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16659 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose,

    The explanation for this seems awfully obvious, and possibly undermines the entire idea of sex addiction. It's not what you do, it's how you feel about it.

    Exactly. After reading some depressingly judgemental stuff from the SST's resident (anti-)sex columnist, I ended up taking the Sex Addiction Screening Test, pretty much just for the lolz. Despite my admittedly filthy mind and depraved lifestyle, I got a very low score indeed. But as an experiment, I imagined myself back a few years, and answered the questions as I would have done when I was in a relationship where such things were frowned upon. Despite doing pretty much the same things that I do now, I rated as a borderline sex addict, because at the time I had to hide & feel guilty about my actions.

    To your formulation "it's how you feel about it", I'd add "how others feel about it". Sometimes other people will be hurt by your actions because those actions are contrary to the boundaries of your relationship, and being hurt is natural & reasonable. In those cases you'd have to either change your actions, negotiate different boundaries or end the relationship, and while none of those are easy, they may be possible to achieve in a humane and thoughtful way without necessarily demonising the desires themselves. Of course, in some cases other people might express their displeasure at your thoughts and actions purely because they're judgy-pants moralists, in which case it's none of their fucking (no pun intended) business.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    My issue is that, at base, the problem is that they’ve been taught to feel guilty about their natural sexual feelings, which Renaud frequently describes as “perverse”.

    At my most cynical, I can’t help feeling that this sort of thing keeps going because if there’s one way to ensure that you can make everyone feel like they’re a sinner in need of saving, it’s to focus on masturbation and sexual fantasies. At some level arousal is an autonomic function; it’s like condemning eating or breathing. Everyone (except asexuals, I guess, though I don’t know anything like enough about asexuality to determine how much this does or does not apply) experiences sexual arousal of some sort. Get them to feel guilty about it and you’ve got them forever.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara, in reply to Sacha,

    Yeah, must admit I was slightly creeped out by Sisarich's use of that expression in the NZNTM context...

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I can’t help feeling that this sort of thing keeps going because if there’s one way to ensure that you can make everyone feel like they’re a sinner in need of saving, it’s to focus on masturbation and sexual fantasies. At some level arousal is an autonomic function; it’s like condemning eating or breathing.

    That's a really good point. I just find all this stuff so deeply depressing. So depressing I may have to go and look at some porn.

    And I <3 Jayne! Man, I miss that programme.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Lilith __,

    That's a really good point. I just find all this stuff so deeply depressing. So depressing I may have to go and look at some porn.

    I've seen first-hand how much people can be screwed up by that attitude to even the most boring vanilla sort of sexual fantasy, let alone anything even remotely kinky. It's Not Cool.

    And the results...well, Utah has the highest rate of pornography usage in the US, especially kinky porn. Draw your own conclusions.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    To your formulation "it's how you feel about it", I'd add "how others feel about it".

    Yeah. Distress, the Affective Disturbance aspect, is affected by how well your own sexuality fits social expectations. Probably the clearest and least controversial example is the higher suicide rate of LGBT people. That's a problem with society, not a problem with Gay.

    And I think that ties in with what you're saying about how that plays out in individual relationships, because people who aren't monogamous-straight-cis-vanilla are quite likely to have at least tried to have a socially conventional relationship, especially if they're older. That pressure to conform leads to other people getting hurt. You can only be honest about what you want if you know and accept what that is.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Dirty girls come clean

    I've seen Dirty Girls Cum.

    Pretty average movie.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 796 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    This is slightly OT but I just can’t figure out if this is for real: teen demon-slayers.

    I mean we all love Buffy , but most of us don’t think it’s a documentary.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    At work, so I won't go browsing that site, but do they bring up old Judith Reisman and her erotoxins? I always liked that one - an attempt to medically prove that things that feel good are inherently bad for you.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Emma Hart,

    And I think that ties in with what you're saying about how that plays out in individual relationships, because people who aren't monogamous-straight-cis-vanilla are quite likely to have at least tried to have a socially conventional relationship, especially if they're older. That pressure to conform leads to other people getting hurt. You can only be honest about what you want if you know and accept what that is.

    Exactly. It's probably ridiculous for me to moan about discrimination, given that as an able-bodied middle-class white cis male I'm about as privileged as it's possible to get without a trust fund and a peerage, and I can't claim that my battle for acceptance as a proud man-whore is even vaguely comparable to the struggles faced by LGBT people. In my community of urban liberals I might occasionally get chastised for being "afraid of commitment", but as long as I treat people with respect I don't generally have any problem accepting and even celebrating my dirty mind and non-monogamy.

    But the very fact that I'm reluctant to use my real name here, for fear that a Google search could forever tie my name to porn, paid sex and generally being an all-round hussbag, suggests that it's still far from socially acceptable to publicly acknowledge that my sexuality extends beyond the confines of long-term exclusive romantic relationships. Of the privileges you combine under "monogamous-straight-cis-vanilla", it may be that, at least among socially liberal people with feminist beliefs, the cultural expectation of monogamy may now be the last remaining shackle to break. The West may have reduced social and legal sanctions against nonmonogamy during the last few generations, but it's still seen among otherwise liberal people as a moral/ethical failing or at least a character flaw. And if you believe the arguments in books like Sex at Dawn, enforced monogamy might actually be the most widespread suppression of human sexuality.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    At work, so I won't go browsing that site, but do they bring up old Judith Reisman and her erotoxins?

    The Ms Naughty link covers that, and boy is she hilarious.

    Thus you end up with Judith Reisman telling the US senate that porn produces poisonous “erototoxins” that damage the brain. According to Wikipedia, Reisman defined “erototoxins” as being the natural chemicals and hormones testosterone, adrenaline, oxytocin, glucose, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine.

    That’s right. These people actually think testosterone and the pleasure-producing chemicals serotonin and oxytocin are harmful. They also push the idea that masturbation is sinful and addictive because, according to the X3pure website: “Studies have shown that ninety-nine percent of all masturbation involves lust and mental fantasy*, which disconnects you from real relationships with real people. Despite these difficulties, masturbation can be conquered. If your desire is to change, God can heal and bring restoration.”

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Max Rose,

    This is one of those pondery inconclusive things that really needs discussing over a few drinks. Because there are parellels between the LBGT experience (generalising heavily here) and the polyamorous one. I mean, the "player" (always male) who thinks he isn't monogamous and then meets "the one" and completely reforms is a staple of the romantic comedy, and it is a refusal to accept that that experience really exists. You'll never see either him, or a "permanent" polyamorous relationship portrayed positively. A relationship that contains more than two people can't be legally recognised. And the "everyone is monogamous" prejudice is one I think we don't really even realise we have.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Max Rose,

    And if you believe the arguments in books like Sex at Dawn, enforced monogamy might actually be the most widespread suppression of human sexuality.

    It might be, but I haven't noticed generally higher rates of happiness amongst the non-monogamous. Some of that is down to a lot of people actually wanting commitment, which is obviously comprised in multi-amorous relationships.

    *ETA, Which is not to say that polyamory can't work. It just looks harder to make it work from the outside.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8521 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Max Rose,

    The West may have reduced social and legal sanctions against nonmonogamy during the last few generations, but it's still seen among otherwise liberal people as a moral/ethical failing or at least a character flaw.

    Insomuch as that's true, I think it's because of a failure to distinguish between nonmonogamy and cheating, two overlapping but different things. Breaking trust in a relationship is a moral failing. Nonmonogamy is not, but you also have to be able to negotiate it, and to find people who are comfortable negotiating it, which most people aren't.

    I'm also a bit chary of the whole "monogamy is a plot to suppress sexuality" thing, because, true, it doesn't work for everyone, and society needs to find ways to work with people who aren't monogamous but still have relationships, children, and so forth - which is lots and lots of people.

    But it's also true that monogamy does work pretty well for quite a lot of people. I'm absolutely confident that it works for me. Historically, too, monogamy has absolutely not been a requirement for upper-class men, in lots of societally-approved ways - but lots of them were monogamous all the same. I think the picture is more "monogamy works for a lot of people, but not everyone" than "people are only monogamous because society tells them to be". Like any aspect of sexuality, it's a continuum - and not necessarily a static one over a lifetime.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I mean, the "player" (always male) who thinks he isn't monogamous and then meets "the one" and completely reforms is a staple of the romantic comedy, and it is a refusal to accept that that experience really exists. You'll never see either him, or a "permanent" polyamorous relationship portrayed positively.

    Yes. And even though conservatives and anti-sex types wring their hands about NZ's supposed acceptance of promiscuity, that sort of non-monogamy is pretty much limited to certain age groups and expectations. It may be considered normal for young men and women to play the field a bit, there's an expectation that once they hit a certain age they ought to settle down and adapt to monogamy, either through meeting "the one" or through giving up on the childish idea that one's sex life can be an enjoyable adventure and settling for someone who will be a reliable spouse.

    I think there's a passage in The Ethical Slut saying that society expects sexual relationships to be essentially either hookups or marriage, with nothing in between. If one wants to have a caring sexual relationship with someone that is not exclusive or not based on "romantic" love, then despite the meme of "friends with benefits" it's still seen as a stop gap measure (so to speak). The only people who maintain a diverse love life beyond youth are crusty old free-love hippies, tacky suburban wife-swappers, and creepy, self-deluding loatharios and cougars.

    I have strayed (as I do) a bit beyond the original topic of porn & masturbation, but the underlying concept is the same: that sex is okay as long as it's between two people in a long-term exclusive romantic relationship, but sinful or pathological outside of that. While the Dirty Girl Ministries are obviously ludicrous and easy to dismiss in a secular context, the same anti-sex assumptions underly the less obviously conservative work of mainstream sex therapists and newspaper columnists. And I think that their influence is even more insidious than that of American fundamentalists, because it comes across as caring and reasonable rather than batshit insane.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    The only people who maintain a diverse love life beyond youth are crusty old free-love hippies, tacky suburban wife-swappers, and creepy, self-deluding loatharios and cougars.

    Don't forget the widows and widowers in those dodgy free-for-all rest homes. Bless their souls.

    ETA: Gah, this was to Max, not Lucy.
    ETA2: Oh, and welcome, Max.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8521 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I think arguments from nature, or some imagined “natural state” are a red herring, because a) sexual and reproductive arrangements in nature are *very* varied, and it all depends which examples you pick; and b) natural =/= necessarily good. If we’re going to make ethical judgements I think it needs to be along the lines of “does this hurt anyone?” And as Lucy says, context can make all the difference. Polygamy that's out in the open is quite a different thing to polygamy that not all players in a relationship are aware of.

    Can I recommend Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity as a fascinating read for anyone interested in the sexual practices of animals. Summary: sex really is very complicated! And it’s only partly to do with reproduction. And arguments that any given sex act is or should be reproductive have to go against overwhelming evidence that most sex acts not only don’t end in conception but that they can’t, because either the players aren’t male/female or they aren’t fertile most of the time.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

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