Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Towards a Sex-Positive Utopia

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  • Deborah,

    This would be worth it just for the non-hysteria over One Direction alone. Or whatever boy / girl band pops up next to titillate the young and gouge great amounts of money out of their pockets in the pursuit of facile music and sex replacement.

    Seriously, this a place where I'd like to live.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Ditto.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2163 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    You're kinda saying there should have been no Frank Sinatra or Beatles. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Danielle,

    You're kinda saying there should have been no Frank Sinatra or Beatles. :)

    The music, and in Sinatra's case the hotness? Still happen. The hysteria? Not so much.

    Yeah, it's the same phenomenon. And watching those girls queueing up to catch a glimpse of One Direction, who can't speak? Makes me feel really ill.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As a result of all of this, of living in a world free of sexual shame and repression, perhaps the two most significant benefits. One: teenage girls would be allowed to direct their sexual energy into sex, rather than One Direction concerts. There goes the screaming and fainting and incoherent babbling. Two: more people would be having more and better sex. Possibly with screaming and fainting and incoherent babbling.

    Ummm … but is having actual sex the obvious or desirable alternative to 13 year-olds having a brief infatuation with a pop group? You’ve seen the Beatles movies, right? Elvis? You’ll remember the Bay City Rollers (whose management actively cultivated an absence of sexual threat)?

    I’m honestly not sure why a phenomenon that’s as old as pop music would make you so ill.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    but is having actual sex the obvious or desirable alternative to 13 year-olds having a brief infatuation with a pop group?

    We know that in families and countries where sex is openly discussed and less taboo, teenagers have sex later, rather than earlier. I'm not saying they'd actually need to be doinking, just that sexual energy wouldn't need to be actively repressed, and so pop out uncontrolled in other channels.

    Mass hysteria, whatever the focus, makes me fucking uncomfortable.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    just that sexual energy wouldn’t need to be actively repressed, and so pop out uncontrolled in other channels.

    So in homes where sex was discussed openly and frankly girls wouldn’t go doo-lally over pop stars? I’m unconvinced. Also, you’re exercising a degree of judginess about that that I’m not used to hearing from you ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    TBH, the One Direction line was supposed to be a joke. When I'm advocating making little girls and boys get undressed in front of each other, I'm kind of surprised this is the thing being picked up on.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Mass hysteria, whatever the focus, makes me fucking uncomfortable.

    I know what you mean. But is it experienced by the individuals involved as 'mass hysteria,' or is it just a conglomeration of individual mad passionate crushes? The sort of random cathexis (jargon alert!) that helps one figure out what pushes one's buttons, y'know? Just in a widely dispersed, Dionysian bobbysoxy form?

    I mean, there is something deeply suspicious (and profiteery) about how all those crushes point in One Direction - capitalist false consciousness ahoy! - but I'm pretty sure each girl or boy feels it as genuinely and personally as possible. Allison Pearson's rather sweet novel about Davy Jones, I Think I Love You, is a nice exploration of the way a phenomenon can be at once massive, and deeply personal.

    But this all strikes me as a distraction from the, ahem, meat of your piece, which is fantastically attractive and logical. If we can combine that with a socialist utopia in which everyone gets paid properly & protected in their work environment, and those with specific needs who can't otherwise afford it are taken care of via government vouchers, it'll be perfect!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    in Sinatra's case the hotness

    Not that he wasn't hot, in a 'I will eat fried eggs off a hooker's ass' kind of way, but in implying the non-hotness of the Beatles, well... you impugn my religion at your peril. Heh.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Emma, you lapped me. As it were. The One Direction line is a throwaway joke.

    But and also: interesting to think what would happen to that sort of group cathexis onto magnificent strangers in the Sexy Wonderland Utopia. Would there be mass media gods and goddesses, inaccessible Olympian crushes, or would we all just be getting democratically jiggy with whomever was to hand?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Jolisa,

    inaccessible Olympian crushes

    Someone told you about the captain of the Canadian Women's Curling Team, didn't they?

    We never stop fancying celebrities. There's not a lot I wouldn't have done for with or to George Michael when I was a teenager. But, yeah... that big a proportion of the population genuinely find floppy-haired brunette moppets attractive?

    If it's as acceptable for me to fancy Allison Moyet as it is George Michael, it's got to diffuse a bit, in recognition of how different people's tastes really are.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Hear hear.

    Although I do think adolescents - and grown ups - of whatever sex will still have their celebrity crushes. But yes, less unattainable attraction/sublimation and more healthy action would be a fine thing.

    In my utopia, entertainment business operators would be checked regularly by the Labour Dept to ensure their workers are there legally, willingly, have proper employment contracts, and decent wages and conditions.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Well, there's that Grand Unifying Theory of Teen Idoldom, wherein the floppy-haired brunette moppetry is seen as an unthreateningly androgynous way for young girls to stepping-stone to more unambiguously traditional 'masculine' forms of sexual attraction. I'm not sure if that would still be needed in New Sex-Positive Utopia. But it might be. And really, isn't it sort of rebellious of them, in a way, to go for moppetry ahead of 'manliness'?

    (Sorry, I continue the derail, but I've actually thought about this subject a fair amount.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    With the loss of its taboo, sex would actually become less important on a social level. You'd no more use sex to sell a car than you would golf.

    They'll be tournaments where you win a luxury SUV for a hole in one.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Danielle,

    (Sorry, I continue the derail, but I’ve actually thought about this subject a fair amount.)

    You have! I now want to read the full-length article version of this excellent contribution. Seriously, kd lang, Paul McCartney, spot the difference. (And I also now want Justin Bieber to record a version of "Man or Moppet", flexing his new muscles and gazing forlornly at a window reflection of his epicene younger self).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Danielle,

    And really, isn't it sort of rebellious of them, in a way, to go for moppetry ahead of 'manliness'?

    Well, not if moppetry is what's being actively marketed to them, no. I'm struggling to come up with a male singer marketed to teenager *girls* as aggressively masculine. There must be some.

    (I say this. My grandmother wouldn't allow The Beetles to be played in the house. In the 80s.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Someone told you about the captain of the Canadian Women’s Curling Team, didn’t they?

    Punishingly hot. On ice. A nice combo!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    a male singer marketed to teenager *girls* as aggressively masculine

    Going back a fair way: Mick Jagger. Although you're right, hyper-masculinity is usually marketed to teen boys (even if some teen girls might also be into it on the DL).

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jolisa,

    If we can combine that with a socialist utopia

    Social and biological reproduction have been a political focus in all cultures for reasons beyond the personal so yes, there will always be other elements to take into account.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Emma Hart,

    a male singer marketed to teenager *girls* as aggressively masculine. There must be some.

    Once upon a time, Billy Idol? As the more testosteroney version of Adam Ant et al? The trouble is, they all look so camp and therefore fey from outside the hormonal bubble.

    Many a girls' comic photo-story was organised around the opposing options of sweet gentle girly-boy, and stone-butch man-boy... although, yeah, never a moment where the lead girl and her best friend looked at each other and went "OH!" Still, I reckon young desire and its representations are, despite surface appearances, more malleable and porous than they look. Cultural Studies, resisting reader, agency, blah blah etc.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    And really, isn't it sort of rebellious of them, in a way, to go for moppetry ahead of 'manliness'?

    Probably depends on if she's ovulating at the time - as well as all the interesting culture theory stuff, naturally. Would love to see similar focus on the options for boys becoming men.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Danielle,

    Danielle, and so have I. With an 18 year old sister who's a 1Direction fan, the incongruity seems stark.

    I have to put it down to 'safety', that such people allow to express their sexuality in ways which are entirely harmless, directed at the unattainable - and thus non-productive. Creating a desire and not fulfilling it is a wonderful way to drive sales. You see this in advertising, and in much pornography.

    We live in a society in which desire isn't so much repressed (which requires a lot of energy in destroying and dissipating it), but contained, curtailed, and directed. It's interesting to think about what would happen if this semi-fulfilment was deconstructed.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Jolisa,

    opposing options of sweet gentle girly-boy, and stone-butch man-boy

    Girl group songs. 'Symphonies for the kids', 'the little girls understand': so many of those songs are about a hot, 'bad', masculine guy and she just can't help herself. The hyper-masculinity is there, but the girls are telling *each other* about it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to George Darroch,

    what would happen if this semi-fulfilment was deconstructed

    Occupy?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

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