Are We Gaga Over Sex?

Sex…just the word is titillating to most. Vanity Fair’s cover for September 2010 features Lady Gaga, the frequently outrageous pop star. She’s dressed in a fancy jeweled collar and nothing else; her long blond hair (is it a wig?) tantalizingly reveals some skin here and there. Inside, there’s a fuller body view but her hands cup small breasts and she’s in profile, showing a tattoo of three roses at waist level on her left side, which is the camera’s view.

I enjoy the thoughtful variety of stories in this magazine and have been a subscriber for years. The advertising pages in the front are typical of many publications these days: very sexual. I don’t think I paid much attention when I was younger, but it seems more blatant in the last decade or so. The models may be wearing long pants in the ad for Calvin Klein jeans but their legs are spread and poses are quite provocative. The Gucci ad’s female model sports a furry vest and thigh-high boots; a triangle of black cloth appears under the very short skirt, emphasized by her spread legs, as if a pair of bikini panties have been deliberately pulled down.

Sex affects us all in one way or another, obviously. We spend enough time figuring it out.  Can we be put so easily into the box (label) of heterosexual or homosexual or something in between? Didn’t Kinsey, and Masters & Johnson open the door to open-mindedness and acceptance? Yes and no. Consider the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Not to mention the Catholic priests’ scandals, etc.

I’m a person of mixed beliefs about how sex is presented in books, films, and TV, as I’ll wager most of us are. Prudery runs deep in American society. No tidy preferences for many of us; emotions can be jumbled. Perhaps our always evolving country and its varied mix of cultures will make sex seem less naughty, but perhaps we prefer it that way—a bit forbidden and nasty. As a voracious reader, I can enjoy a book that hints at sexual dalliance as well as one with specifics. I’m not a prude but I can also be quite conservative. Oftentimes, I speak or write more bravely than I act. I’ve seen a few porn films but prefer soft porn, which excites without being as explicit. That preference extends to books, for the most part.

Yet, I wrote two fairly graphic sex scenes for my book, Melaynie’s Masquerade, and enjoyed the process. It was my first novel and my first attempt at a genuine sex scene. All the newspaper/magazine articles I wrote over the years steered clear of sex. Except one: when the Chippendales craze hit, I wrote about women attending a show featuring men dancing and stripping provocatively. Most of the female audience at one of these early shows responded with glee, then went up to the stage to tip the entertainers by inserting a couple of dollar bills into his skimpy underwear. Some fondled a favorite dancer and a few were rewarded with a kiss.

Since I was writing my article for a family weekly newspaper, I chose to keep it humorous and friendly. Besides, the whole act just hinted at what could happen. At that time there was no “full monty.”

As a child of the 50s, my sexual education was a definite mix. Don’t get pregnant was the big fear before the 60s ushered in free sex. As we learned in no time, nothing is free! Sexual diseases, the usual STDs and then AIDS, soon took over. I’ve been married and single and not always cautious, but I’ve escaped dire consequences. Experience, however, does provide an edge in writing about sexual subjects. Imagination goes only so far!

It’s fun to debate the issue: to write or not to write the sex scene. I recently edited a highly sexual book and found it to be a enjoyable experience and sometimes titillating. Despite finding it salacious when I first read a sample, I changed my mind when I discovered the book was very humorous. It was written by a young math teacher in his 30s and he didn’t have outdated compunctions about sex. When I’d grown up, sex was a sinful thing to be hidden and whispered about. The majority of us were not so innocent but pretended we were pure. Lots of hypocrisy exists concerning sex and that will probably never change. I went through a time in college when I was asking girlfriends if they were still virgins! Hilarious now, (I wonder who was lying?) but some of us were very inexperienced in the early 60s.

I admired Dave Glenn’s easy way of writing about his adventures; he’d already put them on a blog; in case you’re interested— His writing is quite explicit; he doesn’t mince words. And he doesn’t treat himself as the stud king. He describes his mistakes, his rejections, and the hilarious escapades resulting from meeting all sorts of women, both young and older, in bars or online, as well as encountering foreign girls available on travels to Europe, Australia, etc.

Dave told me he thinks casual sex and having sex buddies is fine, if it’s done responsibly so that no one’s feelings are hurt. He’s not averse to masturbating but having the real thing is more fun. And he doesn’t need a commitment or marriage to sanctify his sexual urges.

Editing his book brought me up-to-date. My, my…Sex was treated as a perfectly natural part of life (Kinsey had thought so in the early part of the 20th century: wish I’d read him earlier!) Modern girls are just as anxious as guys to crawl into bed or wherever the assignation might be, despite emotional or sometimes physical risks. One night stands.

Sex may be freer and more open now in the Western World but, being humans, there are usually emotional strings of one sort or another, especially for women. I must conclude I’m still betwixt and between. At least many of us can read about sex these days without having apoplexy.

Trying "cheesecake" at age 15!


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