How the sexual revolution and feminists made sex boring

I see the same. It was obvious in Fifty Shades of Grey’s success.

Sexual boredom. See Camille Paglia on Romanticism leading to decadence. She called this about 20 years ago. From “Sexual Personae,” her breakout book and probably the most quoted assertion:

Society is not the criminal but the force which keeps crime in check. When social controls weaken, man’s innate cruelty bursts forth. The rapist is created not by bad social influences but by a failure of social conditioning. Feminists, seeking to drive power relations out of sex, have set themselves against nature. Sex is power. Identity is power . . . My theory is that whenever sexual freedom is sought or achieved, sadomasochism will not be far behind. Romanticism always turns into decadence.

We are just watching this play out in “Shades of Grey.” Feminist notions of affirmative consent, i.e. only an explicitly stated yes means yes, have seeped into every book, every movie. And when every foreplay move is about asking, it’s dull.

For both men and women, sex is a surrender. He invades us. We consume him. It is a ridiculous process, gross and messy. Yet we still want it, sometimes against our better judgment. Some of the power of sex comes from the magnitude of the surrender. The only. The bad boy. The affair. The long seduction. The danger. With the notions of hook up and casual sex ruling pop culture, “the only” and “the long seduction” are off the table, leaving bad boys and danger to give sex power. (Since this is a pop culture discussion, the power of committed marital sex does not come into play, as its power is something learned over years and is ridiculed more than encouraged.)

But bad boys cause problems. So culture requires that every encounter has a feel of that annoying “Can you hear me now?” cell phone commercial. “Can I touch you here? What about here?” These express consent mandates are why that ridiculous contract in 50SOG is so long. It’s not for legality as it isn’t enforceable and any dom or sub will tell you it is a piece of crap. It serves as a literary device (such that it is) to highlight her consent for the reader. Affirmative verbal consent examples are everywhere in stories, most recently in “Exodus” (the movie, not the book of the Bible). “May I proceed?” Moses asked, the two times we saw him with his wife. In our effort to control bad boys in art, they have lost their erotic force.

By process of elimination, danger is the only erotic meme left standing. It is the new challenge for romance writers: come up with new ways for the woman to say yes to risky behavior. So they start with blindfolds. When that doesn’t work anymore, then one can move to handcuffs, then spankings, then sex acts in public, other people… The orgasm is easy. It is the thrill of conquest and surrender people seek. And E.L. James delivered that.

The whole article is here.

Teacher of life admin and curator of commentary. Occasional writer.

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