July 20, 2015

The Elephants in the Bedroom.


We are in a constantly transforming age. We have new social media platforms invented everyday while the stalwarts tweak to keep up.

Apple, Samsung and a cast of smaller phone players release new features and products throughout the year. Musical tastes shift by the month and what’s new is old and what’s newer will get there fast.

In the realms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we legalized gay marriage while facing a crisis of racist proportions in South Carolina. In Colorado and Oregon we’ve legalized marijuana and on the national stage Sick Rantorum (did I spell that right?) wants to justify why women earn less money.

And I’ve only scratched the bottom of the surface. Through it all, some things never change. If I could revise a popular quote, it would say that the only things that are certain are sex and taxes. We all know it’s just a matter of time before cryogenics advances make death a negotiated state of being. But sex, well, it has become more visible, but the bedroom trials and tribulations are as age-old as Betty White’s mom’s mom’s mom. We all know it. We just don’t posterize it like we do everything else.

Some would argue differently. They would cite the popularity of 50 Shades of Gray and Sex and the City as proof that we’ve become more comfortable with sex as a subject on stage. They would further note the rawness of musical lyrics and videos, movie scenes and story-lines and the general dress code of women as proof that we’re there.

But where is there?

I would see the aforementioned proofs as nothing more than proof that sex has become more acceptable fodder. I won’t go any further than that. I will not, for instance, agree that it has made sex a more acceptable subject in schools. Not when every family council and conservative pundit is ripping schools for talking about it. I will not, for instance, agree that it has made sex a more acceptable subject in the bedroom. Not when men, by and large, can idolize a set of breasts and tight pink shorts without confronting his sexual relationship with his partner or himself.

And finally, I will not agree that sex is any more tolerated in the world view. Europe is, and has always been, more progressive than their continental counterparts in this area but Asia, Africa and the America’s still have a lot of work to do.

Which brings me to the elephants in the bedroom:

*We must confront and continue to confront the distinction between the sexualization of women and the treatment of women in—and in regards to—sex. It’s one thing to embrace the bravado of Lena Dunham and Miley Cyrus. It’s another thing altogether to treat it in the same manner by which we do Channing Tatum and other male counterparts. As in, we don’t dissect it and discuss the hemorrhaging of morality that occurs when {yikes} a woman addresses sex in an open and confident way or exposes her sexuality.

*We must be able to have the discussion about male performance without turning it into a Cialis and Viagra joke. There are enriched discussions about sexual freedom and the reality that women have sexual needs as well. And yet, I see very little written or discussed about male performance or, more importantly, recognition of their performance.

What both of these areas really highlight is that our comforts with sex as a subject are wholly different than our comforts with sex and its application to men and women. We still want men to be in control when it comes to sex (and many other things) and so we let men deal with sex however they please, or not. Part of us still want to see women as demure and dainty flowers and so we scrutinize and criticize to death that which detracts from it.

Let us not allow the progress we’ve made in removing some of the taboo about sex permit us to believe that sex is, in fact, mainstream and on all radars. For as long as we don’t get past the attributions by gender, mainstream sex is what’s taboo.



Viral Sex Ed Tweets from an Angry Mom.


Author: Chris Armstrong

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/alien_artifact

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