Tuesday, December 2

A Sad Sex Article

Lauren Slater's essay in the Sunday NY Times made me sad and angry at the same time. The author is a woman who has had both cancer and depression and makes the case that her dislike for sex is not pathological, it's just the way she is. Her story is told in that "Modern Love" column self-awareness prose that makes Oprah say "love that!"

I keep wondering what the public reaction would be if a man wrote the same article. I doubt he would be published. It's acceptable for a woman to reject the sex act as somehow beneath her, as Slater herself admits, "I have better things to do," but a man apparently doesn't have better things to do, ever.

And sadly, it's perfectly okay for women to not enjoy sex, too. A man who found he couldn't or wouldn't perform would be judged as having something wrong, and handed a bucket of little blue pills to "fix" him, wouldn't he?

She felt it necessary to lie that she was recovering from being raped in order to delay her introduction to sexual activity? But she's not pathological? Wow. I just told men I was a virgin and wanted to stay that way. Worked for me until I decided it didn't, which was in my later '20s. Am I the pathological one, then?

I don't feel any particular urge (heh) to fix Lauren Slater, though if I were her husband, her act of celebrating her non-pathological aversion to my sexual touch in the pages of the New York Frackin' Times, would be grounds for divorce.

No one, male or female, HAS to enjoy sex. And the public message that we all have to be sexy and sexual (yes, particularly women) in order to be of value, is a curse we can't seem to undo.

But I feel sorry for Lauren. Bit of an understatement that sex with someone you love and who loves you is really really fun.


  1. A man who found he couldn't or wouldn't perform would be judged as having something wrong, and handed a bucket of little blue pills to "fix" him, wouldn't he?

    He would be!

    That, or he would be nominated as a candidate for Homosexual Re-education Camp.

    Once when I was in my 20s, I rejected a rather crude come-on at a party from a very attractive, sloppily drunk, young woman.

    "What are you, gay?" She asked.

    It didn't occur to her that there might be any other reason for my not wanting to have sex with her. Not even the fact that she was almost falling-down impaired, and that while, legally speaking it would have been consensual, morally speaking I would have had trouble living with myself afterward.

    Nope, if I wasn't all about the nooky, it could only be because I wasn't at all about the nooky.

    Men just don't have the luxury of not being in the mood without it having some deeper meaning.

  2. why on earth did she feel she had to announce this to everyone???


  3. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Modern Love is one of the reasons we quit buying the hard copy of the Sunday NYT. That along with the end piece of the magazine and the Arts and Leisure Section (Or as James Wolcott calls it The Farts and Seizures Section) were taken up by one useless article after another. Why the Times thinks it necessary to devote so much space to these pity parties is beyond me.

  4. There's nothing the 'in crowd' likes better than an article that 'goes against the grain' ("Oooh, she's different!") and is all, like, iconoclastic and stuff! Practically mavericky! Make a stupid statement and then embellish and embroider it (no offense to you knitterati!) for 1400 more words, and you got yerself some provocativity there! Thanks for pointing out the vapid, Lauren - we might have missed it otherwise, if you'd have kept your whiny flap shut.

    Is prudery the new slutty? Is idiocy the new smart?

    Call it the Sarah Palin Syndrome - "Sure, I'm a woman, but I will cut a bitch. And I get to play on the big boy's team cuz I'm feminine, not a feminist like those hard, unwomanly liberal gals, and so I'm free to trade on my looks, but don't disrespect me or ask me mean questions, cuz I'm a girl. And you can't hit me cuz I'm wearing glasses even if I hit you first!

    Child, please. Don't flatter yourself. You're boring and I have no interest in what you do or do not do with your lady-bits. Get over it.

  5. The inequities of the view of male and female sexuality is pervasive on many levels. I try to work against it when I teach sex positive classes but it is amazingly entrenched, even in those circles.

    For example, when women masturbate, it is "getting in touch with their sexuality" when men do, it is often called " beating off" or "whacking off " among many other pejorative expressions of an almost violent nature.

    A sex drive is a sign of health, physically, emotionally and mentally. Though in some circles it may be considered a spiritual detriment!

    Many common medical treatments can kill a sex drive. Deep neuroses can kill a sex drive also, or at least subvert it. Sounds like she has found an escape from having to deal with the responsibilities of sexual interactions and relationships.

  6. I forgot to say that your title of a "Sad Sex Article" is exactly accurate. The fact she was moved to write this shows she is not so detached as she thinks she might be. It is more a justification than anything.

    It is truly sad.

  7. It would be grounds for me, too.

  8. Anonymous8:34 PM

    So, I wonder what her husband's Modern Love column will be titled.

  9. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Bit of an understatement that sex with someone you love and who loves you is really really fun.

    Ah, masturbation! Just like little Lauren's article.



  10. Blue Gal, between you and figleaf, you inspired me to write a really long post on this. Slater's essay really is a trainwreck. I too would like to hear from her husband. And going back to read the article's title when I was done? Whoa, what a load of delusion! They may still love each other dearly, but what her essay describes is so teeter-tottery, I can't imagine how that marriage holds together.

    Then again, I don't even fully understand my own marriage, so I'd better not pretend to grasp anyone else's.

    The problem here is that when this kind of tripe gets the blessing of the New York Times, it's just one more gushing article away from becoming a trend. And frankly, I think this sort of self-rationalization is not a great role model. As M.Yu pointed out, Slater refuses to be accountable. That's not a sustainable ethical position. A partner who refuses sex as a permanent state of affairs is cheating, in a sense, and I'm not sure it's any more virtuous than if her husband were to take up the offer of extracurricular activity.

    Thanks for a fine post, even if it got my blood pressure up. -)

  11. On one hand, sex drive varies wildly from person to person: if someone doesn't like sex, well, as long as thy don't have it with me, I don't particularly care.


    If they are in a long-term relationship, and they refuse to have sex, they had best either be with someone who has the same non-desire or open their relationship so her partner can find someone who will enjoy sex with them.

    I just told men I was a virgin and wanted to stay that way.

    Confession time: I was a virgin four times. But then, I have this thing for older women, and BOY did they like that line. Hasn't worked for a decade, though (being married probably has something to do with that).

    Bad (and happy) me.

  12. Anonymous3:13 AM

    I've come to feel a deep sadness for men who are pressured/pressure themselves to "perform" sexually. My husband and I, both in our early 50s, are going through a sexual dry spell -- both of us, lately, have been exhausted and neither of us has the energy right now for our usual sexual romps. It's no big deal.

    My man was taking Viagra when we met ... Over time, he admitted that I was the first woman he'd been with in years who wasn't all over him to be a fuck-machine [and my sex drive, especially since I've been with him, has been very fine indeed ;-) ]. This is a man who's done military service and been conditioned as men are to GO GO GO! all the time ... He's a man who has been gradually allowing himself to feel what he feels, and relinquishing the drive to be tough and hard all the time. It's been a long, long time since he's needed Viagra. We've had our ups and downs (whoops -- no pun intended) and a few times, one of us has reeeally "wanted it" when the other hasn't ... We both honour a "no" and we don't make it a big deal. If the horny one still wants to orgasm, then we have a wee chat ;-) --> "Can I be of help, hon, or would you like to take care of yourself?" ;-)

    There are countless ways to make love, if you think about it. There are countless ways to touch, flirt, kiss, embrace and otherwise revel in the sensory joy of being close to someone you love. My man and I aren't "having sex" (I can't stand that expression) right now 'cause we're both just knackered. What we *are* doing is continuing to kiss, hug, cuddle, hold hands, etc., like we always have. The underlying affection and simple delight in touching one another is enough ... and when we both want a boisterous romp, we'll be romping ;-)


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