Sex – there’s no getting away from it. It’s everywhere. It’s an all-pervading life force that can be used for both good and evil. It’s a maker of dreams and a wrecker of dreams. And let’s face it we’re all here because our parents ‘did it’. Most of us have difficulty with that concept – maybe that’s why we’re squeamish and fascinated in turns by the whole subject.
Think you can remain immune by taking a sabbatical or divorcing it from your life altogether? That’s not going to work. You’ll still be bound up in the everyday world of how you’re perceived. You’ll still be judged on how you look. People will still make a decision on whether they find you attractive or not. Sublimely this comes down to that other person considering you as a viable breeding option and for passing on good genes. It’s primal and it affects you whether you’re male or female, gay or straight. And the galling thing is it affects every aspect of your life – from getting good service in a shop or achieving a top mark in your annual work report. It isn’t usually about desire – it’s a value judgement – pure and simple. It’s a measure of your worth.
Okay – so far, so depressing but a report came out this week with some heartening news. The research showed that more older people are having sex (I presume with each other… ) and women are becoming more experimental (I believe with each other… ). So sex doesn’t HAVE to be the preserve of young airbrushed porn stars in the boy/girl combination – however much the media suggests it is.
Not so heartening was a report released by The Children’s Commissioner for England also this week. The main – and deeply shocking – finding was that young children are committing sexual abuse on other children. Makes you think that sex should be reserved for the older generation – I guess that would seriously inhibit the population level so that would have to have a bit more thought given to it… But with the whole sex thing being such a powerful tool (stop laughing at the back) it really shouldn’t be in the hands of children. How can they – or anyone – avoid it though? From Miley Cyrus probing herself with a giant foam finger to David Beckham‘s thrusting crotch plastered all over H&M – it’s in your face at every turn. And if a lot of adults have difficulty with telling the difference between fantasy and reality or struggling with the whole sexual politics power play – what hope does a younger person have? I’ve been giving the whole subject of how we deal with with sex at various times in our life some thought and I’ve come up with five stages -
Pre stage – you’re a child and, ignoring all the Freudian stuff, you shouldn’t have anything to do with sex. From the Lolita-ising of young girls in ‘developed’ countries to young people (both sexes) who find themselves born into extreme poverty and are offered up for prostitution – it’s exploitation and just plain wrong!
First stage – as a teenager you are obsessed by sex but shouldn’t really be indulging. If you do it’s a bit like skipping your starter and main and going straight for the whole dessert menu – your palate is going to become jaded before it’s had time to develop. There’s also the danger of feeling sick and putting on weight (know what I mean…?) Surely a little amuse bouche is ample at this point?
Second stage – late teens, young adulthood is when you can’t get enough and it’s perfectly acceptable to go ahead with it. You’ve got the energy and the opportunity – so what are you waiting for? Just remember to respect yourself and others. Don’t get hung up about a ‘perfect’ image. Find your own style and develop a personality. And use a condom, please!
Third stage - commonly known as the ‘too tired to ****’. Most people in their thirties and forties will have settled down with families and whilst there may still be a spark of desire still there – the burdens of nappy changing, school runs, money problems, working-all-hours-to-pay-the-bills, coping with extended families takes it toll. Even if you’re sans enfants or tout seul you’ll still find life weighing down on you and the ‘what if’s will start to haunt you, making sex seem like an irrelevance. Actually – assuming you have to time to think about it – a lot of things will start to feel irrelevant. Don’t be too cynical, sad or too tired. Important to remember you’re an individual and not just somebody’s something (or nobody’s nothing) – don’t lose that groove, you may never get it back!
Fourth stage – kids are out of the way, you may feel you have almost figured out what life is all about and who you are. You’re looking around for a new recreational activity. How about that thing you used to do? Sex – remember? Oh yes… Now, with many people the ‘finding themselves’ part may have included ‘finding themselves a new partner’. Word of advice – the grass may seem greener on the other side of the street but it probably isn’t. Change your life by all means but don’t confuse good sex – or just ‘any’ sex with finding yourself.
Fifth stage – is there a fifth stage? Of course, why not? Setting aside the mechanical issues of dryness, drooping and lack of overall stamina – this can be perhaps be the most fun you’ve had since stage two! And just think – no danger of unwanted sprogs, more chance of having a suitable and comfortable venue to ‘do it’, and a far lessened chance of catching an STD!
So sex can be fun, beautiful, nasty, political, controlling, powerful, confusing. It’s primal but we have the power to transcend what it was originally intended for and just have some fun – whatever our age - and however far we are physically as individuals from some ‘ideal’. Sex is so many different things and it’s everywhere. You couldn’t – and shouldn’t – ban it. Quite the opposite – it has to be discussed – that’s why reports like the ones released this week are so important. Because whatever sex is it’s never not complicated