Saturday, February 9, 2019

Sex-positive Isn't A Medical Condition

In a world of free-wheeling nosiness, I’ve come to believe that a “frank” question like “Are you gay?” deserves a truly frank (and reasonably unisex) answer: “Nah – I just like to have sex with other men. Do you know any attractive ones?” I figure that getting laid is more important than doing P.R. for identity causes, or other things things I’m even less interested in. It’s served me well, and I don’t have to get into the peripheral stuff like how I missed out on the gay decorating gene. Non-gays who are asked the same question often get to point by being upfront about what they’re after.

But I acknowledge that it’s a gay thing to get all fey when the topic implies cocksucking and M2M anal sex. Few of us can claim Arabic male modesty, as even fewer can claim to have asked ourselves just how sex-positive we truly are. Do we flaunt our homosexuality, or is our flaunting more about other things than the down-and-dirty basics?

The basics of course are nothing new. All kinds of men have had all kinds of sex with each other across all times. Homosexual sex, in all its prurient filth, forms part of the male heterosexual narrative. Gay Libbers in the early Seventies sharpened their focus on homosexuality as definitive of The Homosexual, within broader demonization of "The Other". As a menacing “whatever” cocktail of faggotry, sissyness, Jewishness and Commie tendencies, “The Other” was most successfully pressed into service by American war machine propaganda from the 1930s onwards. Not quite sophisticated racism, but a very close relative.

By focusing on liberating homosexuality itself, a more sharply defined narrative can be seen to deviate from earlier “pleas for tolerance”, bad psychiatry and de-sexed “sissies” figures of menace, ridicule and general entertainment. Sex sells, and for the first time in millennia the concept of gay rights had both a face and a groin and a determination to assert both, as sex-positivity with no apologies.

Politics & The Price of Free Love

It was always going to be an uphill battle to assert the sex-positive underpinnings of Gay Liberation when middle-class white gay men followed their muse of assimilationism, as determined by their middle-class suburban backgrounds and the sexual permeations of same. Or, more succintly, they didn’t leave their neuroses behind when they became “gay”. As a consumerist class we just bought what was sold by our early lifestyle sponsors: porn and alcohol. We mistook the former for sex education, and the latter as numbing medication for the psyche. We may have also missed the fact that we were vulnerable to our homosexuality being exploited by pernicious politics, and all that advanced capitalism determines will be. As we enrich the condom industry far beyond its wildest expectations, we don't often pause to ask if perhaps marketing principles like competition aren't preying on our male sexual insecurities.

Ill-prepared when AIDS hit in the 80s, guilt and shame obscured whatever sex-positivity we may have had. AIDS was a tremendous win for sex-negativity, inasmuch as assumed trust between men was replaced by life-or-death fear. Such a climate is likely to kill love unless we're acutely aware of the fact. We clearly see this evidenced by the embracing of “dating” as a new mating/sex ritual in response to AIDS. The ritual is a time-honored post-war American practice - born of American Puritanical prohibitions on sex, and its assumed immorality. To transfer that heterosexual sensibility to men who have sex with each other implies that the boy/girl dynamic must be clunkily reimagined in terms of how sex is transacted, rather than prioritizing whatever love may be in the situation. Dating might serve some men who want to “glue” a relationship and tease or trap a potential partner, but it can’t remotely be seen as a characteristic of sex-positivity, or leading to it.

Defiance, dollars, and..? (Photo:Ed Freeman)

The Queer movement challenged the exclusive-but-assimilationist tendencies of the gay men who in many ways squandered the opportunities presented by the 70's sexual revolution. For many, their approach to sex was simply an exploitative party which hurt as much as it healed. Sexual acting out isn’t sexual liberation if its origins are in prudish suburbia. Dating itself presents many great opportunities to grow real and lasting love between men. Conversely, we’re sabotaging ourselves when we go down the counter-productive path of assuming we have unlimited choices. We don't, and many are simply swiping their way back to existential loneliness - while paying for the privilege of  suspended reality in the form of ads and more.

Mark Brennan Rosenberg at HuffPo wades into the mud when he asks "Why Do Gay Men Make Dating So Hard For Themselves?"  Indeed...when the numbers get crunched, gay men might just end up happier with arranged marriages if their still-exclusive hopes and dreams hinge on superficial drivel like income, where we’re at sexually and what we have in common. One thing's for certain: vague ruminations about "chemistry" (and when it might happen) aren't the sign of a man who's genuinely looking for anything substantial.  Addiction to searching-into-perpetuity probably precludes actually ever finding something worthwhile, now or later.

Cultural Cringe

Queer Nation's early 90's upending of middle-class gay and lesbian narratives (as preached to the choir) saw the group cut through to America by speaking directly through tabloid media. National talk shows like "Nine Broadcast Plaza" were chasing Jerry Springer's audience, and very quickly learned that well-dressed "real live queers" almost coming to blows with homophobes gave their viewers just what they wanted. What producers also learned, to their complete shock, was that 'Hilary's Deplorables' actually supported things like gays in the military, and didn't want preachers telling people to boot their gay kids out either.

LGBT has a great unacknowledged debt to low-brow exploitative culture. The shoddy, emotive, not-for-primetime documentaries about transgenderism in the early Noughties paved the way for Caitlin Jenner's Vanity Fair cover "triumph". Hollywood's pretensions to art and entertainment represent a need to learn from trash TV.

"Naked Attraction": dick pics first, gentlemen!

The U.K. has made an artform of the genre, and it's current shocker is the very Queer-friendly "Naked Attraction". It's posited on the idea that everybody wants to closely examine genitals before they see faces or hear voices, and that's what dating is really all about. With no snickering or genital shaming, it's Grindr and Tinder come to life for one and all.  Contestants invariably represent the non-professional classes, but a nevertheless relatable range of Gen Y queer men.

As a cultural statement it's a graphic statement of liberation: "It's perfectly fine and fun for girls and boys to really like dicks and asses". What's not perfectly fine is that "Naked Attraction" is confined to adult viewing, when it should be shown in schools for sex-ed classes.

Sex Education...a.k.a. You're Gay  - No Need To Get Into That Homosexuality Shit!

"Only one dolly at school, son, and not the naughty one in the middle"

The current state of "gay acceptance" might seem like progress, but when you unpack it all you're likely to confront a Homophobia Lite agenda which seeks to purge the homosexuality right out of the gaiety, and everywhere else. "Gay rights" might have its genesis in homosexual practices, but mass culture at this point in time seems to think it's about everything but.

While sex education for teen males presents itself as inclusive, it invariably fails when it refuses to teach one defining and fundamental truth up front: that all males are physiologically designed to pleasure each other anally and orally. (That's of course followed by the mechanics i.e. some lubrication might be required with regards to the former.)  To "forget" to mention the above (in the full knowledge that it represents a perceived threat to heterosexual imperatives) is reprehensible bias by virtue of covert non-disclosure.

As a society and a culture we still ruthlessly censor pleasurable homosexuality as "adult content" - no doubt safe in the knowledge that teens will be much less likely to access it. All societies sexualize people from the earliest possible age, and most exclusively heterosexualize. The grossness of the discrimination lies in the fact that teens are denied appropriate education and truthful information when they most need it.

During the week I was left dumbfounded and angry by the documentary-cum-infomercial ("The Porn Factor") which SBS runs regularly. The maker Maree Crabbe is a sex educator for hire, and touted as a "documentarian". I yawned through this fundamentally anti-porn paean ("pornography creates rapey men") until the segment on young gay men.  

According to Crabbe's duplicitous take on things, young gays are being assaulted with the same rapey gender-fuck stuff that allegedly defines hetero porn. Her "confused" young interview subjects are apparently unlike the rest of us who are swamped with harmless vanilla twink porn on the www. Crabbe's unfortunate lads are seen to have have fallen victims to the evils of gender-based dominance, while being blisslessly unaware of commonplace youthful flip-fuckers. No mention was made of the fact that pornography is not a public health crisis for gay men, or likely to be any time soon.

Refreshing then, that this great piece in The Guardian shows up this morning. Writer Zev Rosen has come up with the goods in a wonderfully nuanced and rock-solid take on where we need to go in the future, and why we need to go there.

The first step in teen's sex education must be based on respectfully dignifying their sexuality, their fluidity, their interests and their experimentation. That necessarily means acknowledging from the get-go that a lot of fellas just like dicks and bungholes, and may have done so for a very long time.

The rest of the well-meaning shit can come later.

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