The best way to get the attention of every person in a room

. . . is to yell « SEX » at the top of your lungs.

— Matthew Oyen,
my orchestra director for four years.

This is possibly my favourite quote from Mr Oyen; not only is it riotously funny to tell other people, it is also completely, absolutely true.

As a society, Americans are hung up about sex. We always have been, and it seems to be deeply related to our perceptions of the world around us, not to mention the lack of morality presented by our culture, especially in politics and the media.

Here, try this: talk about porn at a café. I dare you. Sit down with a friend and talk, reasonably (without nervous giggles, glances, etc.) about porn. It’s hard, isn’t it? Completely awkward? Yep. Thought so. Now try reasonably discussing your sexual interests, proclivities, inclinations, all that, all at a café, where there are other people, who you just know are listening in once they hear just a few words of your discussion. Yeah, that one’s plenty difficult too. Here’s why: Americans are total prudes about sex. We all know about it, we all think about it, and for some reason, we just can’t deal with it.

Not just sex, either — it’s anything related to genitalia. Our culture has this massive stumbling block (yes, the pun is very much intended) focused on breasts and penises. To some degree, an interest in these organs is to be expected; they are both symbols of virility, but American culture has made them taboo — or if not wholly taboo, certainly objects of a certain mystique. Doing anything related to shopping for bras or underwear of any stripe is simply not discussed, while much is made of a man’s preference for boxers or briefs, and there is of course the obsession with cup size.

There was a backlash against this puritanical streak in American morality, the dawn of sexual liberation in the ’60s, when various subcultures decided to buck the trend and try new stuff—talk openly about sex, admit that everyone’s doing it, explore more options. Of course, there was a counter-backlash, which is why nowadays high schoolers are taught that sex should be put off until marriage — even though they’re doing it anyways. The only difference between « abstinence-only » and « comprehensive » Sex Ed is that when students are told to use condoms while having sex — get this, it’s a shocker — they use them. Wow.

Oh! Segue! There’ll be a slight interruption before my segue is complete, but you’ll see the connexion in a moment. So bear with me as we take a detour back to 1979 and thereafter. This was when HIV/AIDS arrived on the scene, when all of a sudden, sex could kill. However, we’re going to talk a little history, because really, this is a story that should be told often. HIV wasn’t called the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus at first, and AIDS wasn’t the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. Hell, they weren’t considered two separate things, they were one thing: GRIDS. Gay Related Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. At the time, it wasn’t anything straight people had to worry about, it was only those queer faggots who were dying of this disease. Then, much to everyone’s dismay, it was discovered that everybody was at risk. Now, by the time anyone seriously started paying attention, most of a generation out of the gay community died, because they didn’t wear condoms while having sex. HIV spread like wildfire, and eventually society realised that it was everyone’s problem.

Well, the gay community learned its lesson, and so did the porn studios that cater to the community. Most of the big companies — Colt, Falcon, and many others — are involved in an anti-barebacking campaign, (Barebacking, for those who don’t know, is slang for anal sex without a condom.) actively promoting the use of condoms throughout the gay community. It is rare to see condom-less gay porn (less common now, regrettably, but still rare,) simply because of the risks involved. Thus, I was surprised to discover that most, if not all, straight pornography is filmed without condoms. Surely, as groups projecting an image of stylised sexual behaviour, these companies would feel at least a slight moral compunction to model responsible sexual behaviour.

Apparently, however, straight porn studios have been unwilling to accept this role. They have the same hang-ups as the rest of straight American culture. Perhaps that’s what’s different about the gay community; the « community » only really began to form openly, in earnest, after the sexual revolution of the ’60s, when it wasn’t seen as taboo to talk about sex and sexuality. Suddenly, it’s not mysterious but just a fact of life, open to discourse like any other. What I’ve found is that almost every gay-oriented blog discusses what’s new in the gay porn industry somewhere in its lineup. The community is more willing to discuss sexuality and desire in an open forum; there’s no reason straight culture shouldn’t do as well.

It’s time Americans finally talked openly about what’s on everyone’s mind.

So yell « SEX » at the top of your lungs in a crowded room.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: