Friday, May 13, 2011

Sexual Revolution 2.0

The Guardian reports a sharp rise in the use of online pornography by young women in Britain (“Why More and More Women Are Using Pornography”). A few years back that was almost unheard of; now almost a third of those seeking counseling for potential “porn addiction” are women. What are they getting out of it? That’s a no-brainer: “as porn becomes more pervasive, … women are now also using it as a quick way to have sex without emotional investment, just as men traditionally have.” Why should women be left behind? The expert who made the above observation points out that “it's important not to turn lone use of porn into a catastrophe”; and sex, as a very “natural function,” has no clear limit beyond which indulgence becomes abnormal. So, like other alleged “addictions” and other cultural maladies, this is just another baseless construct spun out by moralizing conservatives. Meanwhile, the NYT reports that vibrators are quickly becoming a mainstream personal appliance now commonly displayed on drugstore shelves (“Vibrators Carry the Conversation”). A TV sex therapist/personality (with her own line of sex toys) heartily greets the trend: “Women are getting less and less caught up on an unrealistic and puritanical vision of what a good girl is. When they can embrace their self-stimulation, they can take ownership of their sexuality.” So, the porn industry now has a powerful new ally in its quest to usher in complete and universal sexual liberation. I think I can see the bright sexual future beckoning just beyond the horizon. Increasing numbers of young men and women take their sexuality into their own (sometimes technologically-enabled) hands. And couplehood (to say nothing of procreation) will become just another countercultural lifestyle option – obviously less pleasurable/rewarding than the easily (and unfailingly) available alternative. Even if some (I still suspect – mostly women) do want to make such an idiosyncratic choice, finding a willing and committed partner will be an arduous quest. Technology, I guess, will again need to ride to the rescue.