Celebrating Unsexy Sex
I remember ‘the moment’ like it was yesterday. I was seven-years-old, sitting in a packed theatre watching Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and singing along because I knew every single lyric. And then it happened: Phillip Schofield. Close Every Door To Me. Loincloth. Suddenly I wasn’t just enjoying the show for its colourful visuals and mind-worm-inducing songs, I was feeling things. Things I didn’t understand. Things that squiggled low down in my belly and made me wish that mum and dad weren’t there. This, lovely reader, was my sexual awakening.
Twenty-something years later and not much has changed. Phillip is still an utter fox, I’m pretty sure that I’m word-perfect on Joseph’s Coat (“It was red and yellow and green and” – just kidding), but I now know officially that sex is the most fun you can have with your clothes off. It’s the most glorious means of sharing intimacy, catharsis, and self-expression, and you can even use it to make people. Frickin’ awesome! But it would be naive to think that sex is all warm belly-squiggles and loincloths. Far from it. It’s complicated and awkward and fuck me, is it divisive!
Western society has a very troubled relationship with sex. We vilify it even as we glorify it. We’re fascinated, yet repulsed by it. It is one of the most natural things in the world, and yet the versions we’re exposed to by the media are both pornified and sanitised beyond recognition. (And don’t even get me started on sex as a political act, or religious control, or a woman’s right to control what happens to her body, because that’s a-whole-nother article). This is because we, as a culture, have commodified and monetised sex. Rather than being an intimate act between consenting adults of whichever races, orientations, and aesthetic types you please, the media sell us sex as a primarily white, heterosexual activity involving impossibly beautiful people who barely even sweat, let alone stain the sheets with their bodily fluids.*
Now, I recognise that mediasex is designed to titillate, so it’s hardly surprising that we’re being presented with squeaky-clean beautiful people who are, after all, nice to look at. But we shouldn’t forget that this kind of sex is also designed to make us feel inferior so that we’ll want to buy stuff – like fabulous lingerie, or good sex guides, or gym memberships. We, the viewer, are meant to watch these beautiful bodies engaged in sexual activity and become aroused, even as we compare ourselves and find ourselves wanting. And this is harmful. Women, especially (but not exclusively), are putting their sex lives on hold because of anxieties over their own appearance. Can we process, just for a minute, how messed up that is? We are denying ourselves pleasure and intimacy because we have internalised what the media tells us is beautiful and sexy. We are telling ourselves that we don’t deserve sex because we don’t look like Emily-flippin’-Ratajkowski!
And I say “fuck it!” No more! Let’s reclaim our right to pleasure and celebrate ourselves and our own, personal, messy, awkward, complicated sex lives! Praise be to the beautifully jiggly and dimpled thigh! To the post-coital lock-legged waddle to the bathroom because you forgot to bring tissues! To the time you got frisky in the woods and had to quickly disengage when a dog-walker came by! To doing it on your period! To nearly breaking your partner’s nose when your hips buck unexpectedly! To stopping because you have to pee! To trying anal and loving it! To trying anal and hating it! To getting garlic stuck in your vag because you’d heard it was a good treatment for thrush! To going down with the norovirus after going down on your partner’s behind… Maybe those last two are just me…
Be free, my pretties. Go forth and multiply (but be safe, yeah?). Make love in your own, personal, messy, awkward, complicated way – whether it’s with a partner, several partners, or just you. Here’s to uninhibited, unfiltered, unsexy sex. And if it involves a loincloth – so much the better!
*Girls being the notable exception
Article by Sarah Bradnum