Sex is a mystery – as old as time and yet still something everyone has an individual opinion about, their own set of ‘rules’ and preferences and dislikes. I’m always keen to get others opinion on the subject (regardless of whether it is different to my own) so it’s then with great pleasure I welcome five times published author, Olivia Fane to the blog to share her thoughts on ‘the truth about sex’!
I am as guilty as anyone about buying newspapers which proclaim to be able to tell me the ‘truth’ about sex. Only the other day I picked up a Saturday Guardian eager to know what a writer would tell us about ‘married’ sex in particular. The dear girl was in her mid-twenties, had recently got married herself and was teaching us oldies how to have as good a sex life as she did. The three ‘C’s, she proclaimed: commitment, communication and connection. Why should I put up with this drivel? I thought uncharitably. Because the truth about sex is that it is none of these things. More communication has happened in the marital bed when one of the partners claims exhaustion and anxiety at work as an excuse not to have to perform, than in the performance itself.
I’m afraid sex is just an evolutionary hangover from our status as highly-sexed apes. We have sexual desire when we want to have sex, not when we love someone. If that wasn’t the case, it would be the oldies who are all having rampant sex after forty years of a happy marriage, who’d be the writers of agony columns advising those poor young people how being kind and considerate and bringing a cup of tea to their partner in bed will really get the pulse racing.
Sex is an utterly neutral and colourless thing, and a higher or lower sex drive is caused by hormones which are hard to control. For hundreds of years, societies and religions have tried to harness this drive. The most imaginative way of doing that, I believe, was the invention of the family. When contraception was invented, when the possible advent of children was no longer part of the act, the West invented romance big-time. Love became the confabulation, the justification of sex. The excuse to bonk till your heart’s content. The excuse to say, when you fancy your neighbour more than your spouse, ‘I’m off! I must be true to these great, profound urges of mine!’ And the most damning words of all: ‘I still love you darling, it’s just that I’m not in love with you. And by the way, tell the kids I love them too.’
The poor old Church was left far behind with their warnings of fornication; numbers dropped. Society knew (after Freud) that orgasms were good for you, the more you had, the more mentally healthy you would be. How would the church attract the young if it didn’t drop it’s ‘sex only within marriage’? ‘It’s better to marry than to burn’ says St Paul. How pessimistic is that?
The new doctrine the Church devised, their new reading of scripture, is about to cause a schism in the church. Jesus doesn’t mention sex. It doesn’t interest him. He says a few things about adulterers, that’s all. The Old Testament is notoriously homophobe. So what to do?
Answer: Jesus Christ is incarnate, and therefore has ‘carnal’ desires! He has a body! Therefore he really, really approves of sex, and all you fornicators, please could you come back to the church now, we need you!
I am often accused of being a dualist, in that I believe that greed and lust are inferior say, to a love of nature or music. Yet it seems so weird to me that lust is given such high status, that those who don’t have it in bucket loads are made to feel pariahs.
Society has given the thumbs down to the kind of nuclear family I knew as a child. It turns out that women want status and power every bit as much as a man, and the old fashioned, sexist ‘caring’ role is almost history. But what is so shocking to me is that in its place the bedrock of our society is sex, that desire has replaced nurture as the number one value.
The church, in embracing non-procreative ‘loving’ sex between heterosexual couples is now forced into approving of non-procreative ‘loving’ sex between homosexuals. Sex is not about frolicking with your genitals, it is ‘communicative’.
I have a friend who confided in me that her sex life had never been better. After ten years of marriage, things had become rather routine, she said, so she had taken herself to a sex therapist and learnt loads of new techniques (including fantasy) and had had her first multiple orgasms. The husband was miserable, though. He told me he no longer knew his wife, in bed she had become a stranger.
I am so bored of being told the big lie that if your sex life is dead it must be because you are no longer ‘communicating’ properly. An ancient text describing sex compares it to defecating: a totally private experience. You cannot even imagine the place where your partner is: you are too busy with your own.
When my children were young, we had less sleep and less sex. When either of us have had to work hard, ditto. Yet true love, as I would see it – old fashioned hugs and tenderness – never waned for a moment. Kindness is not sexually demanding.
Sex in marriage is difficult when your libidos are incompatible, nothing more, nothing less. When it’s good, sex is fun. But it is never, ever deep. The human spirit doesn’t get a look in.
As for sexual identity, the whole subject makes me sigh. People are people first, with hopes, aspirations, passions. Shut up about whether you get more orgasms with men or women or a cross between. I don’t want to know. It’s your own business. It was once private, and even something to be slightly ashamed of. A feeding of the animal within: naughty, but nice. I can’t even say may it long remain so: it’s too late for that, the animal is out. But a return to just a little guilt would be good for us all.
Find out more about her latest novel Possibly A Love Story here!