Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the love of lust

Open | The so-called sexual revolution has created a generation of braggarts who love to flaunt their sexual prowess. Flip the coin, and what you see is a society of men and women anxious not to be seen as sexual have-nots.

Sexuality was glorified in the 20th century as a tool for transforming the world, which was supposed to establish mankind in a state of quasi-perfection. And along the lines of the economic model, the ambiguous expression of ‘sexual deprivation’ was coined, implying a scale of libidinal prosperity. Hence, there would be the rich and the poor, pleasure- seekers and survivors, those who celebrated the body magnificently and those reduced to the strict minimum. Today, no one wants to be a sexual ‘have-not’— everyone flaunts an honourable service record, even in the dullest of marriages. Like one’s profession, salary or physical appearance, sex too has become an external sign of wealth that individuals add to their social paraphernalia. A new human species has emerged—that of hedonist ascetics who expend a great deal of energy to stir their senses and achieve a state of bliss. They work hard at their pleasure and are really tormented souls—enduring insecurity is the other side of the coin in their unceasing quest for pleasure. Such as, for instance, the young therapist, who never had an orgasm (in the Canadian film Shortbus, released in 2006) and spent her time masturbating frantically, seeking ‘The Big O’ like everyone else—the Great Orgasm that is not debauchery, but Grace, the Holy Grail, the passport to humanity redeemed.

However, there is a world of difference between what this society says about itself and the life it lives in reality. For the past half-a-century, all surveys on the sex lives of the French, Americans, Germans or Spanish have revealed that we are prey to the same obsessions, the same difficulties: male erectile disorders and difficult or impossible orgasms for women. The Kinsey Report, drafted in the aftermath of the 1948 war, threw light on sexual practices among Americans that were not really in line with moral standards. Our current investigations point to us being wiser than we think. We were considered shameless in the past, but today, we’re seen as braggarts. Our parents used to lie about their morality, but we lie about our immorality. In both cases, there is a disparity between what we say and what we do. Unlike in Freud’s time, the cultural malaise no longer stems from instincts being crushed by the moral order—it is born from their very liberation. At a time when the ideal of self-fulfilment reigns triumphant everywhere, everyone compares themselves to the norm and struggles to live up to it. That means an end to guilt and the birth of anxiety. However, sexuality is generally still considered something that should remain undisclosed. But people either boast too much to be credible, or hide it for fear of appearing gauche at a time when one’s private life has become a sport of ostentation.