MSNBC sex columnist and Best Sex Writing 2009 guest judge declares that 2009 is the year trendy sex is over:
While more information is good, sex-as-trend imposes pressure to conform. Never heard of a sex toy called “The Cone,” never been flogged by a dungeon master, or have yet to invite six strangers over for a little observational masturbation, also known as a Jack and Jill? How square. Hipsters have been so busy mining every tiny seam of our erotic underworld for nuggets of obscure novelty, and then feeding those nuggets into the crusher of pop culture, that those of us who have yet to attend a CFNM — Clothed Female Naked Male — party can feel hopelessly mainstream. (OMG!)
I recently guest edited and introduced a collection of sex writing selected by Rachel Kramer Bussel (“Best Sex Writing 2009”) and one of the most hilarious pieces in it is called “Silver Balling” by Stacey D’Erasmo. It’s the story of her quest, prompted by fear of being deemed uncool for not knowing the latest sex technique, to decipher the meaning of what proves to be a meaningless phrase.
Now, I'm really not sure sure there is or ever was a thing as "trendy sex" or who these hipsters were? My take is that it's not so much about sex as a novelty act as that those on the margins and in many sexual subcultures are finally feeling like it's okay to be more out. Obviously, not totally out, but more than they have been in the past. Whether being out about your sex life is a good or bad thing is not for me to decipher.
I think if people are trying sexual acts only because they think "everyone else is doing it" and it's not something they're actually into, that's ridiculous, but at the same time, if people do that with other areas of their lives, why not sex? Some of those people might find things in their experimentation they wouldn't have thought they were into, but are. I think the major problem with getting people to be more open is that there is still a lot of stigma associated with certain acts. Now, that doesn't mean I want to hear all about your personal experimentation with being a bend over boyfriend (as I was recently regaled with while at an event at a bar). Maybe I do from my friends, but not from people I don't know, but that episode did show me that people do actually want to talk about sex. Not everyone, but plenty of people, which is why I think sex stories thrive...and not just ones that originate from AVN.
I'm honored that my book got a mention in such a prestigious publication and for Brian Alexander's most excellent help in culling all the submissions and stories I had selected. And I think he's onto something at the end of this piece:
We are much more live-and-let-live when it comes to consenting adults having sex they way they want than most people think, despite the success a few culture combatants have had in ginning up fear.
But it does mean that sex is about to lose its patina of trendiness. Instead, I think we’re about to return to what has always been most interesting about sex — that moment when two people find themselves in a room, naked and full of anticipation.
I just don't see these as mutually exclusive. I think we can have quality sex writing and blogging and journalism and still retain our own private moments of sexual enlightenment and pleasure. It's not and as far as I can tell has never been about oneupmanship, but figuring out which parts of the endless array of sexual options fit with your life/lifestyle/personality/orientation/etc. "Options" perhaps sounds too cavalier, and I don't mean it that way. I just resent the idea that by putting too much out there, some of us (and I have to consider myself part of that for the purpose of this discussion, even though I don't think I am at all) are ruining it for the rest of you.
That's exactly the argument that underlies Paula Derrow's introduction to Behind the Bedroom Door, which I will delve into more soon. I guess maybe some people do feel that way, but if so, isn't that their problem and not the culture's? Isn't it more telling that someone's sexuality would be threatened by someone else being open and honest about their kinks, rather than that the second person has kinks in the first place? It's kindof like the people who say that same-sex marriage threatens homosexual marriage. How and why is it so easily threatened?
Maybe there is "pressure to conform" and I'm blind to it, but I don't think so, because in order to feel pressure, one has to feel insecure in one's position on some level. I guess it's better for me to speak only for myself, so I'll say that I could care less what other people are doing in bed or out when it comes to sex. Like, I'm often into spanking, but do I have a vested interest in other people being into spanking? Not at all. It certainly doesn't affect my sex life, so why should my spanking predilection affect someone else's? So I really can't go there all the way with Alexander's argument, except to say that if people have been solely taking their sexual cues from media or friends or others outside of themselves (including their partners), then it's probably time for some introspection. I think gaining insight via all these sources is great, but not if there's nothing there on a more personal level to back it up.