Sex in the Modern World

Maureen Bothe

Featured Rightgrrl May 1999
May 2, 1999

Sex has always been seen differently by men and women. We have had many wars over who is "right" about sex, but we all agree that sex is a wonderful invention. Just the mention of the word can perk up our ears and the mass media has honed their skills on using the popular word as much as possible, even if it has nothing to do with an event or program.

I love romance and romantic things, but romance doesn't equal sex as we see it today. Gone seem to be the days when we were glued to the screen, be it large or small, waiting in breathless anticipation of the first kiss between hero and heroine. The kiss was the victory, epiphany, the end all be all of the show. After countless minutes, hours of the young lovers coyly gazing into one another's eyes, a kiss completed and in a way, consummated the relationship. It was enough.

Today, there is never enough. We started by shedding clothing bit by bit, being risky and shocking. Gaining ratings points with every flash of skin. Moving on to partial nudity, then to full frontal nudity and now, even men *gasp* are baring all. But no, it is not enough to have even complete nudity! We must have inspections of the anatomy, lewd comments, people objectified for a quick buck and a cheap thrill.

Some argue that the human body is not shameful, we should be open and accepting of it. Jenny McCarthy, pin-up girl, MTV trinket, and Mistress of the Obvious said, "We're born naked." Yes, Jenny we were born naked. We were also born imperfect, with tendencies towards alcoholism, obesity, cancer. As growing humans we have moles, scars, stretch marks, and *no!* hair in our armpits. Not that the media thinks any of these features should be celebrated or even tolerated. The motto of society? Be naked, be free, be liberated, show us your body-but only if you have breast implants, a tiny waist, are shaved clean and have perfect skin. Something was lost between the admirable "Feel comfortable with and accept your body" and the "Be perfect for other's approval" creed.

Nudity. I fail to see how ogling a woman's breasts make me feel more comfortable with my sexuality and my body. Sex. I don't need to see people have sex in film,tv, on the net and in print to know I am a sexual being and I have the capability of enjoying that fact. But those who think being modest is equivalent to "repression" of sexual desire would have us believe that the more promiscuous we are, the more "healthy" we are. How so? I have often been called a "prude" or told that I "have a problem" with my "sexuality" simply because I don't want to go to a film and be bombarded with images of sex and nudity, most of which i must add is on the part of the female. Indeed females are an icon for male entertainment. What a shame to reduce human beings to nothing more than a few titillating body parts.

The media is on a campaign to desensitize us. It has already happened to me, and innocence is hard if not impossible to recapture. Sex is as meaningless to many women today as it is for the stereotypical male. We see the headlines, the articles in women's magazines screaming about "pleasing men", "orgasms!" and having "the best sex". Have we no shame? Is shame such a destructive thing, or can it be a useful tool to help us keep sacred and special the act that is in my opinion the most intimate that humans can share? For if it is not, what is? What is left for us now?

We live in a world where "abstinence" is a dirty word, where, according to the women who ate spermicidal jelly on toast because she ignored the label, "How can you be expected to read instructions when you're aroused?" How can we expect anything from society when it is in a continual state of arousal, or seeking it at all costs?

They say sex is really all in the brain. if so, why are we so urged to mold our bodies, protect the sensitivity of our erogenous zones, while ignoring the most important one of all? What makes something precious? Maybe when you can't find it on every street corner and on every newsstand. Maybe it is not having more sex that will make it "better", but less. Not that we should go back to a day when it was taboo to admit you enjoy sex, or are made an outcast because of it. But there is a difference between being comfortable with your sexuality, and being uncomfortable feeling the need to prove it to everyone else.

This article copyright © 1999 by Maureen Bothe and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.