Sunday, February 8, 2009
Sex and Sensibilities
I’ve followed numerous blogs for several years now and I’ve noticed a consistent content division that I find interesting. If you focus on what I call “personal” blogs, for lack of a better term – blogs that are not specifically tied to business, politics or world affairs – they seem to fall into two camps.
1. Those that never mention sex; and
2. Those that almost always mention sex and are clearly focused on sexual activities/ lifestyles/preferences.
Blogs in the second category may include posts that are not sexually oriented, but most deal with s-e-x in some fashion. Romantic sex, vanilla sex, kinky sex, bizarre sex, etc. You name it, if it is in anyway tied to human’s sexual lives, problems or pleasures, someone is writing about it. Usually multiple someones. Sometimes thousands of someones.
I find the way adults tend to compartmentalize their interests, values and beliefs into neatly defined boxes endlessly fascinating. We have hobbies and leisure activities, careers, social causes, spiritual lives, family and friends, political affiliations and we have sex. There is some overlapping of compartments – we work with our friends, or our religious and political beliefs are intertwined. But in real life, our sexual box (pun intended) is kept distinctly separate from everything else. It may be a plus if you bear affection for your sexual partner, considering them at least a friend, but it isn’t necessary.
We all have a sex life -- single, married, straight, gay, sexually active or celibate, it doesn’t matter. Our sexuality is a constant in our lives, whether we are getting any or not. It may be actively pursued and consumed, exist solely in the imagination, buried deep within one’s subconscious, stridently denied or submerged, but the fact that humans are sexual creatures cannot be avoided. It’s one of the few constants that not only inserts itself into our waking hours, it occupies our sleeping hours as well.
This compartmentalization is carried into our online lives. At first pass this seems logical. People like a certain degree of anonymity when they discuss their sexual habits. Especially if their sexual habits involve anything beyond a married husband and wife performing intercourse in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation. And despite how loudly or often our more upright or uptight fellow humans protest, the vast majority (I’m thinking 99.7653%) of all humans’ typical sexual practices fall outside that narrow and stultifyingly dull scenario.
There are real ramifications to making your sexual practices or desires public knowledge via the internet. Ramifications that could impact your marriage, your family or your career. In a perfect world this seems grossly unfair, but there it is.
There is also valid concern about children having access to any content of a sexual nature, so we separate and hide sexually explicit content behind parental controls and warnings.
This compartmentalization of sex in real life and on the web also stems from how much we treasure our sexuality. Face it, no matter how good your life is, a fair-sized chunk of it sucks at any given time. Ideally, and I am always an idealist, a person’s sex life, whether real or fantasy, is a high point among a lot more low points in any given day. So we guard and we treasure the gift. If we are going to share the details of our sexuality with others, we want to share it with people that are genuinely interested, sympathetic and worthy of the sharing. We don’t want to expose our vulnerabilities to people who will be offended, belittle or denigrate us because of our sexual choices.
Another reason this great blog divide exists is that people have difficulty absorbing too much diverse information at one time. Rather than reading these online journals for the simple sake of enjoying them, regardless of the topic, we visit blogs that feed us the specific content on the specific subject we want to read at that moment.
I don’t go to one of my favorite blogs, written by a single mother discussing the trials, tribulations, humors and joys of raising a special needs child, to read about her date with the attorney who asked her to spank him, or her ongoing struggle to end an intense and extremely erotic affair with one of her son’s married doctors. Conversely, I don’t follow one of the adult content sites I check in on occasionally because I am looking for a critic’s discussion of the movies nominated for an Academy Award.
So, there are valid reasons for this separation of sexual and non-sexual content, although I think the distinction is too severe. But readers do a disservice to themselves if they limit their reading to blogs falling only into one category or the other. The great gift the internet provides is the level playing field for accumulating knowledge through the sharing of information and opinion among a disparate group of people. Someone who never explores that diversity of content, including sexual, will miss out. They miss the whole picture, the complete story, by limiting their exposure to websites or blogs that never disagree with their own world view, that only discuss topics they are fully comfortable discussing and that never offend their sensibilities. Sensibilities should be offended. Fairly frequently. It is one of the ways we learn about ourselves and the breadth of our personal boundaries.
Some of the best short stories, essays and poetry I’ve ever read are on sexual-content blogs. There are amazingly talented writers, who just happen to chose sexuality as their subject. Some of the most positive affirmations of life I’ve ever seen are on sexual content blogs. Some of the most heartbreakingly sad, yet beautiful imagry and dreams are expressed in adult content journals - content that truly stirs the soul.
Likewise, some of the most negative affirmations of life I’ve ever seen were on blogs that at first appeared to be totally innocuous. Some of the most offensive writings I have ever read are on sites that tout themselves as morally superior and always truthful. Images of mankind at it’s worst are often seen through the camera of self-righteous, narrow-minded prudery and posted on blogs under the misconception that they represent the only “correct” way to view the world.