Sexual poverty in US is staggering.
Every example of it saddens and astounds me all over again. Friends who made stupid and dangerous sexual mistakes because they never learned to masturbate enjoyably. Male lovers who never had sex with the lights on before, and are so uncomfortable with their bodily needs, they need to decouple their attention and their heart from their penises in order to perform (for a minute or two). Female lovers who had to blame someone, anyone, for their own desire, after the fact. So many people for whom their own sexual need is a shameful, illegitimate child locked in a dark room, never spoken of, and only fed when absolutely necessary.
This is why the treatment of sexuality in Piers Anthony’s books is so painful to read, while at the same time it perfectly exemplifies everything that’s wrong with American sexual attitudes.
For the record, I love Piers Anthony. I’ve read his often silly, sometimes heavy-handed, always punny award winning books for years, and he’s one of the few writers whose creative fecundity can keep up with my voracious reading habit. I’m in the middle of his “Jason Striker” series right now. It’s entertaining.
And it hurts.
Hero is a selfish jerk… and he sucks in bed.
The hero is an accomplished martial arts master, supposedly a good and honorable person whose control seems to be superb… until it comes to the marital arts. He meets a succession of women, and is unable to keep it in his pants even when faced with dire consequences, or with frisky women quite below the legal age of consent. Because, you know, men are led by their penises, and once they get hard, they just *have to* stick it in somewhere.
Once he does stick it in, he doesn’t worry about birth control and doesn’t even pull out – even when fucking a virgin who would be killed by a jealous guardian if she got pregnant, or when spending a whole night in sweaty clutches of a student’s mother who greeted him with a scream “Make me a baby!”. A few moments of worry after the fact is all Anthony equips him with. Because if you have sex, pregnancy is simply one of those things that happen, or not. To woman, of course, so it’s “*shrug* too bad” at worst. The hero unemotionally walks away from any possible fatherhood.
Forget the foreplay. The best the dame can hope for is a good judo workout or an all-out fight before the few pumps and a squirt. In fact, when “forced” to perform for more than a few minutes by an older woman who demands her satisfaction – one that shows her desire so “aggressively” that she effectively unmans the hero – he valiantly goes down on her while his internal dialogue indicates this is something perverted he would normally never consider, as it’s “way out there” in sexual adventurism. She has an orgasm. Of course, it turns out she’s a nymphomaniac who wrecked her marriage because of her sexuality, which she readily admits by calling herself a “nympho” and openly talking about her sexual appetites.
Ignorant Madonnas give a best boner – whores wilt willies!
In fact, almost any woman conscious of her libido and with an unapologetic attitude towards sexuality, in any of Anthony’s books, is eventually labeled a “nympho”, earns a man’s disgust and/or fear, and is always portrayed as pathological and ruinous to herself and others.
Women that are not “nyphos” are often disturbingly young, sexually precocious in an endearing (and safely non-threatening to men) instinctive way, and completely idiotic in the sexual arena. The great majority of girls Jason ends up screwing (all their fault, they swindle or tease him until he “has no choice”) are virgins, which I presume makes them Good Girls, despite their inexplicable temporary horniness. (A good thing too, as they don’t know enough to be unhappy with his apparently terrible sexual skills.)
Despite being quite smart in other areas, they’re too stupid to consider any kind of protection or birth control, and, cowlike, accept the specter of possible pregnancy as “just one of those things, you know”. In fact, no one even for a moment considers any consequences. Because, I guess, any kind of forethought, consideration or learning in sex would mean that they, gasp, went there *intentionally*.
I need to take a shower – and not a cold one
Piers Anthony’s treatment of sexuality is a distasteful mixture of St. Augustine’s sex and self hatred (truly, that saint was a complete nut) and Victorian pride in sexual superstition and ignorance. Rape abounds, sex is much more likely to be used as a weapon or without any respect for oneself or the other person (or even desire!), than as an expression of love, or even care. Except in rare cases, even its placement within the stories is stilted and crude, as if the author dropped in some mechanical screwing to make for better sales, but he’s washing his hands of the whole nasty deed at the same time.
It makes you feel dirty, and not in a good way.
Sadly, this is an accurate portrayal for so many sexually impoverished people around us – people who will never experience the pure, weirdly innocent joy of a guilt-free friendly romp, or the sheer mindless ecstasy that comes with a fourth (or twentieth) orgasm in a row, or the transcendence of gazing at the beloved with wide open eyes, heart and legs; slow love transforming the physical pleasure into something so big, it can only be described as holy.
I don’t have an answer. I only hope that, one day, America will grow up and become less like one of those fundamentalist countries we like to bomb. In the meantime, forgive yourself for being human, try to love your genitals, be mindful with your lovers, and for god’s sake, don’t force your kids to hate themselves and parts of their life, no matter how uncomfortable certain facts of life make you.