From Sexy Humans to Mechanical Animals

 

Continuing to ride the bourgeois beat today (see below), I give you Camille Paglia, resurfacing at the New York Times while she writes a book. My favorite leftie tees up American sexual culture and knocks it out of the park:

Pharmaceutical companies will never find the holy grail of a female Viagra — not in this culture driven and drained by middle-class values. Inhibitions are stubbornly internal. And lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist.

I’d excerpt the whole thing, but that’s what links are for. In a culture struggling to reconcile bloodless science and animalistic appetite, the human element is getting squeezed out of sex. Paglia stays (probably wisely) away from the Sex in the City films, which have progressively dehumanized a cast of characters who became beloved in the first place for being So Real. But Paglia warns us that this can happen in real life, too, with all the blinding self-celebration of the movies.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CasBalicki

    Female Viagra, imagine what this will do to the medical profession. At this moment men are walking into doctor’s offices with questions about ingrown toenails, body piercings, tattoos, and swollen ankles—do you think I’m retaining water, doctor—only to get to the point some twenty minutes later: “Doc I’m not impotent or anything, but can I get some Viagra.” Hell! The only compliant that hasn’t been used as a lead in for Viagra is housemaid’s knee, and that only because no man ever would admit to sore knees before asking for Viagra scrip.

    Now the doctors will have women, too, leading in with phoney complaints before poppin’ the “real” question. I can just hear my doctor friends, “She came to ask about botox, then moved on to liposuction, then she asked about her ankles getting fat when it was her butt she should have been worried about, before finally saying, “I’m not frigid or anything, but my husband and I want to try an evening on Viagra and filbanserin, just to see what everyone else in the subdivision is on about.” Now, that’s how to keep medical costs down.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @Caryn

    Paglia is an amazing writer, but this one is a dud. It’s blah blah blah bourgeois middle class values are the root of all evil. Okay, so I paraphrase.

    Perhaps the real problem with sexual boredom is the typical cause of boredom: overexposure. Perhaps with a little mystery, a little less exposure, a little less pressure, and a little more appreciation, a little more affection, a little more acceptance of normal bumps and bulges as time goes on, and here I’m about to get really radical: perhaps fewer partners. There is something profoundly freeing about having only one sexual partner. Instead of marriage being a prison of deprivation from all the potentially (but somehow elusive) great sex out there with multiple interchangeable partners, it becomes the one place where sexual expression is enabled and trust can be complete. Try that one for spicing up the sex life. Of course it’s too late for most of us, but try the thought experiment. There’s nothing like anticipation…

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos
    Caryn: Paglia is an amazing writer, but this one is a dud. It’s blah blah blah bourgeois middle class values are the root of all evil. Okay, so I paraphrase.

    Perhaps the real problem with sexual boredom is the typical cause of boredom: overexposure. Perhaps with a little mystery, a little less exposure, a little less pressure, and a little more appreciation, a little more affection, a little more acceptance of normal bumps and bulges as time goes on, and here I’m about to get really radical: perhaps fewer partners. There is something profoundly freeing about having only one sexual partner. Instead of marriage being a prison of deprivation from all the potentially (but somehow elusive) great sex out there with multiple interchangeable partners, it becomes the one place where sexual expression is enabled and trust can be complete. Try that one for spicing up the sex life. Of course it’s too late for most of us, but try the thought experiment. There’s nothing like anticipation…

    It’s a great point, Caryn. I didn’t read Paglia, though, to be writing off the middle class as hopelessly unsexed. Can your point and hers be reconciled?

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos

    One other thing — now in addition to ‘female Viagra’ there’s a Pill for guys.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @Caryn

    Perhaps I was overly critical and I admire her writing greatly. I do think she was writing off the middle class as hopelessly inhibited, which is a word she used. It seems to me that she is doing some projecting and also really hoping that her sexual revolution will succeed. I think our points can not be reconciled, but are, in fact, diametrically opposed. She looks to the loosening of sexual restraint as a good thing and I am suggesting exactly the opposite. There may be something quite radical in my suggestion. A return to propriety as a means of spicing up the sex life? Yup, that’s exactly what I’m proposing. Some of the most sexually satisfied people I know are deeply religious, long term married couples that have had no other partners but each other. Meanwhile, I know far too many walking wounded from the sexual revolution to see it as having been a good thing. In general, restraint is a good thing. Aristotle talked about it in the Nicomachean Ethics as one of the virtues. Some things just don’t change. Human nature being one of them. Despite the best hopes of the tenured radicals.

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  6. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen

    I like Paglia because, in addition to being a very good writer, she is a feminist iconoclast, a smart woman realizing that liberation is shedding any tendency toward victimology. Here she is a bit off-base, because she writes it solely from the “feminine” standpoint of feelings and emotions. Any discussion of sex that ignores biochemistry is essentially worthless, and often counter-productive.

    The fact is, men and women are not alike. An average male is at about Maslow level 1.5 in this area, while an average female normally can get along just fine at level 4. The strongest marriages find the way to bridge that gap, and when they do, the relationship is the richest possible between two human beings. The drug in question could, in many cases, help bridge that Maslow gap- but the relevant comparison is not to Viagra (capability) but testosterone (inclination).

    The fact remains that most honest and testosterone-normal males could, absent self-discipline- no matter what the culture suggests- amuse themselves on a pure physical basis with almost any appealing female, given the opportunity. The beauty of love and marriage is that we choose faithfulness and don’t feel deprived.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen
    Caryn

    Duane Oyen:

    The beauty of love and marriage is that we choose faithfulness and don’t feel deprived.

    Duane, That is lovely and says some of what I was getting at a few posts back–but so much better.

    Your comments about biological sex differences are also spot on (as, too, your description of the appeal of Paglia). BTW, I thought that testosterone is often prescribed for women to, as you say, increase “inclination.” Perhaps this new drug works similarly? · Jul 1 at 12:19pm

    It is, indeed, but the dosing is very tricky; and female HRT tabs have inflexible levels when flexibility is needed.

    The side effects are problematical, particularly acne and hirsutism; if the patient doesn’t start out absolutely committed to resolving the problem, there are a lot of excuses/off-ramps as rationale to dodge the therapy. And God, brilliantly utilizing one compound for multiple purposes, gave women testosterone not only for enhanced libido, but also for building muscle and bone mass. When a younger woman has an oopherectomy (removal of ovaries), there is a nasty tendency toward osteoporosis.

    I suspect that this new drug has a much different action, more on brain centers.

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  8. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen

    We probably need George or Andrea (vicariously) to lend more expertise here….

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @Caryn
    Duane Oyen:

    The beauty of love and marriage is that we choose faithfulness and don’t feel deprived.

    Duane, That is lovely and says some of what I was getting at a few posts back–but so much better.

    Your comments about biological sex differences are also spot on (as, too, your description of the appeal of Paglia). BTW, I thought that testosterone is often prescribed for women to, as you say, increase “inclination.” Perhaps this new drug works similarly?

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @Caryn

    Duane–an addendum to that last, for clarification:

    I meant to say that you said it better than I did, but in rereading, I’m not sure if that’s clear.

    • #10

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