When Is Sex Too Much Sex?

 

A friend and I went out for dinner the other night, and she asked what I was working on these days, so I told her about a story I was thinking about writing. I explained the complexity of the characters and the philosophical themes that wove their way through the plot. She listened dutifully, sipping on her wine and occasionally glancing around the restaurant. After several minutes, she started shaking her head. I stopped talking and braced for a critique. What I got was advice.

“No, no, don’t write that. I mean, it’s fine, but what you need to write about is sex. Erotica is hot now.”

She then tossed back her blonde locks, asked for another glass of wine, and began to enthusiastically describe various scenes I should put in my book, complete with a tall Swede who looks just like Eric Northman of True Blood — but maybe with a scar.

When I told her I didn’t want to write an erotica novel, that I don’t even like erotica, and that, to be honest, it infuriates me, she just laughed and said, “It’s just sex, Denise. Women empowering themselves, having fun. It’s what women have always wanted and now we’ve got it.”

I left dinner that night disappointed and a little discouraged because I knew that with the phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey she was right. That point hit home the next day when I read that Canada now has its own E. L. James. The book is called S.E.C.R.E.T. and the author writes under the pseudonym L. Marie Adeline. She hadn’t even written five chapters before her book was scooped up by publishers in 30 countries.

“I’ve been looking to sell out since I’ve started writing, if selling out means I actually make a living as a writer,” she said. “This is a good time to write erotica.”

That comment and news that sales of Fifty Shades of Grey had topped my beloved Harry Potter in the UK pushed me further into a depressed state.

I took a deep breath and asked myself, “Am I missing something? I don’t want to turn back the clock to a time when women’s sexuality was treated with shame and derision, when sex was merely for procreation and not to be enjoyed. But whips and chains? What’s happened to this generation of women?”

It reeks of the sex-positive feminism of the 1980s that declared sexual freedom to be the essence of women’s liberation, of the radical feminism of Naomi Wolf when she said, “Orgasm is the body’s natural call to feminist politics.” It stinks of sexualization, which brings women only harm, low self-esteem, distorted body image, depression, and anxiety. It makes me feel as if I’m living in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where monogamy is a dirty word, families are extinct, and people are expected to have lots of sex—all the time and with a lot of partners.

But maybe I’m over-thinking all this. Maybe it really is just about freedom; just about women having fun and empowering themselves. Maybe I shouldn’t judge. Christian women are reading erotica and don’t seem to care, so who am I to criticize? I certainly don’t hear men complaining about it. I get the feeling some of them are secretly enjoying it. Maybe I should just lighten up. Let girls be girls.

After all, where would I draw the line on sex in the media anyway? It’s been on television and in the movies for years now. Romance novels abound. Cable is like watching soft porn. What difference does it make that a red room of pain is now involved and that bondage and fear have replaced gentle caresses and shy kisses? Is there a breaking point in society? When is sex too much sex?

Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Members have made 352 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. ...
  9. 12
  1. Profile photo of dash Inactive

    …Raw, powerful, painful, amazing sex. Erotica is hot now.”

    She then tossed back her blonde locks, asked for another glass of wine, and began to enthusiastically describe various sex scenes…

    Must. not. ask. for. an. introduction…

    • #1
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:02 am
  2. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    Cable? Broadcast TV is soft porn. I remember walking in on my children watching dominatrix Lady Heather on CSI. Or explaining erectile dysfunction to my son during a NASCAR break for Cialis.

    • #2
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:02 am
  3. Profile photo of Eeyore Member

    “Is there a breaking point in society, a line that shouldn’t be crossed?”

    Of course there are breaking points in society, and lines that shouldn’t be crossed. But there is an entire segment of society who see it as their sacred duty to race all across the culture like a huge pack of braying coon hounds, sniffing out any semblance of such a line, calling to each other as they find one, racing across it, trampling it into oblivion and racing off to find the next one – all in hopes of achieving real freedom. Usually from the “dominant paradigm.” Stalwart souls they.

    But you knew that already.

    • #3
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:30 am
  4. Profile photo of Franco Member

    When it runs past 500 comments on Ricochet?

    • #4
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:33 am
  5. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    Eeyore

    “Is there a breaking point in society, a line that shouldn’t be crossed?”

    Of course there are breaking points in society, and lines that shouldn’t be crossed. But there is an entire segment of society who see it as their sacred duty to race all across the culture like a huge pack of braying coon hounds, sniffing out any semblance of such a line, calling to each other as they find one, racing across it, trampling it into oblivion and racing off to find the next one – all in hopes of achieving realfreedom. Usually from the “dominant paradigm.” Stalwart souls they.

    But you knew that already. · 0 minutes ago

    Yes, but the crowd following along now is everyday women, moms, grandmothers, churchgoers, teachers, etc. This kind of thing is now generally accepted. The scary thing is, it really is like Brave New World. As sexual freedom increases, political and economic freedom decreases. They’re related.

    • #5
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:34 am
  6. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    Perhaps society is ducking into the erotica as a head in the sand reaction to their being cutoff from what is going on in life. They have realized that the truth is now almost impossible to access and their former employees in the government have turned into their masters . This would explain the S&M angles that people evidently now find acceptable . 

    What was once The Story of O has gone mainstream. Where only a small segment of the public, the pre-emergent feminists, thought they needed a whipping, now vast numbers rush into the handcuffs of humiliation and a little pain. Maybe it’s a backlash of feminism that humiliates the entire reading public . 

    Noms de plume are cheap.

    • #6
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:36 am
  7. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    Eeyore

    “Is there a breaking point in society, a line that shouldn’t be crossed?”

     – all in hopes of achieving realfreedom. Usually from the “dominant paradigm.” Stalwart souls they.

    “As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase. And the dictator … will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.” Huxley

    • #7
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:52 am
  8. Profile photo of Lord Humungus Inactive

    Porno chic has come before, it will fade and it will come again. Deep Throat hit the scenes in 1972, some 40 years ago. meh….whatever. Ain’t nuthin’ new under the sun.

    What’s disturbing to me about this 50 shades bluster is the high level of proud interest, particularly among young women/girls, in what is (I’m told) a story about the joy of being enslaved. That doesn’t sound like girl power to me.

    I saw a vanity license plate recently: 50 shades. First thing that came to my mind was: dumb@$$.

    • #8
    • February 23, 2013 at 4:56 am
  9. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    Central Scrutinizer: Porno chic has come before, it will fade and it will come again. Deep Throat hit the scenes in 1972, some 40 years ago. meh….whatever. Ain’t nuthin’ new under the sun.

    What’s disturbing to me about this 50 shades bluster is the high level of proud interest, particularly among young women/girls, in what is (I’m told) a story about the joy of being enslaved. That doesn’t sound like girl power to me.

    I saw a vanity license plate recently: 50 shades. First thing that came to my mind was: dumb@$$. · 0 minutes ago

    It’s women across all age groups, all nationalities, all religions. Rich and poor. Educated, uneducated. The woman I was having dinner with is a 51-year-old Catholic mother of three who is rather wealthy and educated.

    • #9
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:02 am
  10. Profile photo of dittoheadadt Member

    I think too many people are too judgmental about others’ sex lives. If 50 Shades gives pleasure to certain people (women, mostly, I assume) and doesn’t poison their spousal relationships, I’m not sure I see the harm. I’m also not sure why the same women who enjoy 50 Shades give men grief about strip clubs and SI’s Swimsuit Issue.

    As for “the joy of being enslaved” (comment #7), from what I’ve been told (SPOILER ALERT!), by the end of the story the woman is actually the one wielding the power and the man is subjugated to her. I don’t know how true that is, however, because I wasn’t really listening as the woman was telling me about it.

    I was reading my SI.

    • #10
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:14 am
  11. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    dittoheadadt: I think too many people are too judgmental about others’ sex lives. If50 Shades gives pleasure to certain people (women, mostly, I assume) and doesn’t poison their spousal relationships, I’m not sure I see the harm. I’m also not sure why the same women who enjoy50 Shades give men grief about strip clubs and SI’s Swimsuit Issue.

    As for “the joy of being enslaved” (comment #7), from what I’ve been told (SPOILER ALERT!), by the end of the story the woman is actually the one wielding the power and the man is subjugated to her. I don’t know how true that is, however, because I wasn’t really listening as the woman was telling me about it.

    I was reading my SI. · 0 minutes ago

    If you’re right, then maybe I need a pseudonym and get to writing. 

    • #11
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:17 am
  12. Profile photo of Eeyore Member
    Denise McAllister

    Yes, but the crowd following along now is everyday women, moms, grandmothers, churchgoers, teachers, etc. This kind of thing is now generally accepted. The scary thing is, it really is like Brave New World. As sexual freedom increases, political and economic freedom decreases. They’re related. 

    “As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase. And the dictator … will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.” Huxley 

    I think you’re onto something. The libertine is not, and cannot be, a disciplined person. I think, perhaps as a species, we need structure and discipline to do our best. It may be internal or external discipline. Wipe out all those societal norms, add an unending supply of endorphins and the dictator can easily say “Hey, I got yer structure right here…” In a haze, the response may well be “Hey, sounds fine to me – just keep me feelin’ good…”

    • #12
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:22 am
  13. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    Marlene.jpgOn the other hand, the world has been through these phases before. Androgynous stars? Sure, but Marlene Dietrich did it in the late 20’s and 30’s and did it better.

    Fifty Shades in 2012? How about The Story of O (or Histoire d’O in the original French) in 1954?

    The 1920’s were absolutely scandalous. Mae West had plays called Sex, The Drag (about homosexual cross-dressers), The Wicked Age, Pleasure Man and The Constant Sinner.

    • #13
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:32 am
  14. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    Eeyore. Exactly. This is why I think this issue needs to be dealt with. Not with laws obviously but with the awakening of a sleeping social conscience.

    • #14
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:34 am
  15. Profile photo of D.C. McAllister Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    EJ Hill, they were relatively scandalous but we are witnessing a moral digression that has had ups and down but still digressing. What was scandalous in the 20s is not today. Take what we are today in a very public way and put it in a 1920s context, and they would be shocked. I think a better comparison is us to Rome. That would be a true comparison of societies. And look at what happened to Rome.

    • #15
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:39 am
  16. Profile photo of Zafar Member

    When it becomes boring. 

    Denise McAllister:

    When is sex too much sex? · · 1 hour ago

    (Which happened quite some time ago. The ‘obligatory’ sex scenes/nude shots/gay twist/blahblahblah….all of it, boring!)

    • #16
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:49 am
  17. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    Denise, you always get to the heart of the matter…I, and many others, would gladly pay up, crack the cover – or sync up the e-reader and enjoy whatever you’d consider writing. 🙂

    • #17
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:52 am
  18. Profile photo of dittoheadadt Member
    Denise McAllister
    dittoheadadt: I think too many people are too judgmental about others’ sex lives. If 50 Shades gives pleasure to certain people (women, mostly, I assume) and doesn’t poison their spousal relationships, I’m not sure I see the harm. I’m also not sure why the same women who enjoy 50 Shades give men grief about strip clubs and SI’s Swimsuit Issue.

    If you’re right, then maybe I need a pseudonym and get to writing.

    Ya got the avatar. Now just get a matching pseudonym. And be off to the races!

    • #18
    • February 23, 2013 at 5:57 am
  19. Profile photo of Schrodinger's Cat Inactive

    Atheists can laugh, but there is a force behind the debasing of societal morals, increasingly pornographic entertainment and political corruption.

    12

    For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6

    Libertarians may say “What’s the harm?”

    The answer is: this behavior causes spititual harm both to the individual and the community.

    30

    And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.Matthew 5 

    7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

    1 Thessalonians

    26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

    27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

    1 Corinthians

    • #19
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:01 am
  20. Profile photo of Lord Humungus Inactive
    Denise McAllister

    It’s women across all age groups, all nationalities, all religions. Rich and poor. Educated, uneducated. The woman I was having dinner with is a 51-year-old Catholic mother of three who is rather wealthy and educated. · 1 hour ago

    Yeah, that’s what I’m hearing. That doesn’t bother me so much; we survived the swinging 70s (barely). It’s a little jarring to watch the cougars playing at porn star, but, it’s a free country. And it does seem like playacting. It seems a little contrived, a little hey-look-at-me.

    Your friend wants to make a buck off of it, well, whaddayagonna do? Pornographers gotta eat too, I guess.

    • #20
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:16 am
  21. Profile photo of Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    “Brave New World” or “Amusing Ourselves to Death?” I can’t quite decide which we’re in.

    • #21
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:22 am
  22. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member
    Denise McAllister: I took a deep breath and asked myself, “Am I missing something? I don’t want to turn back the clock to a time when women’s sexuality was treated with shame and derision, when sex was merely for procreation and not to be enjoyed. But whips and chains?”

    My pop psychology theory of why this is the case? An analogy:

    In the same way that the once routine sorts of everyday violence–killing the animal that you’re eating at your table; having to put down a sick old pet by your own hand, etc–have been removed from our consciousness, and this has spawned a kind of fascination with ever more extreme and graphic forms of violence at a distance–see slasher movies or the Saw films–so too has the long dishonesty about the mutual and complementary forms of power inherent in human sexuality and especially sex itself (but which are purified and subliminated in that act in any healthy relationship) spawned a kind of fascination with the outward displays_and_degenerate forms of power and control.

    Thus, your whips and chains in female erotica, and acts too graphic to describe here becoming routine in pornography.

    • #22
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:25 am
  23. Profile photo of Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    I’ll also add that just as a proliferation of horror movies is a trailing indicator of tough economic times (making 1979 one of the best years for horror in US film history), so is kinky porn. If you’re going to feel powerless, you might as well enjoy it.

    Note that this doesn’t contradict the theses of either “Brave New World” or “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” as both posit a mass psychology susceptible to the forces I’m describing, which people in positions of power can, and do, exploit.

    • #23
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:28 am
  24. Profile photo of Frederick Key Inactive

    I’m not good at writing that kind of stuff myself–in fact, I’ve made it a point to keep the language in the comedic novels clean enough for my grandma (if she was still alive). (If she was, I think some of the raunchy stuff on TV would kill her.)

    The language is worse in the slice-of-life drama but I’m still not interested in writing up the sex. At best I’d still be sorry I did it, but most likely I’d make myself eligible for the Guardian‘s Bad Sex Award.

    • #24
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:39 am
  25. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Member
    Zafar: When it becomes boring. 
    Denise McAllister:

    When is sex too much sex? · · 1 hour ago

    (Which happened quite some time ago. The ‘obligatory’ sex scenes/nude shots/gay twist/blahblahblah….all of it, boring!) · 1 minute ago

    Speaking as a heavy metal fan, I sympathize. I still love the sound of over-amplified electric guitars, but at some point you realize they’re all “rebelling” in exactly the same way.

    • #25
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:40 am
  26. Profile photo of Indaba Member
    EJHill: Cable? Broadcast TV is soft porn. I remember walking in on my children watching dominatrix Lady Heather on CSI. Or explaining erectile dysfunction to my son during a NASCAR break for Cialis. · 2 hours ago

    Son #1 loves to remind me that I was watching Dr. Phil discussing Monica, Bill and certain physical acts that most certainly break COC rules. 5:00 TV while making dinner for school boys.

    • #26
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:52 am
  27. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    Zafar: When it becomes boring. 
    Denise McAllister:

    When is sex too much sex? · · 1 hour ago

    (Which happened quite some time ago. The ‘obligatory’ sex scenes/nude shots/gay twist/blahblahblah….all of it, boring!) · 1 hour ago

    I remember getting into my parents’ stash of Robert Ludlum novels in the mid 70’s and by the second or third novel being able to peg the OSS (Obligatory Sex Scene) on or about page 112.

    • #27
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:53 am
  28. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member
    Cornelius Julius Sebastian: When is sex too much sex? When it ceases to be ordered and becomes disordered. When is that? When it serves only the glands, and not the spirit too.

    Even the patron saint of the early radical feminists–that is, the man from whom they (mis)appropriated the philosophical foundation they attempted (badly) to build on–once wrote this: 

    “Sex: for the wilted soul, a sweet poison; for the lion-willed, the great invigoration of the heart–a reverently reserved wine of wines.”

    – Zarathustra, III, On the Three Evils

    And yet, we find ourselves in the age of the hook-up: that is, the age in which sex is indiscriminate. 

    • #28
    • February 23, 2013 at 6:57 am
  29. Profile photo of Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Pseudodionysius I remember getting into my parents’ stash of Robert Ludlum novels in the mid 70’s and by the second or third novel being able to peg the OSS (Obligatory Sex Scene) on or about page 112.

    112, huh? Longer than Ken Follett can usually manage. Like Aleister Crowley, he was raised Plymouth Bretheren. Left it all behind in the sexual revolution.

    Is there any creature more tediously tendentious than the hyperlibertine reactionary to a hyperrepressive religious upbringing? Scratch Anton LaVey, find a Catholic priest. At least Crowley had the grace to say you had to understand Bretheren theology to understand his work.

    • #29
    • February 23, 2013 at 7:03 am
  30. Profile photo of Cornelius Julius Sebastian Thatcher

    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” I love sex, but I find the cheapening of it to just another contact sport one the great cultural frauds to date. Mary Eberstadt has written quite eloquently of how the sexual revolution has been a disaster all around, but especially for women. It undeniably is a major factor in the divorce and non-marriage and STD and abortion and teen pregnancy epidemics. I embraced the easy sex worldview in my time of liberalism and atheism. It is a “sickly sweet confection” (that is a Scott Hahn quote I think) for a time, like all sin. The Church’s teaching on sex is, quite simply, beautiful. It’s matrimonial sacramental elegance and intrinsic complementary order sing like a symphony. Points to the transcendent. When is sex too much sex? When it ceases to be ordered and becomes disordered. When is that? When it serves only the glands, and not the spirit too.

    • #30
    • February 23, 2013 at 7:09 am
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. ...
  9. 12