“No Sex Please we’re British” was a West End theatrical farce, lampooning the shy, inhibited attitudes of the British to sex.–
Today that production seems like history. We British are not noticeably reticent when it comes to talking about, or having sex.
The media eagerly describe the antics of celebrities. Popularly, there is also easy acceptance of sex and transient relationships.
A character in “High fidelity” describes sex as one of her ‘basic human rights’. Others regard sex as an itch, a natural urge, which has to be satisfied.
Sex is something we can’t do without. There is an assumption that everybody is ‘doing it’, and that something is wrong with you if you’re not.
Likewise, being in a ‘relationship’, necessarily involving sex, is seen as normal and essential for personal fulfilment.
What then of the rise of another social grouping – the Asexuals?
These are people who say they feel no sexual urge or desire. However, they do not see that as a problem needing sorting out, perhaps through psychotherapy to reawaken their sexual feelings.
No. For the asexual, this is their new norm. They are quite happy with their sexless lives, excluding perhaps the uncomprehending attitudes of their peers.
They are not against sex on principle, or for other people. Just for themselves. Instead they covet other forms of intimacy and friendship.
Asexuals therefore provide a foil to our society’s attitudes toward sex and relationships. They suggest there are other ways of ordering the intimate aspects of our lives.
Judging from the sadness that many experiences in relationships, the abuse of trust between sexual partners, and the breakdown of marriages, maybe the hopes we invest in having the perfect sex life are not all they’re supposed to be?
The openness of asexuals to discovering another basis for contentment may help us question our own assumptions.
Maybe our fantasies about fulfilling romantic relationships are indeed unrealistic dreams?
There are many ways to conceptualise or imagine our sexual practices. Sexual identities too are socially and ideologically constructed in variously within different cultures and civilisations, times and eras.
It reminds me of ancient and mediaeval stories of virgins, male and female, who refused pressures to marry, for religious reasons.
Today, we often look down on such unfortunates as misguided, sexually repressed, individuals.
For them, however, the rejection of societal norms and expectations gave freedom to live alternative lifestyles.
Education and learning, cultural and political advancement, were available to those who escaped from sexual ties and marital bonding.
Perhaps we too need to escape from our infatuation with infatuation. We term ‘adult’ anything, from comedy to movies, which pertains to sex.
In reality, this preoccupation is far from adult, but is rather ‘adolescent’, a puerile fascination with the ‘naughty bits’.
Slavoj Zizek asserts that individualistic sexual libertarianism is capitalism’s strategy to distract us from the disciplined activism needed for revolutionary change. Perhaps recovering the asexual is a signals the reawakening of seriousness in realising our potential in all areas of existence?