How sex-positive is anti-sex

Essays on technology, psycho­analysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek


July 16, 2009

How sex-positive is anti-sex

This was a comment I made in response to a blog post about a new sex-positive social networking site called Blackbox Republic:

I think you are right about the extremes. On one side, the traditional viewpoint thinks you should be ashamed for enjoying yourself. On the other, the sex-positive folks who think you should be ashamed for not enjoying yourself. The former is on the decline and the latter is increasingly common, but in order to frame the sex-positive folks as radical forward-thinkers, it’s necessary to exaggerate the “bad” traditional viewpoint.

Not only do we have to enjoy sex, we have to do so in public. Keeping those things private out of modesty is perceived as shamefully uptight and inhibited, which is why Blackbox Republic starts you off with little sharing, but a quick glance at the website indicates the point of view: ultimately, you have a moral obligation to express your sexuality in public, but they tolerantly and nonjudgmentally accept that it’s a gradual process for some.

But isn’t it clear that Paul Begala, the stereotypically repressed Catholic, is expressing the truly sex-positive viewpoint? What if sex is only enjoyable and exciting because it happens in secret, behind closed doors, behind the back of the big authority? The guilty pleasure is the only true pleasure. In this sense, Catholic monogamy is the ideal: everyone knows that a married couple is doing it, but it’s still kept secret. We all interact together as if we don’t know. And the best way to prevent teenagers from having sex is for the parents’ to share openly all the intimate, disgusting details of their sex life.

Once the authority is defeated and sex comes out of the closet and into the open, it becomes boring, routine, reduced to mere moving body parts. They want to make sex like any other natural activity, like sleeping or eating or walking? Those are the most boring parts of life! Maybe they want to take it even further and make it like shitting: no pleasure, just bad smells, bodily functions and a mess to clean up afterwards.