Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sex as Protest?

I will admit that I subscribe to Out magazine. Yes its trite and insipid but I like to masturbate mentally with all media types: audio, visual, and print. In this month's issue there is an article by Stephanie Fairyington that addresses the mounting pressure to couple within the queer community, whether it be for a night or for the long haul. As usual for Out the article brings some interesting points to the table but doesn't quite follow through enough to really make a dent in your head. So naturally I took it upon myself to expound on something that was quoted in the article.

Testimonials for raging against the pressure to couple are given halfway through the article. Typical blurbs from men confessing that they hooked up for the sake of feeling attractive, needed, or wanted. This is all familiar to us and was not any kind of new insight. In fact many of these stories could have just as easily been ripped from an E! True Hollywood Story about a famous female porn star. However, when it came time for Fairyington to give pro-promoscuity views on the subject she quoted the noted David Halperin, an English/queer studies professor at the University of Michigan.

Halperin says "heterosexual culture in the West has produced a culture of erotic impoverishment, in which sex is supposed to be rare, and then has turned rarity into a virtue. Gay male culture has the sense to challenge that destructive notion."

GIve. Me. A. Fucking. Break!

By and large, but not in every case, I think queer studies is bullshit. Most of the time, as demonstrated by Halperin, its just intellectual dribble from the mouths of english professors turned metaphysicians rationalizing being a slut. I'm not advocating promiscuity or monogamy, live your life the way you want as long as you're not hurting others around you. I could care less. But to say that gay male culture is consciously (he said "Gay male culture has THE SENSE to challenge...") tearing down the oppressive heterosexual moires via promiscuity is utterly absurd.

Biologically males have one purpose. Deliver the sperm to as many eggs as possible. Females are genetically programmed to be selective about who's sperm they will accept. The number of eggs a female can produce is finite and they are therefore precious and not to be wasted. As a result females are selective so as not to propagate undesirable genetic traits to future generations with the few opportunities that they have to reproduce. Therefore, females should want to test the males and see which one is willing to endure her selective process before allowing him to couple with her. That means playing hard to get, which should not be confused with "erotic impoverishment." The consequence of two males getting together is no more than a loss of sperm which is produced throughout the entire course of the male's life. Biologically males have no hang-ups about sex because they can afford, and are programmed, to have as much of it as possible. One could argue that the advent of birth control has made this argument moot and invalid; that straight people are at liberty to be sluts without having to worry about making frankenbabies. My answer to that is that condoms and birth control pills do not alter our genetic code and are incidental blips in the grand context of nature.

Additionally what is so wrong with a little bit of restraint when it comes to sex? I find that its the anticipation of the sex, the chase, that is the true allure of the act itself. Nothing is more off putting, to me anyway, than seeing profiles on gay.com that feature a photo of a splayed ass with a caption that says "My door is unlocked, come use me now." I prefer my sex to be more dimensional than a basic bodily function.

In conclusion, Halperin needs to come out of the closet as a slut and stop trying to rationalize his overactive libido. If you're a slut then you're a slut. We've all been there, some of us are still there and there is nothing wrong with that. But please, please don't tell me that the reason why you like five or six dicks clambering to get into your mouth at one time is because you want to tear down oppressive heterosexual moires. When gay men go out on a saturday night and take a waft from their little amber vial before entering a sea of sweaty shirtless men the last thing on their minds is making a social statement. Its far more primal than that. They want to cum.

If you want to read something that gives insight into how gays and gay culture shape and direct our society check out Herbert Muschamp's article from the New York Times last week, Architecture; The Secret History.


Blogger Spider said...

Just when I thought yesterday's post was one of your best, you do this one. I am not blowing sunshine up you ass Adam - THIS IS EXCELLENT - you managed to take things I have thought and wondered about and put them into a VERY well written piece that sums up my feeling perfectly. You are very talented my friend! A WONDERFUL piece of writing man!

7:45 AM  
Blogger tim said...

I am always amazed at how promiscuity is always trying to be explained/justified by anyone. You are right about being a slut. Just be one. It's okay. Whether we like it or not, we are mired in a society that, for some strange reason, has created this taboo/sinful air about sexuality. Sex IS primal. That's all it is. It is a pleasure that is neither illegal nor illicit. Enjoy it when you can. I think the bigger issue is why as a society we look poorly upon not being coupled, sexually or not.

8:11 AM  
Blogger tornwordo said...

That was much more thought provoking than the article I'm sure. Well done.

Still, I kept thinking that I know a lot of gay guys who are slutty AND extremely selective, and trying to figure how that meshes given the genetic predispositions you describe.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Well said Adam!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Willing Warrior said...

HA! Exactly.

I am so sick of hearing that being monogamous is simply a heterosexual norm and was defined by heterosexuals. To me it just shows a lack of character to say so. Besides... why do we constantly feel the need to compare ourselves, and for that matter reject everything that has to do with, our straight "counterparts". Just because we are different does not mean that we are any less human or that a human heart is any less powerful. I think it is the very basic example in showing that we lack respect for ourselves and do not understand what it means to respect others.
Can't anything be sacred?

9:31 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Great post.

I've never went through the slut phase, and never had a desire to fuck strangers. I'm a serial monogamist, as one of my friends says :)

So it is irritating when magazines publish articles like this and try to create some sort of gay pop culture and define it. I love gay magazines, but often times I don't relate to the opinions.

Who are these gay people? Their opinions don't match up with anyone I know.

Oh well.

10:01 AM  
Blogger BRETTCAJUN said...

Adam... you are a genius! I enjoy reading everything you write. In fact, just reading your post turned on my lightbulb. My latest post on my blog was sparked by thinking about some of the things you wrote.

10:51 AM  
Blogger DanNation said...

Good post - we'll discuss later??

12:01 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I trully believe that sex is a gift from God. And like any gift, you shouldn't abuse it, lest it be taken away from you.

Sex is too often separated from Responsibility.

Excellent post.

1:11 PM  
Blogger GayProf said...

Wow, okay – There is a great deal going on in this post. As somebody who has part of their job invested in Queer Theory, I gotta make a plug for the academic folk. Hey, I have real economic self-interest involved here in defending Queer Theory.

Your entry, I think, draws attention to some of the problems of translating Queer Theory to our day-to-day lives. I see Queer Theory as both an intellectual pursuit and a political strategy. Queer scholarship questions how our modern concerns about sex and sexuality changed over time. Assumptions about the erotic, love, and so forth have not been constant over the centuries or across space (as Halperin articulated).

Politically, I think Queer Theory argues that sexual difference should be viewed as a form of dissent. Nonconforming practices, expressions, and beliefs about sex and sexuality challenge existing power structures and attempt to create more possibilities for freedom. We should be skeptical, therefore, about attempts to make queer folk “just like” straight folk. We aren’t the same and I am personally am glad about that.

So, I also take issue with calling somebody a “slut” who seeks the variety of sexual experiences you describe. It’s not my scene, to be certain; however, as long as they play safe and everybody involved is cool with it, I am not sure we should toss out judgement. I would also ask if you really know much about Halperin’s personal life? If not, it seems a bit dangerous to make too many assumptions.

Finally, where I would disagree with Halperin and others is that dissent can take multiple forms. Just as I don’t want to toss judgements onto the folk with more open-ended sexual adventures, I would prefer they not assume couples in monogamous relationships have somehow historically been duped. After all, we are a product of our time and circumstances and we learn to understand love and sex through those terms. It is therefore understandable that many of us do want a committed, long-term relationship. Forming those relationships can also be an act of resistance because they defy expectations about gender and sexuality. LTR's are not morally better or worse to me, but they can be as radical as nonmonogamy.

What we need, I think, is more discussion about these issues within the queer community. Adam, you and I probably disagree a great deal on the role of biology and culture. Our intellectual formation occurred within different discourses (yours being science, mine being cultural studies). At the same time, though, we also have a great deal in common in terms of our goals and beliefs about social justice. It seems better to try to work out these things through constructive dialog. Queer theory, I acknowledge, has proved difficult to translate into terms that are usable in public debates; however, I urge extreme caution about abandoning it all together.

Okay, I hope that doesn’t sound too defensive – As you know, I am always a fan of your blog.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

GayProf. I value your thoughts on the subject greatly! It is to be expected that we explain the world around us in the terms we know best. For me its biology, for a physcicist its physics, etc.

I used slut not as a form of judgement but more as a colloquialism in order to make the read less forensic.

You've given great talking points in your comment but I don't ever want anyone to think that they are being defensive. I posted this to express my viewpoint and I want discussion. Alternate viewpoints are ALWAYS welcome here. This blog is not a broadcast.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Darin said...

Wait...what is this Gay Sex thing you all talk about????

I'm lost.

4:25 PM  
Blogger woe said...

Brilliant post Adam. Sometimes I think to much in life is intellectualised when it should just be seen for what it is.

Your statement was succinct and to the point here, "Its far more primal than that. They want to cum."

Perhaps I should sign this as potential slut ;-)

4:35 PM  
Blogger jjd said...

hmm. I find myself on the fence here. Certainly I don't think gay culture has made a "conscious" decision to defy traditional puritan roles that define most heterosexual relations. Indeed, it only takes one day at a club full of horny guys to dissuade me of that belief -- but I do think that: given gays need to reassess societal mores in general, since we are summarily rejected from the mainstay of our heterosexual counterparts, gives some of us the pause and deliberation to decide to do things differently that many other hetero-norm couples and people wouldn't bother with. This to me, is Joe.My.God and his cadre of friends beliefs. I think some of these people are in it just to fuck, I think some of them truly believe in some kind of idealistic vision. I don't think we should be iconoclasts just for the sake of being gay.. and in that sense, I am in agreement with monogamy and its values. For me they work, for others, they don't. I think there is some benefit to queer studies, because I believe some component of who we are is shaped by the society around us.

I don't even know if what I'm saying is making much sense, but it's certainly making me think, which is why I love your blog so much Adam.

5:03 PM  
Blogger jeremy said...

I contend that Prof. Halperin is indeed a slut. Not for sleeping with tons o' dudes, but for contributing to an article in Out.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

My God, you are so right on the money.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Hypoxic said...

Adam, another great post from one of the best of the best!

Your post, and the comments and discussion that it generated, is a shining example of what makes blogging so thought provoking and so damn interesting.

Nice job!

7:19 PM  
Blogger Sunshine said...

This is such a great post. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Love the way you think, Adam. :)

9:20 PM  
Blogger Harold said...

Interesting and timely, given a conversation I was having with some church friends last night in a bar. (Chew on that one for a while.) My thoughts are generally in line with yours, although I approach the issue as both a biologist and a Christian, which gives me a slightly different perspective.

Excellent writing as always. I enjoy reading your blog when experiments permit. Good luck with your new home!

9:17 AM  
Blogger chiron said...

>>>>Yes it's strange that Halperin would argue that gay male culture is "tearing down the oppressive heterosexual moires via promiscuity." IT IS absurb because this is exactly what the dip ship right wing is arguing! TAKE OUT THE WORD "OPPRESSIVE" (WHICH THE RIGHT WING CONDONES ANYWAY) AND IT'S THE SAME! So yes, too many queer theorists are just trying to spin a line of "bad" bullshit and make it "good."

>>>> OK so forget Halperin. He's a straw man - an outlier - he doesn't represent the class of queer theorists. You think queer theory is bullshit >>> but >>> I caught you >>> you like that queer academic language enough to use two of its many core Freudian concepts: "rationalize" and "overactive libido." You use rationalizing at least twice. That's psychoanalysis, Dr. Freud! These are not Darwinian ideas.

>>>> And BTW, I like Darwin as much as the next guy, but your Darwinian ideas only explain why it's no loss when a man does have sex with another man. They don't explain why a man WANTS to have that sex, and they don't explain the desire for BIZARRE sex in both men and women - of all orientations - that have nothing to do with reproduction.

>>>> ALSO >>>> There's an episode of Bullshit! with Penn and Teller that argues many of the same points. One finding they report is that no, the monogamous couple is not the historical norm, and yes it does create expectations that are oppressive >>>> mainly because people that break with the expectation have to deal with - you guessed it - society's BULLSHIT! I LOVE THOSE GUYS!

Hey thanks for raising those issues and have a great weekend!

1:21 AM  

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