Saturday, May 30, 2009

I don't think I really have a particular theme for this post, let alone a coherent idea to write about, so this is probably going to be a little disjointed.

The giant book of sex that I've been working on for the last year or so is finally coming to an end now. All that is left to do is the seemingly unending stream of corrections and revisions which, whilst getting more and more minor, never seem to decrease in number. Either way, I think it's going to print soon, so I'll be off writing about something else (religion I think) and probably getting equally nerdily obsessed with that. Something I've noticed is that my interest in human sexuality hasn't diminished as the amount of time I've had to spend writing about it has declined. Obviously, I had an interest in the subject to begin with, but it wasn't a very academic one.

One of the blogs that I read on the subject, by Dr. Petra Boynton, recently linked an article which touched something of a nerve with me in relation to the now mostly completed book. It's called The New Romantics by the brilliantly named Drake Bennett (no idea who he is, I'm just in awe of his name) and discusses the medicalisation of human sexuality.

This article revived a sense of unease I've had with the Big Sex Book from the start of my involvement with it. As it is a reference book, aimed at high schools, it sticks to a very dry, inoffensive tone. Sexuality is discussed in terms of medical conditions, pathological behaviors, and anatomical interactions. There are concessions to the stickier, less easily quantified aspects of sexuality, but usually, these are left out, either for fear of sounding too informal, or because of the possible moral backlash such discussions might provoke. Discussions of teenage sexual activity are usually framed by concepts of social norms, media influence, and peer pressure. The idea that young people, especially young women, might start having sex because they're horny, or because they're in love is rarely mentioned.

In fact, that's a good example. I said, "because they're horny, or because they're in love". The two things usually go together, for me at least they are part of the same thing. The book discusses emotions and ideas of love and affection; it also discusses hormones, reproductive urges, and the whole sticky-sweaty, in-out-in-out, tongues and hands thing. There is always some sense of separation, however, which strikes me as a damaging view to be teaching. The impression I often got from articles was that sex was a side-effect of love, or vice versa - depending on the article.

Hmm. I'll extend and revise this at some point. I've got to go and meet some friends pubwise now/