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Thu, Mar. 6th, 2008, 05:26 pm

More Fun with Trend Journalism

One of my flaws as a blogger is a reluctance to swing at the really easy pitches.

CNN ran a story earlier this week that was crying out for me to make fun of it, but I just can't think of anything all that clever to say. The gist: Some married couples don't have a lot of sex.

Okay, I'm waiting for you to pick yourselves up off the floor and contain your amazement enough to continue reading. Ready to go on now? You'll be relieved to know that they propose a three-point program for repairing your sex life. I will describe it in reverse order:

* The third proposal is communication. Apparently, as a last-ditch approach, you may want to tell your partner what you like.

* The second proposal is extreme sports. No,seriously. Look: "Engage in exciting activities: Whether it's trying an extreme sport like skydiving or snowboarding, or exploring new options in the bedroom, activities that get the pulse racing can open the brain's dopamine centers and increases desire." Okay, so extreme sports or high-threadcount sheets. Not that high-threadcount sheets aren't sexy.

* Okay, now here's the punchline. Item #1 for reviving your sex life. "Try traditional gender roles: Men may become more sexually assertive if they feel more in control, and women may feel more desire for a mate with newfound machismo."

Now, I'm sexually dominant myself, and a man, but holy gender essentialism, Batman! Am I being a paranoid PC cop when I see the the implication that equal partnerships are an unnatural and abnormal arrangement here? As I've mentioned before, there's a big old difference between saying that some people find power exchange hot, and trying to argue that your particular favorite configuration is the One True Way. I feel like I need to keep reading crap filler articles like these just to so I can keep in mind how messed up mass media culture is.

(Deleted comment)

Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)

Yeah, it may well be that we're allowed to count those as extreme sports.

Or perhaps you're just mistaken. You guys think you've been having an awesome sex life, but it's actually an illusion.

Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008 08:43 am (UTC)

The gist: Some married couples don't have a lot of sex.

With each other? snicker

Actually the majority of our married friends don't have a lot of sex with each other, mainly because they hate each other. In fact they can't stand each other so much they can't even indulge in hate sex anymore. And they are always critisizing our marriage and making dire predictions that we shall soon too be non-lustful and ever hateful as them, all while making passes at us.

Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)

Skeevy, but not actually logically inconsistent, I suppose.

And a great excuse to say, "Sorry, but I'm having way too much fun at home to bother with bitter ol' you. Ptbbbbbb!"

Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)

So when my sex life flags, I should do the one thing that renders me less interested in sex than in watching paint dry.

Who'd have thunk it?

Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)

Wow. I was struck by a couple of things in that article.

1. "One reason, he says, is America's obsession with marriage."

You don't say.

They go on to say that the emphasis on marriage over sexual happiness leads some people to choose partners with whom they can not be happy. Perhaps someone should tell this to those in the U.S. Government who a) want to teach young people to be abstinent before marriage and b)believe that shoring up the institution of marriage is one of the government's roles.

If we really believe that marriage is the foundation of a healthy society then perhaps we should be teaching adolescents how to pick partners that get them off.

Or perhaps we should acknowledge that the current conception of marriage as both long-term economic unit and sole legitimate source of sexual happiness is broken.

2. "People have the assumption that you can have long-term, monogamous, hot sex," he says. "It's never been done (on a large scale) in the history of the world."

Where do I start? This could begin a critique of monogamy. But of course, CNN won't go there.

Are the authors really suggesting that working toward long-term sexual satisfaction is fruitless? If so, why go on to offer advice to their readers on addressing the issue?

I am struck that they offer the above quote, from someone named "Klein" who clearly believes that long-term relationships inevitably become asexual, in direct juxtaposition to the advice from the Berman person who wants to offer advice on fixing your marriage bed woes. They do this without making clear that they're describing two fundamentally different views of how long-term romantic partnerships function.

Klein thinks that its normal to become asexual and that happiness is still possible in that context. Berman thinks that lack of sex inevitably leads to a lack of empathy which damages the very fabric of the partnership.

A discussion of these two competing ideas of marriage would have been interesting. But instead, CNN gives Klein's predictions of inevitable sexlessness right next to Berman's assessment that a sexless relationship is doomed. And then they give you the plug for the "Berman Center in Chicago" where Berman makes her living off of couples scared about their sex lives.

I can't help but feel that this is intentional. By creating a sense of despair and then offering a buyable solution, the authors are driving demand for Berman's product.

As for me, I'd like to get laid now.

Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)

Are the authors really suggesting that working toward long-term sexual satisfaction is fruitless? If so, why go on to offer advice to their readers on addressing the issue?

Yeah, that *really* pissed me off. No, I've never been in a relationship for more than two years, but really... I simply cannot *imagine* that I'd desperately need to break up with someone because we'd stop fucking. I don't partner with people who have any interest in stopping fucking, and given tha6 I tend to want sex even more often when someone I care about does and it makes me feel good... yeah, doesn't parse.

I mean, I know there's supposedly this less drive thing that happens, and maybe it would, but I can't imagine it would ever drop to zero. I just don't partner that way, and I'm more eager when I'm partnered, tyvm.
(Deleted comment)

Sat, Mar. 8th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)

But why don't they also suggest the opposite? Clearly, for many, it is finding their way to *female dominance* that ignites their sex lives.

I agree with Vinnie that setting this dynamic apart as the only one that deserves a specific mention is an indication that its proponents think it is the One True Way.
(Deleted comment)

Sun, Mar. 9th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)

We're clearly reading this differently. Where do you see a reference to female dominance as the norm? Or, to female dominance at all?

Sun, Mar. 9th, 2008 07:51 am (UTC)

many now believe to be the so-called OTW - female dominance, or at least female-leading - in the sack.

Who the heck are these "many"? Because I really do wish that I'd grown up on their planet. It would have saved me a lot of being told I was a failure as a a female and a lot of people's insistence that I'm really submissive deep inside.

If you can give me directions to their planet, I'd be really grateful. Because it sure as fuck isn't Earth.

I do agree with you that male dominance, in the sense of actual D/s, with clearly defined roles, squicks a lot of people who confuse consensual D/s with forced and unwelcome bullshit. And I think that sucks, and that people blanket condemning consensual M/f are truly being idiots. But it doesn't follow from that that the norm is F/m. That's just.... HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH NOPE.

Sun, Mar. 9th, 2008 07:41 am (UTC)


It reads like HELLO SEKRIT SEX TIP: Inside all men is a roaring lion! Inside all women is a swooning damsel!

And y'know, as a female dominant myself, that sekrit tip is not so sekrit. It's bleeding obvious that the general culture *wants* you to submit, and that your actual desire is only good for a laugh or maybe an "experiment" or two.

Tue, Jun. 17th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)

I like to apply those 3 rules to bdsm and point out that they work wonderfully if but a little off

It can be an extreme sport..
It takes lots of communication
and gender roles are very often played with heavily in all fashions.

it's cute how they seem to gloss over the woman's role...
"Men may become more sexually assertive if they feel more in control, and women should be submissive and meak may feel more desire for a mate with newfound machismo" They don't even deign to give a role to the female. She's just supposed to complement the man's role. Sort of like when babies are born. No one asks "Is there's a vagina!?" "no?" "oh then it must be a boy...", its "Is there a penis?!" "No?!" "Oh then it must be a girl." using the girl as the sort of let down default value.

"She suggests a date where the man chooses everything -- her clothes, the restaurant, the food -- as a starting point."
I could imagine if i were a vanilla man I'd find that really frigging boring. I mean I can imagine some doms taking erotic pleasure in such detailed control, mmm 4 peas. But it's what the other person brings to the table that should be interesting.