This is our truth, tell us yours
I grew up with Carry on films as a staple of sunday afternoon TV. Bawdy was the word used to describe them, today we might use a whole host of other words, like sexist, homophobic, transphobic. One thing that did stand out though was that sex was meant to be fun!
I wonder when we became so po faced about sex? Its not as if we are not bombarded with sexual imagery, with tips on how to be better, faster, more orgasmic (although frankly that might be dangerous in my case!) A good sex life is seen as a part of a good life (with the usual asexual erasure). Even the Telegraph has sex tips, and they go beyond dont let the vicar catch you buggering the footman.
We discuss consent, endlessly, and posts get shared about how if only men had vaginas they would be good in bed. (Yes, and eve trans allies shared that post about how apparently being born with a penis made you a selfish lover) Yet no one ever seems to say sex can also be fun. 50 shades of shite was perhaps the apotheosis of this attidue. Sex could be painful, and expensive, and take place in luxury locations, but did it ever look like Ana and Christian were having fun?
This piece was prompted by a recent discovery that its quite an odd feeling when you giggle and orgasm at the same time (Who knows what it did to the piece of Carters anatomy involved intimately in said orgasm.) He made me laugh by describing what cottages which catered to women would be like, which was his intention. How often though do we see sex and laughter intertwined? In our porn its all lust, performed lust claiming to be real which as I discuss here holds back the sex workers rights movement. In our mainstream films its either the po faced 50 shades version, this is serious therefore it is adult or its romantic, the soft fade and shots which only ever show cis female breasts and arched backs.
I am reminded of a recent experience of reading a game of thrones typpe novel, and having child rape unpleasantly thrown in as a character trait. Someone wisely pointed out on twitter that this happens far to often, as authors seem ashamed of their own genre. Look, they seem to say, we are not Harry Potter because we have 2 rape scenes and one where the hero actually fucks (always cis, always het, always with someone they love, unless said hero is conflicted or flawed). The idea that sex makes something adult is of course nothing new, games and films are known to throw in a pair of breasts and a few swear words to get their rating above 15, so they can claim to be “serious”. That is I think the core of the problem, sex has become synonymous with serious, and so any portrayals of sex, in any of our media is serious. Its become a short hand for look at how grown up we are, and in the process lost so much of what makes sex worth doing, the fun side.
I am not saying we should return to the Carry on films, the remake is something I have happily erased from my memory. However we are in danger of never mentioning the fun, of remaking adult into something that means without joy, and that would be a sad loss.