I’ve found myself interested in the relationship between sleep and sex. In my 20’s one only happened in the bedroom and the other could happen anywhere.
Now in my 60’s I find the situation entirely reversed.
Looking back, I feel profoundly pleased that I was a hottie when I was:after the Pill but before AIDS.
I could say this about the late nineties: it was a great time to be a young man. Women were considered mentally and physically capable of standing up for themselves and better able to deal with men on their own terms.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in media portrayals of women. They either laud women as corporate goddesses who are better than men in every way or portray them as sexually fragile creatures who are playthings for men’s lusts. Heterosexual male sexuality is not even discussed.
Once upon a time, the sexual danger at universities was palpable and the air was charged with hormones. Now the biggest danger is that some miserable student – overweight and libido free thanks to a daily regimen of psychoactive drugs – will turn me in because they looked away from their screen long enough to notice that I said something they didn’t like.
Is that why they are all so fat and pasty-looking? Students used to be thin and active. Now they waddle about looking as if they live underground.
I’m an old fart but the sentence (para 4) “We may be vaguely aware that there was once something better than this, but we have no idea how to go about regaining it.” rings true for many many facets of life for me.
Nice piece though Julie; you write entertainingly and, as usual, manage to throw some interesting left-field references/ideas in with your main theme.
God bless Julie Burchill; home truths with humour.
I think we need to raise our sights a bit. Here’s one of Larkin’s poems about s*x and violence, The Less Deceived (including the epigraph):
Of course I was drugged, and so heavily I did not regain
consciousness until the next morning. I was horrified to
discover that I had been ruined, and for some days I was inconsolable,
and cried like a child to be killed or sent back to my aunt.”
—Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor
Even so distant, I can taste the grief,
Bitter and sharp with stalks, he made you gulp.
The sun’s occasional print, the brisk brief
Worry of wheels along the street outside
Where bridal London bows the other way,
And light, unanswerable and tall and wide,
Forbids the scar to heal, and drives
Shame out of hiding. All the unhurried day,
Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives.
Slums, years, have buried you. I would not dare
Console you if I could. What can be said,
Except that suffering is exact, but where
Desire takes charge, readings will grow erratic?
For you would hardly care
That you were less deceived, out on that bed,
Than he was, stumbling up the breathless stair
To burst into fulfillment’s desolate attic.
Powerful poem, and they want to ‘cancel’ this man !
And this sentence, “watching this posh white woman instructing attractive African-American couples on how to have orgasms categorically turned me off”, turned me off. I presume the generic “white” woman is the host of this grotesque program, so the black couples, er, “attractive African-Americans” were willingly there for her instruction. Would rearranging the scenario to a posh black woman and attractive Lithuanian-American couples been less ick-inducing?
Willingly there? I would presume they were paid to be there in order to have the “correct” cast.
Yeah like the TV adverts.
I think in the States, it’s erotic for a white woman to dream about sex with a black man. I think. Not sure. Don’t quote me.
It sounds grim. The de-eroticisation of sex continues. Sex is part of a relationship. It’s not that big a deal. These people are obsessives.
Part of marriage for me. I strain to cut out all the other rubbish we see.
Interesting that a recent Tic-Tok by a Gen-X’er noted her distaste for feminism in it’s effort to have women as corporate slaves instead of tending to home and children. She is likely not finding a partner and is lashing out. I suspect trying to turn women into men and vice-versa isn’t working well in terms of actual human needs. And sex is a major part of those needs.
My third wife earned far more money than I did. I turned in my suit for an apron. Don’t knock it till you try it.
(G)-spot on! Brava Julie!
I enjoyed the reference to the “secret” room being divulged on Netflix for the world to see. We are merely rubes these days.
This means that none of them really have sex, I would think. Like the people who don’t cook but watch every cooking show available.
“But they are certainly misguided to ignore the simple truth that when you’re in the first flush of horniness, every room is a sex room…”
Got it in one Julie. I couldn’t care less what others get up to in the privacy of their ‘sex rooms’ or any other private place, but I find all this sado-masochism, sodomy, polyamorousness, orgyism and etc. utterly repulsive.
Love making with a woman I love… special, intimate, exclusive, thrilling, tender, utterly beautiful… that’s what it’s all about. The rest is debased and vile.
Dull young halfwits who think they have found the key to life by aligning their genitals with a quirky looking (to halfwits) Presenter with a posh voice talking them through their artless fumbling with an arched eyebrow. I didn’t watch but I can predict.
Do you remember the energy crisis of the early 70s in London…. the lights turned out? And if a shop had lights, it apologized with a sign stating that they own a generator?
We were a Canadian high school doing band concerts in the London area. Those of us who were planning to continue to University attended a 5-year high school course. Needless to say, we were of legal age at home and in London. And then we hooked up with the high school from North Carolina. We were a technical school, so we were entirely male. We completely ignored the boys (at least I think we did) and focussed on the girls.
Back then, we had the Canadian flag sewn to our pants hip pockets and found that we could get into any establishment without getting into lines. The Americans weren’t as lucky. Actually, they didn’t show their flags. The girls caught on and went with us. Well, there was more. We knew how to hold our liqueur. I think we were more courteous, and let’s face it, the music back then was far superior than it is today. Can you whistle today’s tunes?
Sex, back then, as well as WWII when my brother wore a Canadian uniform, was the same as it always was. You simply worked it more. You showed each other a good time. Went to dinner or a pub. No doughnut shops back then with fancy coffees. You enjoyed the music. You danced to the music. You slow danced to it. Often, it would be steamier on the dance floor than in the room upstairs.
For the kids, the grass was in. Hard drugs out. For the most part. The guys were focused on the latest stereo equipment, the gals on the guys with the best stereo gear. Fashion was either a downright protest of the establishment with jeans and white t-shirts or fancy bellbottoms and frilly blouses. Then hot pants. Who could forget hot pants? Cars, not so much. That was an American thing.
University didn’t cost an arm and leg… just a pinky in Canada. It was possible to hold down a part-time job to pay for most of it. And, if you weren’t interested, there were jobs that paid well above the minimum wage. And to be honest, what would you buy? A new Mini? A one washroom home with maybe a single garage? A flat for a quarter of your paycheque?
Orrrrrrrr…. Fancy kitchen appliance? Eight huge LED TVs? Two vacations a year? Tickets to a show that could also buy you plan tickets to Vagas? A cell phone that puts Star Tek to shame. Gourmet takeout with phoney Italian names? Video games with bodies to lust for. And all that wearing dirty shorts, a stupid T-shirt, a baseball cap on backwards, and maybe sneakers to the date!! And that university course you took put you in hawk for the rest of your life.
To put it another way, people today have no idea what to do with themselves outside of their homes. They have far fewer friends. Usually, their imaginary friends are on US sitcoms and use dating services when their curiosity takes the best of them after their fifth porn for the night… or a better toy.
Is it any wonder that people continue not to shake hands after the pandemic?
Dear me, I just remembered that “hooked up” means an entirely different thing now.
very good thanks !
“It remains a rule of thumb that if you need to spend money on sex, you’re probably not doing it right.” Perhaps it’s just Ms.Burchill’s thumb we reference?
Would we equally say, if you need to spend money on child-rearing, you’re probably not doing it right? If you need to spend money on jogging, you’re probably not doing it right? If you need to spend money on seeing, you’re probably not doing it right?
C’mon now…surely we all can recognize and understand that there any number of goods which are used by ordinary human beings (usually NOT the ones who appear on “How to Build a Sex Room”) to enhance otherwise ‘natural’ human experiences. Does that make the enhancement bad? Does it make the experience somehow ‘less’ than it otherwise might have been?
Yes, I could run a 5K with bare feet, but honestly don’t we all prefer shoes? Does that mean I’m running races wrong’?? You should try a bare-footed 5K if you thinks so.
The truth is that the effort to enhance “X” does not, in and of itself, devalue or destroy “X”. What the enhancement actually is….how it’s acquired…how it’s applied…how it’s perceived…how it’s REceived…all these things must be understood in the context of the marital relationship itself. Outside that context, the purchase examined in brutal isolation, is unknowable.
What we do know is that if a marriage is fundamentally broken, it can’t be fixed with a credit card.
Ms. Burchill ends by telling us, “… that when you’re in the first flush of horniness, every room is a sex room, and when the thrill has gone, no room is — no matter how much money you spend on your “high-end” consolation prize.” But what she misses is love.
In the absence of love, lust is everything. And lust dies (the thrill evaporates) in tiresome redundancy. But when love becomes lust becomes love & lust again…in perpetual amplifying spiral, then the so-called ‘sex room’ is exactly where you are, even if you’re both sitting there, in the family room, watching silly shows on Netflix.
Sex is not, per se, the act itself. Sex is everything, even the passing touch on the back of the neck when handing her her coffee.
When we are old & grey and lean to kiss the other, yes, we kiss her lips at 65…but we also kiss, in that same flashing instant, those same soft lips at 25…and 35…and 45. And when we look into the Other’s eyes, what we see is timeless. And what we see is Desire.
Beautiful. I agree entirely. Love endures forever.
Nice one Julie. For genuine eroticism on this subject, look no further than Tomasi di Lampedusa’s description in his classic The Leopard, of when the young lovers Tancredi and Angelika happen upon an ancient and long-unfrequented room in the family’s Donnafugata country estate. They are transfixed by an exquisite collection of silk binders, soft leather straps etc, and in a silent, mutual state of extreme arousal, don’t lay a finger on each other.
A lot of truth put over with good humour. The old ways endure for me. Stay pure until you are ready to marry. I am talking about a man and a woman. Nothing supercedes that. Create your own world but no third parties, no adultery, no porn just you two and the love you have for each other. It works. This will l offend some but it doesn’t change the truth.
Edward VII had one at Elveden when Maharajah Duleep Singh owned it… it is still there! A real brother boudoir, and if he selected your wife at a shooting dinner, you just had to put up with it… as did she: so, those who point shaking petit bourgeois fingers at today’s Royals should remember that the media and the internet has merely publicised what has gone on for hundreds of years!
Oh go away Julie – have you ever had good sex in your life ever? My late husband and I were into kink, nothing to do with trends because we started in the late 80s. Impact play can be incredibly sensual, as well as more hardcore, I love both personally. As a relatively young widow at 53, toys are my friend as I do not know if I will ever be ready for a relationship with another man after losing my husband of 33 years. Our relationship was always fully consensual, in fact it was me who encouraged my husband into kink in the first place. I hate this kind of sneering dismissal of those of us who enjoy something other than vanilla – infantalising? Do not presume to tell the rest of us what is, or is not, acceptable or satisfying in our sex lives! This article has raised my blood pressure, not a good thing given its pretty high at the moment.
You are saying Nikki that a little kink can be part of a good marriage and is nothing to do with what is going on today. Some have been like this for decades and shouldn’t be put in a box with the immoral outside marriage stuff that goes on today. If that is what you are saying I agree. Anyway these things are private between two people in a marriage so really it is nothing to do with the world.
Jaybie is knocking on, of course she is.
This was not an article that climaxed in a crescendo of fireworks and trains entering tunnels. No, for me, it was a vision of my maiden aunt asleep propped up on a mountain of pillows. There she is, scone crumbs down her cardy, and a half finished Barbara Cartland open on her lap, showing a couple of jammy fingerprints.
Bless her, she’s earned it.