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Let’s get it on: Sex as social marketing?

November 20th, 2008     by Mir Verburg     Comments

I have to admit lately I feel very ambivalent when I see everyday activities turned into political statements. One minute you’re shopping for some new undies at Zellers, the next, reading the 3 pack of bamboo bikini cuts that says “Protecting your earth” and thinking, “Is this true - does covering my derriere with bamboo instead of cotton really make a difference?”

The trendier social politics becomes, the harder it is to discern genuine change from marketing rhetoric. The more we consume, the more we use consumption to define our politics, saying things like, “I stopped buying Nikes in 2000 because of their labor practice”. As social marketing evolves, it attempts to define consumer politics so we don’t have to make the effort. So when going out to buy diapers the consumer doesn’t just have to decide if absorbency and convenience trump ecological responsibility, they also have to read, “A dollar from every package of Huggies sold helps educate a child in India!”

A few years ago, I stopped trusting campaigns that try to inject my life activities with meaning outside the meanings I create myself, so this morning, when I saw not one, but two news items politicizing people’s choice to have sex or not, I suspected dubious social marketing.

IMHO happy sex, solo or not, is the cheapest, best and most enjoyable hobby a person can have, assuming that they do it in a safe and caring environment, and with the very important proviso that according to my definition, sex doesn’t have to include the old penis in vagina trick.

Sex doesn’t harm the earth, it doesn’t cost money, it doesn’t support any multinational save for the birth control industry, and it promotes dialogue, communication, and respect amongst participants (if it’s done right). Now, having said that, sex is not without inherent risks and dangers and if I can go out on a limb here and sound like my mother, sex is one of the most sacred acts a person can perform, so to promote or push sex on to anyone else, without thinking to carefully of the consequences for them can be very damaging.

So what am I to make of Global Orgasm Day or this article about Pastor Ed Young, who has started the 7 day sex challenge for the “married” members of his congregation. Young’s church is a megachurch btw, so we’re talking a flock of 20,000 here, not some 200 souls. And in case you’re wondering, “The singles in the congregation were encouraged to eat chocolate and pray for their future soulmate”. Myep, that’s what I do when the pickings are slim, I eat candy.

Not to be outdone by Pastor Young’s zealous support of the socially sanctioned orgasm, here is part of the mission statement from World Orgasm Day:

“The world is full of men with axes to grind and weapons to fire in displays of their superiority over others. It is time to spare the planet from Alpha Male concepts of ‘progress’, ‘growth’ and Manifest Destiny, which are endangering all of us. True partnership between the Masculine and Feminine that is within all women and men may enable our species to survive in relative harmony. The Global Orgasm for Peace is one attempt to begin that process.”

The site has a link to the “science” behind WOD, and the quote from that page is:

“The Global Consciousness Project, located in Princeton, New Jersey, runs a network of Random Event Generators around the world which record changes in their randomness during global events. The results show that human consciousness can be measured to have a global effect on matter and energy during widely-watched events such as the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, large antiwar protests, natural catastrophes, acts of war and mass meditations. Concentrated consciousness has measurable effects. Our minds influence Matter and Quantum Energy fields, so by concentrating our thoughts during and after The Big O on peace and partnership, the combination of high orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention for peace could reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear.”

Which is akin to saying that every time Sarah Palin has sex a fairy dies. In other words, not ahem, very scientific.

Pastor Young is not saying there is a scientific basis for his sermon. Young suggests that an active sex life will force couples who are in stagnant marriages to re-examine their intimacy together.

“I think the church has allowed our culture to hijack sex from us and we’ve not spoken boldly, honestly and openly about it,” he preached in front of a luxe double bed draped in black-and-white linens. The talk was the climax of a series of sermons called Leaving Lust Vegas, which he says geared 5,000 couples up for a challenge that would light a fire in them to serve not only one another but God, too. “Sex is not a fix-all,” Mr. Young said Monday. “The beauty of this sexperiment is what’s going to happen around the bedroom. It’ll get stuff on the table that couples need to talk about - you can hide your anger, but if you’re having sex regularly, it forces you to deal with these issues.”

Aside from the whole mortal sin to marriage stimulant about-face, what really bothers me about all this having sex for reasons other then the expression of love, affection, desire etc… is that in each case, the act is defined as ‘between a man and a woman’ and without being too blunt, I would suspect, ‘penetration to orgasm’ is the goal.

Now personally the most liberating political act I can come up with around sex is the freedom to discuss it openly, so kudos to Pastor Young and Global Orgasm day for starting the dialogue. But now, can we stop defining sex in terms of gender stereotypes, social roles, and specific acts? A person can become orgasmically happy (and thus contribute some random energy to stop the escalating tensions in Iran?) by themselves. So too can two men, or two women, or a woman and a boi, on and on to infinity.

If we’re going to make sex into a vehicle for social transformation, let’s invite everyone along for the ride, not just happily married heterosexuals, or people who want to unite the Masculine and the Feminine principles already.

Also, if you and your spouse are having serious marital problems, humping like bunnies is not going to fix it. It’s called break-up sex my evangelical friends, and we all do it.

Tags: body politics, queeriosities

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