Just when I was beginning to think it was quite a while since we’d read a good rant about the heartless, soulless, and mindlessly destructive sexual predilictions of the young, there’s Miranda Devine in the Tele this morning.
In a piece titled “Secrets of the hookup culture” Devine castigates “yesterday’s” feminists for encouraging young women to act as do young men, and get as much sex as they can without expecting or wanting romance, love, commitment or marriage. This attitude she describes as the “zipless fuck.” Young women have apparently heeded this unsavoury feminist call, and as a consequence are experiencing disappointment, self-loathing, emptiness, depression and loss of hope.
I have long known that one of my most profound regrets when I die will be that I have not had enough sex with enough people, so I find Ms Devine’s take on this interesting.
Of course, if young women are taught by our culture that sex must be saved for the one with whom you anticipate romance, love, commitment or best-case scenario, marriage, then there are bound to be tears after bedtime. As evidence that this is indeed our dominant cultural sexual expectation, Ms Devine calls on Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, who famously expressed a fervent wish that his daughters would respect their virginity as the precious gift it is, and save it for their husbands.
I find Mr Abbott’s willingness to discuss the disposal of his daughters’ hymens in the public domain not a little disturbing. I fully expect he will hang bloodstained sheets out of the windows of the Lodge the morning after somebody’s wedding night.
His daughters, according to Miranda, believe their father is being respectful towards them in expressing his wish, and not at all controlling. I just thought he was being very weird.
The truly loathsome subtext of this saving yourself attitude is the acceptance by its proponents that young men must still be allowed sexual relief. If they’re not to be allowed it with young women they love and marry, there must inevitably be a perceived lesser class of women with whom they may freely cavort. Even Mr Abbott availed himself of this double standard, apparently leaving behind a child in the process.
It would be so very useful to teach the young about the power of sexual emotions, and the difference between those emotions and love. Sometimes, one can be very lucky and have both at the same time. Often, and especially (but definitely not only) when young and starting out, sexual excitement is misread as something more substantial (is this a lasting treasure? Or just a moment’s pleasure?) and disappointment follows. I honestly don’t know how the young are expected to know the difference until they’ve got around bit.
Instead of helping with this, the Devine crowd load it up with constructed morality and frame the sexual emotions as inevitably soul-destroying, because not love. Only wanting each other for sex: bad. There are times when “only” wanting each other for sex can be very, very good, as long as both parties know the score. Yet there is still a taboo on “only” wanting sex, upheld by the likes of Abbott & Devine.
Perhaps this is the angle yesterday’s feminists were trying to get across to women, and not only young women. There is nothing wrong with feeling and acting on sexual desire, in and of itself. Only a puritanical, and I have to add misogynist morality, would have it otherwise.
Nevertheless, it’s a well-grounded woman who has never had to ask, will you still love me tomorrow?