Turning the sound off DOESN'T HELP.

Turning the sound off DOESN’T HELP.

… politics get loud and increasingly well-armed, and countries turn away refugees, and we still have nuclear bombs, and black lives don’t matter enough, and the rich get richer, and the poor vote for candidates who will be the death of them, and God makes sense, maybe not sense, but comfort, anything of comfort in the middle of this, and sex makes a lot of people flip right out.

Yeah, I’m going to put it there. No, fear of sex is not on the same scale or urgency as the other items in that run-on paragraph, but it’s part of the syndrome, and it’s the part of our fucked-up planet I seem drawn to work on. Correction: it’s the part I seem to always want to POKE AT, with my Smut Slams and the Smut Stand and my coarsely named plays, whose titles shout “SEX” as surely as if I were screaming it on the street.

Some people actually twitch, when I tell them the titles of my shows at industry events or offer them a postcard or try to book a venue. It’s as if they think that you can’t tell a story about sex without arousing everyone in the room; it’s all going to turn into an orgy and the cops are going to bust the joint. Or maybe they can’t imagine that the words “cock” or “cunt” have any place in a play that might be moving or hilarious or poignant or actually kinda thought-provoking and transformative. It’s as if they’re afraid of taking sex seriously.

Or maybe they’re already taking it way too seriously, and what that means is there is no space in their conception of the world for art that intersects with sex.

I see this visceral response to sexual content in other places too, at literary festivals that can’t seem to wrap their mind around erotica as an important genre, worthy of discussion, or when films with sex in them get slapped with NC-17 ratings, whereas the most skull-shatteringly violent movies get away with PG-13, maybe R if the blood runs particularly thick and fast.

Hell, and this swings in other ways, too. There is no room in people’s conception of the world for anything when it intersects with sex, especially women and sex. Facebook and other social-media platforms continue to ban female nipples. Public shaming around public breastfeeding remains a thing.

Once a thing or a work of art or a picture or an act or a person has been brushed with even the idea of sex, it can no longer be considered and evaluated as that thing. Breasts are not food delivery systems for hungry babies; nope, there’s sexy attached, so keep ‘em tucked away. Any play that has too much sex in it—I don’t mean the goofball, slapstick stuff, but depictions of real, raw sexuality—the reviewers will take a pass, or assess the fuckability of the performer(s) instead of their performance. The Smut Slams will continue to get rolled eyeballs when I try to flyer outside of mainstream storytelling events.

It’s just sex. It’s just stories about sex. OMG, it’s stories about sex. We can’t have that. I’m not afraid. What are you talking about? Why should I be afraid?

I know a few reasons why people are afraid of sex. Which one is yours?


I keep writing until the fear is gone. Become a patron of mine on Patreon and join the cause.

1 Comment
  • Lively Granddad

    Sometimes when I read these I want to look for the ‘like’ button, but I realize what I really want is a chance to open a bottle or two of wine, find the right mix of male/female, young and not-so-young, swingers and what society considers classically married couples, and those on the kinky side of life to just find out where everyone is on this continuum. What is it that drives each person’s sexual expression? What demons might they be trying to slay by choosing to behave in the ways they do when it comes to sex? Do they even know what drives them to act out in counterpoint to what they feel has controlled their sexuality?

    And finally, to ask what does one’s sexuality look like, how does it feel for individuals when they finally break those barriers, slay those dragons, when someone else’s mores no longer have any power in our minds. To open oneself up to that level of discussion would be an evening to remember.

    January 29, 2016 at 10:21 am
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