Let’s Talk About Sex Shaming

Let’s talk about sex was a hit song from the American all girl hip hop trio, Salt-N-Pepa released in 1990. For the conservative nature of the times, it went straight to the banned list. But anyone alive and young during the 90s remembers Salt-N-Pepa for this song and not because of the safe sex message. Talking about sex in the 80s was stuff of taboo. We only talked about what was wrong with sex in public and regurgitated borrowed notions of what we imagined was great sex from popular media in private. The 80s and 90s were incredibly traumatizing times for young people in the blossoming stage of their sexuality. The ‘killer’ disease AIDS was ravaging lives in Africa and the dread of sex went viral. The HIV virus had weaponized sex to kill and the 90s gave birth to a sexually repressed society burdened with the shame of sexual desire.

Porn Used To Be Stylish

I got into an argument about pornography.  Why are the majority of men drawn to it? I had gone to visit an old female friend who had been out of the country for a few months. After the usual formalities, she handed a  gift, a past copy of the Playboy magazine which I believe is still illegal in Kenya. It felt like contraband in my hands. Is the door securely locked? I immediately flicked through the pages in search of the centre fold playmate of the month, a shapely naked blonde haired model flawlessly airbrushed, and staring straight at the camera lenses in a series of lewd poses. It captured my imagination for a few minutes before I moved on to more serious matters, a compelling interview with the cover personality, American screen icon Dustin Hoffman.  Play boy is known for combining in depth celebrity interviews broken by pictures of naked women.  Her next comment did come as much of a surprise, “I knew you would start with the pictures of the naked women”.  Duh! It is just the most natural thing. What did she expect? That I would throw the magazine away in disgust upon realizing that it had dedicated a few pages entirely to display female flesh. It is rather absurd expectation.

Men are visual creatures.  Place a near naked woman on a billboard on a major highway and besides the likely hood of causing a major traffic pile up, you will get the average guy interested in whatever product is advertised even though it is the last thing he needs. Alternatively leave a porn magazine lying around the men’s toilet in the office and on impulse every man will pick it up and flip through the pages in the same sneaky way, teenage boys in high school share a cigarette behind a dormitory.  Sooner or later the magazine will disappear to end up in someone’s top secret porn stash.  Pornography is a bit like masturbation; most men indulge in it but no ever admit doing it because that society believes you should have gotten over self fascination after teen age.  You can have as many mistresses as you want but never be caught playing with oneself. That is so wrong.

Most men I would like to believe view pornography purely for entertainment even as they are many perverts amongst us but we will not go into that.  It is such cheesy posing you cannot take it seriously and when dialogue is included it is hilarious especially when you have lead characters with names like “shine head”.  Generally after a certain age, the average brother learns to divorce fantasy from reality. The unself-conscious woman in the blue movie whose sole objective is to please the man does not exist in reality. Besides, out in the real world nothing comes easy and every male must learn how to plead or there will be in for a long cold July.

But before the average man graduates to a porn critic, pointing out the fakes as soon as they appear, pornography does serve a function.  A friend called it the DIY guide to sex with the modern woman. Secretly every guy believes (until he knows better) that he is stud and stallion wrapped in one hence the question,” How was it for you?” which is just a roundabout way of saying “Please! Tell me I was great”.  Women expect men to know their way around their bodies and by adulthood every man should know what it takes to make a happy and contented in bed. Where does one start? It is not as if they are lovemaking finishing school dotted around the country or sex educators ready to impart much needed bedroom skills that are nowadays such a vital ingredient to success in relationships with women. Even supposing women encourage us to be open; they do not want you stopping to ask for directions. They expect to be blown away and yet half time we cannot even locate the fuse.

In the meantime, the women in our lives find themselves staring at stained ceiling boards, perturbed at the sheer incompetence of an otherwise great guy. That is the catch 22 game society plays with men. Where does one start?   So you have to be a little bit more understanding of men weaned on blue movies. No is ever ready or everlasting but it does not stop us from trying. Guys grow up programmed to believe that sexual prowess is just as important as financial success.  Since society, is not going to tell you how to get it, men fall back on a trial and error and pornography easily finds its place in the learning curve.

A flip through the current brand of popular female magazines on the newsstands will reveal that a lot of attention is in celebration of female sexual liberation.  How to get an orgasm, How to work his mojo, Kissing tips, Foreplay routines and whole repertoire of advice aimed at introducing fireworks in bed.  It is only natural for the man in the game to feel under pressure.

Porn thus becomes the equivalent of the male soap opera with all the boring parts thrown out. There is some truth that frequent indulgence can lead to destructive patterns but that is the sort of argument that can also be leveled against fast food.  The solution is not to ban chips.  Censors however worthy cannot release us from the powerful forces of nature and the ego. The youth are too enlightened to be strapped by the archaic censorship systems of the yester years. With the spread of the internet and smart phones it is virtually impossible to regulate where people choose to seek fantasy.

Sex is a powerful instinct and for a long as it continues to be demonized or glorified, it will sell.