Sunday, July 22, 2007

On sex and the single woman

The other morning at work, one of my colleagues suddenly said 'I've just done a count-up, and it's been a year and a half since I had sex'. She is a 25 year-old blonde with long legs and huge blue eyes. The woman who sits opposite her (who is extremely pretty and fun) added that she'd gone for at least five years in her mid 30s without having sex. Another girl confided that before her current fling, there'd been a two year gap, and I was forced to admit to a ten month lay-off from getting laid. Could it be something about the kind of people we were I wondered? I could believe that of myself perhaps, but not of the nice, interesting, fun-loving people who were comparing their stats with me. It was comforting to know just how normal this phenomenon was, and made me wish that people opened up about these things a little oftener. Rather than chucking good money after bad on new lipsticks or clothes to try and improve our flagging confidence in our attractiveness, we might get closer to the truth of the matter by talking about what's really happening. Advertisers would have us believe that sexual attractiveness is a passport to actual sex, but this overlooks the fact that without opportunity, your appearance is quite irrelevant. The reality seems to be that most people don't have as much sex as you'd think, and that society's obsession with it stems more from wishful thinking than from actual lived experience. One of my favourite writers, Dorothy Rowe, satirises society's rules really well:

Younger generations of women...have their own set of Immutable and Absolute Rules for Being a Woman. These are that you must have a very successful career as well as several brilliant, ambitious, beautiful children, all well-behaved but each an individual. You must be a superlatively good cook and hostess. You must have an attractive personality, alwasys smiling, always happy, and you must be slim and dressed in the latest fashions. You do have one choice. You can be very happily married to a tall, handsome, successful man or you can be a sophisticated single leading a glamorous life, but, whichever you choose, you must be a very accomplished and successful lover, never rejected but always under siege from dozens of desirable suitors. Fail to keep ALL of these rules and you are a Complete and Utter Failure.

In this sense society is like a boy eating an ice cream gloatingly slowly, whilst his fat kid brother is forced to make do with a carrot stick. It's challenging enough to be single and stay happy without having to feel that the couples you see around you are somehow superior to you, or have the keys to the only sort of lifestyle worth living. I'm all for busting this myth that not having had sex for a while is some kind of taboo which must be kept hidden at all costs. It doesn't mean you are unattractive - you probably just need to take up an evening class!


Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

People who bring up this topic are unlikely to be the kind of people who are genuinely worried about their self-esteem, or about 'getting some' - after all, they don't expect people to reply with a very obvious answer about their physical appearance or body odour, for example. So the questioner is probably signalling a curiosity that they don't, when they feel they ought - perhaps as a way of eliciting advice, or else reassurance that others have the same issues or worse, all within the framework that 'it' is both comparable and really worth something.

Perhaps one strategy for the 'unlucky' is to ask the lucky ones just how well their last fling turned out, and whether or not they were glad that the work colleague eventually left after an awkward 3 weeks, seemingly never to return!

I'm sure there are plenty of m/f Lotharios who would laugh at the hoops that ordinary people go through, but who would want their kind of lifestyle? Discuss.

Ali P said...

Vic, you're blogging and I've only just noticed. AND it's about sex. Great work. Beautifully written, and suitably wonderful.

My thoughts on this one are a little bit mixed. I have spent my adult life bouncing between one inappropriate man to the next, and in periods of drought, rather than just taking time to ponder things, have just gone back to the paths well trodden to feed some pathetic sexual urge. I don't think however this proves anything, apart from the fact that if you wanted sex, you'd be able to get it. But what's the point if you're content without? For gods sake, many a business empire is built on keeping single women very very satisfied.