Well, it’s finally happened. Like the journalistic equivalent of Rule #34, the most absurd article imaginable is now available online. The premise? A lack of sexual content on the web.
In No Sex, Please – We’re Domestic Goddesses, a recent New York magazine article, the author Lauren Sandler went off on Lifestyle bloggers (i.e. women who write about curtains, cooking, and other domestic pursuits) for putting too little naughty in their gnocchi. She insinuates that these women have no sex lives of their own, and that wives everywhere are suffering in anorgasmic sexual silence as a result of the overly groomed blogosphere.
Check out the article, or just take a moment to contemplate the idea that Martha Stewart and other homemaking heroes should be expected to regale us with what they really like in bed. Wink Wink.
You might have also come across some of the same enigmas I encountered.
First, as an earth-dwelling internet user, I immediately wondered what Teflon-strength content filters Sandler has on her browser. For everyone else it seems impossible to avoid the lascivious articles, photos, and information that dominate the net.
Second, it felt like I’d missed a major memo, that one that explains why we’re now criticizing people who don’t use sex to sell a product. It seems like if these female lifestyle gurus managed to gain popularity on the internet, and simultaneously keep their tops on… That’s a modern miracle. Instead of haranguing them for over-domestication, I’d expect they’d receive some sort of entrepreneurial sainthood.
The list goes on, but I’ll pause and give Sandler some benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s entreating the domestic goddesses to kick-up the dirty talk because they’re good “role models.” Maybe she thinks they could help with the hard-to-find line between acceptable and sexy, or give tips on how to make getting down on place mats as fun as picking them out of a new Williams Sonoma catalog. Something along those lines.
The problem is, she doesn’t say, “Hey, we respect you Lifestyle ladies and would love to hear how you make your marriages work.” Instead, she goes right to the assumption that they are either, a) Not having sex, or b) Not having any sex worth talking about.
It’s a pretty big leap to: “Welp, if these women aren’t talking about the freaky details in a major public forum, it must be because they’re prudish and in sexually dysfunctional marriages.”
Unfortunately, the logic here might confirms my biggest fear about our obsessive online “sharing.“ When everyone divulges and flagrantly displays every aspect of their lives, the people who don’t want to bare it all suddenly become suspect. Solely because these bloggers don’t write about their intimate moments, they’ve been accused of 21st century sexual deviance (these days it’s weirder if someone is NOT bangin’ the hostess, General, or au pair.)
Alas, if that’s how New York Magazine plays the game, rather than using the name ”Broadminded,” they should rename that section “Highly Invasive.” It’s unclear what Sandler hoped to achieve –
She’s like, “Hey stranger I’ve never met, if you don’t tell us about all the kinky things you and your husband do, I’m going to call you a prude in a national syndicate!”
In response, perhaps the bloggers were supposed to say, “Well shit! Next time me and the Mister get down, I’ll be sure to take pictures!”
The comment follow-up to the article was a grab-bag combination: Those who could “see” the authors point, others who saw it but were pissed off, and some who found it sufficiently absurd and not meriting serious commentary. (Like this quote, which re-invigorated my hope for humanity: “…isn’t this like getting uppity about Dan Savage not including Grogg recipes for the holidays?”)
The most interesting response came from one of the women Sandler wrote about, Joanna Goddard. This Lifestyler kept an admirably cool head after the affront to her sexual dignity, and in sum said:
“Um, hi. I don’t write about that stuff because it’s private.”
I try not to judge what people are doing in the bedroom, but it’s tempting to wonder why today it’s so often and openly displayed to the outside world. I’d err on the opposite side from the NY author and say that *sometimes* when people feel the need to talk about sex with others, it might be a sign they’re not doing something right for themselves.
Especially online, there are times when it looks like people write about their sexcapades because of what’s missing from the way they go down — like, the camaraderie or an element of intimacy. A natural part of sex is the close interpersonal exchange between two people, so maybe not getting it with a partner(s) means some seek it out through high fives from friends. Or these days, strangers on the Internet.
Another response to the article was also spot on, at least in my opinion. It sum: Maybe these women don’t write about it because their partner might not want them too. Or, because they might have kids who read their blog and they don’t want to open up the bedroom doors for them to see.
That aspect hit home personally, because even if I write about relationships, it’s rarely about sex. If sex is part of the discussion, it’s not in graphic detail, and certainly not about what happens day-to-day with my boyfriend. This isn’t, however, because there’s “nothing to say.”
Even though there aren’t any kids in the picture, the idea of someone like my mother, father, or brother reading about my sex life is completely off-putting. The whole pseudonym thing is far from air tight, and I’d rather not have to worry about marring our next family Thanksgiving with graphic details of how my boyfriend railed me one weekend. It’s worth noting that on some level I’ve already gotten more “personal” on this blog than I ever intended. Arguably, that’s a good thing. Yet…of all the subjects and information provided, I still do not want to write about sex. That author insinuating that a lack of public chatter means there’s probably something wrong with anyone who makes that decision is just crazy.
Somewhere it got lost that becoming more egalitarian doesn’t mean women have to bare it all, it means they can decide whether to… Or not. Free from social condemnation. I hope we aren’t SO far removed from personal privacy that we’re questioning (or complaining) when people don’t want to talk about their sex lives on the internet.
Anyway, there are times when privacy isn’t antiquated. I think these days, when people are posting their birthing videos on YouTube and creating electric chronologies of everything they’ve ever eaten, it’s downright admirable to keep some things to yourself. If these lifestyle bloggers want to talk about curtains matching the carpet — and mean it literally — Dear heavens. Let them.