In today’s Guardian weekend magazine there is an article entitled My Year Without Sex by Hephzibah Anderson. It is an extract from a book she wrote about her decision to go a year without sex (oooo a whole year!!). I was fascinated with this article and especially her complete and utter preoccuptaion with the whole subject. For her, going without sex meant she had to dress more chastely and somehow be less of person that she was before.
There was one quote that made me giggle though. She said
“When I signed up to this year, I couldn’t resist thinking of all the things I’d have the time and energy for without sex and its breathless pursuit to occupy my spare hours. I’d write a novel, I’d learn Italian, I’d take up Pilates.
I mean… just how much time did she spend having sex? She must have been at it day and night in order to replace all that time with other things.
It’s an interesting article, and I think in many ways it exposes the culture we now live in. So much is sex-related. The media seem to suggest that if you aren’t having it, in as many different ways as possible with different people of different sexualities then you aren’t normal. The reality is that there are millions of people out there who choose to abstain from sex, either until marriage, or until they meet the right person. It doesn’t make the author of this article more special and different, but it is a reflection of society’s obsession with sex that makes it newsworthy.
Choosing to have lots of sex or choosing to have none are equally valid choices, but I do wish that the latter was given more importance (or at least as much) than the former. Without the issue of sex being a defining issue in relationships people have to learn to relate on more intimate levels. Animals have sex, but do they truly relate? It is almost too easy to jump into bed with someone without knowing who they are, their passions, desires, fears and hopes and character. For some sex might be a simple physical act, but I believe it is a whole heap more important than that.
By the way, some people reading this might think I am a prude but those who know me will know this is far from the truth. Later in the article the author says,
“During the course of this year, I have become attuned to other needs: the longing for true intimacy, the desire for a connection capable of enduring across distance and time. I have also let myself go. I’ve left my legs unwaxed and I haven’t bothered to shave my armpits, and beneath it all, my relationship to my body has subtly changed – it feels more my own. In a strange way, it also feels, well, sexier. Possibly for the first time ever, I’ve no use for the validation of a stranger’s appraising gaze.”
Interesting how abstention from the very thing she thought gave her connection and intimacy actually increased her desire for a genuine version of these things.