Sexting, SuicideGirls, and ethical sluts

The emergence of more laissez-faire sexual attitudes amongst Gen Y-ers is creating a lot of unsettled people – because suddenly the ‘slut’ label isn’t having as much effect as we would like it to. Now prudishness is the rude word. Women – and men – are happily posting videos of their orgasm-warped facial expressions onto sites such as beautifulagony.com. Girls next door are meeting up with other girls next door in nude photo shoots for abbywinters.com. And cottage-industry underage porn is seeing a revival with sexting. I may be confusing lax sexual mores with the growing spirit of self-promotion and the accompanying devaluing of privacy – see Facebook for further information. Indeed, many comments of the above phenomena – from suggestive photos online, to rainbow parties – speaks of the apparent ‘race to the bottom’ not as an attempt to undersell other marketers of flesh, but of other marketers of privacy. To determine which one is more at issue, we may benefit from investing what, amongst Gen-Yers, is the more powerful (and, perhaps, more empowering) act for those involved: sucking someone’s genitals - or taking a self portrait while having one’s genitals sucked?


Perhaps both are components of a greater collective narrative – one about self-empowerment through ‘taking back’ our corporal being. The solo actresses of suicidegirls.com (“Only way dangerous step away from necrophilia”) are often director and photographer; the setting is their hallway or kitchen; the Mise en scène is their scattered clothing and geek paraphernalia. Much of the above mentioned erotica slash soft-porn sites explores sexuality - but doesn’t actually feature sex. The emergence of the ‘Ethical Slut’ is one expression of the Sex-positive movement – but so is the nude self-portraitist.

I am also intrigued by the popular reaction when it is ‘discovered’ that thirteen-year olders (and indeed thirty-year olders) are happily engaging in loose sexual relationships - and equally happy to video tape themselves doing so: we feel contempt that they have let their guard down. Or we figure, in the case of the young teenager, that they are so unformed that they are fooling themselves if they think anything worthwhile, sexually or emotionally, can come out of such exchange. (It is this reaction that, I suspect, is the most ignorant and condescending.) And frequently - we feel pity that they have ‘given’ themselves away so cheaply, or for free, almost as if we too understood sex – yes, even even behind-closed-doors-and-recording-devices-turned-off-sex - as an economic exchange.

All of the above reactions highlight something equally as powerful about the reactor: an assumption that having ‘grown up’ and got over the novelty of fucking, or of ‘first love’, that we have risen above our high-school preoccupation with sex, and that we are now like the neuter society in Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Well, bad luck – we’re still in the playground; in fact, we never left.


Image by dklimke
Post a Comment