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The problem of sex and intimacy in sex advice
Transcript of The problem of sex and intimacy in sex advice
Mediated Intimacy: Meg John Barker, Ros Gill, Laura Harvey
Study of sex advice media
Focus here: 65 sex advice books from past decade
Sex critical analysis (Downing, 2012)
Sex + intimacy framed as
Proposed 'solutions' restrictive and individualised
Sex Critical Sex Advice
The Sexual Imperative
Sex is necessary for individuals
Natural human need
Essential feature of identity
Vital for health & well-being
Sex is necessary for relationships
The 'glue' that holds them together
Sex better in loving relationships
Lack of sex -> break-up
Variations on PIV
Vary the positions for PIV intercourse
lack of penises or vaginas
Despite recognising the need for
external clitoral stimulation
vary costumes or locations
Spicing it Up
'Problem': Maintaining sex in intimate relationships
Assumed: 'sexless' relationships will end, being single is bad
Therefore reader requires expert to provide 'solutions'
Assumptions underlying the construction of sex + intimacy as a problem to be solved...
Resistances present across all sex advice, but:
Redrawing of lines, not dismantling hierarchy (Rubin, 1984)
'Alternative' books retain sexual imperative/individualisation
Perel (2007) de Botton (2012) illuminate 'problem'
Reading across books: diversity -> expanding imagination
Problem pages can destabilise normative assumptions
Rigid limits on context in which sex is acceptable
Image repetition: hetero monogamous couple
Non-monogamy excluded/warned against
Natural gender difference -> sexual problems
same-sex relationships no solution!
'Sex' = PIV -> orgasm
Perpetuated in structures of books
17% PIV (5% oral, 4% manual - 'foreplay')
Solo sex for practicing techniques
Bogeyman of the sexless relationship: You must work at sex
NOT: Asexuality, singledom/non-monogamy, discrepancy OK
Spice required to 'keep sex alive'
But in tightly policed boundaries
Question but reinforce normality
Fantasy / reality
Erotica / porn
Fun kink / risky BDSM
Individualised & responsibilised 'solutions'
No recognition of (social) role of sex advice in constructing templates
Sex critical advice possibilities
Diverse contexts for sex (expanding intimacy)
Normalising difference in amount/type of desire
Benign variation of bodies/practices (expanding sex)
Agency operating in social systems/structures
The Coital Imperative