Let’s talk about sex. God knows, everyone else is! There’s sex here, sex there, sex as liberation and sex as decadence. Our obsession with it is downright puritanical. Even the sexual revolution of the sixties was priggish, where promiscuity became as obligatory as chastity had been in the fifties. If an individual wasn’t driven by a raging libido, it was considered symptomatic of a deep-seated character disorder. So books and manuals abounded, many of them recommending positions guaranteed to slip discs and cause concussions when one partner slipped and dropped the other.
But in all the yammering and all the published reams of paper, one characteristic of sex has remained carefully hidden, and that is its role as an instrument of political oppression.
Okay, George, this is where I get a little convoluted, so focus!
As empires grow in power, they become increasingly decadent. Now, note what your brain did when I said, “decadent.” Right away, you pictured a full-blown Roman orgy, with wine-soaked naked bodies writhing on the floor to the discordant notes of a lyre.
Well, zip up your pants, Big Guy. That’s not what I was talking about.
The decadence I am speaking of is an empire’s descent into slaughter and aggression. Decadence is bombing natives and savages into the next world; decadence is allowing children to starve to death (36,000 a day from food-challenged illnesses); decadence is a feral capitalism that spreads poverty and misery and calls it democracy; decadence is torture, black holes, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.
This presents a problem for the masters of the universe. Were the public to clearly see the full decadence of these activities, the empire would collapse for lack of support. So, what they need is a sacrificial lamb that taketh away the sins of the world.
And that’s where sex comes in.
Have you ever noticed that the more authoritarian a regime is, the more puritanical it is. There’s a reason for this. In skillful hands, the condemnation of sex becomes the ultimate diversionary act that redirects the public’s attention away from the decadence necessary to achieve and maintain power.
Sex is a life force that can bring much beauty into a person’s world, and that is the problem. Those who have known beauty have little tolerance for the ugliness of power. Sex is moist in its fecundity, a damp forest in which sunlight is filtered through the green foliage. Power demands an arid desert, so the trees must be felled so the sun’s blinding glare can leech the nutrients from the soil.
So it was that Death doffed its black cloak, draped it around Sex and burned the mark of decadence into her forehead. It all began when men damned Eve for the Fall, and the vagina’s rose was transformed into the briar patch that became a portal to fires of Hell. (A close reading of God’s curse on Adam and Eve reveals that God has a sick sense of humor. In spite of the pain of childbirth, God gave women the stronger sex drive, which is why men tend to act like asses.)
It continues today as neocons and fundies blame sex for America’s descent into moral decadence, thus diverting the public’s attention away from the real decadence that is empire. The sixties were scary because sex broke out and threatened to bury death. I thank God sex is back in the pillory where she belongs.