Tired of obsessing over how often you're doing it? We are too!
But the real question is this: Why do we feel compelled to compare and compete?
Because being sexy, desiring an active sex life and having sex in a particular way—the “right” way— are what we’re now supposed to do. Our biology makes us want to have sex, but beyond that we’re shaped by our culture as to what’s normal— and if you don’t think that’s true, consider how differently you’d have thought about sex if you were born 100 years ago. We don’t tend to jump on information about how to be frigid or abstinent these days, but once upon a time “chaste” was the highest of compliments. Now, however, its opposite number, “sexy,” has replaced it as one of the most important things we can be. And along with it comes a feeling that, compared to the women we see on magazine covers and in movies, we are just not sexy enough.
Of course, no one would claim that the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was a bad thing— attitudes about women and sex before then weren’t just modest; they were repressive—but it’s hard to deny that once we knew that everyone was having sex, it became another commodity. There was nothing to be shy about anymore, so why not sell the idea that getting better at sex was something everyone should be striving for? Exploring the outer limits of your sexual potential wasn’t just something you might like to try one day; it was your duty as an empowered woman. As Naomi Wolf points out in her book The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, it’s a curious fact that since the supposed “liberation” of women a generation ago, body anxiety, cosmetic-surgery procedures and the sale of beauty products (the things that might make us more sexy, in other words) have increased exponentially.
Men aren’t exempt from this anxiety either: They have their own set of problems that they are encouraged to address. And that can’t be helped by the explosion in Internet pornography, which is seeping into the mainstream and providing us with a whole new set of standards about what’s sexy, what’s hot and what’s normal. So, we’re curious to know what’s going on with other people to justify our own behaviour, but—and here’s the snag—there’s no real way to find out. We’re told that sex is an area that is important to get right, but there’s no tablet of commandments to abide by. When it comes to sex, we live with information overload: But how much of it is hearsay, circumstantial evidence or unreliable?
Are you influenced by your friends? Keep reading onto the next page...