Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Low-Libido Middle Class is Not Really a Problem

Camille Paglia has another catchy title in her latest New York Times op-ed: "No Sex, Please, We're Middle Class." She thinks that the United States' middle class is in a sexual doldrums. No chemicals, no female Viagra or its male counterpart, can make up for the boringness of our cerebral work and lives. She wants a revitalization of lust.

I think she is right that the sexual appetites of the dominant class are not overwhelming. Popular sociology has invented the concept of DINS - Double Income, No Sex - for couples who would rather work than couple. This is a new circumstance.

I do not think a low libido in the dominant class is a problem. The sexualization of everything in popular culture, and the ubiquity of porn, has, I think, put so much overemphasis on sex that it loses its cultural power. Sexual stimulation still works on our bodies, as it always has an always will. But too much sex in the culture means that ordinary people don't have to spend much time thinking about it.

I think we can see low libido among married couples as a healthy, proportionate estimation of the modest good that is sex.


Anonymous said...

"But too much sex in the culture means that ordinary people don't have to spend much time thinking about it."

I think Paglia makes that point herself when she says:

"But from the early ’70s on, nudity was in, and steamy build-up was out. The situation worsened in the ’90s, when Hollywood pirated video games to turn women into ... fantasy figures without psychological complexity or the erotic needs of real women."

As far as lack of sex for the middle class goes... is this really a new circumstance? My impression is that the American middle class has been bemoaning their own lack of sexiness at least since Tennessee Williams hit the scene, and certainly by the time Benjamin Braddock asked Mrs. Robinson if she was trying to seduce him. Maintaining one's social and economic position has never been fun.


Sebastian said...

I am the high-libido spouse in my marriage, and this often causes problems. I can never understand why my wife doesn't have an interest in having sex more often. We have no physical problems. No pain associated with intercourse. At my age, I am able to last long enough to usually provide my wife with more than one orgasm in a love-making session, although some times she feels the need to "work too hard" to get off. (My wife is not in good "athletic" shape, although not fat either). I believe I am a considerate lover, regularly avoiding acts that I would enjoy but that she doesn't. She knows I am interested in giving her pleasure when we make love (or so she told our marriage counselor).