Monday, June 18, 2018


I always thought sex was pretty much what the movies showed or else what the medical lit said it was.  When I got to Montana, I became aware of A.B. Guthrie Jr.'s opinion that a cold and reluctant woman could destroy a generation but that a whore grateful for marriage could redeem it all.  He was against violence against women, even slaps that made the woman say, "Thanks -- I needed that."  All this is in the novels, implied more than argued.  Sometimes he would say it plain.

At the end of my decade of life that included skillful and welcome monogamous sex, it was thoroughly mixed in my own mind with romance, growing up, gender-roles, and a lot of other stuff that was hard to figure out, like obedience, authority, and the freedom to think.  I knew way too much about the old-white-man paradigm and what it let pass by as acceptable because it was -- for them.

Not until the mid-2000's did I begin to rethink the whole subject and how it pervades every aspect of our lives, but particularly the subset of paid physical stimulation, which could also be a version of intimacy, healing, and emotional stability. But many times it isn't.

A moment I like to remember was when I said in conversation with the Paris loft boys via email, meaning it as a joke: "I'm too old to visit a prostitute."  One young man was offended and indignant.  He said, "I can give anyone pleasure.  No one is too old."  He had entirely left the ideas of only glamour being a turn-on, only a climax being a goal, and only violence making sex "real."  He didn't believe any of that bunkum.

Later, hearing the stories of the American boys doing survival sex, I heard for the first time that boys who were really needy and tough would allow themselves to be beaten up for money.  Nothing about what we would normally call "sex" was involved, but the violent men -- clearly angry in some aspect of their lives (maybe their sons) -- would assault the boys and become so aroused that they "came." without close contact.  They paid to keep from being arrested.

Sex, like food, is one of the most plastic and shaped-by-culture needs of human beings, except that if you never have any sex at all in your whole life in any form, you might not be happy but you won't die.  It can be the focus of a lifetime; it can be such a wickedness that suicide is attractive; it can be the most beautiful aspect of being alive.

Until Tim explained what he did in his day, a much more literary and ground-breaking time, I never thought of sex as a story, one cleverly suited to fit a client by finding his secret spot, his second self, his never admitted fantasies.  It was simple:  T. talked to them a bit until he had figured them out, then he took their minds there, emotional bodies trailing after, until the climax but not the denouement, so that like Scheherazade's caliph, they would want more.

He was also pretty sophisticated about the sexuality of "gaze" which is not just men looking at naked women, but also includes beauty, costume, dance, light, attitude and literary references.  He must tell his own story, but there's a lot to it.  What I had learned in Div School was relevant but a baby view, except I knew that high-end theory from those avant garde Algerian French philosophers was meaningful.

This sort of thing is TOTALLY different from using sex as an assault weapon.  Nor is it about using access to sexual victims as a reward, a perq.  I'm only talking about skin-to-skin one-on-one.  Compensated.  Not used for extortion.

Stigma is so useful when people are trying to cover up behavior.  People are afraid to ask, afraid to even think about it because their own interior life will come to the surface.  Secrecy, denial, displacement.

In our times sex has come to be much intensified and unbalanced by the mercantile forces that are corroding everything.  And yet, the strategy of treating sex as hilarious -- which helped to cope with hidden events -- has persisted and now veils and confuses a search for truth.

Now and these these boys-to-men at risk will say they are shit, they are nothing, they have done every bad thing.  Instead of saying God loves them, I say,  "Wait.  What skills have you learned from this survival sex thing?"  

Endurance.  How to take preventive measures like making sure people knew where he was, using a pocket camera to record the car license and send it.  How to create distractions.  How to read the mind of a transgressor before they act.  How to choose an effective flattery.  How to recover.  There was advice:  stick together, stay informed. never go into a basement, don't allow being tied up, stay off the street.  STAY OFF THE STREET.  Those who had been abused as little kids knew it in their bones.

I discovered that these boys have a strong sense of justice, a morality based on the fellow at their shoulder.  But their punishments of others and themselves can be harsh.

This is not useful info for me unless I write a story or an essay about these matters.  The business of a writer is life itself.  In a time when it's tough to distinguish hook-up culture from commerce, in a time when there are cultures among us that impose a death sentence for what others of us consider innocent, there's a lot to write about.  The lines between disreputable and criminal are being redrawn.  Gender roles and the genders themselves change by the day.  Rule by law means a lot of rewriting to keep up.

Prose reasoning, fictional accounts of people's lives, and poetry about the bodies of desire, all must interact to build a new understanding of where lines should be drawn, where old boundaries should be demolished.  The wrenching part of this blithe opinion is that people die, people live restricted and mutilated.  But not all of them.  And more survive if they stick together.

But get braced.  They say the pipi tapes are worse than wetting the bed.

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