That is how I felt after reading Brian Alexander’s America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction. Alexander is MSNBC’s “Sexploration” columnist and his graphic and in depth look at sexual trends across the country was well… did I mention I never want to have sex again?
Not because I feel dirty or offended – in fact where Alexander went is exactly where I was looking for answers. Trying to figure out what was going on with sex. Strange conversations with friends, lovers and strangers had clued me into the fact that the Moral Majority had lost. Sex had won – everywhere – and I wanted to understand why.
That was Alexander’s mission to discover if sex was fringe or mainstream. Readers were sending him questions about topics that would have once been taboo or fringe – but they were sending them from all over the country and from all walks of life. Not just the coasts but the middle of the country too was interested in porn, how to videos, toys, fetish and bondage.
In one chapter he talks to an ex-preacher, Joe Beam, who now teaches couples seminars – his topics Love, Sex and Marriage, sex being the largest chunk of the seminar – to conservative religious groups. Joe’s biggest selling points – sex is okay within the confines of marriage and if it isn’t expressly forbidden in the Bible go ahead and try it. I have to admit I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that so many religions teach that sex is bad – but then want you to procreate once you’re married. Here is an ex-bible thumping preacher saying that it is okay – giving permission even.
Giving permission was a constant theme – from the manufactures of sex toys to the creators of porn – they were giving permission for people to try different things. Eroding the taboo and brining sex into the mainstream.
So the reason I never want to have sex again… well that is because after reading his book none of my feeble attempts at edginess are, in fact, edgy. My own exploration over the last few years is about as exciting as a trip to Walmart (although if you’ve seen The People of Walmart that can be more exciting than you would think).
But really – was I following my own path to fulfillment and satisfaction or was I simply a statistic in a national trend?
In his final chapter Alexander attempts to tie up all the loose ends – but the forces at play are so big and the impact seen in so many ways there is no tidy ending to his story. Why is sex exploration such a big thing? Like Alexander I don’t think it is just the prevalence of the internet – although I do feel that you have to see before you want. Know that something exists before you try it. Like anything else there are some pioneers out there – but most of us are imitators – we dress how others think we should, eat what people tell us to, and have sex like we believe others are.
And apparently everyone in America is having more and better sex than we are.
There are no easy answers to this trend – and there are as many ways to have sex or find satisfaction as there are people. If you want to see a big picture view of this phenomenon check out his book. If you are interested in the ongoing conversation check out his sexsploration column at MSNBC.
Maybe you’ll find out what you’re missing – or have some questions answered that you’ve never had the nerve to ask – or like me, you will start to reorder your feelings about sex and discover you are perfectly okay being vanilla…