Thoughts on sex addiction, et al.

25 November, 2008

This article on the burgeoning sex addiction confessional industry.

What Romano does not admit, in his article, is that these confessions are really boasts. Sex is an acceptable addiction, and “confessing” to having too much sex is like complaining about being too good looking or too rich. Oh, the pain I must endure! Of course, I must go on to say that in a clinical sense we are talking about compulsive behaviour often (sometimes?) associated with feelings of a lack of self-worth, and also with a risk of disease and violence. (Like working night shift in a hospital, except there’s no program to get you out of that predicament.) But if these public confessors really feel so bad about their behaviour, why are they being so public? I suspect the people for whom compulsive sex is truly a problem would rather not go public, just as real alcoholics tend not to go on Oprah to talk about all the money they lost, all the hours wasted in bars or in front of the TV, the memory problems, the mouth ulcers, and the really humiliating things they recall doing in public (and if you say “Oh, they do talk about those things”, then I ask you, do they talk about being arrested for urinating in public? Because that’s the classic police record for a confirmed alcoholic). Oprah alcoholics are either shyly macho about it, or else bathing in the uniquely American virtue of public redemption from socially unacceptable but basically harmless sins (by harmless, I mean it’s not as though they went around stabbing people or anything, is it?).

If sex addiction is a problem that needs to be addressed, what about compulsive masturbation, which I suspect is far more prevalent, but is much more shameful to discuss in public? How many impractical fetishes have been promoted to naive lonely people, how many people rendered sexually incompetent by the unreal strictures and fantasies of the porn industry or their own circumstances?

Romano should really have spent less time being wittily titillating on the subject of pseudo-intellectual books that pander to the compromised ids of the chattering class, and more time asking the following: Is sexual addiction a problem? If so, how? If not, what is the real problem?


This article also cites Giulia Sissa’s Sex and Sensuality in the Ancient World as saying that the Ancients (capitalised because, of course, the only Ancients worth looking to as a precedent are of course the Greeks and Romans) were more relaxed about sexual desires. Well, that’s a one-sided and simplistic way of looking at it. Certain individuals and cults are recorded as conducting orgies and sexual rituals, but the fact of their being noted may point to their exceptional nature. I’ve read elsewhere that high-class Greeks and Romans thought rampant sexuality the province of the bestial lower classes; literally bestial, as beasts know no self-restraint or aesthetic sense. The small genitals of the Classical nudes would seem to support this view.


4 Responses to “Thoughts on sex addiction, et al.”

  1. gfish Says:

    Actually the ancient religious cults that engaged in orgies and had sexual ceremonies only did it a few times a year with much pomp and ritual in the way. It wasn’t a swinger’s party as seen in Eyes Wide Shut or read about in revisionist history books penned by staunch Christian fundamentalists.

    For example, the ancient Celts had two sexual rituals each year. One was a rite commonly known today as Hieros Gammos (made famous by Dan Brown) and the other was a nod to a Roman tradition of a springtime orgy known as a Commissatio. That’s as sexual as they got in their religious ceremonies.

  2. eyeresist Says:

    Thanks for your input, gfish. I imagine that some neo-pagans also like the “free love” version of history.

    I didn’t know anything about the Celtic ceremonies (and have a slight but healthy suspicion of any Celtic ceremony with a Roman or Greek name). Presumably the Commissatio was a decadent form of the harvest festival?

  3. gfish Says:

    I don’t know if decadent is the right word. Decadent by who’s standards? The Celts would probably find most of today’s swing clubs too rude, noisy and excessive. It was more of a drinking party after the harvest and sex was one of the things on the agenda.

  4. eyeresist Says:

    Sorry. I was refering to the Roman Commissatio, not the Celtic festival.

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