Today, we have a special guest post by L Isaac Simon! I had the pleasure of meeting him on Twitter, where we clicked and decided to tackle some exciting topics. First up, his take on dirty talk and “The Moment”!
Although I’m relentlessly sex positive, I find one aspect of the beast with two or more backs to be silly to the point of systemically tricky. Dirty talk, at least the form it takes in mainstream adult media, and therefore adopted by many, many people. It’s part of the weird mythology that sex must be conducted when the moment has conducted enough heat. It’s backward compartmentalization that walls off sex as it’s own insular experience.
Let me illustrate this with an experience I had a while back. I was in bed with a former girlfriend, about to welcome some pleasant unconsciousness. My mind wandered to a silly thought, and as my former lover cuddled up to me, I vocalized it. What the thought was is a mystery to the past now, but my recollection of her reaction is quite clear. She withdrew immediately, making tracks between her side of the mattress and my own.
“You’ve ruined the moment,” she murmured angrily, inferring that my comedic little outburst was a complete and utter turnoff. I was confused, and tried to bring the moment back, but apparently it was lost forever.
Now, how does this relate to dirty talk? I believe the impetus of naughty is similar to the impetus of gushy romance. Both are prisms that sex is run through to legitimize the act, to give it explicit meaning and justification. As well, both the invocation of naughtiness and the inspiration of romantic love are delightful paprika for sex.
Regardless of what prism is used to add meaning to an act that’s weirdly demonized for being animalistic, therefore meriting droves of symbolism filters, each is a script that keeps sex from getting off the rails. Romantic sex remains romantic sex, with its lexicon suggested by film and literature, and more naughty fare fills another categoric desire, its specific scripts appearing in a hefty pile of mainstream adult material.
This isn’t necessarily problematic on its own. Some folks enjoy more dirty sex, some more candle-lit and with a warm breeze fluttering through the moon-soaked drapes. Each to their own. The difficulty is that when sex inherits scripts, it’s also compartmentalized as one or several types of specific actions, filed away until the right moment.
Here’s where the myth of the moment comes in. I’ve read in numerous places that it’s healthy to schedule sex because, even though it doesn’t fit the heated fantasy, it’s still a complex set of chemical reactions that can be manipulated. Even if the mood isn’t right – there isn’t smooth jazz playing or you’ve not just watched 500 Days of Summer – sex can be practiced, and quite effectively at that. Waiting for inspiration to strike rarely works for artists, and can become frustrating, because waiting leads to more waiting leads to a disjointed relationship between you and your sexual self.
Sexual scripts are very limiting in that respect. Sex should be whatever the individual cares to make it, and hold whichever meaning is most comfortable to the individual. We’re not a host for a sexual parasite – sex is expression that should be part of a fluid experience. Defining certain things as turn-ons and turnoffs as a society and culture endows them with value judgements, demarcating agency and putting a neat boundary over what sex can be.
Let’s get back to the moment I ruined. The woman across from me in bed had digested over many years the fantasy that sex is an expression of love and romantic lust. Sex for her seemed the ultimate seal of a relationship’s success. It had to be a certain way. Imagine if she’d seen a varied depiction of sex in art, literature, and culture, as opposed to the oft binary of romantic sex and poorly defined pornographic media.* I believe that the case would have been then that the moment could have been summoned back, only because we’d have been in control of its aesthetic and thematic qualities.
Of course, at the time I was following a script as well, being that as a boyfriend, I had to act a certain way, construct viable environments for the possibility of coitus to flourish. It’s still a dance I do, rather poorly, because scripts are powerful. It’s so easy to throw a wrench in the works accidentally, especially because losing the moment is cast as failure by the same engines that subtly influence our sexual doings.
So how does dirty talk fit into this again? Dirty talk is just simple vernacular spouted off during sex to make it hotter, right? Actually, it’s part of what keeps sex in airtight compartments. Dirty talk is only brought out when sex occurs, and sealed away when sex is put back in its box. And it’s called dirty talk, so sex then retains its naughty and slimy quality. In any other context, too, it’s really strange sounding.
The pertinent thing to do is recognize when you’re following a cultural or societal script when carnal embrace is presented. There’s comfort and control to be had when you can engage in sex and say whatever you want, do whatever you want – as long as there’s metric tons of consent – and be the sexual self is not defined by an illusory heat that’s actually very much in your control.
Another benefit of this is that shedding scripts can also wilt away the judgement you’d feel at consenting sexual practices that are far from your desire wheelhouse. Takes the power away from a lovely chemical reaction that’s been given far too much heft over the years. What Tony Stark should have said was, “peace[ful sex] in our time, imagine that.” Imagine that is right.
*Truth is, there’s an incredible variety of ethical and highly beautiful adult content, but it’s not easy to find and consume if you’re not aware of it. And regarding mainstream content on tube sites, it’s often not the fault of the product itself that many people lack the skills necessary to view this material not education, but as fantasy or “sex athleticism” as another writer puts it.