Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Unable To Hook

Unhooked Generation by Jillian Straus is a must-read for singles in their 30s who wonder why they are finding it nearly impossible to get (and stay) married and have a family like humans have done for time immemorial. Her analysis of all that ails Gen-X is spot on. I particularly liked what she has to say on the subject of casual sex.

Many women used the phrase : "I failed at it" - meaning that they had felt they failed at casual sex because they felt attachment afterward. To become attached after sex is to be human - but both men and women of this generation considered this a human failing. I thought to myself, if fucking a stranger and enjoying it is now a sign of success, things have certainly changed: beating yourself up because you can't use your body without involving your soul is quite the twenty first century dilemma.

It became obvious that beneath all the erotic aerobic activity, for many people, casual sex served as a substitution for real emotional intimacy. Having sex is easy for this generation, but connection and commitment are hard.

Often, Gen-Xers have sex quickly and then wait for the emotions to catch up with the physical sensations.

Casual sex has become an inalienable right, a freedom of the young and single that requires no commitments beyond the sex itself. Today, sexual flings, seemingly fun but fleeting, are now dime a dozen. I couldn't help but wonder whether casual sex wasn't losing its appeal due to its sheer availability.

from - Chapter 7 of Unhooked Generation by Jillian Straus.

The book is culled from interviews with 100 Gen-X heterosexuals (yes, there is a token desi, a Purnima who talks about how people of her generation don't just want casual sex but exotic sex as well. They can't decide if they want it with a girl or a guy so they go have threesomes).

At the end of the book there is the Unhooked Dictionary, a handy thesaurus that summarizes the state of Gen-X relationships with such nuggets as : Bling Ultimatum, Disposable Love, DTR Talk (Defining The Relationship), Marriage Heavy, Marriage Lite, Marriage Sabbatical, Multiple Choice Culture and finally the Wilma Flinstone Effect defined thusly: The modern woman's longing for a symbol of a traditional female role. An example would be when a woman, even a feminist, desires a big diamond engagement ring or flowers as a proof that she, as a woman, is adored.

The point Strauss makes in her book (which is a true reflection of the present day) is that people do not want to get all caught up in the emotional aftermath that having sex in the context of a loving relationship (no matter what its longevity) involves. They find that to be a burden, a drag on the heart that must be avoided at all costs. The contract between a couple engaging in casual sex is clear - there is no hope held out by either, there is no heartache to deal with the morning after (at least in theory).

People want the thrill of variety and partners who have been around enough to have sophisticated styles and techniques. Faithfulness does not enjoy the cachet it once did just like virginity is no longer a big deal. Players are useful in their ability to build mood and atmosphere that can elevate a one night stand to a memorable incident.

Girlfriends talk about what a great lay some guy was and miss him only for his body. You don’t get to hear a thing about him except his prowess in bed. When in a “relationship” the same women can bore you to death dissecting and analyzing every last word the man said to them. Grown women turn to blathering idiots asking themselves “He loves me, he loves me not” ad-infinitum.

I guess a lot of that translates to men as well. Comes a point when both men and women want only physical gratification without the trappings of a full blown relationship. Humans will also on occasion skip the appetizer and entree and head straight for the tiramisu. Its not a sensible diet but it can be fun and different - break the monotony of doing the regular thing.

As long as it is possible and permissible to have several sexual partners, people will seek the path of least resistance as far as coming out of intimate encounters with the least number of battle scars. Casual sex is notionally one way to do it - obviously flawed but the other options are not any better either.

Supposedly, every woman that Lord Krishna consorted with felt like she was the only true love of his life. He had the ability to gratify their individual and distinct emotional and physical needs completely. Most regular people don’t have that kind of capacity and in as such are unsuited to taking on the burdens of having multiple partners.

When they overextend themselves (as they often do),the results are telling. They are left wondering why casual sex does not remain as “casual” as they would want it to or why the heart acquires a thick scar tissue at the end of multiple hook-ups. Promiscuity can be fun and even fulfilling but not everyone has the ability to do it right - unfortunately Gen-Xers don’t recognize that.


SFGary said...

Desis rule! btw was there an email for Purnima?

Heartcrossings said...

SFG - Threesomes from lack of clarity on sexual orientation gives a whole new meaning to desi confusion. Unfortunately there was not an email for Purnima :)

SFGary said...

Too bad, it would have been purely for research purposes...