Monday, 10 March 2008

'Mr Sex': I Want Classless Sex, And I Want It NOW

Warning: this post is a bit political. And Americans without prior knowledge of the British class system probably won't understand it at all, so I apologise in advance. But anyway; is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how middle-class sex has become these days?

I don’t want to go all Class War on your collective arses, but it has to be said; we’re living in an extremely middle-class decade, in the UK at least. We're tottering on the brink of recession, mainly because we're all being constantly being encouraged into adopting traditional middle-class values (buy your house, be suspicious/scared of the outside world, keep up with the Jones' - even though you don't really talk to them anymore - and pull the ladder up as quickly as possible) whether we can afford it or not. And a huge chunk of the population are firmly in the 'Not' side of the equation.

Turn on the telly, and you're treated a non-stop barrage of sneery gets 'helping' the Proles to sort their lives out in shows such as Your Dog Is Almost As Feral As You, Peasant, I'm A Big Shouty Aryan Who Swears A Lot At The Lower Orders To Disguise The Fact That I Do A Girls Job, and Look At Your Shit, You Disgusting Indoor Whale! Go On! Look At It! LOOK AT IT!. The music of the era is infested with mewling whelps like James Blunt (a former Army captain, for Christ's sake) and Keane (the Sound of Impotence). Want to go to the football? That’ll be £40, please, now that it’s been discovered by middle-management types. Looking for working-class people in the media? They'll be the people ramming glasses into each other's faces on TV documentaries and think-pieces about 'Binge Britain'. And you could always fucking watch fucking Channel fucking Four to see a load of fucking actors fucking encapsulating fucking authentic working-fucking-class life (by saying 'fucking' all the fucking time) on fucking Shameless.

(This is not intended to be a rip on middle-class people, by the way; I work in a traditional middle-class profession, I know a lot of middle-class people, and I like 'em. But I was brought up to believe that we were supposed to be living in a meritocracy, and your background wasn't supposed to matter anymore, that's all)

So what's this got to with shagging, then? Well, last time I checked, we were all issued with a set of genitals regardless of social status. But if you opened most women’s magazines, watched any chick-flick, or checked out pretty much every advert aimed at women with a sexual undertone, you’d be forgiven for thinking that both Rumpy and Pumpy has been completely annexed as a luxury item.

Personally, I blame Sex and the City for this horrible state of affairs; almost single-handedly, it re-perpetuated the idea that it was incredibly liberating and self-empowering to kick out the sexual jams, just as long as you had the right career and wore larcenously expensive shoes while you were doing it. Presumably, if Carrie Whatshername and her mates worked in a factory making Rabbits instead of endorsing them, and spent their leisure time knocking back WKD on a Friday night at Re-Flex, we’d have never heard of them until one of ‘em rolled up on Trisha.

Sadly, we did, and it shows. Go to any sex trade show, and within five minutes you’ll be surrounded by twittering Trustafarians who think they’ve invented sex because they’ve discovered a new colour to make a dildo with. There's a swingers club in my hometown that advertises itself as - and I’m typing this with a straight face – ‘Nottingham's sexual elite’, which brings to mind images of a Nazi eugenics programme, involving Margo Leadbetter being serviced by the Cheese Manager from the local Asda.

Worst of all; the reams and reams and reams of erotic fiction that read like Barbara Cartland novellas, but with more big spunking cocks. When you read these things, you wonder how the characters ever find the time to have it away, what with their rammed-out social diaries, massively important power-lunches, and high-flying careers. Josh, Tim and Hugo get to have their wicked way with Camilla, Emma and Chloe in five-star hotels. Presumably Tracey, Sharon and Caz get to pick up the pants and spent johnnies off the floor and give the sheets a boil-wash before going back to being knocked about by Tez, Kev and Daz.

It all sounds extraordinarily ground-breaking (and yes, at the end of the day it's all about fantasy, and being minted is probably a bigger fantasy for most people than a quality sex life) but the message in a lot of the stories veers alarmingly close to the one that Women’s Realm and Mills and Boon were pushing 50 years ago: the main goal a woman can aspire to is to use her wiles to shack up with a toff and ponce off him for the rest of their life. If you’re rich enough, and come from the right family, you’re entitled to be as sexually promiscuous as you like. If you’re not, fuck off to Jeremy Kyle and stop breeding, pram-face.

I know that female media isn’t the only culprit here - look at lad mags, which at their less inspiring moments are little more than office boys prick-teasing other office boys - but as far as I know, a decent, fulfilling sex life is something you earn, not inherit, and anyone who thinks otherwise will be put up against the wall and have dildos thrown at them when the revolution comes. Women who stack shelves at Kwik-Save who have children called Storm have sex too, y’know. And they don’t have to wrap £400 worth of shoe around their feet to do it, either.

11 comments:

Hanna said...

Bravo!

I'm not a Brit, nor am I someone who usually has a hard time expressing herself, but here you managed to say something I hadn't yet managed to put into words.

Whatever you invest into sex - money, looks, prestige - doesn't make it any hotter. Sex in a mansion isn't necessarily better than sex in a trailer or a council flat. That notion is a threat to our (pop) culture's current set of priorities.

Silicon Limey said...

An excellent piece, and it's going to be difficult to see old arse face Gordon Ramsey on the box without grinning.

I think the problem isn't so much class-based as sales-based, that sex is now a commoditised product that needs to be portrayed as aspirational because that's the default position for advertisers with little imagination.

Having trouble reaching orgasm? Then you need a Rabbit at £49.95 ta very much. Worried about your erection – then Pfizer has the drug for you.

It's much more difficult to sell stuff by putting it in a Mike Leigh film – somehow I doubt Jane Horrocks in 'Life is Sweet' did much for the sales of chocolate spread after all. A pity in a way, because I think people would be a lot happier in themselves if they took a slightly more rational approach to sex.

Boy said...

Pure gold. I one day hope to name my child Storm, and when they ask why, I'll point the poor thing to this post.

Mabel said...

Spot on. I am getting so bored with the anti working class crap that has been going on the last few years, where everything they do or say is sneered at, and culminating in "chav" etc. The problem is class and the commodification of sex. Anything whiffing of working class is sneered at for being cheap, gaudy and quantity over quality.


You don't have to fuck in £400 quid shoes, with Jo Malone candles and Agent Prov knickers to have great sex.

Respect and enthusiasm count for ALOT more.

Monozygote said...

I don't think it's about class per se. As a woman, the message I get is that it's ok to want or to do sex only as long as you are sufficiently "attractive" and/or sexy. Modern media notions of female "attractiveness" tend towards the cosmetic (which costs money). And modern notions of sexiness do tend towards the literate and the high-flying.

Ms Robinson said...

Oh Mr Sex we are so on the same page regarding the middle class witches that run the female media agenda. I personally believe that much of what they write is fantasy..most of these women wouldn't know what's like to have sensual, raw sex as their lives are all about control. Great sex is about losing control amongst other things. I too can't stand how it's been packaged for the middle class as some sort of life changing event that can be weighed and measured. It is what it is and the more in touch with yourself you are the better it is. Which may imply it's likely to be crap for all those West London, Jo Malone buying status conscious women. And men.

Luka said...

Quite so.

The class distinction spills over onto sex blog turf, too. The middle classes tend to be the ones who can afford both the laptop and the time to type up their sexual fantasies and foibles. It's unlikely Sharon the Shelf Stacker has the disposable income to spend on an overpriced hunk of metal to stick up her arse and then wax lyrically about it on her blog, typing away into her MacBook and sipping a Skinny Latte, waiting for that publishing deal to materialise.

Anna said...

I think it's sold as a fantasy, like you said. It's always going to be escapism to some degree. Look at all those adverts convincing you that if you buy the right brand of shoe polish, indescribably beautiful women will be throwing themselves at you. If those women happen to look well-off as well, we shouldn't be surprised.

Anonymous said...

Personally I found that post a turgid pile of wank !

Its got sod all to do with class rather its too do with our pathetic 'celb culture' and our pitiful obsession with glamour.

Why is these type of shows tend to focus around the wealthy and successful?? Well for one thing, it would never cater to viewers 2 second attention span otherwise.

TV is a pretty crappy medium in many ways not least of all in that it gives over so much information to the viewer as to render any scenario shown once as being unable to be shown again. The logical progression is a need for variety and novelty. If you need to show variety in peoples lives and their activities/locations then they need to have money to do these things therefore things go up the social strata till you reach a point where the scenarios you have to put your characters in becomes even slightly plausible, this point is usually one that involves them being richer than average.

So yes you do end up with a fair amount about post-University thirty somethings, Yummy mummies etc mind you, you also get a fair bit of footballers wives, trolley dollies etc.

Don't get me wrong I think it makes for shit telly, but blaming it on some kind of class war is some crap arsed, piss poor argument. If you want to blame someone then stand outside a newsagent and vent at the idiots buying heat or similar drivel, then when your at it walk into a pub during a premiership game and lecture to the assembled masses about the sheer idiocy of them investing their time and energy into the fortunes of bunch of sycophantic mouth breathers and their half wit WAGS and the damage they are doing to their sons and daughters by drawing attention to the lives of luxury these genetically blessed arses have.

Honestly I love this blog but if your going to foray into social politics try and at least look around before you type, do you really think its just some mythical middle class of yester year that obsesses about buying Louis Vutton g-strings?

Dune said...

Nottingham's sexual elite?

*dies laughing*

Nottingham's 'Mr Sex' said...

Ooer. Looks like I really upset a James Blunt fan a couple of posts back.

Seriously, I'm sticking by my theory. Yes, celeb and WAG culture is as real and as horrible as Anonymous makes out - but I'm not seeing many Premiership footballers in female erotic fiction (there's fucking loads of them in Gay fiction, but that's another story).

And I'm very offended by dune's scorn of Nottingham's Sexual Elite. Her invitation to come and join us in the paddling-pool full of mushy peas has been firmly revoked. So there.