Sex is a Healer, as Well as a Destroyer
Updated: 4 days ago
This article was originally published on medium.com.
As Shirley Manson from the band Garbage once sang on the 2005 alt-rock album Bleed Like Me — “It’s our conviction, sex is not the enemy,” — at least that was so we thought.
The sexual liberation and “free love” movements that flowered in the hippie generation of the 60’s and 70’s eventually led to the hairspray encrusted, “big dick energy” atmosphere of the 80’s and 90’s. Sex is everywhere! Billboards, advertisements, fragrances. Yes, even grandma’s favorite restaurant, Hooters, was popularized. The seeds were planted.
Those seeds during those eras eventually led to how we experience sex and dating today: the toxic cesspool that is the hookup and dating culture that we know and love today. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr: it’s all the same. Why bother making real connections with people when you can do it virtually?
Now, I know it can be a bit brash to discuss sex where physical touch is feared and the slow crawl of adjustment to social distancing measures have placed strain, and changed the way people act, think and feel about socializing. It’s so weird to hug someone you may know through a mask and through both of your mutual unease at the awkwardness. But what about sex?
Stay with me though. I’m not talking about finding randoms to blow in the alley behind the Piggly-Wiggly, (“Ah, those were the good old days?”) But these new strange parameters have definitely shed some ultraviolet light on people’s inner demons and their shadow aspects to frightening degrees. We are being faced with uncomfortable reflections of ourselves for the first time in a long time.
People are literally losing their minds in grocery stores and gas stations on camera every single day and revealing the worst aspects of humanity. The best thing for us to do though is to not judge others for the things that we don’t understand, to focus on our own self-healing, and to sure as hell call others on the bad stuff and make it known it’s unwelcome. Constructively, of course.
But I digress. It’s easy to see how genuine connection is hard to come by. The world we live in is getting increasingly soaked in some new level of existential nightmare that we didn’t know existed yesterday, and it is driving people to do the strangest self-preserving behaviors. For instance, some people may repress themselves, or may lash out in aggressive take-downs online or IRL, or some may even seek comfort in denial and avoidance the good old fashioned way, with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.
Myself, I use sex.
Hear me out. Sex is great. It’s an easy, physical activity that increases dopamine and serotonin levels naturally, can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and may even guard against prostate cancer! It also briefly takes us out of our daily mental checklist of tasks, anxieties, and questions, which are constantly sapping our energies, and replaces it with a simple action that feels good. It’s kind of the perfect outlet.
But what does sex look like in the age of COVID-19? Well, for one your safest sex partner is yourself. Masturbation is GREAT! Can’t think straight? Rub one out! You’ll feel less clouded literally the moment you finish. Then go do something constructive, make a sandwich, or continue about your business. No one has to know. You should probably wash your hands before you make the sandwich, though. Don’t be that guy.
Your next best partner is someone you live with or someone you trust. Live-in friend with benefits? Sure. Or how about that one person who you were hooking up with for a while before quarantine that always works from home? Perfect. Close friend? Of course. Anything like this is acceptable as well, just limiting new partners is obviously the goal. It’s difficult, but it can be obtained.
Now, sex can also be one of the world’s greatest weapons. I should know; I’ve destroyed many lives pursuing sex. Or rather, used sex as a tool for pursuing an escape from reality. Definitely not the healthiest way to move through the world, but we all deal with things in our own way.
You see, the world is dark and weird and crazy, and when you’re a perfectionist by nature, you tend to want to be perfect at everything. The world we live in, however, doesn’t allow perfection to even be an option, and when we realize this, life can feel… Less engaging, completely fruitless, or draining. Depression sets in and it’s almost as if the fear of not being perfect creates a vacuum that only wants to suck the life out of everyone and everything. (No pun intended.)
You see, the thing about perfection is: perfection is the world’s greatest deceiver— what it really is is the fear of failure, just with fancier clothes. This strive for perfection leads to all sorts of reflecting questions, naturally. Like, why even attempt to do something if it cannot be done perfectly? What are the standards? Why would anyone attempt to do anything after that when we can just mindlessly scroll through Instagram instead? It’s exhausting.
But how do you even start to unpack that mentally? What’s easier and more fun than actually dealing with the mental anguish ruling over your own fears and insecurities? Having sex. It’s easy to see how you can become addicted to it. There’s a certain thrill that goes along with it. It’s the ultimate form of escapism.
It interesting that the same thing that heals your body, promotes connection with others, and gives your mind clarity can also be seen as a destroyer or even a distraction from your own goals in a way to self-sabotage your own success? Whoa. Mind, blown. (Again, no pun intended.)
So this is my confession to you, dear reader: Hi, I’m Demi Wylde, and I am an addict, a jaded perfectionist, and a sexual deviant of the highest order.
Welcome to the circus, we’re glad to have you.
Sex is great, but truthfully sex has been a crutch for me, I’ll admit. When I’m at my lowest I’ll try to seek distraction with almost superhuman speed and precision. I’ve perfected this art of avoidance much more than the average human, and these skills are second to none. I’m like the world’s best tantric yogi, but the world’s worst decision-maker. Great.
The weird part is: sex has also kind of been the ultimate tool for my self-discovery. I’ve gained more clarity on what my boundaries are as a person, and I’ve undid a lot of age-old intimacy issues and repression simply by tackling them at the source and experiencing sex fully. I’ve also learned how much better I can be in relationships, and what I want when I’m in one.
If we could open up about these things without the fear of persecution or judgement instead of avoiding them like the plague, the world would be a much happier place, truly. It’s always trial-by-fire learning while you’re here on Earth, but you’re still here, still breathing. You are loved.
So what can we learn from sex? We already understand that sex is ultimately a good thing. It is healing, it builds connections with people, and it’s also a very personal experience. Just like snowflakes, no two sexual journeys are alike. No two preferences are alike. No two chemistries are alike.
We can also assume that we do not have sex figured out, clearly. Like at all. There’s so much that still isn’t known about the act of sex, the changes that people undergo while experiencing it, or the social connectivity of the act itself. It’s just like we’re all just poking around in the dark trying to see what fits. (I’m sorry, these jokes are clearly too easy.)
So if sex isn’t the enemy then what is? Does that mean sex has an enemy? If sex had an enemy what would it be? Abstinence? Polygamists? Scientologists?
I think the real enemy here is fear. By releasing our own egos and just accepting all that there is in the world, AS IS, we can learn to navigate this world a little bit easier, and make it easier for others in the process. Learning to communicate your boundaries, your fears, as well as your passions is the essence of what life should be made of. It’s the good mixed in with the bad.
Look, I’ve answered one of life’s toughest questions today: is sex good or bad? The answer is: it’s both. I’ve done all the research so you don’t have to. You’re all welcome. Now you can use that extra time that I’ve saved for you by reading a book, taking an online class, or fighting the patriarchy. You know, whatever floats your boat.
There’s not much else we can do at this point, but the future is definitely going to be interesting to witness. The way we view sex will also change, maybe for good, maybe for bad. The bright side is: At least now we have another tool that, when used properly, can be used as a method to gain deeper human connection with others. And you thought this moment would never come again. Silly you.
Worst case scenario? You masturbate every day until your arm falls off and Lady ‘Rona has left us behind once and for all. But please remember to always wash your hands afterwards. Humanity depends on it.