Sexuality: this state in progress

There is more to sex appeal than just measurements. I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal, picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain.

–– Audrey Hepburn


Were the British screen legend, known for her stardom in My Fair Lady still around, she might be flummoxed to see that sex appeal could exude from less romanticized occasions, and for the main reason of selling cars, tyres, computers, dishwashing liquid, toothpaste, beer and rum.

And if the Jamaican Ganja Growers Association got its way, Ms Hepburn, were she with us, could see “womanliness” with all its sexuality at the end of a marijuana spliff.

The truth is sex teases and taunts; it even terrifies. But it also thrills and soothes; it even strengthens. Manufacturers and retailers can attest to the last act –– that it empowers their bottom line, even if not lovers all the time.

Generally, as all adults should know, sex provides couples with pleasure and progeny; and sadly too often it is a reason for a broken heart, and on occasion, as Emile Straker was moved to write and sing, it can throw up “time for divorce”.

That’s the problem, some among us say: we treat sex as if it was ethereal, celestial, divine and omnipotent –– though there is no denying that it is omnipresent. The anti-romanticists with us see sex as just “normal” –– like eating and drinking, walking and running, sleeping and waking.

They argue that in making such a heavenly fuss about sex we set ourselves up for a deep anticlimax. And then comes the shame, which then is bound to breed anxiety, fear, apprehension, doubt, angst, and the dreaded men’s dysfunction –– the psychological and medical correction of which does not escape its snide effects.

All of which could be manifesting itself in Cherisse Francis’ curt suggestion at a Let’s Talk: Sex, STDs And Society event last weekend: “Remove the shame, remove the stigma and be empowered.”

This supposedly was the vision and objective of the Saturday “event” hosted by the Barbados Youth Development Council (BYDC) at the L.V. Harcourt Lewis Training Centre at the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union Ltd in Belmont, St Michael.

As Ms Francis, BYDC president, gave the welcome address, she was transported to declare that, for all the access to information, there was still a level of ignorance and several myths plaguing our youth –– which she said needed to be dispelled. Setting aside the sometimes nonchalant attitude of youth towards safe sex, we are not exactly aware what this sex illiteracy could be, given all the synergy and excitement these days in the classroom after tuition and the published melodrama on social media.

Ms Francis also referred to research that showed many youths were not excited about nor “engaging” when discussing sex or sexuality. She said that when promoting last Saturday’s event, “one thing was clear: unless talking about their sexual exploits in the past weekends or what they would like to do to a particular male or female, usually described in a disrespectful manner, young people are not excited and engaging when talking about sex and sexuality, and for us this needs to change”.

Who exactly wants to talk intimately about sex to someone else –– a stranger –– who is armed with a notebook or iPad? Sexuality is hardly of the construct of political science or economics. Our young folks are hardly ashamed; they would rather be private –– not taking into account the few exhibitionists among them.

It is a mistake to believe and project that our culture is saturated with sexual shame. Barbadians are hardly uncomfortable these days with their sexual thoughts or feelings. And if you are a patron of Grand Kadooment they are even less embarrassed by their rhythmic, simulated sexual actions.

What seems to be being projected by the sexperts in our midst is the unworthy notion of sexual shame that would inhibit us as people.

Seeking to oppress people for their retiring disposition on sex talk or sexual expression is not kosher; no less  so than trying to make a case for it.

Sex is everywhere in Barbados, sometimes portrayed in negative ways in our music and public conduct. If Ms Francis et al. are seeing significant reservation, it may be a good thing. It is better that having a sex-negative conduct culture.

Sex is certainly a worthy subject of inquiry, but clinical questions are unlikely to spawn real daily-life answers. Sexuality is a work in progress.

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