Love On Prescription

Male doctors have been known to tell their patients to “have more sex”, as if it were something you could pick up at the greengrocer’s. They do this without enquiring first into the patient’s circumstances. Why do they think it’s so easy? Oh, silly me, they’re doctors. What do they know about involuntary celibacy? If they ever knew, it must have been before med school, and they have now forgotten.

In the same way, more and more journalists in “lifestyle magazines” and newspapers (nowadays much the same thing) exhort us to healthy living. Of which regimen sex is an integral part: eat more carrots, have more sex. Breathe deeply when you have sex. The assumption here, perhaps reflecting the lifestyle of magazine journalists, is that sex is something that everyone can have at any time. No one tells us what to do when we buy our private plane in quite the same insouciant manner, however; for it is openly admitted that not everyone is able to do this.

The banner of the sexual revolution was that sex was “normal”. In the sense that sex is an integral part of our physical design and behavioural suite, of course it is, and I am not convinced that this was ever actually denied by anyone. In the purely emotive sense, that sex is a Good Thing, “pro-ish” as the Hare school of ethics liked to say, I have no quarrel with the usage. The moment you call sex “normal” in the sense of something that the normal individual should be having at least three times a week, however, then you have just declared a large number of actually quite amiable and intelligent people to be deviants or even somehow less than human.

If sex is as essential to health as they say, however, what is to be done with the unattractive? If they have a “right” to sexual fulfilment, who has the corresponding duty to give it to them? A hundred years ago, physicians thought celibacy physically dangerous, and advised their gentlemen patients to seek “release”, which both parties perfectly well understood as meaning a trip to the brothel; lady patients, alas, were doubtless counselled differently. Or, if nineteenth-century women were medically advised to take a lover or engage a professional, this was a secret well kept from their descendants. But now the country that pioneered the open approach to healthy sex has criminalised the purchase of sexual services, and others are following. There, the unattractive man is now to suffer not only loneliness and frustration, but also conflicting messages; at one and the same time he is constantly informed not only that celibacy is endangering his health but also that if he does anything about it he will go to jail.

“Life is for the taking!” say the beautiful. But just let an ugly try to take some.

Posted on June 4, 2010 at 11:04 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, The Life Unbeautiful

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