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Has Social Networking Replaced Sex?

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Bruce Sallan: I just read a provocative New York Times piece by Camille Paglia entitled, "No Sex Please, We're Middle Class," which struck this man as very true and very sad. Have we sunk to androgynous roles as men and women? Are we (you?) having less sex? Are we men falling down on our jobs when it comes to making "it" happen?

social networking man and annoyed woman

Without going into my own bedroom habits (since my wife would NOT appreciate it), I can only speculate about others. And my speculation is, there's much truth in the fact that our lives are so equal, so focused on work and family, that sex often gets put on the back burner -- behind the kids' needs, our social networking, work we take home and more.

I can admit a sordid fact of my own, and that is: My wife is often correctly critical of all the time I spend on the computer. We both dislike using "absolutes," and we both do it way too much. However, while I'm not on the computer "all" the time, I am on it too much of the time. And she's often doing household things that she claims relax her, though afterward she is "always" tired.

I love this quote from Paglia's article: "Meanwhile, family life has put middle-class men in a bind; they are simply cogs in a domestic machine commanded by women. Contemporary moms have become virtuoso super-managers of a complex operation focused on the care and transport of children." While Paglia's ignoring the households wherein dads are the primary caregivers, I think she's right on with that point.

She even claims that contemporary movies and music have diminished the foreplay between us. While she didn't actually use the word "foreplay," I think that was her point. If we just see couples "doing it" and there's no lead-up, no romance, no anticipation -- just sex -- then where's the real heat and anticipation coming from?

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a guy.


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144 comments so far | Post a comment now
michelle June 28, 2010, 3:03 PM

Hmm, I’m not sure you completely grasped Paglia’s point. She thinks that there is reason to doubt the very existence of this sudden new “epidemic” of no sex, an “epidemic” that was basically made up by Big Pharma to sell a pill (that will probably not gain FDA approval anyway). I think she is saying that sex has always been a unique challenge for middle-class couples, and that equality has simply shifted the way this plays out. In the 50s it was repression and ignorance; now it is overwork combined with a pornified culture that makes real women think there’s something wrong with them if they don’t conform.

BTW, moms have always commanded the “domestic sphere” — how has this changed?

michelle June 28, 2010, 3:08 PM

That said, I think your own points are pretty good ones. My husband and I often have to pry each other away from the computer and make an effort to get a sitter and go out (a night out is the best foreplay, IMO). The irony is we both refuse to join a social networking site, on purpose. But you can just as easily lose track of time on the NYT website.

Bruce Sallan June 28, 2010, 5:50 PM

Thanks for the comments Michelle. Sorry to hear your wasting your time on the NYT website though. I think you’d be better off on a social networking site - at least that’s interactive and maybe has more than one pov! Lol. Also, I really don’t think Big Pharma made up anything - if there were no demand for it, Viagra wouldn’t have been such a hit.

Black Iris June 28, 2010, 6:48 PM

@Bruce - Michelle may be referring to the so-called female Viagra that the FDA says has to many side effects to approve.

I’m not sure what Paglia’s point was, I thought her article was kind of unfocused and not based on any particular evidence.

As for computers, maybe we all need to unplug the drug. We could try some time without it in the summer anyhow.

Bruce Sallan June 29, 2010, 11:07 AM

Black Iris - I’m with you completely about the computers. IT is definitely my drug of choice (plus skiing!).

Sara June 29, 2010, 4:59 PM

Bruce, I’ll share my bedroom secrets if you’ll share yours.

tracy June 30, 2010, 7:34 AM

Honestly, in our household I am the one to blame when it comes to computer time. My husband is “computer illiterate” and needs to be led through his infrequent searches for information. His addiction is TV, which I find boring and so we, too often, sit side by side on the bed, him with his remote and me with my laptop. Bad. BUT, we have made a pact, we limit time (with the exception of my homework) and we spend much more time with out the electronics. 27 years together shouldn’t mean we are bored with each other, so now we are spending time INTENTIONALLY (we’re getting older and life is more demanding so spontaneous is not a frequent option) enjoying our time together. And we really are enjoying the time. If it leads to ‘sex’ that’s fine, but it’s more fun to have my best friend back.

jane June 30, 2010, 9:07 AM

This article certainly prompted many thoughts, as we Americans like to view our sex lives as much more than it really is. Camille’s article basically states, with the possible onset of female viagra, is this yet another bandaid for an already existing situation?

And you brought up an interesting point Bruce… computer time and how it is impacting our lives. Whether for the right reasons or not, there is a direct impact on already over-stressed and over time challenged lives, and most are on computers for social networking. (Very few people have an actual need for a computer, other than checking resources.) AND while it is impacting our lives as a whole…it is taking a big bite out of people’s sex lives, and or molding the way people “live” their relationships. And is seems to be acceptable, which is sad.

Thought provoking, for “just a guy” Bruce, thanks!

Shamim Khaliq June 30, 2010, 11:36 AM

i met a catholic couple who had waay too many children but their religion didn’t allow contraception, so they put a tv in the bedroom. they swear by it :-)

Bruce Sallan July 8, 2010, 8:58 AM

You know, I think it’s just LIFE that’s replaced sex! Do you know there are studies that show the frequency of sex between (married) couples has decreased 50% in the last 4 decades! What’s changed? Women now are as tired as men because they’re working as much as men (and in too many cases, carrying the lion’s load at home, too). Well, duh, what do you expect then?

David August 25, 2010, 4:07 PM

Sex and information technology are not mutually exclusive … cybersex is a good thing.

Bruce Sallan October 9, 2010, 6:40 AM

David - no judgments meant, but I just doesn’t “get” cyber-sex!

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