As some of you may know I’ve been reading a book entitled “The Paradox of Love” by Pascal Bruckner, a French philosopher. Some people may find it strange that I would agree with anything a Frenchman has to say about sex because their view on sex and sexuality is quite different from those of Americans, but that is exactly why I am reading this book. I am taking my cues from Margaret Farley who, in her book on fire, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Ethics” encourages those truly interested in the discipline to vest themselves in cross-cultural studies. As someone who is planning a magnum opus on sex it is important for me to read Bruckner as it will be important for me to read Foucault’s History of Sexuality. So let’s get down to business.
I have entered the section of the book where Bruckner writes about sex or the “Carnal Wonder” as he calls it. The first chapter in this section deals with Bruckner’s question of whether we are in the midst of a sexual revolution and he has spent a good portion of this chapter on pornography. Bruckner contends that pornography is, first of all, mediocre entertainment because it depends on the same cinematic moves from enlarged anatomic parts and second it almost normalizes sexual activity to the point of doldrums. He says,
The fall of prohibitions seems also to have contributed to the depreciation of the objects of desire. Porn tends to transform obscenity into a cliché: a decline in the rate of excitation, a rise in the rate of saturation. The most outrageous positions, the crudest expressions do not long remain and go stale like a wine that has been open too long. The vulgarity of a certain sexual lexicon, which has entered into ordinary language, ends by seizing up and sinking into kitsch. A dreary, mass-produced shamelessness that loses in intensity what it gains in extension.
When I read this my mind immediately went to some of the most popular songs being played on urban radio stations. Songs like, “I’ll Beat the Pussy Up”, “Birthday Cake”, “Strip”, “Wet the Bed”, “Motivation”, most anything by Trey Songz, and the list goes on, is the new porn. It depends on making the obscene cliché and therefore the norm for sexual activity. Most of the music you hear on those stations–at any time of the day–has a central theme that focuses on the sexual proficiency of a man or, as of late, that of a woman. They rap and sing about said proficiency using the “certain sexual lexicon” that Bruckner speaks of, and this lexicon, in many ways, has become a way of life in our culture. Realized or not or not, the repeated messages of men beating women’s pussies up; women singing about men coming to put their name on it–read that closely; men singing about wanting women to drip like leaky faucets and all other manner of explicit sexual talk, has turned our culture into one that trivializes sex.
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt and I dare argue that the aforementioned music, dependent on familiarizing people with sex and sexual prowess, has created a contempt of sex. The contempt is shown in the manner in which said artists approach the topic in their music. Sex is not a privilege but a right and with the right comes the desire to show others how well it can be done regardless of how licentious it is. At the point that the message is disseminated, over and over again, these images and views of sex cement themselves into the subconscious of our culture. Now the woman is concerned about how to keep her man going and the man is concerned about how to break world records. Now, lest you think I am being puritanical, I do believe it is important for both partners to focus on pleasing each other before, during, and after the sexual event. What I don’t believe in is how some music–and probably pop culture at large–trivializes sex and possibly has or could create a culture of people who believe this is a normative understanding of sex and then are altogether too inadequate to have the kind of sex they hear about day in and day out. My concern is about the effect of repetition of the obscene sexual lexicon and how that weighs upon the minds and the sexual expectations of people. I could go on about this, but I don’t want to take time away from the floor for discussion. So, here it is:
What do you think about this concept of urban music as the new porn and its influence on the sexual drive and the images it creates of sexual prowess? If you listen to this music, what does it do for and to you? Has the advent of this “pornpular” music changed the way you view or have sex? Should the music change? Should we change? Let’s talk about sex.