Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...
For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The future of Sexless
Dahlings, it’s been a long time coming, but after months of pretending that I was going to resume a more regular posting schedule, I’m coming clean: my blogging days here are more or less done.
I don’t have plans to take this down, so if you’re new, browse the archives or check out the topical highlights. For the bulk of what I wanted to say about sex, though, read the book (go and check it out from your library if you’re cheap or poor! ;)), or read some of the interviews and articles linked in the sidebar. A complete and more frequently updated list is also maintained at sexlessinthecity.net, along with any future speaking gigs, readings and so on.
Occasionally I may check back in here with a new post, but for the bulk of the things I’m wanting to say or share, I’m finding that Twitter works pretty well. Follow me there @annabroadway or see “chirps,” at right.
Thanks much for your support, especially for those who’ve been there since the start! Without you this wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks for giving me the sounding board — and confidence — I needed to pull my thoughts together into something more coherent.
Beating loneliness and evil could start with a movie ticket
Regardless of the scale of publication, one of the interesting things about making and sharing any kind of art is the reaction you get from your audience. Sometimes the difference between an artist’s espoused intent and viewers’ perceptions has led to conflict (I think of Serrano or, more recently, Renee Cox). Other times, it can provide illumination of certain themes the artist him- or herself may have overlooked. Thus, in my case, a friend’s observation that Sexless is a book about the search for community. It’s not exactly how I have been describing the book, but once she put it that way, I saw her point.
If your experience is anything like mine, one of the reasons you long for relationship and/or marriage may be a desire to put down roots and establish some kind of solidity in your community. Since not even most of our job commitments last more than a few years, marriage is probably one of the last remaining relational contracts we enter with the expectation — or at least hope — of relative permanence. Lacking such agreements, one’s social life can feel as stable as several unconnected buoys sharing little more than proximity. If the water gets choppy, they can’t provide any ballast to each other. Personally, I find that rather stressful — one of the reasons I try to maintain relationships with more than just my fellow single professionals.
Thankfully, I attend a church made up of many young families, couples and students. While we’re still working on the gray-haired contingent, at least we have some relational diversity. In the interest of trying to foster more community among we single folk, though, a few of us have also started organizing monthly socials that aim to foster more community than romance. We find that by keeping things open to both single folks and young married couples, and providing a low-key structure for each event, it provides a safe place to interact with those in a similar life stage, without things slipping into a yucky “meet market” atmosphere.
It’s also been a great way to come together for a purpose greater than just our own relational needs. One month the event was a beer benefit for cancer research; next month we hope to find a venue for holiday-related service of some sort. While all these events have been based on the local calendar, this month the cause is human trafficking, and the event that we’re supporting is the release of a movie you too can attend, if you live in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orange County, Portland, Redwood City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle or Washington, DC.
That movie is Call+Response, a groundbreaking rockumentary that uses songs by musicians such as Moby, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap, Natasha Bedingfield and others — as well as interviews with the likes of Cornel West and Madeline Albright — to expose the world’s multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry.
Personally, I’ve found the numbers a little overwhelming until recently, when I read an excellent four-part series from the San Francisco Chronicle, that followed one young Korean woman’s journey into debt and then prostitution in Los Angeles and San Francisco, after she was trafficked. You Mi’s story — set in city blocks I walk near or through almost every day — really made this issue real for me.
Affiliate revenue donated.
If you live in one of those cities, and go see Call+Response this weekend, your ticket could help propel the film to a deal for national distribution. If you don’t live in one of those cities, tell friends who do about it. And no matter where you live, visit notforsalecampaign.org to learn how you can join the 21st abolitionist movement.
For unmarried people in the church, the shape of relational life and commitments may look a bit different than it does for married people, but our call to lives of service and self-sacrifice is no different. If we focused more of our energy on the needs of others than on the sex and intimacy we’re lacking at present, who knows how much such service could do for our loneliness and longing for community? Whether it’s doing your part to fight human trafficking, or volunteering to babysit for friends who won’t be able to have a date night without you, a role for you is out there. Find it, and you may receive far more than you give.
Hello, dahlings. I’m finally back from my crazy month of travel, so will hopefully have time to blog again soon. In the meantime, if you didn’t get to hear my interview on the Baldwin McCullough Radio Experience Saturday night, I believe you can hear it online at blogtalkradio.com. Find out why Stevie B thought I’d be good for his brother, and catch all the rest of the evening’s zaniness. And if you haven’t yet checked out Kevin’s latest book, it’s available from fine retailers online and everywhere.
The only place you can get a signed copy of Sexless, however -- unless you’re coming to Litquake Saturday -- is by ordering it directly from me. Payment accepted via PayPal.
If you are on the West Coast and free this Saturday, I’ll be reading a short excerpt during the 4 p.m. Koret Reading Hour at the San Francisco Public Library (BART stop: Civic Center), along with several other memoirists. Afterward, we’re all signing copies of our books at the nearby Books Inc. store.
Finally, if you missed my debate Sunday night -- on whether modern sex is good or evil -- I believe there might have been some sort of recording made of the event, but you’ll have to pester host Todd Seavey about that. If all goes well, I’ll try to at least post a summary of my position on here in the next few days.
As usual, I’m long overdue for an update, but I do have a post or two on tap. Hopefully I’ll find time somewhere during my crazy few days between travels (last week, Nashville, next week New York) to post it.
Meanwhile, those of you in New York will finally have a chance to see me, buy a book or get your copy signed when I’m there in town later this month! I’ll be squaring off with a former New York Press sex columnist over the question “Is modern sex good or evil?” so it should be a lively time.
I will have a limited number of books on hand, but you can help me pre-order accurately by noting in the comments below if you’re planning to come and how many books, if any, I should order for you.
Whether or not you live in New York or will be able to make it, you can help make this event a success by spreading the word through Facebook, MySpace, your blog, etc. And don’t forget that you can still, for a limited time, order signed copies of the book directly from me.
At the recommendation of a friend, I’ve recently been reading Michael Lewis’ excellent book The Blind Side. While until now I knew little about football beyond the fact that the quarterback is the one who throws the ball, they all hunch over before the play, and you score by running into the end zone (except when you kick or throw it through the end posts), Lewis succeeded in making the sport both fairly intelligible and compelling to me. If I thought I could actually witness some of the strategy he was talking about in a play, I might even schedule time to watch a game sometime this fall.
One interesting thing that struck me, though, toward the end of the book, was a passing exchange that highlighted how much is often at stake in one’s sexual license. Lewis is describing a Thanksgiving meal at the home of Michael Oher’s adoptive family, to which Michael’s brought some from friends from the Ole Miss football team.
To Thanksgiving dinner, for instance, Michael had invited a freshman linebacker named Quentin Taylor, who had no place else to go. At the start of the meal Michael leaned over and whispered, sternly, “Quentin, you’re supposed to put your napkin in your lap.” Right after that, Quentin let it drop that he had fathered three children by two different mothers. Leigh Anne [Michael’s adoptive mother] pulled the carving knife from the turkey and said, “Quentin, you can do what you want and it’s your own business. But if Michael Oher does that I’m cutting his penis off.” From the look on Quentin’s face Michael could see he didn't think she was joking. “She would too,” said Michael without breaking a smile.
It’s often very easy, I’ve noticed, for conversations about sexuality that tend toward the secular/liberal corner of the quadrant to stress heavily the importance of our “individual freedoms” and the “right” to self-expression. But what is often overlooked in such idealistic conversations is all the accompanying assumptions about class, race, sex and education that play into this simplistic view of things. The fact of the matter is, certain policies/freedoms/rights that many in America have long vociferously defended can take on very nefarious consequences in situations where the circumstances we have mostly unconsciously assumed for said rights are not all present.
Thus, for instance, a recent New York Times bloggingheads post discussing the problem of abortion’s use to drastically thin the population of female babies in India -- “sex-selection abortion,” they called it. And thus, as David Briggs noted in an article for the Plain Dealer earlier this summer, the urgency to a growing emphasis on abstinence in some urban communities and churches. As one source he interviewed put it, “There’s no way in the world we can avoid talking about sex because we see the devastation it does in our community.”
Sometimes what we think we’re defending can lead to very different results than those we meant to champion. And sometimes the self-control needed to not take full advantage of one’s rights can be a matter of far more than just a little pleasure or convenience. Sometimes it’s a matter of justice.
For those who live too far away to trek to one of my readings, or who aren’t satisfied with a signed bookplate, I have a limited supply of autographed copies for sale. Books ship for $12 each plus shipping (all books sent by media mail, so each additional copy is only a few cents more to ship).
It was an Austin Powers Goldmember party. “Choose a name,” said the host. “How’s that?” I asked. “Middle name + street you live on.” So I told, and he wrote, and I got my name tag: “Hello baby, my name is Anna Broadway, International Woman of—”
... Well, you’ll just have to guess the rest.
Clothes make the man; naked people have little or no influence in society. — Mark Twain
The central issue, then ... is not to determine whether one says yes or no to sex ... but to account for the fact that it is spoken about, to discover who does the speaking, the positions and viewpoints from which they speak, the institutions which prompt people to speak about it and which store and distribute the things that are said. What is at issue, briefly, is ... the way in which sex is "put into discourse."
— Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, An Introduction