Category Archives: sex

Notes on sex shops

These establishments must show more imagination if they are to stimulate our sated appetites

From time to time, writes Dalrymple,

in far-flung places, I catch a glimpse of pornographic films on cable TV in hotel rooms. These mostly German films are almost as widely exported as Mercedes cars; yet they are about as unerotic as it is possible for pornography to be.

The films appear to consist largely, he says,

of overweight men and women running naked into muddy ponds, where they thrash about naughtily, giggling.

Dalrymple reports that the queen of German pornography, Beate Uhse,

is preparing to open a chain of her sex shops in Britain. Not only are cities such as London and Manchester in her sights, but small country towns. She feels the need to bring leather to Leamington and dildos to Devon.

Will this be the end of civilisation? Dalrymple doubts it, if Uhse’s Berlin sex shop and erotic museum — billed as the largest such establishment — are anything to go by. Both the shop and museum, Dalrymple says,

are as sexually provocative as a C&A store.

The displays

are dusty and unenticing. A plastic mermaid with a blue tail sits in one window, apple-green scallop shells demurely covering her nipples; while in another, a plastic woman in red underwear and white suspenders lies curled up in a Champagne glass, a toucan sitting on its rim. It isn’t so much sex that Miss Uhse peddles as barely titillating kitsch.

In a sex-saturated age, Dalrymple argues, the stores are tame.

We have become so used to the most explicit sexual images that stores dealing in pornography are bound to seem not merely uninteresting, but old-fashioned.

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The hypomanic Dr Pascal

She had an abnormality on her chest x-ray, but it was something more closely resembling a sexual assault than a medical examination

The behaviour of this locum was, writes Dalrymple, so objectionable that he was barred from all pubs within a mile radius of the hospital. Entering the hospital canteen, Dr Pascal would shout across it in a booming voice and with a salacious leer:

How many times did you have sex last night? You look as though you need it more often.

Dr Pascal would

clap people on the back — hard enough almost to propel them through the adjacent wall — and cross-question them on the details of their private lives.

Once, before he knew Dr Pascal’s character, Dalrymple referred a young female patient to the locum because

she had an abnormality on her chest x-ray. When her notes returned with her from Dr Pascal, they bore a detailed account, scrawled across several pages in writing that clearly betrayed loss of control, of something more closely resembling a sexual assault than a medical examination.

Enough to make you wish for the rapid spread of AIDS

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Never a rose without a prick

Dalrymple recalls his days living in a large English city. In the quarter where he resided, every night a sex-work human resources manager, or pimp, would bus in a bevy of sex workers, or prostitutes, who would stand on the corner and wait for clients.

The sex workers,

much the worse for drugs, seemed mainly in their 30s and 40s. They were desperate, and it seemed to me that their clients — mainly travelling-salesmen types — must have been pretty desperate too.

Residents of the respectable bourgeois street were, needless to say, not especially happy with the situation.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 07.49.15It was not very pleasant to pick the used condoms from the rosebushes in the morning. In fact, it was enough to make you wish for the rapid spread of AIDS.

Brief-carnal-liaison co-ordinator’s fury over threat to sex industry

One of Dalrymple’s neighbours

formed a group that went out every night photographing and taking down the registration numbers of the kerb-crawling cars. This had so severely an inhibitory effect upon business that the sex-work human resources manager came in his car to threaten the vigilante group (aged, on average, 70). He flashed a gun at them, but my neighbour told him not to be silly.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 08.33.29Pressure was put on the police, and the sex workers were moved

to one of the many parts of the city where skeletal, edentulous women having sex in the street would not be noticed.

Sex-work human resources managers

Sex-work human resources managers

Handmaiden to a teetotaller

Handmaiden to a teetotaller: Temperance Street, Manchester

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Temperance Street. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

Midland Arms, Temperance Street

Midland Arms and Imperial Inn, Temperance Street

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Another view of the Temperance Street public houses

Most ideological of all fields

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 18.07.50Pleasure is to be derived, Dalrymple writes, from

reading ingenious commentary that serves no useful purpose. In its uselessness is its joy; for in an ideological age, the exercise of intelligence to no purpose comes as a relief.

Alas, he says, literary criticism,

certainly in its academic form, is now the most ideological of all fields. Most criticism seems to be seen through the lens of class, race or sex: one would hardly be surprised to read a Marxist, racial or feminist critique (dreadful word!) of Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters.

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A rapists’ charter

Ann M. Starrs

Ann M. Starrs: flatulent and at the same time chilling

Starry night

Dalrymple points out that some of the quotations (from articles inside the journal) found on the cover of the Lancet are

of such an unctuous sententiousness that they make Mr Podsnap seem like a neurotic self-doubter. They are usually inexact, flatulent, self-important, and frequently stupid.

He cites a passage taken from the article A Lancet Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights: going beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the work of Ann M. Starrs, described as president and chief executive officer of something called the Guttmacher Institute, which appears to be devoted to advancing the cause of abortion. Starrs’ words are considered so luminous that the Lancet’s editor reproduces them in large type on the front page:

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The Lancet: self-important and frequently stupid

Ann M. Starrs’ Declaration of Sexual Rights

Sexuality and reproduction are universal concerns that affect every human being. Although there has been great progress in recent decades, the global community must now expedite and expand that progress to be more inclusive and comprehensive. A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health.

The emotion in the reader of this, writes Dalrymple,

is similar to that aroused by a badly scratched record or a whining child.

The purpose of Starrs’ words, he points out,

is to create in the reader the impression of the writer as generous and broad-minded, denial of whose principles establishes him who would deny them as a bigot.

Yet Starrs’ words are

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No perversion is too perverse for Ann M. Starrs

a rapists’ charter; no perversion is too perverse to fall under their permissive rubric.

Dalrymple notes that there have been men who have been able to achieve orgasm only by

  • derailing trains, or
  • paddling their hands in the entrails of the people they have killed

He asks:

Ought the full scope of their sexual needs have been met?

Dalrymple says:

That people ought to be able to have sex when they choose, with whom they choose, entails that they should be able to force themselves on others even in public. There can be no when without a corresponding where, for sexual desire (impossible to distinguish from need) does not always arise at moments hitherto considered appropriate.

He concludes:

From the fate of children under this regime of inalienable rights to be included in the proposed Declaration of Sexual Rights, it is best to avert one’s mind.

Existential predicament of the modern middle classes

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 23.47.14Man’s absurdity, pretensions and nastiness

Crash (1973), Dalrymple writes, is a

visionary reductio ad absurdum of what J.G. Ballard sees as the lack of meaning in modern material abundance.

In the novel, erotic and violent sensationalism

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 23.51.32replace transcendent purpose: the book’s characters speed to the sites of car accidents to seek sexual congress with the dying bodies and torn metal.

Ballard’s method

is Swift’s, though with a less general target.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 23.45.42Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 23.46.11

 

The state of sexual enlightenment

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 18.42.04Gone, writes Dalrymple,

are the days of unhealthy concealment, of absurd Victorian taboos that led to the application of cruel and cumbersome devices to children to prevent masturbation, to prudish circumlocutions about sexual matters, to the covering of piano legs to preserve the purity of the thoughts of men in the drawing room. We are at ease with our sexuality.

For the first time in history

we can enjoy sexual relations without any of the unnecessary social and psychological accretions of the past that so complicated and diminished life. No more guilt, shame, jealousy, anxiety, frustration, hypocrisy, and confusion. Free at last!

But

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George Grosz, Circe, 1927

 

Piano legs bared — but we’re no better off

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Piano legover

Gone forever, points out Dalrymple, are things like

  • the covering of piano legs in order to ‘preserve the purity of the thoughts of men in the drawing room’
  • unhealthy concealment
  • ‘the application of cruel and cumbersome devices to children’ to prevent masturbation
  • prudish circumlocutions

The trouble is,

enlightened as we believe ourselves to be, a golden age of contentment has not dawned — very far from it.

(2000)

Depravity of the British

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 23.06.52Dalrymple discusses the hysteria over the Jimmy Savile affair. ‘The curious thing about the public moral outrage,’ he observes, is that

you would think it occurred in a land of sexual delicacy verging on prudery, a country in which children were carefully protected from knowledge of the facts of life and everything that surrounds those facts until a comparatively advanced and mature age. This is not the country that I recognise.

He explains that at the root of the frenzy is the guilt of the British over their failure to raise their children properly. (‘Children of the damned’ is the pithy and accurate heading at the Skeptical Doctor site.)

Child-rearing in Britain often seems a toxic combination of overindulgence and neglect…The factor that links much social pathology…is an absence of self-control….in Britain…parents fail to inculcate it; our popular culture, so-called, celebrates absence of self-control as almost the highest good, treats it either as ridiculous or as an enemy to be combatted, as a form of treason to the self. If you open almost any popular magazine you will see pictures of insolence, crudity and patent lack of self-control celebrated as if they were admirable, sophisticated and worthy of emulation. The late James Savile was an early proselytiser for this ‘culture’.

Sex please, we’re British

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Maximal erotic satisfaction is now enshrined as a basic human right. The ideas and sensibilities of the sexual revolutionaries

have so thoroughly permeated our society that we are scarcely aware any longer of the extent to which they have done so. The Dionysian has…triumphed over the Apollonian. No grace, no reticence, no measure, no dignity, no secrecy, no depth, no limitation of desire is accepted. Happiness and the good life are conceived as prolonged sensual ecstasy…

(2000)

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