January 10, 2009

"Get the sex you deserve."

That's a line in an ad that Sociological Images interprets as "the idea of the entitlement to good sex." Yes, of course, it must mean good sex. What ad would insinuate that you deserve rotten sex (though surely it must prompt such thoughts in the minds of some insecure readers)? But does the line reflect the belief that one is entitled to good sex? It's part of an ad that advises men to use a time-consuming, considerate sexual technique that inherently deserves reward. Whether you generally deserve good sex or not, you probably do if you go to all that trouble.

Be that as it may, Sociological Images examines the sense of entitlement to good — nay, awesome — sex:
I wonder when, in American history, we decided we were entitled to awesome sex. I can’t imagine that pioneer husbands and wives, after spending all day trying to not to die (whether it be that day or that winter), and laying on a straw mattress next to their six children in their freezing/sweaty one-room home, felt pouty if their sex wasn’t mindblowing. The entitlement to great sex, then, must have come later (at least to the regular folk). I would bet it had something to do with capitalism and the commodification of pleasure, generally, and sex, specifically. After all, how do you get the sex you deserve? Well, you buy the right products: whether that be, for example, diet- and exercise-related products, cosmetic surgery, or sex toys.
So capitalism is what makes people feel entitled? I thought the opposite of capitalism — the welfare state — was what made people feel entitled. If people really think they need to work so hard — dieting, exercising, submitting to surgery, using tools* — to get sex, wouldn't that be the opposite of entitlement?
________

* Why are they called "toys"? Is it because "tool" is commonly used to refer to the body part? It would make more sense to call that a "toy," and the supplemental implement a "tool." So, with this post, I'm recommending that the term "sex toy" be changed to "sex tool."

46 comments:

ricpic said...

Like a boat on a tide
Sometimes it is
Sometimes it ain't
A great ride.

Corky Boyd said...

"It would make more sense to call that a 'toy,' and the supplemental implement a 'tool.'"

Obviously written from a woman's perspective.

Original George said...

Now there's an industry: The sex toy sector of the global economy.

Thirty years ago these things were unheard of, except for tiny ads in the back of intellectual magazines like "The Atlantic."

And stuff that was creepy is close to being mainstream.

It will be interesting to see how such discretionary purchases fare in the coming hard times. I predict lay-offs at many small factories in Taiwan.

Bob said...

What if the point of the story was not a sex entitlement, but karma-based sex in which the sex you get is based on the karma debt you've incurred in your lifetime; something along the lines of sex as purgatory.

I have a feeling I'd be very unhappy there.

vet66 said...

I'm increasing my position in Ever-ready batteries...

Pogo said...

It was neither profit-driven commodification nor proletarian entitlement that led to the search (or demand) to get "the good sex you deserve."

Sexual precocity, indulgent parenting, and the demise of the adult in general have left men and women in a state of sclerotic adolescence. Lacking a sense of adult duty, deeper interests, or any goals beyond the satisfaction of self, they pursue the newborn's comfort of satisfying the senses, but find that only increasingly extreme sensations can arouse them.

This is what 35 year old sixth graders seek.

"One definition of decadence is the concentration on the gratifyingly imaginary to the disregard of the disconcertingly real."
- Dalrymple

Michael H said...

I thought the opposite of capitalism — the welfare state — was what made people feel entitled.

Socialist sex. Everyone gets a little, no one gets enough, and the quality is low.

Make mine free market, thanks.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'd rather retain the word "tool" to refer to sociologists.

Lawgiver said...

Is it because "tool" is commonly used to refer to the body part?

While tool is sometimes used to refer to the penis I don't think it's real common and it is demeaning to the penis in general. A tool is to be used for purposes that may or may not involve pleasure. A penis' sole purpose is to provide pleasure. Michael the troll is certainly a tool and a prick to boot but he is no penis. The penis thinks and responds with joy while the tool just is.

Bissage said...

Get the sex you deserve.

This gets to the heart of why I don’t gamble.

Years ago a kindly uncle took me to an Atlantic City casino and gave me one of those big paper cups containing $10 worth of coins. I protested but he ordered me to play the slot machines.

Being the obedient type, I did.

I played a bunch of times and became introspective and came to realize that, deep, deep down -- at some wholly inarticulate level -- I had somehow come to expect that I would win big time with one of the next plays because there is an all-knowing and all-powerful God who is just and who would intervene because I deserved to win.

My mouth went dry and I pushed myself away from the slot machine leaving the coins for whoever happened to find them. A little stunned, I walked outside to the railing of the boardwalk where I could see bright sunshine and blue sky and puffy white clouds and seagulls and little children playing.

None of it seemed to matter.

Not at all.

Later on, my uncle asked me how I did.

I said, "I lost."

True story.

William said...

The overwhelming majority of Victoria Secret models do not wish to have sex with me. I've never actually inquired, but I get the sense that the Olson twins would not be interested in a threesome with me. The world is a harsh place, and I will never get the sex I deserve.....The good thing about a Catholic education is that the odd, cheap feel is as exciting as a party at the Playboy mansion. Hard work and a skipped breakfast make a bologna sandwich taste great for lunch. Prayer and abstinence makes a cupped breast at the movies a garden of delights.

bearing said...

Capitalism means you're entitled to buy whatever you can afford. Being able to afford something = deserving it.

Ralph said...

Tools for work, toys for play.
Perhaps this post is TMI about Althouse.
I remember hearing that "A rose is a rose is a rose" was a euphemism for orgasm, which is way TMI about Gertrude.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"If people really think they need to work so hard — dieting, exercising, submitting to surgery, using tools* — to get sex, wouldn't that be the opposite of entitlement?"

It would be earning" something, a foreign concept in the welfare state.

David said...

I'm with Ann on the tool thing.

Is a hoe a "garden toy?"

Is a hammer a "construction toy?"

And while we are at it, can't we change "boy toy" into "boy tool?" There's a certain sense in that as well.

David said...

Or, as Don Rumsfeld would say, "You go to bed with the sex you have, not the sex you would like to have."

Trooper York said...

I thought a hoe is a dancer in a rap video.

Ralph said...

Tooled leather = Barbara Bush Sr. with a strap-on.

Bender said...

I would bet it had something to do with capitalism and the commodification of pleasure, generally, and sex, specifically.

This does not describe capitalism.
It describes utilitarianism, which has long led to the objectification of the human person and reduction of human sexuality to the pursuit of self-centered "pleasure," which is invariably always fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying.

Der Hahn said...

I would bet it had something to do with capitalism..

If you're going to blame it for increasing the general standard of living and wealth to the point that somebody can earn money writing this drivel about sex instead of laboring in the heat (or cold) to scrape up enough food to stay on the topside of the dirt for another 24 hours, Capitalism will take the rap.

ricpic said...

Who needs literature when Althouse offers the styles and insights of Bissage and William?

chickenlittle said...

Get the sex you deserve.

Don't get that. I thought people do get the sex they deserve.

Steve S said...

Why a toy? Toys conjure up fun -- tools connote the physical drudgery of, say, a long day of road construction. After all, we're engaged in "sex play" -- "sex work" is reserved for prostitutes. We demand pleasure, not work!

Also, I suspect that although some would like to "get worked over with a big, hard tool," many others would find this somewhat off-putting, preferring the idea of "having some fun with a sexy toy." Maybe the capitalists have decided to go with the idea that sells better...

traditionalguy said...

You miss the point when you use SEX to fulfill your fantasy of a relationship, even if you have 1-2 or more other people/objects doing it with you at the same time.Unless you are just into capture and release hunting sex [which is really a violent act], our craving behind sex is to reach the level of blending two people into one. This requires brutal honesty and high risk vulnerability. Sex with a human-tool or a toy-tool misses that fulfillment by a mile. We have a lifetime to get this right. I plan to get some tonight. I read somewhere that the Hebrew Prophet Jesus from Nazareth went public as the new Jewish Messiah at a wedding feast he was attending and enjoying when at mom's suggestion he acted to keep the good wine flowing for the bride and groom. and he also said he would drink and serve wine again at a great wedding feast when he comes again. It sounds like marriage sex is a big part of the original plan. I wish you all get all he sex that is included in his plan.

-Peder said...

It's interesting that the ad that started the discussion isn't obviously selling any products. It's describing a process that can be done without buying a toy, eating something different or even reading a book. The author's leap to condemning capitalism seems to suggest much more about him than anything sex related.

BTW, the term 'sex tool' kinda scares me.

Michael H said...

Is this another post about tool marriage?

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

Ah, memories.

I too remember ads like these thirty-plus years ago, not from The Atlantic magazine, but from the back pages of pro wrestling magazines that we had as adolescents.

I remember vividly the ad for "How to Make Love to a Woman," with the black and white fashion photo showing the petite blonde Swede above the waist, topless, striking a confident, “show-me-what-you’ve-got” pose, albeit with a black bar just large enough to cover one areola to the other. (The ad did appear without the bar in adult men's magazines, but we hadn't gotten to those yet. At this point, we hadn't even learned how to play with our "toys" yet.) Her breasts were well formed, but not large like most pin-ups we saw, which only added to the mystery of her allure.

Anyway, that ad aroused both the curiosity and fear of many an adolescent boy. Not enough, mind you, for us to send the few dollars we didn't have to buy the book. No. After all, with stay at home moms and the like, where would we have it delivered? Rather, we'd study that ad every chance we'd get, scouring its cryptic text for every potential clue to its secret knowledge, all within the safe confines of a magazine that outwardly showed only mostly naked, sweaty, blood soaked men groping each other on the cover.

Separately, I think Ann's definition of "toy" is too restrictive. A tool is an implement we use to affect the external world. A toy we use to amuse ourselves and others. Shouldn't anything that is used to perform sex be called a "toy," whereas anything thought necessary to acquire sex in the outside world, say a Porsche, be called a tool?

Tibore said...

"-Peder said...
It's interesting that the ad that started the discussion isn't obviously selling any products. It's describing a process that can be done without buying a toy, eating something different or even reading a book. The author's leap to condemning capitalism seems to suggest much more about him than anything sex related.

BTW, the term 'sex tool' kinda scares me."


Scarier thought: Sex power tool.

rhhardin said...

Sex is wildly overrated. It does, however, get rid of a nagging male obsession for a while.

And in this sense voluptuosity begins already in erotic desire and remains desire at each instant. Voluptuosity does not come to gratify desire; it is this desire itself. This is why voluptuosity is not only impatient, but is impatience itself, breathes impatience and chokes with impatience, surprised by its end, for it goes without going to an end.

Levinas, _Totality and Infinity_ ``Phenomenonogy of Eros'' Appendix B p.260

I understand that's only the male experience. It does all end at once, voluptuosity, impatience and desire.

The evolutionary point of the male obsession is to get him to have sex. Otherwise who would be interested.

The female gets more out of it the more she understands the deal.

The ad is just an ad. Look for a product.

Oh yeah, after this end the woman wants you to hold her. It's the least you can do.

Woody Allen, to prolong the moment, thinks of baseball.

When making love...when making love...in an effort...to prolong...the moment of ecstacy...I think of baseball players. All right, now you know. The two of us are making love violently, she's digging it, I figure I better start thinking of ballplayers quickly. So I figure it's one out, the ninth, the Giants are up. Mays lines a single to right, he takes second on a wild pitch. Now she is digging her nails into my neck. I decided to pinch-hit for McCovey. Alou pops out. Haller singles, Mays holds third. Now I got a first-and-third situation. Two out, the Giants are behind one run. I don't know whether to squeeze or steal. She's been in the shower for ten minutes, already. This is too...I can't tell you anymore, this is too personal. The Giants won.

peter hoh said...

I think it would be very interesting to learn the literal translations for the euphemisms used by different cultures to describe the aforementioned devices.

Tibore said...

"Get the sex you deserve."

Well... I think part of the issue comes down to who gets to judge what I "deserve". If it were me, Hef's girls and all their friends would be participants :-D  . If it were up to others, well... stale bagel and margarine territory there, it seems. :-(

Michael H said...

Scarier thought: Sex power tool.

I take it your not equipped with the latest Black & Decker 18v rechargable drilldoe?

Go to Home Depot. Tomorrow. Ask for it by name.

Michael H said...

/you're, not your/

Ray said...

My preferred term (to "sex toys") would be:

"Implements of Mass Seduction"

Xmas said...

This whole sex toy/sex tool thing is taking you down a dark path. Trust me, turn away now.

(FYI, a Sawzall can be modified in the most interesting of ways. Let's not even talk about what can be down with a Sterling Engine.)

Wacky Hermit said...

Sex toys are for people who can't be bothered to learn good technique.

Ann Althouse said...

Tibore said..."BTW, the term 'sex tool' kinda scares me." Scarier thought: Sex power tool."

Tibore is a male. I think the women want sex power tools. Or is there a wind-up vibrator?

Ann Althouse said...

Corky Boyd said...""It would make more sense to call that a 'toy,' and the supplemental implement a 'tool.'" Obviously written from a woman's perspective."

I don't know. I heard men play with it.

Ann Althouse said...

I wish I'd added a "that" to my last comment. The ambiguity is ... well, it's funny. Unintentionally.

Charlie said...

What's capitalism got to do with it?

Thruout history, people for whom pleasing the senses is important have carved out lifestyles that permit them to satisfy their cravings. This applies not only to lovemaking but also cuisine, music, art, literature, adornment...

Others are content with less, some much less.

Bill Adams said...

Surely that pioneer couple was lying next to each other, not laying. If they were laying . . .

bobby said...

" . . . self-centered "pleasure," which is invariably always fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying."
= = = = =

Chocolate chip cookies are a fleeting pleasure, and invariably leave me seeking more.

And yet . . . .

Voltaire was obviously eating some post-coital chocolate chip cookies when he first realized that we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Or the great.

Hucbald said...

Sex is what animals have. Human beings don't get enraptured by copulation unless love is involved, and the greatest love is to allow your love to create a new life. That should be the ultimate excitement, if you are a properly oriented spiritual being.

Sure, "love for fun" is a part - even a large part - of human pair bonding, but the ultimate goal is to leave a legacy of your love in the form of a new generation.

Ken said...

My best guess is the entitlement mentality is more a result of the "sexual revolution" than capitalism. When sex became "safe", it also became cheaper and the value of just any sex declined. Since everyone feels entitled to at least some of what they want, it was the quality, rather than the more available quantity, that one first desired then felt entitled to.

It would be silly, not to mention impossible, to go back to a Victorian mindset but a little balance might be called for.

Micha Elyi said...

Ken, you're close. Feminists are to blame. They claimed men were having great sex and women deserved it also. Of course, as in so many other cases the feminists had started from a false premise.