Sex on the (Washed-Out) Brain

Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

What we are observing in our feminized and “socially correct” culture today is a prurient obsession with sex—in particular, an inverse preoccupation with matters sexual, as if exemplifying the puritanical perversity of condemning that which one secretly desires. It’s as if we are now living in some febrile Na’vi world, our progressivist reformers having embarked on a vendetta against sexual desire and romantic love as felt and practiced by normal men and women. Jakob Burckhardt’s “terrible simplifcateurs” and concupiscent apologists proliferate among us in their myriads.

In Canada, for example, implied consent has not been a defense for sexual assault since the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada case of R v Ewanchuk, when the court unanimously ruled that consent has to be explicit, instead of merely “implied.” That’s a decision that serves to take the fun out of sex, turning it into a kind of mechanical transaction in order to prevent what official society regards as a rape epidemic devastating the country, the culture, the campus, the marital household. The statistics cited are always inflated—on the order of one in four or five women will be raped in their lifetimes—which is intended to buttress an ideological imperative and which every sane person knows is utter nonsense. 

Not to be outdone, according to M&F magazine Dr. Ava Cadell warns that the words ‘no’ and ‘stop’ “have been used frivolously, playfully, and teasingly in the past and are not always taken seriously.” Therefore, women in sexual encounters should inform their partners that they will use code expressions like ‘Code Red’ or other safe words to stop the sexual process in its tracks. Cadell and other “professionals” offer “sexual consent forms” and “consent kits” which can be signed before sex, like a blizzard of pre-nups, or carried in one’s purse like pepper spray. 

Stressing that consent must always be ongoing and continuous, Alison Berke Morano of The Affirmative Consent Project argues that consent kits equipped with a sexual guide that she generously provides will open a dialogue between potential sexual partners. “One of the reasons we added the guide to the consent kit is to promote a healthy conversation about consent and about sex… Even the conversation about the contract (positive or negative) is promoting the open communication we are going for. We believe that any healthy conversation between consenting adults will help cut down on violence and assault.” Morano’s convictions, recommendations, and products are moot. One thing they will surely accomplish is to help cut down on spontaneity, enthusiasm, passion, enjoyment, and personal closeness.

Similarly, according to the University of British Columbia Student Services, “Consent to one activity (like kissing) does not mean consent to other activities. Make sure you ask again when you initiate something new.” Moreover, “Consent needs to be continual and ongoing. You can check in with language like ‘Does this feel good?’ or ‘Is this okay?’” The manual does not stop there, stating that “You have to ask for consent before touching another person.” It seems social distancing was already in effect even before COVID restrictions put an end to normal human commerce. The manual concludes on an upbeat note: “It always feels better to know someone truly likes what’s going on, and trusts you enough to share that with you. It makes getting a yes that much hotter.” I would suggest, on the contrary, it makes any sexual encounter that much colder, more self-conscious, rote-oriented, scripted, and estranging, as any person not emotionally and imaginatively stunted by social justice orthodoxy would immediately recognize.

Thus it comes as no surprise that Judge Marvin Zuker, presiding over a notorious Canadian rape trial, sided with the plaintiff Mandi Gray against Mustafa Ururyar despite the inherent ambiguity of the issue. The plaintiff had had sex with the defendant on previous occasions, had willingly accompanied him to his home, and had texted him about having “hot sex.” “It doesn’t matter,” wrote the judge; “No one asks to be raped,” for there was no doubt in Zuker’s mind that Ururyar was guilty. The Toronto Star quoted Zuker that “Consent must not only be given for the sex act to begin, but it can be revoked at any time.” The Star is about as far Left as a paper can go without plummeting off the edge of the journalistic world, so its wholesale approval of Zuker’s bloviating, fantasy-laden judgment was to be expected. The trial document must be read to be believed. 

Fortunately, sanity prevailed. Crown lawyer Danielle Carbonneau argued that “Zuker’s lengthy commentary about rape myths, victim-blaming, the meaning of informed consent, trauma and the ‘need to…change cultural consciousness as well as law’” was a product of cultural attitudes and stereotypes rather than of law. Zuker’s verdict was overturned by Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot, criticizing Zuker’s decision-making process. “He seems very preoccupied with three-way sex and hot sex,” Dambrot said. Dispelling rape myths, Dambrot wrote, proceeds “by deciding cases correctly and appropriately, not by using your podium of reasons for judgment as a place for your own manifesto.”

Still, ongoing assent remains the mantra du jour. Having to stop at a red light every few minutes is irksome enough in city traffic; in bed it is an absolute joy-killer. But joy is not a feature of the grim and sanctimonious Puritan temperament. As if this were not bad enough, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam advised that sexual partners should “skip kissing, avoid face-to-face closeness [and] wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose…to minimize the risk of getting infected and spreading the virus.” Indeed, the sexual activity with the lowest risk “involves yourself alone.” “Could anything be more suited to kill passion?” asks philosopher Pascal Bruckner in City Journal. “Will someone develop an eroticism of distance, a ‘corona sutra,’ with positions recommended by medical experts?” The provincial Center for Disease Control recommended a few additional protective measures, such as “phone chats, sexting, online chat rooms and group cam rooms” or using “barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes).” 

Here we have the new Puritanism manifesting its fear of normal sexuality and seizing upon a viscous montage of social justice orthodoxy and COVID panic to further its anti-life agenda: rape is everywhere and must be ferreted out and punished, for every man is a potential rapist, as Judge Zuker and the feminist sorority feverishly assure us. Sex is acceptable only when it is perpetually hyphenated, a stop-and-go-and-stop activity that would never get anyone past the epidermal intersection. Women should walk about with “consent forms” which they can flourish in moments of intimacy and which are guaranteed to reduce intimacy to a travesty of self-conscious awkwardness. Lovers should wear masks or, even better, rest content with self-pleasuring. A psychologist might say that such “experts” are heteroclite and algolagnic. I would say, simply, that they are bilious and pharisaic. 

What cellist Daniel Lelchuk says of music, in an article titled “Then They Came for Beethoven,” is also true of sex: “Once we agree to subordinate our love of art to the dictates of joyless ideologues, all of the limits fall away.” The vital expression of unfettered living is now contra-indicated, COVID panic having come to the aid of feminist rancor and social justice hysteria. 

O brave new world that has such imbeciles in it.