Thursday, March 25, 2010


Let’s talk about sex. God knows, everyone else does! There’s sex here, sex there, sex as liberation and sex as decadence. Our obsession with it is downright puritanical. Even the sexual revolution of the sixties was priggish as promiscuity became as obligatory as chastity had been in the fifties. If an individual wasn’t driven by a raging libido, it was considered symptomatic of a deep-seated character disorder. So books and manual abounded, many of them recommending positions guaranteed to slip discs and cause concussions when one partner slipped and dropped the other.

But in all the yammering and all the published reams of paper, one characteristic of sex has remained carefully hidden, and that is its role as an instrument of political propoganda.

As empires grow in power, they become increasingly decadent. Now, note what the brain does when I say, “decadent.” Right away, it pictures a full-blown Roman orgy, with wine-soaked nudes writhing on the floor to the discordant notes of a drunken lyre.

Well, zip up your pants guys. That’s not what I was talking about.

The decadence I am speaking of is an empire’s descent into slaughter and aggression. Decadence is bombing natives and savages into the next world; decadence is allowing children to starve to death (36,000 a day from food-challenged illnesses); decadence is a feral capitalism that spreads poverty and misery and calls it democracy; decadence is torture, black holes, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

This presents a problem for the masters of the universe. Were the public to clearly see the full decadence of these activities, the empire would collapse for lack of support. So, what they need is a sacrificial scapegoat that taketh away the sins of the world.

And that’s where sex comes in.

Have you ever noticed that the more authoritarian a regime is, the more puritanical it is? There’s a reason for this. In skillful hands, attacks on sex become the ultimate diversionary acts that redirect the public’s attention away from the decadence necessary to achieve and maintain power. The attacks vary. Gay marriage, teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, celebrity scandal are all held up as examples of the decadence that is weakening the moral fiber of the empire, thus concealing the fact that empire’s lust for power is the real rot that is eating away at it.

Sex is a life force that can bring much beauty into a person’s world, and that is the problem. Those who have known beauty have little tolerance for the ugliness of power. Sex is moist in its fecundity, a damp forest in which sunlight is filtered through the green foliage. Power demands an arid desert where the trees must be felled to allow the sun’s blinding glare to leech the nutrients from the soil.

So it was that Death draped his black cloak around Sex and burned the mark of decadence into her forehead. It all began when men damned Eve for the Fall, and the vagina’s rose became a barbed entrance to fires of Hell.

It continues today as neocons and fundies blame sex for America’s descent into moral decadence in order to direct attention away from the real decadence that is empire itself. The sixties were scary because Sex broke out and threatened to bury Death. I thank God sex is back in the pillory where she belongs.

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