Some of us may have started to wonder what hook up apps are doing to our world. Isn’t mostly everyone, like me, who’s torpid on the chaise longue flipping through raunchy comics to get over the night before, receiving flood texts from gfs recounting the minutiea of their parallel nights, and the minutiae are always much, much raunchier than any comic relief possible? And, like me, are we not, the receivers of these flood texts, suddenly not-yawning and actually perking up, throwing off our hangovers, diving in and swimming maniacally inside these re-enactments of sexual debauchery?
As art and life are so commingled that we can hardly stand it anymore to define the boundaries, and everyone from Petra Collins to Stoya are giving us cultural whiplash with their femme fatale feminism art, and Slutever is giving us smart and tantalizing public summaries of fulfilling slutdom, and I have finally read Daniel Bergner’s What Do Women Want?, a book that’s been glowing on my mixer table since last year – I’ve taken the text floods to the edge of reason by asking what society must surely be asking: What intoxicating thing is going on? Is casual sex lighting a fire under traditional love? Is it turning young girls and grown women into ratchet baboons (and were we always that, underneath)? Is it decaying the laws of monogamy and throwing society into thrilling upheaval? And if it is all this, isn’t it a little grand?
As I was reflecting on this, I met two of my twenty-year-old gfs for gin. Sure enough, as life and art always do, they dropped right into the currency of the immediate: Tinder talk – and the ripeness of self-evaluation less familiar to former generations, real-life frontline sex-talk that puts femmes in the drivers seat, came spilling out.
“You can do anything in relationships now” said Katai, throwing her gorgeous hair back and drowning half her gin in one sip, “and girls are not what everyone thinks or hopes they are. Me, like everyone I know, are hooking up on apps and dating tons of different people. I’m always up front about what I like and who I am, I say ‘I’m into girls, I’m into boys, I’m into having sex with lots of people, I’m into unapologetic affection’. What I’m finding is that (men especially) don’t know how to handle this half the time. They get weirded out that girls are not a stereotype, that we are into a good fuck and feeling passionate but like, we’re not into marrying you. If you show affection when sex is hot they get scared as if you want something serious. So like, they want us to be into them but if we snuggle or say I love you, they get freaked, even though we’re not even thinking that way, we’re attempting to live our lives affectionately, and honestly, or openly – and that is radical. Like you’re half a person if you’re single and if you’re not wanting to get married you’re a failure. We are so not like that.”
Sonia, her gin already gone, her red lips casting rays across the floor… “Yeah, there are different degrees of liking. We might really like you on that night or for a while but that doesn’t mean we really really like you, you know? When you ask guys what they’re afraid of when you show affection, which by the way you really feel that they want, they’re like ‘I don’t know’. It makes me feel sorry for guys. Girls are encouraged to talk about shit, to cry, to deal with stuff. Guys have no tools, they’re told to suck it up, and there’s so much emotional warfare in the world, there are so many damaged people. How long can you last in relationships if you’re told your feelings aren’t valid? How long can you last? Wanting to be loved is a huge thing. It’s what drives all of social media. Like Tinder is the easiest way to get validation, it’s this relentless search for affection and this deep craving for intimacy but it keeps you in a continual grieving process because you’re just searching and searching and searching, hooking up endlessly and never finding that thing”.
Katai ordered another drink and summed up why this is one of the grey areas of the digital era. “People try to put labels on what this thing is that we are living. Some people say it’s queer, some people say it’s polyamory, slutty, whatever, but it’s not really those things, it’s those things combined but with other things that we don’t even have names for, it’s not really definable yet, like there’s no way to really classify the kinds of relationships we’re having. Part of that is hard in the face of the challenges that arise in relationships, part of it is incredibly freeing.”
This is when I took to Daniel Bergner and his trial to untangle the nature of feminine lust. What kind of man does this, for one. I think we all want to meet him.
So I read the book in one night, and in a post-midnight frenzy, created a pseudonym and wrote a glittering review of the content for amazon.ca:
“This book is revolutionary. The journey we go on with Bergner as he interviews scientists and their fascinating research, from hot monkey sex to the hunt for a human female viagra, illuminates a little more of a still very mysterious and elusive phenomenon: what on earth is the anatomy of female desire? Bergner is the perfect gentleman to tell this story. He subtly takes the woman’s side as he humbly reports the scientific facts – and quietly wonders, in the wake of what these facts reveal, if men are actually much more suited to monogamy than women are, and whether monogamy is actually a patriarchal construct designed to keep women from creating what men fear would be social-libidenous chaos. There are deep and important questions raised in this book. Alongside the discovery that silent, frigid sadness is nothing short of an epidemic for married women, a little-known devastating fact, Bergner also gives vivid descriptions of how female arousal works and why it’s designed to give such ecstatic pleasure to women, seven times the pleasure of men, it seems. Every now and again a book appears that turns old thinking on its head and invites us to consider something radically new. It’s not that female sexuality is new, it’s that we’ve never been allowed to look at it this way before, and never had such diverse scientific research to draw on for answers. If unveiling taboos is profound liberation, given what we discover in this book, it’s no wonder that Fifty Shades of Grey was a blockbuster blow-out. I highly recommend this book to every kind of reader. It’s entertaining, informative, thought-provoking, and at times can’t help being titillating. More than anything it’s brave and honest.”
It’s hard to explain how good it is, what a relief it is, to finally hear something true-ish about feminine desire, and to have scientific proof, and for it to not be just another frisson’ed inkling while popping pharmaceuticals with the inbox beeping constantly. Before Tinder was even invented, Laurel Nakatade proved how uncomfortable this true-ishness is to non-females in her powerful videos, where she danced and stripped for strangers, and terrified them with the stark beauty, the wild autonomy, of her own longing. Now that we are armed and dangerous with smartphones filled to breaking point with stalking apps, and art everywhere that spatters echoes of our populations of ferocious females – it could be that we’re teetering in our Manolos on the edge of revolution.
Discover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about sex from HER point of view with Karley Sciortino aka Slutever here:
Read porn sweetheart Stoya’s views on art and porn here:
Swoon inside Laurel Nakatade’s mystically sensual world here:
Bask in Petra Collins’s Girl World here:
Stay tuned for regular contributions of life imitating art by our Pop Talks columnist Caia Hagel.