Do you want sex with that?
Our attitudes to sex in society have hit the headlines more than once in recent weeks – the public reaction to the Kyle and Jackie O lie detector debacle in which a teenage girl was forced to submit to an on-air interrogation about her past sexual experiences; the enormous social media-led outcry, prompted by Mia Freeman’s blog, over clothing chain Cotton On’s increasingly inappropriate t-shirt slogans (I’m A Tits Man) for babies; and the ongoing political debate about same sex marriages.
Sex sells, it’s true, and in Australian society today it seems that there is so much of it to buy. The alternative is, I guess, to simply ignore it but, from billboards to music video hits on weekend television, it’s becoming a tougher thing to do.
I’m thinking about all this – and much more – in the lead-up to my appearance at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival. Never done the writers’ festival thing before – not as a speaker anyway – and now trying to come up with intelligent points to make about the topic at hand. It’s actually Women Talking Erotica but from that, I’m sure, will spring an argument or two about where we are at with sex in Australian culture today – an age where sex and the advertising of its influence seems to dominate our visual media, like it or not.
Sometimes, my conservatism alarms me. Other times, I try to pick up the phone to give Mum a heads-up to all my ‘wild days’ revelations about to be published in my new book and think I should have been more conservative when I was younger. Just a bit. (I still haven’t made that phone call.)
I’ve had my share of it it’s true – breathed excitement into men as a fantasy phone call operator, been on the set of porn films and at swingers’ parties in my role as feature writer for various magazines and newspapers across the country and have, in the biblical sense, utilised it for its ‘higher’ purpose in the conception of four children. And in the end it’s probably motherhood, more than anything, that has shaped my current attitudes.
And so I am thinking, trying to make sense of a topic that has the power to cause people to make no sense at all. Do I want sex with that? Sometimes. And the other times – in the delivery of my barbecue chicken advertisement, or my toddler’s fashion statements? Well, no, actually. But is anyone listening?
Do You Want Sex With That? by Claire Halliday
Combining memoir and reportage, this is an extremely brave and honest look at the place of sex throughout Australian life: from the pervasive sexualisation of advertising and children, to the more minority pursuits of swinging and porn-films, as well as the rise of the abstinence movement.