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Article pairing: normalize sex

Sex can serve a valuable narrative function. I think of Watchmen: Dan’s literal impotence in the face of nuclear annihilation, and his virility when he reclaims his agency and takes action, pointless though it may be. Doctor Manhattan’s failure to understand Laurie’s needs as he divides himself to continue his work while they’re making love. These scenes are core to the emotional story, to the characters’ choices and thus the plot. I read a book about writing sex scenes that suggests the characters should have sex in a way that only they could, that reflects where they are in their relationship and each of their arcs. Is she scared of admitting their connection and pushes for a quick fuck, while he keeps the pace slow to keep her from denying there’s more between them than physical attraction? Does she struggle with trusting others, and he says just the wrong thing after they make love?

A lot of the sex we see in movies isn’t used thoughtfully; Hollywood is bad at including romance in stories that aren’t primarily love stories (like action adventure) — it’s not actually enough for two hot people to spend time interacting if there’s no reason for them to like each other besides proximity and adrenaline, and it feels forced for them to bone — at that point the sex is more serving the wish fulfillment / hero gets the girl narrative. So we need better sex in our stories — which honestly probably means longer sex scenes (more foreplay or more afterglow) to allow screentime for characterization and meaning.

Federal judge rules that employers can refuse to cover PrEP

It’s hard to see this and not think that the cruelty is the point. What abomination of a person would deny anyone protection against HIV? Someone who thinks anyone who gets HIV deserves it 🙃

(There’s a lot of other things going on with this particular bad decision — health care shouldn’t be tied to employment, businesses aren’t people and cannot hold beliefs and shouldn’t have the same rights as people, it is not religious freedom to impose your beliefs on others or harm them because of your beliefs — but let’s not get into that here. We’re talking sex.)

The hatred and fear of gay and trans people is growing more aggressive. Religious extremists play off the public’s transphobia and discomfort with sex, gambling that few will come to the defense of queer folks when all LGBTQIA+ people and allies are painted as pedos. But this is only possible when people are skeeved out by other humans having sex, especially sex that’s different than the sex they have, and especially sex that’s for pleasure only. Our society doesn’t value “non-productive” activities in any form. This also ties in with the gross conservative obsession with people having more babies: “sex is for procreation!” No. Sex is normal and healthy behavior for consenting adults who aren’t trying to get pregnant.

We are not subject to the strictures of anyone else’s controlling, shaming religion. This is not a Christian nation and religious extremists cannot impose their moral judgements on everyone else. (Unless they steal power and exert fascism on us.) We need to normalize healthy, safe, consensual, pleasurable sex between partners of all kinds: straight, gay, old, fat, disabled. Let’s tackle all the -phobias and -isms 👏 (Asexuality too, another queer identity religious extremists hate — show healthy relationships without sex.) And that means including sex in our stories, visual and written. There’s a reason conservatives come so hard for books: stories have power.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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