I watched a TV programme years ago where one of the presenters pointed out that we all accept that advances in technology will happen and even if news of the latest whiz-bang gadget was exaggerated we would believe it because of our faith in progress. Or at least our faith in the fact that progress will happen as some form of inevitable element of our lives. He also observed that against that society was quite resistant to the implementation and adoption of technological change.
It occurs to me that has changed in the two or three decades since I heard those remarks. The evolution of PCs from geeky toys to real tools at work and centres of entertainment in our homes has taken place as increasingly powerful hardware and easy to use software has been developed. Few people refuse to use technology because it is now an easy to use, powerful and compelling tool rather than an end in itself.
There is I think a parallel in sexuality though the changes are not always towards acceptance. And in the same way that the Internet has connected people via the web and social networking thereby facilitated the adoption of tech into our everyday lives that same Internet has been the instigator of a change in our sexuality.
The ability to express your sexuality and see others expressing it has never been in the hands of so many people. What were once rumours of varied, exciting, strange, arousing and weird colours of sexual preference and activity are now available for everyone to see. Even in the last five years which represent only one quarter of the World Wide Web’s entire life we have witnessed huge changes in the way sexuality is perceived.
Much of what goes on out there is subtle, quiet, intimate and revealed to the wide world as a blog or social grouping on a network with little fuss. You wouldn’t know it was there unless you chose to look or were directed at it. What does get the attention is a few carefully or vociferously promoted sites and/or the extremes of sexuality.
The tabloid newspapers of course love the extremes of sex, as does the wider media to a lesser extent. The newspapers talk about “MPs sex romps with prostitutes”, “Business leader’s dark BDSM secrets” while TV adds more and more naked flesh to its output in an effort to draw better ratings from an audience spread increasingly thinly across hundreds of satellite channels and now the Internet via IP TV and video sharing.
The preconceptions always remain though. We all believe (rightly or wrongly) that there is extreme stuff out there. Take the “donkey punch” for example. There is even a film of the same name. But do you know anyone who has punched their lover in the back of the head at the climax of anal sex? Nah, me neither.
Where in the world is the most extreme sexuality expressed? Well many people would say Germany for kink and Japan for shear oddness. I would have to agree. Take Germany first. Having visited the Venus show in Germany last year I can testify that Germans can be as kinky as hell. There is a BDSM scene and an adult industry to service it. Without exception the people we met over there were ordinary, friendly intelligent and really into their fetishes. These were people who took their sexuality seriously enough to spend time and money fulfilling it but didn’t take themselves so seriously as to de-sexualise themselves.
Not all the people at Venus were from Germany, the rest of Europe was well represented. And not every German is a kinkster but Germany seems to be a bit of a hub.
Then there’s Japan. Whereas Germany shows how a two hour flight from the UK across the North Sea can present you with a refreshingly different culture travelling to the other side of the world would present you with sexuality from a culture with completely different reference points from ours in North Western Europe. That in itself makes Japan totally different from the English-speaking biased content on the web.
Thanks to technology we can all experience each other’s sexuality. We can believe that the extremes of sex exist all over the world … we just might not want to experience them ourselves.