Do your dinner parties and/or Bumble dates need a healthy injection of sex, death and psychoanalysis? Here are 7 heated conversation-starters on sex and gender that will make you the star (or pariah) of your next social outing. By Kristen Cochrane.
As the Prosecco enters your bloodstream, loose lips at the dinner party is fair game—almost everyone wants to talk about the topics that are off-limits at the office (trust me, I’ve tried). It’s not about being perverted or thrilled by the shock of others, it’s about #education. In my experience, bringing up sexual topics has mostly led to authentic friendship bonds. It’s true! Once you realize a colleague has the same “weird” interests as you, it makes work so much more fun. And if it leads to you getting kicked out of a party, do you really want to have people who embody that negative energy in your life?
With that said, here are 7 topics on gender and sexuality to make you the star (or pariah) of your next evening out.
The “Conceptual Fuck”
Randomly, having sex is not always the answer to happiness. A nationally representative study with a sample size of approximately 18,000 American adults aged 18-89 indicated that people who aren’t having sex vs. people who are having sex reported the same levels of happiness. Maybe having sex won’t actually cure any sadness or depression you’re having? Instead, just read some sexy books and experience what Chris Kraus calls a Conceptual Fuck (i.e. fucking someone through intellectual exchange, which will inevitably happen when you meet a fellow intellectual perv with whom you can wax theoretical).
What’s wrong with being a pervert?
The term “pervert” has often been used derisively against gay people and polyamorous people. But it also has an interesting etymological background. It actually comes from the Latin “pervertere,” which means to turn something around. So, does that mean that sex-negative feminists are the true perverts because of their socially backwards beliefs?! The bottom line is: it’s better to be a pervert than to be basic.
Gaspar Noé’s perverted film Love (2015), with some of the sexiest depictions of threesomes, which, TBH, are generally far more awkward IRL than in this film.
Having sex is a complicated theoretical quandary
Our favorite dead psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan once said “il n’y a pas de relation sexuel,” or, in English, “there is no sexual relation.” In other words, having sex is just two bodies masturbating while using the other. (Try thinking about that while stoned.) Not so romantic, but Lacan really didn’t care.
Violent movies are OK, but sexual movies are not. Why?!
This is a good way to initiate a debate that will never end. Use it if you spy some hottie at the party and you don’t want the party to end prematurely. Hottie in question might actually be scared if you vehemently refuse to change the subject, but at least you tried. In case they like vintage comedy, you can salvage the situation with a reference to Richard Pryor. Pryor once said, “You can’t talk about fucking in America, people say you’re dirty. But if you talk about killing somebody, that’s cool.” Personally, I’m over the action films with endless explosions that are more effective for sleep than crushing melatonin. I mean, where are all the late 1980s, early 1990s erotic thrillers that always featured Michael Douglas?
Your mom reading 50 Shades of Grey beside you in the living room is akin to you watching a video on Pornhub beside her
Apparently. My mom hasn’t done that to me because she understands boundaries (unlike me), but I’ve heard of this happening to other people. I feel slightly disturbed over this, but maybe I’m being the sex-negative one over this moral dilemma.
Is this like the Lacanian quandary of sexual relations not actually being possible? (Robert Bresson’s 1945 film Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne).
Don’t listen to Lacan, listen to Henry Miller
Writer Henry Miller, a lover of OG literary pervert Anaïs Nin, once said, “what holds the world together, as I have learned from bitter experience, is sexual intercourse.” True… just like the aforementioned notion of the Conceptual Fuck. Does our libido make our world continue? What if you’re asexual? Yet another complicated topic that could leave the dinner party going inappropriately late.
Liking yourself makes sex better
What would we do without Susan Sontag? This truism has been passed down through anecdotal evidence and unsolicited advice, like “love yourself before you can love anyone else!” or “love your body before sharing it with another.” But, like, do any of us truly love ourselves or our bodies? When we overidentify with something about ourselves, it becomes pathological and dangerous. Seriously! What happens when you become obsessed with a certain part of yourself? You generally need validation for the so-called self-love to continue, right? Can’t we just learn to be simply OK with ourselves rather than subscribing to the dated love/hate binary? Anyway, I’m thinking about the dismantling of the love/hate binary vis-à-vis an excerpt from Susan Sontag: “Self-respect. It would make me lovable. And it’s the secret to good sex.” But this is where Sontag’s statement differs from the love/hate binary; self-respect is not temperamental, but constant (or, at least, a consistency should be the ideal, rather than oscillating from love to hate).
Kristen Cochrane is a writer and graduate researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her academic research is currently on queer Latin American cinema, but she also writes about art, sexuality, and life stories. Her work has appeared in Amuse/i-D, Teen Vogue, Somesuch, and VICE.