Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A Terrible Addiction

Goodness gracious. So today in the Telegraph journalist Byrony Gordon admits to having been seduced, after a long and intense campaign, by Russell Brand.

Russell Brand is famous in the UK for seducing ladies. I think he is also a musician or a comedian or a radio DJ or something like that, but mostly he is known for convincing ladies to go to bed with him. Soon after he got fired from a job for making an abusive and obscene call to an elderly actor, I saw a sheet hanging out an Edinburgh window scribbled with something like, "You can stay with me, Russell."

Russell Brand is also famous for having married Katie Perry, a rock star. Katie Perry actually impinges more on my life because she appears on the TV at my health club, singing okay dance tunes in trampy costumes. He apparently ended their marriage by text message. If true, this strikes me as cowardly. Meanwhile, I met B.A. almost five years ago, and I think it is sad that RB has robbed himself of the experience of sticking to one person, through thick and thin, birthdays and squabbles, for five years.

He has now been seen around with another famous lady, and I feel sorry for him because I think he must be in the grip of a terrible compulsion: he seems to be addicted to the early euphoria of love.

When I did my M.A. in English Literature, I took a course called "Irony" and it made an enormous impression on me. There is an arguments that the opera Don Giovanni is deeply ironic, and we watched snippets of a film version that underscored this. The opera presented the Don, not as a jolly seducer of woman, admirable because he is powerful, rich and handsome, but as an increasingly pathetic slave to compulsion. There was a wordless scene with a pretty fourteen year old who stares coolly at the Don, and the Don looks back from some internal hell.

Promiscuity does not strike me as normal, "secular" behaviour. Promiscuity strikes me as a form of insanity. Going gangbusters after a woman, with phone calls and goofy behaviour, only to dump her shortly after she is "won" also strikes me as a form of insanity.

Normal guys, said the nice campus police officer at the sexual harassment office, as I sat there, trembling like a leaf, give up at the first, second or third "No." They don't usually carry on their seduction campaign for weeks on end. And, I have discovered, a not so subtle mention of (or visit from) the police can put an end to the shenanigans of those who do.  Ms Gordon jokes about having either to go out with Russell Brand or get a restraining order, but actually it's not that funny.

We talk about alcoholics being controlled "by the bottle",  but there is no help for alcoholics before they stop putting the blame on "the bottle" or anything or anyone else besides on their compulsions. And I don't think there is much help for promiscuous people either before they stop putting the blame on "women" or "smooth dudes" for their sexual compulsions. And, frankly, although I'm no longer afraid of alcoholics, but I am afraid of compulsively promiscuous people. If Russell Brand fixed his glittering, dark-eyed gaze on me at a party (whose?), I would run. Coat, husband, taxi.

According to Slate--and I won't link in case any of you are teenagers because the article definitely contains TMI:

The average American man has had more partners than the average American woman. Recent CDC data shows that men between the ages of 25 and 44 reported having slept with a median of six women, while women in the same age bracket said they had slept with a median of four men.  And while more than 27 percent of men ages 25 to 44 have had sex with more than 15 women, only about 10 percent of their female peers have had sex with more than 15 men.
Math is my very rockiest subject, but what I am trying to say is that it isn't normal even for "secular" people to sleep around*, and I think the numbers reflect that. (28% of American men is still fewer than a third of American men.) Of course it is a shame that human beings aren't as monogamous/monandrous as swans, but "six/four" isn't the Sodom-and-Gomorrah tally I was expecting when I googled the topic.

*How might an American woman aged 44 have slept with four men? Well, here is one plausible scenario. She lost her virginity in high school to a steady boyfriend after much earnest discussion and a trip to the doctor to be kitted out with the Pill. She broke up with the steady boyfriend shortly after they went to college. She slept with her college beau after more earnest discussion and blood tests. They broke up. She married the next guy. They divorced when she was 39. Now she's got a "partner" after some internet dating of guys who really didn't strike her fancy. Total: four. Whereas, as Catholics--and a lot of girls at my high school would have committed group suicide rather than suffer such a polyandrous fate--we have a serious problem with premarital sex, you'll notice that (in this scenario) there is at least some form of long-term commitment.

I cannot stress enough to Catholic girls that non-Catholic girls ALSO have reasons to be careful about premarital sex and therefore ALSO make informed, if often different, decisions about it. And they too have the capacity to feel disgusted/judgmental/shocked about other women's sexual decisions. Don't confess your sexual sins, large or small, to a "secular" girl assuming she will be more "tolerant"than a Catholic friend. She might be, or she might not be. Whisper, whisper, whisper, how could she, that's just not right, whisper, whisper, shhh, here she comes, giggle.


Emily said...

That study under represents a how bad it really is. Maybe they're lying about their numbers or maybe the millenials are worse than other generations, but I'd say out of my group of friends, most are in the 5-10 range already...and we are under 25! What's worse is that many other people I know but aren't close with are much higher.

Here's the sad thing about it: most of the girls start sleeping around because they truly believe there's a chance that it will develop into something more. With every guy that uses them, what little self esteem they had is further eroded until sex has completely lost all of it's meaning and their mistakes are rationalized into legitimate choices ("I'm doing this for me").

Seraphic said...

Oh, dear. You could be right indeed. These are figures for the 25-44 set, and so, yes, the Millenials might be behaving more promiscuously than previous generations. You have had so much less protection than my generation (Gen X/Y)--despite the efforts of JP2 and B16 of course (which only Catholics are likely to have listened to).

Anonymous said...

Definite under-reporting for the women there. I would also add, without wanting to get graphic, that intercourse is not the only par for the course activity that occurs in pubs, clubs and at house parties. That would shoot those numbers up. And I know some women who don't count their one-night stands. Or the flings they regret. I'd be looking at women under 30 for all that now. I work with a lot of women by the way, these are not my nearest and dearest pals.


Seraphic said...

Well, scientific studies are supposed to be scientific. I don't know why women would lie on anonymous surveys.

But I do not know why on earth women would be talking about their sexual adventures on their lunch breaks at work either! Er, Sinead, is this in the holy land of Ireland?

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Julia said...

Russell Brand??? Eeeewwwwww. I've never understood why some women find him so attractive. He's so feral. And not really that funny anyway. What a slob.

"If Russell Brand fixed his glittering, dark-eyed gaze on me at a party (whose?), I would run."

If Russell Brand fixed his gaze on me at a party, I would vomit. Or laugh. Oh, Katy Perry, what were you thinking?

Magdalen said...

He had a miserable and unprotected childhood, so it's sad, but not unexpected. From an interview in the Times...

"He is hugely charismatic and his personal story is compelling. Overcoming heroin addiction, s*x addiction and a troubled upbringing in Essex which included watching his father's p*rn videos at 4, teenage bulimia, expulsions from school and drama college, 11 arrests for petty crime, being s*xually assaulted by a tutor when he was 7 and being taken to visit a pr*stitute at 16."

TRS said...

I can vouch for Sinead's observations on the US side... I haven't heard about the clubs, but I'm much older and more a homebody minus a hubby and kids!

Like Sinaed, I too am sorry to break the delicate bubble here... But just last week at dinner with two girlfriends, one was seeking advice on how to ask the guy she was seeing for less than a month if he was sleeping with her exclusively or not. She didn't want to come off as overbearing or high maintanence.
As we assured her that she had every right to know, I did say, "It seems like you would have discussed that beforehand." (Very delicately I said it, she knows my standards are different from hers, and respects my position... But still I didn't want to offend her.). Her reply? "Well, not when things get carried away."

She's 40 btw, never married, and a couple years ago, took to "recycling" past boyfriends in an effort to not increase her "number"

I hear similar reasoning from many women my age and younger.

My early 20s catholic niece, who attended 8 years of catholic school (I was very upset when they moved her to public school for high school... The worst time to move to public school! ) lives with her boyfriend and is pregnant, even after she declared she didn't approve of her cousin doing the same thing years before her.
Most of her friends were pregnant and unmarried in the years prior.
They're not sleeping around, and around.... But they did miss the message in Catholic school obviously.

Seraphic said...

Yup. Welcome to the madhouse Seraphic.

It's not lying as much as denial, at least that's how it comes across to me. Only the full monty in a happy fling/relationship counts. As for why they lie well how anonymous are these surveys, how are they conducted? face-to face no name? by email? everyone in a room given a list of questions?, the STD clinic quiz? Someone is going to read them and nobody likes to be judged. I suspect the conscience stings, admitting it to themselves by doing the count, there are three big insults you can lob at a woman nowadays, frigid, lesbian or ... well you know. Plus if you don't admit it then it didn't happen. Maybe. I don't know, it's hard to relate to all this in fairness.

I was shocked too when a friend told me about 10 years ago what some girls were doing for security to get into a local nightclub free. Likewise, a conversation that I had to stop mid-flow at lunch one day at work where there was a general agreement at what happens in country (think provincial) nightclubs. Things escalate as easily and it's just like shaking someone's hand. Oh and my sister told me the other day that an article she read somewhere (she didn't say) but that technical virgin is the new thing in America, sodomy doesn't count apparently.

You have no idea Seraphic. Someone called me Bambi once because of my horror to the general hobbies of drunk 20 odd year olds. But I have sense enough to see that my reaction was sane. By the way, that culture is quite accepted by people in their 30s. There is little horror, moreso giggling at the walk of shame.

I have no idea about men, but I do know that the women who have ONS or flings go for the handsome ones most of the time, especially in college. So I would not be surprised if Average Joe was with less than a half-dozen women.

Sorry if all this too much info by the way. Edit away. I swear it's like speaking a foreign language here. Oh drink by the way fuels most of it. Holy Ireland indeed.


Seraphic said...

Sinead asked me to edit her comment a bit, so I erased it and reposted it, as that's the only way I can change stuff.

There is no denying that RB had a horrible childhood, in some ways, and that it led to the problems of his adult life. I hope I don't come off as condemning of RB because, really, I don't think it's that he's wicked in some way (although he was awful to that actor), it's that he's ill in some very pitiable way.

Sin can look all very fun and glamorous (and therefore not really sin) but it is a trap that not everyone gets out of. I feel terrible for people (usually but not just men) who get addicted to internet porn because they first saw it as children.

Shiraz said...

A bit late so you might not read this Seraphic, but I have a number of totally-not-religious friends whose numbers are one, or two, or none. And we are over thirty. Not sure if that helps, but I wonder if lots of partners is social group specific? And that religion isn't *necessarily* the thing that determines that social group/normative behaviour?

Sheila said...

Remember median means half have less .... and half have more. My friends are more nerdy/unpopular and if they've slept around a lot, they're not telling. Most likely not. If you're not into the nightclub scene, if you don't get asked on many (or any) dates, you might not have much opportunity. And if you graduate from college a v*rgin (and a surprising number do), then it becomes a thing and you may decide to stay as you are. Because after all, you haven't died yet, your friends are telling you it's no great shakes, so why put out unless it's a really serious relationship?

Also: those numbers will include religious people, right? Both serious Catholics and serious Protestants, whose number will be one or none.

Incidentally, I think studies show millennials are actually less promiscuous than Gen X or boomers, because we are not risk-takers and we've been raised with the idea in our heads that we Must do things perfectly, or else. If you want to succeed, you can't cut a single class, get a single C, drop an extracurricular, or take any drugs at all. Our parents tended to be concerned, involved, and a bit pushy. We had less time unattended as teenagers than our parents did (because our parents remember what they did with theirs) and often close relationships where we feared to disappoint them. On the whole, we have less s3x, do less drugs, and take on less consumer debt than our parents.

Now of course in every bell curve there's a lot of deviation, so if you know a lot of people on one or another end of the spectrum, it doesn't discredit the whole study.

Seraphic said...

Shiraz, I read it and it is helpful. Catholic and other kinds of religious girls really have to understand that lots of girls do not just "do it", and that they put one heck of a lot of thought into their decisions. Obviously it's not information we're all privy to. But while religious girls are searching their scriptures and catechisms for loopholes, many non-religious girls are thinking "What is the evidence Scooter is not an immature pig?"

But, sadly, if you are describing women over 30, we are talking a different sub-generation from the one currently being bombarded with sex stuff. And in the UK and Ireland there really is a terrible culture of women drinking to excess. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else.

Still, perhaps it was not lost on the entire generation that the one and only guy in Hermione's life was Ron, and after it went nowhere with Cho Chang, there was no-one for Harry but Ginny. Oh--I was forgetting the Bulgarian guy. Well, I am sure the Bulgarian guy was a perfect gentleman. And also that Hermione never really quite understand what was going on there anyway. I bet he spent most of their time together talking about Quidditch and how fabulous Bulgaria is. Zzzz.

Sheila, this study was about people between 25-44, so I think that meant Gen X and Y, not Millennnials. Jeepers, what did we do before people named generations?

Ally said...

Sorry to be late to the conversation, but in the US at least, the millennial generation started with those if us born 1982 so some of us Millennials are 31 at the moment... Just for clarification.... And that Gen Y is another name for Millennials. At least that's what most of my research several years ago tended to stick to - mostly finally all settling on Neil and Strauss's definitions in their book Millennials Rising...

I do think the numbers with less are balancing out the ones with more for certain...