Dinner table conversations typically include heated discussions of professors, “American Idol,” drinking game exploits, and things of that nature. You know, standard college-kid fare (SCKF). The thing is, 99 percent of dining hall SCKF misses a very major part of actual SCKF: a certain reproductive act that males are rumored (falsely, apparently) to think about once every seven seconds.
It is this relative lack of straightforward chatter about sex, coitus, banging, screwing, knowing (biblically), shagging, porking, fornicating, copulating, or whichever other term a hormonally-charged teenage mind (i.e. my own) can invent that so troubles me today.
A standard criticism of the last two paragraphs is the imagined supposition that frankly discussing “carnal knowledge” (a legal euphemism unfortunately excluded from the bulk of modern usage) condones the epidemiological, emotional, physical, moral, and spiritual maladies which intercourse, especially for the pre-marital SCKF crowd, has been accused of breeding in our vulnerable youth. It is also suggested that such discussions smugly hint that to not be doing “it” is to be weird, deficient, and generally uncool.
While this isn’t really the case for a host of valid reasons, for now let’s just settle on three: because 99 percent of Americans will have sex at least once in their lifetimes, because our species is known to do so for pleasure, and because it’s hard to imagine that anybody would prefer Unpleasurable Awkward Sex to Very Good Sex, it follows that simply talking about sex is a good thing. At the very minimum, it diffuses the uncomfortable tensions that have the potential to hinder the bedtime performance of millions of would-be Jenna Jamesons and Ron Jeremys.
The degree to which sex-talk is permissible, encouraged, and even allowed is a new matter altogether. For instance, The Guide to Getting It On! from Professor Bolton’s Human Sexuality class is widely read by anthropology students but has sold fewer copies on Amazon than How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.
Even more troubling is that despite evolutionary biologists’ heartiest claims that humans naturally become aroused at the sight of other humans mating, we nonetheless think nothing of voluntarily self-sexiling when opening our room’s door to the moans and screams of a promiscuous roommate. That is, even though deep down we are hard-wired to want to watch our roommate flop around drunkenly with that guy or girl from Pub, we would never in a million years actually do it.
But despite this collective aversion to watching those we know “do the nasty,” many of us love watching those we don’t know. A Yale Daily News poll found that over 80 percent of the men at Yale masturbate in a given week. We also listen to sex-like noises, with the chorus of Petey Pablo’s “Freak-A-Leak” standing as the most egregious example in recent times. However, much to the ire of First Amendment absolutists, certain American courts not too long ago understood it as their righteous constitutional duty to regulate the listening public’s choice of what sex music can be listened to. The question, as put forth in front of the 1992 11th Circuit Court, was whether 2 Live Crew’s album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was too obscene to be sold.
I’ll pause here to reflect that the album is really quite, well, nasty. If I were a women’s rights group, I would not be terribly fond of the 163 usages of the word “bitch,” many of them in the context of acts not fit for publication in this fine newspaper.
But to see what 2 Live Crew is really about and perhaps judge if they should be permitted a place in the pantheon of allowable, wonderfully offensive rap music, search YouTube for the performance of “Face Down Ass Up” from a 1990 “Phil Donahue Show” episode that showcases the extent to which Luke Skyywalker, lead vocalist, promoter, and producer of the band, is possibly the coolest person alive. In front of an audience primarily composed of awkward squares, Skyywalker parades across the stage, smoothly checks out the scantily clad dancers, belts out his chorus while fist-pumping, and high-fives a seated Phil Donahue for good measure, all while looking relaxed and triumphant.
In short, Skyywalker displays none of the anxieties associated with Pomona’s Unpleasurable Awkward Sex-ers. Instead, as he raps about actions and positions most of us can’t even fantasize, Luke stands as a monument to Very Good Sex. It’s true, he demeans women along the way, and by no means do I wish to canonize or emulate him, but his righteousness has never been the point of his music. I try not to take away moral lessons or a life-guiding philosophy from any music, let alone 2 Live Crew, but what I do see is an antidote to our unnecessarily broad fear of talking about, and thereby ameliorating, sexy times. As 2 Live Crew would say, “Save the drama for your mama, all I want is my hoochie mama!”