That Love Thing

Everything you wanted to know
but were too self-conscious to ask.

What follows are answers to what they call FAQs (frequently asked questions).

Are there different kinds of sex?
Basically there are two. First there is what guys and girls do together after they turn the lights out (of course it's not always between guys and girls but let's stick with the majority preference for now). Then there is the sexual act of gametes, i.e. the sperm and the egg, and the things that they get up to.

Do plants have sex?
Yes, and they do it standing up, but they don't actually touch each other, which must take some of the fun out of it. Whether or not they derive any pleasure at all from it is still unclear.

Is it really necessary?
Not if you just want to have kids. Science has progressed so far that it is no longer necessary for guys and girls to do anything when they turn the lights out except go to sleep. Doctors can collect the sperm and the eggs, and everything vital for the reproduction of the species can now take place in a test tube in the lab (which is what they call in vitro fertilisation). You'll have to do it this way in the future if you want your designer baby. Everyone has dreams for their kids. In a few years you will be able to give your little female footballer of the future a head start by tweaking her genes a little to make absolutely sure that she will be able to kick with both feet.

So does sex have a future?
There's no getting away from sex. The force that Freud called the libido is utterly irrepressible (this is the force that takes our mind off everything else as soon that we get the signal from the object of our desires that the game is on). Even if you retreat to the hills and wear a thick shirt made of horse hair, allow lice to multiply on your skin, eat only lentils and dry bread and kneel on the stone floor for hours every day contemplating the Eternal you will still be troubled in your sleep by images that would be considered unfit for broadcast on public television.

Is there any future in virtual sex?
Virtual sex could be the way forward coz it really could save a lot of heartache. So many guys have messed up their lives because they got obsessed with some part of a girl's anatomy and then felt they had to marry them because that seemed to be the honourable thing to do even though they hardly knew each other and had absolutely no hobbies in common and couldn't even agree what to go and see at the cinema. A sad story that could so easily have been avoided. If guys can satisfy their cravings with virtual vixens in cyberspace then they could conceivably have a more relaxed attitude about just hanging out with girls in a perfectly innocent way playing football with them or taking up scubadiving. Later on, when they slowly discover that they just love doing the same things together they will be in a much better position to consider something more serious like cohabitation.

What about masturbation, is it true that it leads to blindness?
If this were true at least half the population would be walking around with white sticks and guide dogs, and companies like Ford and Toyota would never have made any money trying to sell cars.

Is it possible to be a self-respecting virgin in the 21st century?
Yes, but it's not easy. Peer pressure on teenagers can sometimes make it seem that there is nothing more important than losing your virginity. In one survey for the British magazine "Just Seventeen" the overwhelming majority of teenagers admitted feeling under pressure to lose their virginity. There is a myth that everybody is having sex and that you are such a freak and so uncool and unhip if you aren't doing the same. 75% of the teenagers in the survey said they believed that all teens were having sex. In the same group of people only half of the sixteen-year-olds admitted actually having had sex. The myth that provides the basis for all that peer pressure bears little relation to reality.

As well as the generalised peer pressure there is also pressure on girls from boyfriends who believe that the bedroom is the best place to show just how much you love someone. "Just Seventeen" has a nice piece on this:

The myth: "If it's true love, the next step is sex."
You're secure in your relationship with your longtime boyfriend. You love each other and have even talked about going to the same college or university. He wants to have sex, claims he has been really patient and is now saying that if you don't give in, he might take a hike.

The reality:
Any guy who tries to threaten, force or cajole you into having sex isn't worth a minute more of your time. The line 'You would have sex with me if you loved me' needs to be answered with 'If you loved me, you wouldn't pressure me.'

The act of sexual intercourse, which is what they describe in the magazines as "going all the way", has really been blown out of all proportion. Lots of things are far more important than sex, like discovering a passion for photography, pottery, poetry, parachuting or boatbuilding. These are things that could change the direction of your life. Sex will be fun, but it won't change you that much (unless you get pregnant).

The other thing to bear in mind is that there is only one first time, and so it deserves to be very special. The memory of it should still move you in thirty years time when you are sitting all wrinkled on your balcony.

Once again, "Just Seventeen" hits the nail right on the head:

Going all the way is something that can't be taken back. If you're not careful and thoughtful, there can be long-term emotional and physical consequences. And here's the thing: Taking your time, knowing your own mind, not having sex to fit in or please someone and being responsible about protection ultimately will make sex more pleasurable and special. And isn't that the whole point?

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MORE on the age of consent, pornography, contraception and abortion.