Erica Jong–originator of “the zipless fuck” and longtime feminist novelist and nonfiction writer–took the time out of her allegedly very busy sexual schedule yesterday to paint a picture of our prude, passionless generation. “Generalizing about cultural trends is tricky,” she writes, and then goes on to extrapolate that the majority of younger Americans are as uninterested in sex as her vast, self-selected sample of the five contributors to her recent anthology, including her very own daughter.
This strange amalgamation of arguments includes a weird riff about “internet sex,” by which, it appears she means Weiner-style tweets (though I suspect Jong isn’t sure what kind of sex folks are having on the interweb these days based on the super vague language of this section), a short political rant about anti-choice activism, and ends with a men-and-women-should-work-together bang. Badum-ching.
For starters, let’s talk about myopia. It’s not okay to make vast generalizations about entire generations based on your own daughter and four of your literary friends. Ever. Jong writes, “Everywhere there are signs that sex has lost its frisson of freedom.” If that were the case, why didn’t she use a few of these abundant examples to make her case?
By my estimation, there are actually counter-examples here, there, and everywhere–young women taking up space, advocating for a full spectrum of sexual desires and experiences, asking tough questions about monogamy, essentially taking the “free love” movement that Jong seems so nostalgic for and analyzing it with a truly 21st century lens. Contrary to being a clinical rejection of passion, the internet is often a wild west of sexual exploration and expression, and young feminists are very often at the helm. Our own Professor Foxy’s much-missed sex column was a prime example, as is Jaclyn Friedman’s work, like she and Jessica’s co-edited anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, which has influenced many, many young people across the country. Hell, Samhita’s got a book coming out on this very topic.
Either we’re too focused on sex, and therefore frivilous, female chauvanist pigs, or we’re not focused enough on sex, and therefore frigid, control freaks who are missing out on the best part of life. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t–even by our own feminist foremothers. How frustrating.