Is Sex a Thing Of the Past?


Is sex over? First the Observer said the Youngs are through with it. Now the New York Times, always on the vanguard, is exploring the notion that sometimes, people don’t want to have sex. In fact, sex is sort of unfashionable now, due to the widespread availability of porn and various other random things thrown into a list (“Pepperidge Farm! Hulu!”). What’s going on in the world of voluntarily celibate middle-aged women, Meg Wolitzer?

THIS is the story a friend told me: One night at a gathering at an apartment in New York City, a woman blithely announced, “I would pay someone to have sex with my husband.” There were snorts and yips of laughter. I believe one woman even clapped.

Now, look, I don’t know how much rosé you guys were tippling, but “I would pay someone to have sex with my husband” does not merit “snorts and yips” of laughter. It calls for awkward half-laughter accompanied by a long pause while everyone checks their phones.

The biological imperative for sex had receded, and was now as distant as the memory of, say, once having gone to Epcot with one’s parents (you know you were there because of the snapshots of you and your family in lederhosen; just as, in the case of sex, you know you once prolifically and creatively partook, because you — or perhaps, horribly, your children — have unearthed from a drawer a tiny bottle of some dried gray substance called Love Pollen, older even than the Robitussin PE that haunts your medicine cabinet.) Suddenly, being touched by one’s husband or partner could seem so … last year.

Sorry about the time your kid found your lube, Meg Wolitzer.

Then there is a truly bizarre anecdote about Wolitzer’s high school boyfriend.

One day, I seem to recall, a letter arrived on heavy stationery, written with the calligraphy set he’d received as a present for his bar mitzvah. In Magna Carta handwriting, my boyfriend wrote something like, “Willst thou go to third with me … milady?”

The point of the story is that the 14-year-old Wolitzer didn’t end up going to third with Good Sir Weirdo because he wore a velour bathrobe. Good! What kind of creeps were you dating, anyway?

Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, sex is over. It’s just one of many “distractions” now. Sorry about that, if you liked sex. It had a good run.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 16, 2011


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