not a member? click here to sign up
It is Time For a New Dispensation
Sex is life’s greatest pleasure. So why have people been so hung up about it for so long? Introducing our focus on Sex In Ireland 2012.
Niall Stokes, 31 Jul 2012
It is an interesting backdrop against which to publish an issue of Hot Press that explores issues of sex and sexuality. A lot has changed in Ireland over the past 30-odd years. Along the way, we fought hard for what is often now described in disparaging terms as ‘the liberal agenda’. We campaigned for contraceptive rights – which were only properly granted to Irish people in the ‘90s. We fought for the decriminalisation of gay sex. We argued for the right to choose. We distributed information in relation to AIDS and stood four square with those who were HIV positive on their right to fair and equal treatment.
We ran Dermod Moore’s never less than thought-provoking Bootboy column as a context for ventilating a myriad issues surrounding homosexuality. More recently, in Anne Sexton’s column we have explored every form of sexual diversity in a straightforward, breezy, no-nonsense style. And in general, over the years, we have given a platform – and hopefully a voice – to those who refuse to accept the long-time culturally dominant assumption, that sex and sexuality are best expressed only in the context of a long term, monogamous and preferably marital relationship between members of the opposite sex.
A lot has indeed changed in Ireland and for the better. But that is not to say that we have arrived at the end of the journey. On the contrary: in so many ways we are still in the grip of a powerful conservatism, but one the roots of which are far deeper and more difficult to uproot.
The campaign for gay marriage is ongoing. So too is the battle for legislation to enable terminations to be carried out in Ireland under terms that are – or would be – set out clearly in law. These are very immediate issues which directly affect the lives of thousands of people. There is no room for complacency until those issues have been adequately addressed.
But there is something even more fundamental that needs to be considered also in relation to sexuality and it is this. We need to ask on what foundation our collective understanding of sex is based? Why are some manifestations of sex – for example gay sex – still so widely viewed as being negative or wrong? Why has there been such widespread disapproval of the idea that sex is something that we can – and ideally should be able to – enjoy to the greatest extent possible with anyone and everyone who shares a similar need or desire at a given moment in time? Why is there a view that sexual sharing equals ‘promiscuity’ equals sinfulness equals something to be condemned?