Elaine Blair on Hooking Up

This post was migrated over from my tumblr

Think back to the last middle-of-the-road, less-than-fulfilling sexual encounter you saw portrayed on TV. Now think of another one. If you’re at a loss, you’re in the same camp as Elaine Blair.

Blair, a literary and cultural critic, recently gave a talk on the UCLA campus wherein she stressed the importance of the documentation of these acts, along with the revelation that while sex without commitment is supposed to be a gift from the feminist movement, that maybe no one is really enjoying “hooking-up” as much as they are engaging in a perfunctory performance of the rite of passage.

While she did not definitively take a stance, she feels that the discussion is closely tied with a re-reading of seminal feminist texts to root out the source of our generation’s confused attitude toward the purpose of sex and of the fleeting relationships that construct themselves around the pursuit of it.

The reality, Blair emphasized, is that beyond Lena Dunham, few women are speaking for themselves on the topic of unsatisfactory sex. The full ramifications of this remain to be seen, but for now this lack of conversation allows the cultural portrayal of hooking-up to remain perhaps better than reality.

I wonder, of course, how anyone could make an across the board decision on how much “people” are enjoying any one thing, but I do see the point. We take our cues so often from the stream of culture assailing us from every angle, and because it feels that so little of the culture we take in is produced by women, it can be hard to tell what women at large are thinking. Of course, one can tune into the “feminist point of view” by reading blogs like Jezebel.com (despite its bitchiness) or, if we aren’t to separate the queer feminist agenda from the mix, the much more entertaining and smart AutoStraddle.com. It is true though that a burgeoning new feminist perspective is making its way into the media. In my observation gradually fewer works are failing the Bechdel Test, but this is a great moment to advocate more narratives written about sex by women. And E.L. James just isn’t cutting it.