What’s “Normal” Regarding Sex?

Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES — I must confess that the graphic images of Steve McQueen’s Shame, boasting a stellar performance by German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender, left me in a state of shock.

The film tells the story of a young man who suffers from a sexual compulsion and is incapable of establishing a “normal” relationship. What the movie doesn’t tell us is the origin of this addiction and the conditions that led to this behavior.

It would be worth asking ourselves, however, what “normal” would be when it comes to sex. Can sexual preferences be classified in any way? I don’t think they can.

There are so many different forms of sexual conduct that any treatise on them would be endless. I wouldn’t even dare think of writing such a piece, for I lack both the information and knowledge needed to address such a controversial issue.

The question I would like to pose, instead, is: what is it about sexual behavior that prompt people to deride it and portray it as something grotesque? Why do we believe that frequent changes of partner are a form of promiscuity?

I have a 40-year-old friend who goes to the Maxim Rock – a place in Havana where rock bands play their music and classic American pieces from the 60s and 70s – every weekend. She’s told me that, in addition to dancing, she goes there to meet young men, that the chances of hooking up there are good. In other words, that she goes there in search of sex.

Things would be simpler if no other interests came into the mix. Perhaps, things would be more honest if people spoke like prostitutes (“I’ll charge you so much to have sex with me, I’m sleeping with you to get ahead at work, I want to publish my book”) and addressed their “ulterior” motives openly.

People, however, rely on subterfuge to get their way. And many have learned that sex is the best way to deceive others.

There are women whom we could call “high-class” prostitutes. They are happily married, model wives and mothers. Though they may feel empty and disappointed sexually, they put on a believable show, because the germ of deceit is already in their system and it isn’t hard for them to play a part. There are material interests at play and they have to retain their status at all costs.

Many people suffer from this ill: they are incapable of telling their partners they would like to sleep with other people, and they satisfy their needs elsewhere. This way, everything remains perfectly balanced.

Today, you see Internet ads where couples announce they are looking for someone to have a manage-a-trois with, or a person looking for two or three other people for an orgy – in short, the most varied situations to achieve the desired satisfaction. If one thing is unquestionable, it is this: people are so different that there is no way to catalogue any of this.

I am not referring here to “sexual perversions”, so classified by psychiatry. I am only speaking about being sincere with ourselves when it comes to sex, about those impulses that make us want to approach someone and perhaps enter into a romantic relationship with them (or not), impulses that lose their spontaneity when other interests come into play.

Some people will likely say that having sex with no other reason than having sex is something questionable, that there has to be another reason there. Why don’t we try it and see what happens? We may enjoy it more.


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

4 thoughts on “What’s “Normal” Regarding Sex?

  • I am an addict in recovery for 4 years now. Sex addiction can be as painful as drug or alcohol addiction.There is anonymous groups of sex addicts all over the world.I can relate with this urge of fulfilling emptiness that keep coming back,and coming back again,for those who know the feeling of sniffing a line of cocaine,when the buzz goes away,you know what I am talking abouth.Just like some people cannot drink,a lot of people cannot have random sex,and can even bring suicidal feelings,just like “Griffin” inform us of is friend who took is one life.I saw that movie and could relate totally with the dark,sad and empty life of the protagonist unable to built some real relations.

  • I had a friend, an old high school buddy, who was a “sex addict” like the character in the film. He compulsively engaged in sex with hundreds of women over the years. For a while, we guys all thought, “Hey, what a lucky man! He gets all that action.”

    Yet I have never known a more lonely, miserable and self-loathing man in all my life. This compulsion is a sign of severe physical and sexual abuse in childhood, which is what my friend experienced as a child.

    So yes, we can be sophisticated and say “what happens in bed between consenting adults is their own business” but don’t let’s kid ourselves that it’s all about a normal, healthy enjoyment of our natural sexual needs. Sometimes, it’s a lot darker than that.

    My friend took his own life five years ago.

  • Sex in the times of Aids isn’t sex anymore. Especially for men. Condoms are like water in wine. Too much of water.

  • Anything done between consenting adults in their intimacy is not of my damn business and I expect the same courtesy from others. Thats my own measure of normal.

    Also, notice that you are not browsing internet properly if you consider sex with two or three people “an orgy”.

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