Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sex in Canada

...and the title of this blog post alone will give it more hits than any other I've written so far.

I recently watched a Canadian movie by the name of "Young People Fucking". Mini-review: it was hilarious, candid and touching at the same time. Four couples and one mismatched threesome have sex in five separate storylines. It's like a romantic comedy without the hokeyness or the predictability. The dialogue is fantastic. It's a wonderful movie for couples to watch, provided feigned sex and unclothed boobs don't upset you.
4 1/2 awkward interruptions out of 5

A few years ago, Young People Fucking was at the centre of a Canadian controversy. The Conservative Government was set to pass a tax bill by the name of Bill C-10. Buried deep in this document was a section saying that if the government decided that a Canadian-made movie was "contrary to public policy", they could retroactively yank its tax credits. Canadian artists and filmmakers, after the bill was passed, noticed the clause and rallied the troops. The artists (correctly) pointed out that the vague wording would make filmmaking more risky, therefore less-likely to be funded by banks, therefore less-likely to be financed, and therefore less-likely to be filmed. Obviously films of a certain subject matter, as in ones involving sex, are riskier than others. The word "censorship" was touted, a stink was raised and then the issue just kinda faded out. Did the bill get defeated or something?

Anyway, Young People Fucking became the target of the pro-censorship crowd, eager to make this film an example of the kind of pornographic filth that Canada ought not to support. It was an easy target because of its title. But, as is always the case with conservative censorship scandals, the pro-censorship crowd obviously didn't go to the theatre to watch the film and back their claims. If they had, they would have seen how the show was about relationships and communication.

One of the over-arching messages of Young People Fucking seems to be that communication is poor or absent in each of the trysts. If the people involved had engaged in truly open, honest dialogue before they hopped into bed, the sexual experience would be much more rewarding and less awkward.

What a useful moral! We Canadians can be a frigid people when it comes to sex. We possess the urge to hide our sexuality, to repress public displays of affection, to hide our nakedness, and most importantly, secret our feelings. The most conservative amongst us believe that sex is for procreative purposes only, and these people have somehow managed to convince society that sex is bad, naughty and not-to-be-discussed.

And yet surprise babies keep appearing. Unmarried couples retire to shared beds and do it. Half-naked women sing banal songs and advertise products to us. One in every four workers accesses a porn site on the job every day, and even more porn is accessed from the privacy of Canadian homes. The efforts of morally-decent folk to the contrary, sex for social and pleasure purposes is here to stay.

Why do religious people and their prudish allies hate non-procreative sex and the human body? What is the societal consequence that these people fear will happen when their gay neighbors get married and do each other up the poop-chute? What disastrous THING will occur when mothers can freely whip out their tits to feed their hungry babies in public? What cataclysmic event is coming as the result of the internet porn industry?

Honestly, it sure beats me. I'd like to think that if I was a Judeo-Christian religious man, my faith would be strong enough to survive any pornographic assault. But as far as I can tell, sex is viewed as a temptation by these people. The love of Jesus is not always enough to sustain them and sometimes they want to do naughty things. They feel that open displays of sex and nudity will call them to a life of shame and drag them to hell.

Fair enough. But that's not my problem. I'm not religious in that way. Society's mollycoddling regarding sex damaged me when I was growing up and, honestly, I'm still recovering from it. Sex still embarrasses me when I wish it wouldn't. My urge to hide my sexuality still results in misunderstandings, hurt feelings and arguments. It's not my parents' fault. They did their best. If I had to grow up all over again, I think I'd rather do it in a nudist colony than the public school system so that sex wouldn't be such a big goddamn deal.

Canada's absurd obsession and fear of sex is hurting us. The only answer is open, honest dialogue regarding sex between all of us. But that won't happen anytime soon. If all Canadians spoke candidly and truthfully about sex with each other, the prudes would come to the alarming realization that porn, premarital sex, prostitution, homosexuality and adolescent sex are an unchangeable reality of humankind, that indulging in harmless perversions, fantasies and wanking doesn't make you a bad person, and the sexual tastes of other people do not affect the ability of religious people to get into heaven.

Let's take porn as an example. You discover that the people next door filmed a porno flick in their basement and people worldwide are watching it. How does this affect you? It doesn't. It's their business, their everlasting souls and their bodies. They're not going to tunnel into your house and film down there, nor will they force you to have sex with a stranger. The world goes on and if you're religious, Jesus still loves you.

I'll take it a step further. Suppose you discover that a man down the road paid the pretty Ice Cream clerk to have sex. Is your family any closer to hell? Nope. Did he pay your wife to sleep with him? Nope. So who cares? And furthermore, why was their tryst an arrest-worthy crime?

Much of the time, the prudes swell their audience when play the "protect the children" card. Yes, I agree. Children need to be protected. This means stopping predatory pedophiles, pimps and child pornographers from exploiting your child. Kidnapping, sexual assault and fraud are all arrest-worthy crimes.

But when the censors ask us to "think of the children", they seem to be forgetting that, as adults, it is our responsibility not only to protect children, but to teach and nurture them. Sheltering them from sexual information, particularly when they hit puberty, is not the answer. When puberty arrives, children are hit with powerful instincts to have sex, and some will do it no matter how much they have been sheltered.

Consider this: you're watching a movie with your nine-year-old son, Junior. Then suddenly the scrawny heroine whips her top off and starts kissing the hero. Many parents would cover Junior's eyes. But why? He's too young to have sex. He can't even understand why sex is appealing. What harm are those too-perfect boobs causing him? He's not going to have nightmares about boobs stalking him in the forest. Are you protecting him for his own sake, or are you just concerned that if Junior watches the scene, he'll ask a question that makes YOU uncomfortable, like, "Why are those people doing that?" And furthermore, why will it hurt him for you to explain it? His head will not explode, nor will yours. He's going to find out eventually and it might as well be you that prepares him. Wouldn't you rather he found out from open, honest dialogue than from tittering rumours whispered amongst classmates?

I remember when I was a high school student, the Catholic school up the road had the highest teen pregnancy rate of any school in the city. Coincidence? No. This was back in the days when the prudes had convinced the Catholic school board that sex education was a bad idea. Why on earth would you deprive teenagers, once they become capable of having sex, with valuable information about their sexuality? They need to know about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. Ultimately, as a parent, your child's decision to have sex is not yours. It's theirs. When they have the opportunity to have sex, if they have bad or faulty information, they will make equally bad choices.

I say these things as a new father. I know that much of the urge to protect children comes from a parental desire to keep their offspring innocent. When you raise a child from a baby, it's hard to see them grow up. But grow up they will. It's hard to believe that my little baby will be a woman someday. Honestly, I can't wait. As she becomes a toddler, a little girl, a big girl, a teenager and a young adult, I intend to help and inform her in every way I possibly can. If that means that I'm going to have to weather several uncomfortable conversations, I'm prepared. I will do my best to see that she does not join the ranks of the repressed.

So, dear Conservatives, mollycoddlers and censors: Canada is, or should be, a land of free speech. That means occasionally putting up with opinions, stories and art that you don't like. That includes stuff that's too violent, too sexy, too stupid, too smart and too gay for you. By all means create ratings systems and classifications that tell parents what their children will see in their entertainment. That's useful. Just never tell me what my kids shouldn't see.

If you inhibit entertainment so it fits your mold, you will inhibit open, honest dialogue. There are plenty countries of out there where the government stands for moral decency at the expense of free speech, and do you know what? They all suck.

Even Lot managed to raise a peaceful, God-loving family. That includes two daughters who stayed chaste, and they lived in Gomorrah of all places. If he can do it, so can you. In the meantime, quit trying to impose your primitive, early-agricultural religion on me and my family.