It’s been a big week for body parts. In particular those bits, if one must go in for primary school language, that are naughty. The bits that jiggle and wobble and sometimes spurt. There might be a few in this column – nothing gratuitous, naturally.
The main thing to understand is that some naughty bits, apparently, are naughtier than others. But whose bits are on show, and where, very much dictates how much we are expected to be shocked by them. So while it is absolutely fine for an American underwear company to send a platoon of glossy Amazons down a catwalk wearing little more than a wisp of chiffon, a hint of satin and for some reason massive, bejewelled wings, it is not fine for a new mother to breastfeed her 12-week-old daughter at Claridge’s.
Nigel Farage has weighed in to declare the latter act “ostentatious”, but has yet to express an opinion on the former. In other words, the soft-porn lingerie spectacular, peekaboo videos and insane diet tips peddled by Victoria’s Secret and consumed by millions of young, impressionable types and countless older ones who should know better is OK; feeding a newborn, as Lou Burns tried to, amid fresh scones and tea strainers, is not. Bring the lady a modesty shroud.
Meanwhile, the animal rights charity Peta got into trouble this week for its billboard on the dangers of drinking milk. Its slogan, “Some bodily fluids are bad for you. Don’t swallow. Ditch dairy”, was banned within a day for being “too sexual”. And in London, the literati gathered at the In and Out Club to celebrate the smuttiest writing of the year. A giggle-fest of bursting dams, ruby nipples and heavy moaning, the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction was won by Ben Okri for a particularly purple passage in The Age of Magic. “She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body…”
Bad Sex In Fiction Awards 2014 shortlist
Bad Sex In Fiction Awards 2014 shortlist
1/10 Saskia Goldschmidt
The Hormone Factory has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'I kept myself quiet for a moment, kissed her and said, ‘I’ll be very gentle, all right?’ Running her tongue over her lips she nodded; she was as hot as boiling water in a distillation flask, and it wasn’t long before I was able to really get going. We both came at the same time. I stayed inside her for a few seconds, gazed at her, and smiled.'
2/10 Haruki Murakami
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'The girls entwined themselves lithely around Tsukuru. Kuro’s breasts were full and soft. Shiro’s were small, but her nipples were as hard as tiny round pebbles. Their pubic hair was as wet as a rain forest. Their breath mingled with his, becoming one, like currents from far away, secretly overlapping at the dark bottom of the sea.'
3/10 Amy Grace Loyd
The Affairs Of Others has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'I arranged myself like a vise around her, to remind her what it was to be contained – her upset, her desire, her choices, the bad ones too. Her salt in my mouth, I started to tell her about the Maine sea roses, rugosa, and how they grew like weeds, despite the elements, despite adversity; but she could not hear me over her complaints, the regular pleas and now the struggling, the struggling against me, to get away from me, to the phone. But I was a tourniquet, however poor, against the woundedness dissolving her into a liquid that kept flowing into me. '
4/10 Wilbur Smith
Desert God has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'Her hair was piled high, but when she shook her head it came cascading down in a glowing wave over her shoulders, and fell as far as her knees. This rippling curtain did not cover her breasts which thrust their way through it like living creatures. They were perfect rounds, white as mare’s milk and tipped with ruby nipples that puckered as my gaze passed over them. '
5/10 Richard Flanagan
The Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'If the earth spun it faltered, if the wind blew it waited. Hands found flesh; flesh, flesh. He felt the improbable weight of her eyelash with his own; he kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world. As they lost themselves in the circumnavigation of each other, there came from nearby shrill shrieks that ended in a deeper howl.' 'Dorrigo looked up. A large dog stood at the top of the dune. Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.''
6/10 Ben Okri
The Age Of Magic has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour. Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail. She was a little overwhelmed with being the adored focus of such power, as he rose and fell. She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off. She must have been shouting, for his hand was cupping her mouth. Lost to all reason, she wanted to encompass him with beautiful obscenities.'
7/10 Michael Cunningham
The Snow Queen has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award ''With Tyler’s touch, her nipple (biggish for her tiny breasts, raspberry-colored) stiffens. She makes a sound that’s more sigh than moan. She buries her hands in his hair. Tyler gets up onto his knees, pulls his jean and boxers down. His hard-on pops. Liz kicks off her boots, pulls her own jeans and thong off, shimmies them down to her ankles and thrashes them away, spreads her legs around Tyler’s hips. Tyler gets only the briefest look at her crotch – the trimmed line of her dark pubic hair, the robust pink of her labia – before pushing back down onto her.'
8/10 Helen Walsh
The Lemon Grove has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award ''We can’t,’ she begins. His mouth is on hers; his tongue is jabbing around her gums, the wrinkled roof of her mouth. He pulls away a second time. ‘Look at me,’ he says. She looks him in the eye. She reaches out and cups his balls and squeezes gently. Nathan closes his eyes, bites his lip. Then he steps into her, furious. And when it hits her, it slams her hard and fast, as life once had.'
9/10 Kirsty Wark
The Legacy Of Elizabeth Pringle has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'I arched my body against him and taking his hand I guided it down over my navel and placed it between my legs, my hand on top of his, holding it there, gasping as his fingers circled me softly. He said my name over and over as he lifted me up, my legs curled around him, and laid me down beneath him on the high bed. I had never imagined that I was capable of wanton behaviour, but it was as if a dam within me had burst and we made love that day and night like two people starved, slowly suffused with more and more pleasure, exploring and devouring every inch of each other, so as not to miss one single possibility of passion. It was as if I were drinking in life itself.'
10/10 May-Lan Tan
Things To Make And Break has been nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award 'She wriggles down under the blankets and pulls off my jeans and skivvies. I lie back and her hair tickles my stomach, her mouth wrapping over me. I’d forgotten this about her: she has the smallest, hottest mouth, as if she’s storing lava in her cheeks. I shut my eyes, holding her hair by the roots. My bones start to liquefy. When I’m about to come, I flip her onto her back and take off her underwear'
It’s confusing. One man’s silly smut is another man’s Ofcom complaint. So who decides which body parts and sexual acts are acceptable for public consumption and which are offensive or potentially harmful? It’s impossible to police but that has not stopped the Department for Culture, Sport and Media from trying to parse the public’s private tastes. In the same week that David Cameron attacked Ed Balls for committing an act of “political masosadism” at Prime Minister’s Questions – “It’s sado-masochism!” jeered the House in a chorus to give anyone nightmares – S&M was put on a new government banned list.
On Tuesday, the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 introduced a series of restrictions on the pornography that can be bought and sold in the UK, to safeguard children. As a result, a number of sex acts it considers harmful or life endangering have been banned from paid-for pornography sites. These include – and here’s a list that Chris Morris would have been proud to feature on Brass Eye – spanking, aggressive whipping, strangulation, humiliation and the use of power tools. Who decides how aggressive a certain whipping is is not clear.
The measures have not been welcomed. That female ejaculation is off the menu but the male equivalent is still the main event has been interpreted as lionising male pleasure while implying that female pleasure is shameful. True, but given that so much modern pornography is violently anti-female and that exploitation of women is rife in the industry, this is arguably quite small beer. More pertinently, the arbitrary nature of what’s in and what’s out has wider implications for online freedom. A government that legislates on which sexual acts are morally appropriate and which are not is a frightening thought.
These are valid points, but just so much bluster. As long as there has been printing, there has been pornography. And as long as there has been pornography, there have been those who want it banned. These latest measures do nothing to address the free, non-regulated content that is produced in other countries and is most easily accessed by those without a credit card – like children. It is a worry children are watching pornography. It is also a worry that they play ultra-violent video games. Banning either will not work; frank, open discussion and education might.
It is extraordinary that even as society’s attitudes towards sex have changed radically, thanks in no small part to the internet, the tenor of debate is still couched in Carry On innuendoes or “Ban this filth!” censure. As the porn law debates rumble on, there are the questions of teen pregnancy, rape and consent, and institutional child abuse to consider. Each to his own, but worrying over degrees of aggressive spanking strikes me as rather a waste of time.Reuse content