Monday, July 8, 2013

Thy Neighbor's Wife...

I'm half-way through reading Gay Talese's 600+ page Thy Neighbor's Wife.  It deals with a lot of what the terminally conservative base in our country would rather not discuss.  Sex.  Sex and more sex.  I cannot tell you how I wish I had read this book when I was 21 or 22.  It would have probably changed everything for me.  He has so methodically described the history of repression, censorship of books, and how, things that you and I find in sex blogs have been going on for centuries.  He matter-of-factly describes how puritan elements of society were able to change laws to basically repress the aspects of culture they did not like. With the Internet, we can't even imagine censorship (real government censorship, not private companies ruining your porn page) and having to smuggle books from France because they depict free love and such.

Talese mentions several different communes that revolved around free-love and yes, as soon as a girl was ready physically, she was included. I'm not so much into the idea of living in a commune where, as soon as the child is born, the responsibility for raising it is turned over to the community as a whole, nor do I think that you should not be able to have a committed relationship with one person, but the idea of sexual monogamy seems to have been questioned by a lot of people for a long, long time.

Before the Internet came along, so many of the ideas I had - bisexuality and threesomes to name a few - were hidden in my mind because I was sure that I was the only person who had these ideas.  Thanks repressive society.  People would mention the 1960's as the era of free-love, but what did it mean?  A bunch of smelly hippies living on a farm sharing chores?  No, those people were having sex with each other and everybody!

I'm only half way through the book, but seriously, read Thy Neighbor's Wife.  Gay Talese is a very thorough investigator and a brilliant writer.  Something that stands out is the fact that he names names.  All the people in the book are real, Wikipedia searchable people.  I think that is also another benefit of the Internet age.  I can write this blog entry using a pen name and you can read it by logging in with your sex-only Gmail account and neither of us have to reveal ourselves.  Yes, I know, "the man" knows who we are.  But I think that the book has much more legitimacy, knowing that Mr. Talese has sources on record when he describes these behaviors and activities.  I don't know about you, but my reasons for writing anonymously have less to do with being revealed than having my wife have to deal with a bunch of her religious friends moral outrage.   How outraged would society be if we knew that many of the things we have been taught were abnormal or inappropriate were just different strokes for different folks, and have gone on in society for hundreds or thousands of years?

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