Business Insider Pens Breathlessly Stupid Sex Party Article
All of a sudden this weekend, a bunch of friends began passing around the same Business Insider article on Facebook, called “A Beautiful House In Brooklyn Is Secretly Being Used For Upscale Sex Parties” by Megan Rose Dickey.
Uh oh, I thought, having read only the headline .
I immediately knew two things. One, I know the house and parties they’re talking about. Some secret. And two, um, what exactly do you mean by a “beautiful” house is being used for “upscale” sex parties?
Look. I’m a writer. I get the way this author was trying to tell the story: you might think things would be ONE WAY, but really they are a completely different way! Whoa! Doesn’t that blow your mind?! It’s a common narrative device for telling stories (“Dick Cheney Bottle Feeds Sick Kittens!”) that operates on an assumption most people share (like Dick Cheney is not a nice person). My issue with the piece is the specific assumptions the writer makes.
Given how frequently that I write about sex, I’m well-aware of the sorts of attitudes that some people take towards sex-positive folks. They usually range from “you’re going to get STDs, you sluts!” to “EW why do you have to shove your sexuality in my FACE (but do you wanna have cybersex later?) Dickey’s attitude, which came through loud and clear in her piece, was one of almost wide-eyed surprise. Specifically, she’s surprised to discover that — contrary to what you would think! — she couldn’t find any dirty sluts in that dirty fuckden.
First of all, the use of the word “upscale” in the title bothered me. I know some of the folks who do these sex parties; it’s not that they aren’t educated, intelligent, funny, thoughtful, interesting — whatever “upscale” means in this sense. No, I’m bothered that the author felt the need to assure of us of this fact (see prior note about dirty sluts in the dirty fuckden). Even if Dickey wasn’t personally responsible for writing the headline, as writers often aren’t, she nevertheless carried that tone throughout the piece.
The breathless, gee whiz! vein began with the very first paragraph about how nice (re: not dirty fuckden-ish) the sex party house is:
When you first walk in, you’ll be amazed by just how gorgeous the home is. Hardwood floors, modern-day appliances, black granite countertops, and a beautiful outdoor patio with a hot tub for up to several people.
Granite countertops! Modern-day appliances! Well, I’ll be! Do they crap directly on the bathroom floor or do they use toilets, too? Dickey then goes on to write that any fears of a “dingy” sex club will be “swept away by the tasteful interior of this brick row house.” Yes, the house is perfectly tasteful. I’m just not sure why the author felt the need to say it.
Later in the piece, there was another annoyance: the author describes the panoply of folks who come to parties at this house thusly:
There’s also a mix of professionals who attend, like lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Everyone is accepted, as long as you’re at least 18 years old.
Trust me, I understand that there is a stereotype that people who attend sex parties are sleazy creeps. (Thanks to this piece, I get so much email from people asking for tips or advice on how to find a local sex party and oftentimes it contains some caveat about wanting to avoid gross people.) But is it really necessary to assure readers that “professionals” attend these parties, as if that ensures the “quality” of human beings you’ll find there? Would a sex party attended by waitresses and Starbucks barista be considered”downscale”?
Simply put, this piece was crap. You could almost say the narrative was an interpretation: it (sort of) explains a group of people (sort of) and the house (sort of) that they hold sex parties, all while assuring us these sex parties aren’t sleazy because lawyers attend them. This doesn’t much accurately represent the people I’ve come to know. Instead of being thoughtful or, at base minimum instructive, Dickey’s piece was more like a half-assed exposé.
Sex writing shouldn’t “other” the subject, even if it’s dressed up like a compliment. There’s too much stigma and shame surrounding sex already, thanks.
[Image of a girl at a party via Shutterstock]