Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 24 Apr 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.


Kingsley Amis said that his waning sex drive came as a relief, as when it flowed in full spate, it was like being fettered to an idiot. I don’t quite have lengthening years to thank, just Sertraline, a drug which controls my depression and makes sure that I bottom out at ‘curmudgeon’ rather than ‘suicidal.’ Its side effect is an extremely erratic sex drive, where desire waxes and wanes. I’m aware of sex briefly, and then a strange mist seems to roll in and obscure it from view. This isn’t experienced as a sense of loss, but more of a sense of unknowing, of being wholly unaware. But the distance that Sertraline affords allows me to make one, clear judgment: I hate my sexuality.

It’s not that I’m gay and want to be straight. And it’s not that I’m straight and want to be gay. I remain tediously, boringly convinced of my heterosexuality and while I’ve kissed boys, I have to be honest as say that it doesn’t really do anything for me and that stubble seems like an argument not to snog. No, it’s that I think male sexuality in particular is tacky and that the things that turn me on seem contemptible. For any sexual thought to live in my brain for more than a second, it has to survive such a barrage of sharp-tongued cynicism and cutting commentary that it would have to be made of steel and keep moving very, very quickly. Once I’m aware of it, that thought is has but a short time to live.

Nothing I find attractive and alluring, I need to make it clear, is illegal. In fact, not only is it astonishingly vanilla but much of my sexuality and perhaps that of most men has not aged at all. At least not since I was about 14. So I like girls with big breasts, skirts that make it easy to guess what the wearer’s backside looks like and all the rest of the grim obviousness. This shames me to the limit of my ability to feel shame, not least because my personal politics find me in agreement with most feminists. I supported the No More Page 3 campaign, I believe in access to abortion, that sex work is generally abuse and recognise that mass media is predicated on making women feel bad about themselves. All these things I take to be self-evident, so it seems unfair that I’m saddled with the additional burden of needing to tell whatever bit of my brain which is tasked with dealing with sexual thoughts that it needs to pipe down and stop bothering me.

In my defence, I do have a kink, but there again, it’s a thoroughly tacky and pedestrian one that I hate, and it’s that I like women in hosiery. Such is my animus towards this side of my sexuality that I will consciously avoid them on public transport or make sure that I don’t look, distracting myself with mundane thoughts and, in time, the ‘she looks nice’ stuff has been pushed out by knowing that I need to do the washing up when I get in or take out the recycling. I’ve got the time needed to do this down to about a minute, but back in the day, pre-Sertraline, it was a different story. I can remember being in a pub with friends and watching a woman running her stockinged or be-tighted foot along the rung of a bar stool and becoming very hot and very bothered, but I was younger and  very much more stupid.

The downside to this is that it blunts my empathy. When I hear about old people doing what I’ll euphemistically call ‘sex stuff,’ I want to be sick in a bucket, rather than declaim, as I know I should, that it’s a splendid victory for humanity. Equally, when I heard that a friend’s dad had prostate cancer, I assumed he’d get rid of said prostate, rather than doing what he did and having the more risky surgery to keep the prostate and his sexual function, which caught me flat-footed. At no point did it occur to me that a man in his sixties still has sex, or would want to. This, it seems, is a fairly epic fail on my part and what happens when you judge people by your own, odd standards.

It also damages my view of my own gender, which is, perhaps, A Bad Thing. When I meet another man who seems nice, and kind, I imagine that when he wants to have sex or is having sex, he becomes some kind of animal, motivated only by lust, blowing fire from his nostrils and motivated only by an insane desire to have an orgasm. The sexual persona, then, or at least the sexual persona as I’ve constructed it, cancels out the kindness and all the other good personal qualities. It’s as though, and I know this isn’t the case, incidentally, someone’s positive qualities can be cancelled out by grunting and pulling a face when they’re forcing out a vast bowel movement. Do they suddenly become different people when they’re having a shit? Of course not. But in my head, there’s something different about sex, some different quality, some different texture, that means it can contradict all the information I think I know about someone.

As to what happened to make me ashamed of these urges which, I’m told, are natural, I have zero idea. At no point did anyone sit me down and tell me that they were shameful, and while I’d quite like to burn out the part of my brain that likes stockings and tights with a hot wire, people who know about such things, namely my therapist, say that they’re quite conventional and that applying the label ‘normal’ to sexual behaviour is a toxic way of making ourselves feel bad. All fine, of course, on paper, but somewhere in my head there is a huge left back, with thighs like hams, and as soon as a sexual thought, all lightness and joy, dances past him, he runs after it and scythes it down brutally, perhaps inflicting some kind of injury that causes everyone to wince and gesture to the medical staff to put him on a stretcher and try and find his leg.

Somewhere in the journey from cradle to here, then, I seem to have acquired, without even troubling to make an effort, the sexual morality of a Catholic priest, where my genitals are somewhere under my soutane and I spend my life not thinking about them, or feeling hot and guilty when I do. In a recent argument online with some people who support sex work and who are, by their own description, ‘sex positive,’ I was accused, rather bizarrely, of wanting to cum on someone’s face and ‘run away like a dog from it’s own shit,’ which is a fairly striking formulation, no matter how you look at irt. She was half right. Firstly, she’s not my type but, secondly, she’s almost right about the self-loathing. I’ve never cum on anyone’s face and don’t ever want to run away after I’ve had sex, but I do hate my sexual persona and, were someone to offer to remove it from my brain, I’m not sure I’d put up any resistance.

Sertraline helps, hugely, putting everything under a reassuring blanket and meaning that sex is not on the list of things I need to think about, but the doctor, hilariously, has given me some Viagra, in the hope that my erection, itself as feeble a demonstration of maleness as you will ever see this side of Donald Trump, can outrun my brain. I say that my brain is faster and can outrun any chemical I put into my body, especially one designed to facilitate sex, but then, time will tell.

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