By Kim Dare.
Okay, I'm not saying that there is nothing wrong with the world today. Some things about sex, sexuality and explicitness are really screwed up.
However - some things are changing for the better too. I think it's easy to forget that sometimes. So here are some silver linings to go with the clouds.
Attitudes to different sexualities are changing - maybe not quickly enough, but change is happening. Take GLBT issues in the UK.
There are same-sex civil commitment ceremonies that grant couples exactly the same rights and responsibilities are marriage. Same-sex couples can adopt. Openly gay and lesbian men and women can join the military. We have openly gay and lesbian elected MP's (Members of Parliament). There are a hell of a lot of people who really don't give a damn if a man is married to a woman or to another man.
Yes, there's still prejudice and there is still bigotry, but not only are individuals attitudes changing - institutions are changing too. I know it's not the same all over the world - but hey, even a little corner of the world is a start. These things have changes as attitudes to sex and sexuality have shifted.
I think compulsory sex education in schools was a step forward too - maybe it is the parents responsibility to teach their child about sex. But the simple fact is, some don't. It's hard for the children of those who don't to fall through the cracks any more.
Yes, there are teenagers who will start having sex too young - haven't there always been? But isn't it still better to make sure everyone gets the basic theory before they try the practical? To me, that doesn't mean sex loses some special mysticism, it means people know what's going on - it means they should know how to avoid unintended pregnancies and STD's. After all, the mysticism isn't about what goes where or how to put a condom on - that's the connection to the person you're with - that the bit you can't teach in a classroom.
Another thing - access to contraception and safer-sex information. The right to decide how many children you want to have or if you want any at all. The ability to protect yourself from everything from AIDS to chlamydia. And it's available to everyone. Isn't that a good thing too?
Even the darkest end of the sexual scale - rape laws have changed too. Marital rape is now illegal. It's no longer acceptable for a short skirt to be used as evidence against a victim in court. It's another system that is far from perfect, but progress, however slow and grinding, is taking place.
There's a lot that's getting better.
And do you know the thing that gives me the most hope of all?
In a world that, as previous posts rightly pointed out, is full of free internet porn and sex everywhere you turn, and in a world in the middle of a recession - people are voting with their wallets. Erotic Romances publishers are one of the few sectors bucking the global downturn.
Where before you could either read sex or you can read romance. Try to find something that was all about both published too long ago and you'll struggle to do it. Now it's a huge growth industry. I don't know if I'm overly optimistic, but I like to see that as some little sign that people are looking for sex that is romantic, that is about love, commitment and happiness and well as physical release.
All that wonder that everyone things has gone from sex? I think it's still there. Sometimes it's hard to see, but it is.
I don't know anyone of my generation, who grew up with AIDS as a fact of life, who thinks about it on a regular basis - at least not past the point of remembering to put a condom on before hand. And the same generation that had access to all the internet porn - I don't think it dulls the senses or stops anyone appreciating the real thing, because strangers on a screen faking orgasms is not the real thing - the way things are now, it's barely more than irrelevant background noise.
I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but I think when you get right down to it, whatever age someone grows up in can be thought of as a golden age - not the same as another generations golden age though - each generation has to make their new golden age, their new sexual revolution and make their own mark on sexual history.
Is what's happening now golden? I'd like to think there are a few bits that glitter. But if you want the real answer, come back in twenty years time - things have a way of acquiring even more sparkle with hindsight.
I wouldn't be surprised if what we have right now is seen as pure gold when looked at from 2035 :)