Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Pied Piper of GGG

Rodney Dangerfield is not the only one who gets no respect.

Nowadays, sex doesn’t get any respect either.

We, as a culture, have been convinced that sex is just a way of getting pleasure, and that it’s no one’s business how you get yours.

Sex is just fun. The only harm comes to those who don’t get enough.

Of course, human beings are much more than pleasure-seeking organisms. They are social beings, with relationships and commitments. Anyone who ignores his moral center while pursuing pleasure is probably going to pay a price.

Better yet, sex has an emotional component, one that is hardwired into our DNA. Despite what you might have been led to believe, these emotions are not just social constructs designed to prevent you from having more and better sex.

In the old days there were ethical principles that people followed in conducting their sex lives.

Today, we have a new, modern ethic, summed up by the letters GGG, and hawked by its very own Pied Piper.

In his words: “GGG stands for 'good, giving, and game,' which is what we should all strive to be for our sex partners. Think 'good in bed,' 'giving equal time and equal pleasure,' and 'game for anything—within reason.'"

Adding the kicker “within reason” allows him to absolve himself of the bad consequences of this awful advice.

Young people are most susceptible to the Pied Piper of GGG. Most of them are simply not old enough to evaluate the consequences of their actions. They are simply incapable of anticipating the emotional consequences of certain sexual acts.

There is nothing about GGG that would prevent a child from texting a reveal image of herself to her new boyfriend, only to discover that the picture has been seen by half the school. A child is functionally incapable of dealing with the shame that attends this experience.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of foolish adults out there who are also trying to be GGG. Take the case of the married man who wrote in to Slate’s advice columnist, Emily Yoffe, aka Prudence.

This man wanted to spice up his sex life, to get his kink on, so he convinced his wife to have sex with another man, while he watched. He, in turn, would have sex with the other man’s wife.  

Consenting adults, you will say. They have a constitutional right to seek pleasure as they wish. Both husband and wife were good, giving, and certainly game.

What harm could there be?

Apparently, there was quite a lot of harm. The letter writer explains to Prudence that the other man, however unprepossessing he looked, turned out to resemble the hedgehog himself, Ron Jeremy, if you get my drift.

This unfortunate husband managed to hook his wife up with a man who, in terms of sexual prowess, resembled a porn star. Needless to say, his wife had the time of her life. He, not so much.

Somehow or other he had missed the lesson where they explain that emotion is just a social construct, so he was unprepared for the violence of his own reaction.

He describes his experience: “... for two hours I had to watch him work my wife into multiple fits, screams, and moans. Since this experience (which we have not repeated), I haven't been able to look at my wife in the same way. I cannot get that night out of my mind. It's affecting my work and ability to be happy. Sometimes I feel I could just punch my wife in the face. I want a divorce. The few friends I have confided in about this say that I am being unfair, but I cannot see how I could possibly be content in my marriage ever again. Is there a way I can overcome this?”

This is what happens when you take bad advice.

It is not at all clear that the marriage can be saved, but Prudence, to her credit, offers the only advice that will give it a fighting chance.

First, she suggests that, maybe, the wife was putting on a show to get back at him for browbeating her to do something that she did not want to do.

While one would recommend that wives refuse such offers all the time, one does sympathize with a woman who lives in a culture where one is supposed to be GGG.

I think that Yoffe is correct to suggest that the wife might try to explain that her reactions were more theatrical than real. It feels like a Hail Mary pass, but this marriage is in deep trouble.

I also agree with Yoffe that this man does owe his wife an apology... the sincere, heartfelt, groveling kind.

These are last ditch efforts to solve the problem-- credit to Yoffe for recommending them--  but a great deal of psychological damage has been done, and it is not clear that there is any way to put it back together again.

As for the man, he is stuck in a moral dilemma of his own making. He hates what his wife did but since he insisted that she do it, he has deprived himself of the right to object.

He wanted to get his kink on. He wanted to explore his fetish. She was just being GGG.

The Pied Piper of GGG might interject that the other couple involved in this swap did not seem to have the same reaction.

Point taken. Of course, that assumes that the other couple was really a couple and that neither of them were professional sex workers.

One regrets that this man had to learn the truth about conjugal sex the hard way. But he is not a child. He is a married man. He should have known better.

The next time you ask what harm can possibly be done by being GGG, remember the marriage that was sacrificed to the gods of GGG.


Anonymous said...

it's a bit over-the-top in this sensationalist,nihilist 21st C,
but GGG and 666 aren't very far apart graphically.

the nihilism of the GGG philosophy, and the perverse 'within reason' escape-clause, have the quality of a trap for which 'no one but the victim' is responsible'.

really,Stuart - who is this un-named pied-piper??

an why would anyone(any adult) listen to their advice?

"we will rule by corruption."

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I don't want to go overboard on this, but I am also struck by the graphic similarities between GGG and 666. I hadn't thought of it before, but I certainly find it intriguing.

The unnamed Pied Piper is Dan Savage, who writes at among other places.

Savage invented GGG. The definition is his.