Sex still rules the world — as the spur, and the reward, especially of males seeking social status, especially of highly ambitious males — but, rather against the tenor of our times in the advanced countries, it may not be . . . quite as powerful or pervasive as it’s cracked up to be — and certainly assumed to be by advertisers. Even the Financial Times and the business supplement of my morning paper tends to carry the photo of an attractive lady, usually young, on their front pages these days. These are usually ‘justified’ by the lady in question having some connection with the world of business, but the motivation to placing the photos there is exactly the same as the nudes that used to adorn page 3 of The Sun (though I believe they’ve been discontinued).
But sex is not always so predominant. For example, in Singapore, that exceptional city-state with the highest standard of living in the world, there happens to be one of the lowest fertility rates in the world (1.2 children per woman). Young people, it would seem, are going off sexual activity. Indeed, the government is so desperate about its low birth rate and its possible extinction as a nation that it has very high pro-natal subsidies for its families and it actually organizes introduction agencies and social events for its young people who decline to get married.
In Japan something similar seems to be going on with a distinctive phenomenon all of its own (the name for which I have forgotten). This is where sons who can’t get a job stay in their parents’ home, become unsociable and largely confine themselves to their bedrooms where, presumably, they entertain themselves with their laptops. Sometimes parents never see their sons from one month’s end to another.
In the advanced countries more generally, we also have declining birth rates — serious enough at present for the civil services and politicians to be worried about future taxation and thus their very survival — but whether this is due to declining sexual activity by couples who are increasingly stopping at one child or whether it’s due to the rising costs of having children, particularly in educating them, is a moot point.
Although there has been a mini-fashion — in England anyway — on the BBC and in quality newspapers to hint at the vigorous sex life of 70 and 80 year-old couples the chances are, these stories emanating from middle-class reporters with a busier sex life than the norm, are somewhat exaggerated. On the other hand, Professor Malcolm Carruthers of the Centre of Men’s Health in London reports that men lose their sexual vitality at a faster rate than is realised, particularly at a suggested men’s menopause time in their 40s and he now doses men with testosterone to compensate. Other medical professors, however, deplore this practice.
Reading biographies of well-heeled Victorian families, one gets the impression that there were a considerable number of bachelor uncles among them who seem perfectly happy with their singleton status even though, in those days, there were more than enough young women — nannies and youngest daughters who’d had to wait dutifully until all their sisters were married and thence in danger of being left on the shelf — who were desperate to get married.
So all in all, summarising the above thoughts, limited though they are, it would seem that although sexual needs are very pressing among young men they tail off quicker than is generally believed, if they’re not chosen by young ladies for marriage and subsequent progeny.
However, in writing my ‘final’ paragraph above I’ve suddenly realised that one of the nastier phenomena of our times — and apparently growing — is that of paedophilia. The general drift of my blog is totally invalidated by the obvious waywardness of sex. Without attempting to enquire into the possible causes of paedophia any further I’m struck by its prevalence from top to bottom of the social strata and also how many married men, often with families of their own, are involved. It might be a case of the lack of the natural communities that we had of old and the conseqeunt loss of watchfulness that acted as restraints against too much waywardness — but I’ll leave it at that.
But yet a further thought — after a tea break — is that the lack of permanent local communities is a cause of both phenomena discussed above.