I know what you’re thinking. There she goes again talking about sex. And really what it is is me not talking about sex as much as I’m reacting to all the talk about sex.
I love film, television, music…culture, but I’m critical as hell of it. It’s like that big brother/sister you adored as a child but in your adulthood came to realize that the information they gave you was suspect. Well, dammit, I’m here to call out the bs.
Shouts out to Issa Rae this week for her highly anticipated HBO series, Insecure, which premiers this Sunday (sets DVR for the entire series).
For those who didn’t know, Issa Rae has been doing her thing for a while now. Outside of her breakthrough internet series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, she has a growing list of productions to add to her credit, Stages, is one of them.
Stages is a contemplative, provoking, and dialogue-free short about a man who has experienced a serious break up. I like the short for how it documents how this particular man processes his evolving emotions surrounding a love who is no longer in his life.
One of the ways this character processes his dismay over the breakup is through his hotline bling/booty call (a suggestion the film seems to make about men in general and how they process their emotions). When he texts her that he’s “ bored” and asks if she’d like to come over, the message is clear to both. Throughout their graphic sex scene, a montage of sexual positions, expertly executed cinematically, it is clear, these two know how to get off. And if sex was only about getting off, then the scene would document what it is like to have great sex.
However, the film goes on to authentically exhibit the aftermath of random “I’m-bored” sex, revenge sex, jump-off sex…casual sex. Stages beautifully captures the total emptiness that is felt through the characters after such encounters.
As the lead in the film sits in the window sill, smoking a cigarette, and as his sexual partner for the night sits up in the bed blankly looking his way, no words between them, it becomes very clear that all they’ve participated in are the mechanics. After the encounter, he returns to his despondent state because the one who he rather be with is not there (a thematic expression that runs throughout the short). And she, the woman with no name, reduced to the body parts she provocatively adorns when she first knocks on his door, walks out with the same, nothing more.
As I took Stages in and its messages, I realized that perhaps not experiencing this type of emptiness after sex is what great sex is all about. We put a lot of emphasis on mechanics, don’t we? How long it lasts, his/her performance, what he/she did, etc. But could we be focusing on just a portion of it all? What if great sex is about a full experience? What if I’m cheating myself when I just focus on mechanics?
It’s not just what happens before; it’s not just what happens during; it’s what happens after as well.
And perhaps what happens after is one of the most enduring parts of it all. Perhaps knowing that the person you just laid with is going to wake up with you the next morning, take out the trash later, do homework with your son, sit down with you to work out the bills, pick up dinner while you go to the mechanic, be there when your dad dies…live life with you…maybe that’s the greatest part of sex, the after.
And let me be clear, what I’m getting at is not a promo for marriage or even monogamy, although I believe these hold value. What I’m trying to get at is the intention of sex. And often what I hear and see out there about the intention of sex is the total of opposite of a full experience. If I can help it, I don’t want to rob myself of all that sex has to offer me. So here’s to great sex…all of it.