Montreal Gazette


Can we tawk about lust?

Monday, November 03, 2003


Our timid attitudes toward sexuality are warping our lives, author John Ince says.

Can we tawk lust?

Yes, it's Lisa Rivers here, and I had coffee the other day with Dr. Lust himself, aka John Ince, a Vancouver lawyer, self-styled libido expert and author. He has written a book I actually read called The Politics of Lust (Pivotal Press, $24.95), which has two naked people covering their privates on the cover.

And he worked on it for 23 years, which is older than I look!

I know. You're asking what lust and politics have to do with each other, except maybe when former U.S. president Jimmy Carter told Playboy magazine he'd had lust in his heart, or when former U.S. president Bill Clinton had Monica Lewinsky - no, wait. That's lust and politicians!


Ince writes how our attitudes toward lust, sex and sexuality shape our lives. Not sexual lives. Lives. Not in a good way, either. Apparently, we in North America suffer from a severe anxiety he calls "erotophobia," which in turn helps create a toxic system that in its turn shapes our lives. It's a vicious circle.

Parents engender "erotophobia" in their children when they say it isn't nice to play with themselves or each other that way, or to do it in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Religious organizations create it, too, with such concepts as original sin and sex simply as a means to an end, namely, procreation.

Sure, we all tawk about it and tawk about doing it or who we've done it to, who's doing it with whom or with what, but when it all comes down to it, it's just a bunch of nudge-nudge, wink-wink hot air: sexual bravado in place of real sexual joy.

TV, movies, newspapers, car advertising, magazines, you name it, it's all a tease that never really deals with the act itself. Ince says it's like a doughnut, with sex as the hole in it. Neat metaphor, but it sure gives new meaning to the term, Dunkin' Donuts.

Part of the fault lies with the media itself, Ince continues. He says it feeds erotophobia simply because it censors itself.

"Why are we only too happy to run stories and photographs of bodies, of the toll of war and famine, but we won't talk about sex?" he asked. "What's wrong with sex?"

Good point.

Why not have journalists devoted to reportage on such things as the most recent treatments for male impotence and the rise of cyber sex? Why not have a byline that reads, say, "Joe Blow, Gazette Sex Reporter?"

Oh, we get little bits here and there in stories from other beats like medicine and high tech, but the media tends to be squeamish about letting in the graphic bits. Just ask my editor.

Of course, there were some things in the book I didn't agree with. Like Ince's contention that sexual predators target sexually repressed children because they are least likely to tell on them. C'mon. They target children because the kids are weaker, and I don't think teaching kids about the wonders of masturbation and bodies beautiful would change matters.

And when you get down to it, the book is also somewhat plodding. Trust a lawyer to take a subject we all tawk about, and turn it into an academic, legal-like brief. Sure, serious discussion is merited, but does it have to be so, um, dry?

Consider: "The ultimate exemplar of the cognitive style that generates an aversion to the very feel of sex is Plato."


Or: "Lust is innately pleasurable."

Oh yes. I heartily concur that it's indigenously agreeable. It's also a lot of fun and makes your blood race.

All of which proves to me you can't judge a book by its cover, no matter how suggestive.

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