Friday, March 10, 2006

Lets Talk About Sex And Australians

By Kathleen Noonan

Sex sure stirs us up. It may be one of the most basic of human activities, yet many are as repressed, depressed and suppressed by it, as underdressed and caressed. We love to read about it. It intrigues, scares, delights and frustrates us. That's why news editors put in on the front page, whenever credibility allows.

Yet when we read or experience something about sex, we tent to give it our own moral twist. We believe what we do in our sex lives is normal, what others do is weird. Yet one person's deviance is another's tame. What's that saying? Kinky is using a feather. Perverted is using the whole chicken. Boom boom.

On the poultry theme, just yesterday, I am telling a joke to a man I know in Sydney. He's phoned to basically mock about some adverse reactions in Queensland to the film Brokeback Mountain, a sad love story between two main characters, who happen to be men.

"What a bunch of homophobic rednecks you are in Queensland. Typical!" he booms down the phone. But I am pretending not to hear and instead push on with the gag: "So, this chicken and egg are lying bed, right..." It's a lame diversion, but constantly defending Queensland against red-neckism does get tiresome.

This mate is just getting wound up. "Do you know the only complaints about the gay couple on ABC Strictly Dancing last year came from Queensland? Are people so insecure about their own sexuality?" The mocking goes on. And the stereotype whether accurate or not lives on: Queensland, perfect one day, repressed the next.

This quiet film, starring Heath Ledger looking disturbingly like George Bush, all tightly wound and small-mouthed, has stirred things up around the world, particularly in anti-gay circles. There is nothing like sex to get us all hot and bothered and righteous. We like to believe a nice romantic version of it yet ignore basic, sweaty, gritty truths. Many might like to think sex is something done only in the bedroom but the truth is out there.

Statistics can at least give us a glimpse of what goes on Down Under. Research done by the University of New England's sociology department found 640000 Australians are on adult video mailing lists. It is the second largest direct mail list in the country behind the Coles-Myer FlyBuys scheme. Interestingly, a third of all mail order customers are from, you guessed it, Queensland. There are about 250 adult shops operating around Australia with a turnover of about $100 million. Someone's going to do damn things.

Use of vibrator in Australia is 46%, only just behind Taiwan, which is abuzz at 47%, according to what was called the biggest study of global sex lives conducted by condom manufacturer Durex. Of all 41 countries studied, Australians lead the world in frequency of sex in parks, which says something about our warm climate and town planning and proliferation of gardening television shows.

Sex is big business. A brothel not far from the Gabba cricket ground had steady bookings during a recent Test match. While a game was on , a man turned up obviously in a hurry. He would happily pay for an hour's service but needed to be finished "in 15 minutes, tops". His wife and children, back at the game, thought he had gone to the bar for drinks. True story.

Another Brisbane brothel is responding to demand and putting in a baby's room. Hearing this I thought, how progressive that the family friendly employer is providing child care for the workers' children. Foolish, foolish girl. The baby room is for men who like to be dressed in a nappy and treated like a baby. A workers says you'd be surprised at the type of clients. Usually they are men who tend to dominate and bully at home or in the workplace, often bosses and management types seeking a release. Sound like anyone you know?

Luckily, Australia is a free country. Even Queensland. You can dislike films about men who fall in love with each other. You can dislike men who fall in love with each other. You can criticize movies you've never seen till the cows come home. Just don't expect other not to think it is you who are the said stereotype.

So, back to this joke (because sex, if nothing else, should be fun)...A chicken and an egg are lying in bed, right...The chicken is smoking a cigarette with a satisfied smile on its little chicken face. The egg is frowning and looking cranky. The egg mutters to no one in particular, "Well, I guess we answered THAT question".

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