Media today, be it the Internet, TV, shock radio, or even billboards, seem to some to be no more than one long smut fest. Observes Dr. Robert Filewich:
“You now have KY Jelly advertised so you can ‘have a more intimate relationship’ with your partner. Whoever thought that would be on TV?”Ads like that one used to appear only in magazines delivered in plain brown wrappers. Now we can hear similar spots for the Romantic Depot, Westchester’s one and only mature-shoppers-only retailer, on local radio. The store, squeezed into a specially-zoned section of Elmsford, NY, next to the I-287 on-ramp, mostly sells DVDs, but about a third of the floor space is devoted to toys like the “rabbit”, a vibrator with two protrusions. The most expensive model has numerous settings and sells for $228. Bondage items like furry handcuffs, leather straps for every part of your body, paddles, whips, bed restraints have their own section, as does edible underwear. The store has a small foyer with display windows and a much larger 18-and-over room in the back where you can buy your own pole-dancing kit in a tube for $229, which comes complete with a telescoping pole, garter, and instructional DVD. The package carries a helpful warning just like the one on dry cleaner bags: “this is not a children’s toy.”
It’s all part of a Westchester world of little blue pills and battery-powered stimulators, where experts assure us absolutely everyone can get satisfaction—at least physically.
“Men come in looking for better erections,” says Michael Werner, MD, a urologist who also oversees the Medical Center for Female Sexuality. “It’s not my job to make sure they are only using them with their wife.” He hastens to add, “Monogamy is the ideal, but it’s not always the norm.”Maybe not always, but mostly. According to a study by The University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, sexual activity is 25 percent to 300 percent greater for married couples versus the non-married, depending on age. In case you were wondering, the study says married couples between ages 18 and 29 have sexual relations an average of nearly 112 times per year. That rate steadily decreases (but doesn’t disappear!) with age, so that married couples aged 70 and older have sex 16 times a year on average.
“We don’t do it as often as we did before the kids came along,” R says, “but it’s more from lack of opportunity than lack of desire.”She is a young part-time paralegal with two children in school; her husband, T, works in the banking industry. She adds,
“Why would either one of us want to mess up our marriage and our children’s lives when we make each other happy as it is?”Few developments have affected our sexual lives as much as the Internet, where “WWW” is inextricably tied to “XXX.” There’s nothing new about pornography, of course. You can find it on ancient Greek pottery and probably on cave walls somewhere. But what’s changed is how easy it is to find online. As Werner pointed out, “It used to be that the only way you could see people having sex was to go to one of those movie theaters where you wore a raincoat. Today, you can accidentally click a link and end up with a porn site.”
Most of those clicks aren’t accidental, of course. Numbers aren’t hard to come by, although they are difficult to verify, but type “sex” into Google and you get 718 million links. The Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade group, reports that $2.9 billion was spent on Internet-delivered porn in 2006, the latest year with available data. That’s a little more than Apple sold online last year. There’s no way to measure the amount of free-porn viewing that goes on, although it’s undoubtedly high. An interesting and often-quoted statistic is that 70% of porn viewing occurs during the 9-5 workday.
Another, darker side of pornography, though, is how it affects people already prone to sex addiction, a very real problem in Westchester as elsewhere. Nationwide, the AAMFT believes 12 million people are afflicted. There is a network of recovery groups for sex addicts just as there are for alcoholics and drug abusers. In Westchester, a fifty-member group affiliated with Sex Addicts Anonymous meets in White Plains. There is another one in Armonk.
Read more about Suburban Sex in this seven-part series.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo