The Scissors Sisters’ Oz or Al Bundy?
Is Hedonism the only answer to the Shoe Sales Blues?
Very interesting, Eric Griggs! No, I had never heard of The Scissors Sisters before, or of Return to Oz and its observations about the consequences of overheated hedonism.
I do very much understand and even relate to what they have to say.
I think, though, that the world of gay hedonism, where it exists now outside youth culture, is far smaller than it used to be. At least it’s less evident.
Of course hookup culture and transitory relationships are bigger than ever now among young adults of whatever sexual orientation. That sort of culture is temporary, however, among young people. They still expect to grow up and settle down — just on a delayed time table by the standards of earlier generations.
I think that the sexual, hedonistic free-for-all that exploded among gay men in the 60s and 70s, and that continued into the 80s and 90s, was very likely sparked by sexual repression, the practical end of the enforcement of sexual repression, and the effects of the fear of emotional intimacy fostered by the nurturing of gay boys in homophobic culture.
Naturally, (and please nobody call the PC police) men are to some extent wired to be sexual libertines. Natural selection has programmed most of us to be less choosy about sexual partners than most women, to want to have sex more indiscriminately and frequently than most women.
I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem, and while I think a certain era of gay hedonism is coming to an end, I’m not talking about gay men having less sex.
I mean that it seems to me that younger gay men today are more likely to enjoy healthy intimate relationships than gay men were in past decades. Fewer young gay men seem to be running from partner to partner in a quest to use sex to replace true intimacy with physical intimacy.
And that’s the unhealthy phenomenon I feel when I read the lyrics to Return to Oz.
Gay male culture still has to find a footing. We still aren’t entirely sure where we’re going with our relationship models and interpersonal institutions. On one side there’s a clear call and clear pressure to emulate straight culture with its quasi-observed norms of monogamy, marriage, 2.2 kids, and a mortgage.
On the other, the call to queerness, polyamory, and sexual freedom hasn’t lost its strong appeal for many.
But the sort of unhealthy hedonism the Scissors Sisters sing about doesn’t have to be the other side of the coin of Married with Children.
It can be, of course.
The challenge will be to explore and discover ways of being and living that don’t leave us to the fate of the man in the first verse or to the fate of poor old Al.