This new advocacy campaign from gun-safety group Evolve shows two young gents fencing with a pair of marital aids they've discovered, much to the dismay of their onlooking mothers. I appreciate the humor (and the seriousness) of the message "if they find it, they'll play with it," and the initial embarrassment and horror of both women is perfectly natural. The drawn-out shame sequence, on the other hand, makes me weary.
The "rabbit habit" episode of Sex and the City aired sixteen years ago. Are we seriously supposed to believe that Mom #2 is truly, deeply horrified that her neighbor owns a couple of vibrators? Mom #1 doesn't just laugh it off, opting instead to just stand there and accept the humiliation. (I mean, maybe being humiliated is what she's into, but I doubt the advertising wizards responsible for this spot were thinking that far into the scenario.)
It's been a long, long time since I've been outraged at the ongoing prudishness of our popular culture. When I encounter these attitudes now, they just make me tired and sad. But it's still worth registering how offensive it is that adult humans are expected to feel shame about the the fact that sex feels good, especially when it (sometimes) results in that most wholesome of by-products, a baby.
So here's my bit of cultural counter-programming for filmmakers: when you write sex scenes into your movies, try not to fall back on the same old shame associations. Yes, people in real life have sex for the wrong reasons and feel ashamed about the "weird" ways they like to do it. But haven't we seen that side of sex to the point of boredom and illness? Make a movie that celebrates sex, or a scene in which two characters have sex because they're into each other and nothing bad happens as a result. Then submit it to Cinekink. (If you don't have a film to submit there, just make a donation to Cinekink or buy some tickets to one of their upcoming shows. It's one of the worthier festival causes out there.) Or buy yourself a vibrator. Or don't. Whatever. Just stop trying to make the rest of us feel bad about the things we like.