Leisure Sex

More sex! Better sex! Sex is fucking brilliant! Sex, sex, sex, Sex

Authored by: Feona Attwood , Clarissa Smith

Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415697170
eBook ISBN: 9780203140505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136495595


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How might we understand sex as one of the Big Seven leisure pursuits? What is sex? On an entirely functional level, sex is the physical means by which the species engages in procreation – sex is a physical activity, but it can be more than the mechanics of reproduction – and of course much is hidden (and denied) in such a definition. The term also refers to forms of physicality that have absolutely nothing to do with conception. Moreover, sex is associated with myriad intangible qualities. Sex is entwined with ideas of romance, attraction, commitment, independence, orientation, crime, identity, hygiene, waste, fantasy, confidence, despair, nature, abnormality, deviance, degradation, fulfilment, liberation, status, sin, perversion. We’ve deliberately avoided organizing these different conceptions within hierarchies or offering a binary list, precisely because sex is such a movable feast, varying over time and across cultures – but there is also no doubt that rules and hierarchies have existed around sex, creating limitations and opportunities. In the confines of this short chapter there simply is not the space to discuss the complex positioning of sex in Western culture across the last few centuries; instead, we are going to draw on that old chestnut of Philip Larkin’s in his poem ‘Annus Mirabilis’ that: ‘Sexual intercourse began/ In nineteen sixty-three/ (Which was rather late for me)/ Between the end of the Chatterley ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP’ (Larkin, 1967).

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